Abu Dhabi, more boo than be bi

27 Nov

Here we fly - Etihad Airways

It was the first time I flew Etihad Airways (national carrier of United Arab Emirates). I didn’t have a lot of ‘stereotypes’ about the Middle East, except the oil sheiks, and indeed it seemed that’s the people the airline caters for… One group of people they are less welcoming for are gay people though…

Access for All - but not All sites

When arriving in Abu Dhabi airport, there was free access wireless internet for all (now, that’s inclusion ;-). Except that half of the sites I normally use are blocked. So if you are thinking about checking messages on Gayromeo – forget it. This site is illegal and unauthorised – simply blocked… (and a quick glance at the ILGA site shows me that they could put me away for life for loving someone – see also here)

So do they wear something underneath? or not?

  • So all of a sudden I become more careful in checking whether the Arabic guys in long white dresses are wearing something underneath or not (see pic).

Etihad Airways seems to be a luxury airline, catering for the oil money of this world (and a few poor add-ons in economy class). The business class customers are entitled to their golden dedicated gate entrance, red carpet included. They’re hosted in cocoon beds in business class, with an integrated joystick system to customise every square cm of their seat (like my hospital bed ;-).

Gold all the way... (oil) money rules!

The crew on board is from about all different nationalities (Hungarian, Philippino, British, Latino, Chinese, Thai, Japanese, etc.), except Arabic. The ones on board who are clearly Arab (or should I say ‘Unitedemiratian’?) are the guys in long white dress and towel-like head-cover, and the women covered in black from tip to toe (except the eyes). I also noticed that they are used to ‘good service’, pushing the call button every 5 minutes to ask the staff for this and that. My front neighbour even got the crew as far as brewing him a specially strong coffee with 2 and a half sugars…

Holy Quoran between Rock Classics and Aseana Hit Mix ;-)

It was great to be immersed in a different culture again, because one tends to get a bit too complacent with your own culture after a while: it was good to see a world map in Arabic writing (no clue where we were flying), turning the pages of a magazine from ‘back to front’ and to have a Holy Quoran channel in the inflight entertainment system.

  • There was also a muslim prayer before taking off, but for those that understand Arabic (do all muslims read/know the Koran in Arabic? Is it not translated? Like the bible? Or putting an English version for international travelers?)

I also ate my first spicy food after my operation – by mistake – but I managed to keep my difficultly obtained bowel-movements under control.

Lost in translation...

Arriving in the Abu Dhabi international airport was like arriving in a giant mall (but then again most new airports are). The shops were completely overstaffed (or maybe we just arrived too late in the day – around 22h) so they spent their time, trying to drag you into their shops, worse than in a souq. Not what I needed at that time of my travel and tummy-evolution… It was oh so obvious that the staff is anything but Arab: instead you could hear the familiar ‘helloooo SiRRR’ from the Philippinos, the wiggle waggle heads of the Indians, the gorgeous Thai in the men’s perfume department,…

  • So what do the Arabic people do for a living?

4 Responses to “Abu Dhabi, more boo than be bi”

  1. mushin 1 December 2009 at 08:46 #

    I thought Brussels has excellent opportunities for stepping out of your own culture? :-)
    anyway, enjoy the voyage.

  2. chris 1 December 2009 at 10:08 #

    haha cynical and witty as usual. I love your blog! Gorgeous Thai, haha, i don’t know how to comment on that. Did you find out what’s underneath their white robe, i mean, personally?

  3. travelony 3 December 2009 at 01:15 #

    Well, it’s like one of those Sacred Mysteries: if you find out you’ll die… (well in Saudia Arabia and Iran at least, I believe in United Arab Emirates it’s ‘only’ life imprisonment for immoral unnatural abomminable gay sex ;-) Hence the password protection of this page… (I still need to travel though Abu Dhabi on my way back from Thailand)

  4. Pate 27 December 2009 at 23:12 #

    The fact that people are gay does not change by the word of Bible or Quoran. On my vacation to Bahrain I was surprised to wake up to the reality that my hotel hosted a gay bar and at the pool I could see all the gay subcultures as anywhere in the Western world: from the handle bar moustached leathermen to Thai lady boys. No-one seemed to be worried, if they will get hanged by someone. Hehe.

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