Sunday, February 1, 2009

No Pantomimes for Dubai I guess… Cross Dresser given 6 months

The UAE is so full of hypocracy its hard to fathom sometimes. A man was fined 1000 rial (US$2600) and sentenced to 6 months in prison (suspended) for cross-dressing in a Dubai mall.

Man convicted of cross-dressing
By Bassam Za'za', Senior Reporter
Published: January 31, 2009, 22:59

Dubai: A manager, who claimed he was training to play a female in a Bollywood film, has been charged with cross-dressing and using mascara at Mall of the Emirates. The Dubai Court of Misdemeanours gave the 45-year-old Indian, an administration manager with a property developer, a six-month suspended jail term and fined him Dh10,000.

The court found him guilty of cross-dressing in public. However the judge suspended his imprisonment because it's his first offence and it believed that he won't repeat the crime. The jail term was suspended for three years within which he should not repeat the crime. The Public Prosecution has appealed the initial verdict and is seeking stiffer punishment.

A defence witness told the court that P.K., who also works in the movie industry, was training for a minor role in a forthcoming film in India which required him to wear a woman's outfit.

Undercover policemen spotted the defendant at Mall of the Emirates. The policemen claimed that his outfit was glittering (like a woman's clothes), and he wore a bra, mascara, women's perfume and a wig.

"I'm not guilty... I was cross-dressed because I was training to perform a woman's role in Indian cinema. I didn't intend to go to the mall but I went there because I received an urgent phone call," P.K. told the public prosecutor.

Police records said that he attempted to bribe the policemen in order to avoid being taken to court.

"I didn't bribe anyone... they misunderstood me because I said I was willing to pay a fine if that would be my punishment," the accused said in his statement to the Public Prosecution.

The Appeals Court will hear the case in March.


Dubai toughened up on cross-dressing (both male and female) last year when many cross-dressing tourists were arrested and deported. And apparently it’s an increasing problem in the schools, with girls dressing as boys!

Speaking to Arab News, Hamda Amiri, a social worker with one of the government high schools, said that there were an increasing number of girls dressing like boys in the schools. “The phenomenon is more visible in the girls’ schools than in the boys. It has become fashionable and cool for some of these girls to dress and act as boys. It’s shocking but some girls think that by dressing and acting this way, they are rebelling and making a statement!...

Shock horror! We all know what happens when girls dress like boys, don't we?

Of course, it’s a fine line. How do they set the standard? Is a woman in jeans and a shirt cross-dressing? Does a guy with a touch of eye-liner and a sparkly-top deserve 6 months??

What about this guy? He's wearing a skirt and make-up!

Or, these guys????? (try dressing like this in a Texas bar and not be considered a cross-dresser...)

So, no pantos for Dubai's many English residents. Imagine the jail time if people were caught charging people to go and see something like this in a public theatre!

Oman used to have a similar law, but I think its been withdrawn and it's no longer illegal for a man to cross dress here... but I'm not sure... Any readers with knowledge?


  1. Ever heard of Xaniths?

    Or noted that there are big posters of Dame Edna Everage all over the MAC stores at the mall right now?

    Traditional or contemporary, cross-dressing is, to some extent, alive and well in Oman!

  2. My god how dare they make laws that contradict with us westeners !!!!

    I have the right to wear anything anytime , thats my freedom !! cant we just bomb them like iraq and change laws our way ??

  3. I was once attending an Islamic lecture in a hall where the men and women were separated by a screen. The lecturer was a well known Omani Scholar. After an excellent talk, a woman asked the question “Can a woman wear trousers in public?” The answer from the Scholar was No she could not, because if she did, she would be dressing like a man. I looked around our half of the room and I was the only man there wearing trousers- everyone else was in dishdasha. I had to bite my lip so hard to keep from laughing and pointing that out, but I did not want to embarrass the lecturer in front of the audience. So I kept quiet (until now).

    I have seen a lot of women wearing trousers and have never mistaken one for a man- that I know of.

    However, this “guy” in Dubai was parading around publicly in women’s clothes. That is a little much. Wonder which toilet he would have gone to. Abd

  4. Everytime I see dubai, I prey for the day the oil finishes and they could go back to what they are good at...Riding camels.

    We must do our best to spread the word about whats happenning in this part of the world so everyone can be careful and not bring any business or tourism money. Its just that us westerns are as corrupt or even more and our love of money and materials blind us and cant help but be here!

  5. We westerners this and we westerners that. If Dubai or anyone else feels that gays and cross-dressers are not welcome then i fully support them (it's their given right). Be gay at your own house, but don't go running around in public areas cross-dressing (some of us have kids to raise).

  6. The law is clear. In the main entrance of the Mall of Emirates, there is a big board saying what's allowed and what's not allowed in the mall. Dress codes is one of the issues covered in that board.

    I don't see they hypocrisy.

  7. But Mr T and Amjad - where exactly do you draw the line and how do you implement it?

    And explain why it should get 6 months jail, about the same as being a pimp, or an embezzler!?

    Is it like stripping is treated in places; where it can only occur in licensed premises (say, for an adults only) pantomime theatre. I mean, who would dream of taking kids to a panto????

    I'm curious.

    Its hypocritical because the rulers of Dubai, as it suits them, are perfectly comfortable with western mores. It seems a bit ridiculous in a city where people can see brazen prostitution, debauchery, etc etc, a guy in a skirt and some makeup gets 6 months.

    Honestly, a good cross dressing guy would look a whole lot better in a mall than some of the Euro-trash...

    As for the kids, its a man dressed up as a woman. He's playing. Kids ask uncomfortable questions about people in wheelchairs, or with a mental disability, or with really bad taste in fashion or behaviour.


  8. I have nothing against gay people it's their right to be gay, but cross-dressing in public is nothing like playing to kids. It's as bad as saying, whats wrong with two people having sex in a mall??? adults know what it is and to kids, its a man and a woman playing.

    We have the right of raising our kids in malls, parks and beaches where men dress as men and .....

    If you get an itch and feel like cross-dressing in public go to a zoo, I know the monkey wont mind ;)

  9. So it would be totally OK to cross dress in private, or in like minded adults?

    And STILL curious how you more precisely define it...

  10. Let me put it this way, leave cross-dressing and talk about nudity. Is it Ok to walk naked in public areas??? No, why not??? how come i don't get to fly naked??? because it is not Ok to most of the passengers. It works the same way, you cross-dressing in a public areas is disturbing to most (if not all) the people sharing that space with you.

    Do you jerk off??? why don't you go to a beach and do it sometime??? why would anyone mind we all know it's very human and you are harming no one.

    It is not how we define it!! it is the respect that a person has to show toward the society he/she lives in. Remember humans come from diff backgrounds and each society has its own definition of what's right and wrong and that we should respect.

    Of course some westerners have a hard time understanding that there is a world out there not just western values and democracy.


  11. Issue raised by UD can rephrased liked this "If a western guy had cross dressed, would Dubai court have meted out the same punishment". Do these courts follow uniform rules for all nationalities?

  12. Justcurious: I think what happened to the British national who had sex on the beach a while ago is a good example that all are treated equally. He was sentenced to jail and fined.

  13. Mr T

    Please understand that us white westerners are very unlikly to commit any crime. Even if we do, there is always very good excuse.

    Take for example few years back in Iraq there was Hudhfiah incident where group of angry US soldiers just opened fire and killed a complete family of 10 i think because they were angry that one of them was shot dead by resistant fighter during battle. The US army court gave them a reduced sentance ( 2 years in jail i think ) because they did this under "stress" and understandable in the circumstances ...go figure !!!!!

    You MUST change your laws to suit us because expats especially white NEVER commits a true crime.

  14. I think some of you are mis-interpreting the post in relation to the large chips on your shoulders you seem to be carrying. (You should also note that most male cross-dressers/transvestites are heterosexual, not gay).

    It's not about white people being allowed to break local laws that are sensible and enforcable. LOL. But I think this 'law' is stupid, but especially when the same society allows sale of alcohol, and pork; lets unmarried couples stay in the same hotel room; and treats trafficked prostitutes as the criminal rather than their clients and pimps.

    I do think that to say that seeing a guy in drag (or a woman in a suit) is comparable to sex in public is ridiculous.

    My issue with this case and the law behind it (and I'll repeat myself because you don't seem to want to read what I'm saying) is:
    - where exactly is the line between being legally dressed, and being cross-dressed & thus deserving 6 months in prison?

    - is it the publically visible perception of cross-dressing that's important? IE if the transvestite was so good you didn't even know he was a male, is that legal?

    - what is the legality of cross-dressing here in Oman?

  15. Well, as noted in the first comment, Oman has a long tradition - local tradition, folks, not Western import, not infidel perversion, local - of cross-dressing, tied to a larger phenomenon of transgender behavior.

    Where that leaves things in terms of legal status, I don't know. As a newcomer to Oman after studying the culture from afar, I've been interested at the Muscat Festival to see ROP hassling young men in extreme ("gangsta") Western dress, and young men who have tried to get creative with traditional dress (wearing a neckchain showing outside the dishdasah in one case, for example), but paying no attention to guys (and I've seen a couple of groups like this there) in brightly-colored dishdasha/massar combinations, with long hair and wearing eye-makeup. Not quite cross-dressing, but pretty close...

  16. I understand that some westerners in our beloved countries want us to live there life back in there countries and adopt there values, this really shocking me.

  17. ExpatAbroad
    Nice observation.

    I disagree totally that independent thinking, common sense, and a view based on science and non-religiously based laws is 'western'. Bollocks. This is just creeping Wahabism. Or wacko Southern Baptist perhaps. You'd probably have GW Bush's support for that.

    Take something basically harmless and criminalise it.

    It has to do with fear of discussing ideas about what does gender mean, sexual orientation, or the acceptance that humans are widely variable. An absence of care and love for one's fellow man, no pause or consideration, a default setting of ignorance, bigotry, religious perversion... that's what your response supports.

    It is not some battle of Arab and Western. Its about common sense, peace, pragmatism, science, free speech and compromise vs what you're offering: Taliban-lite.

  18. "but... but... but... homosexuality is a western vice and doesn't exist in Iran or Bahrain or anywhere else in the Middle East for that matter !"

    Here's an anecdote on-topic. I was at the Sanctuary (a new nightclub at the Dubai Atlantis) a couple of weekends ago. I was wearing a sweatshirt over a fashionable and clean tank-top. The kind of tank-top that I would wear comfortably on the streets of the Big Apple. Well, apparently it was too sexy for the Sanctuary, as I was asked/forced by the club security, several times, to keep my sweatshirt on. This at a place where most women had less material covering their entire bodies than did my tank-top. At a place where the dancefloor is surrounded by a suspended catwalk where a dozen female go-go dancers perform in bikinis over the horde below.

    There are close-minded and bigoted people everywhere, not just in Dubai. A cross-dresser in Texas wouldn't get jail-time. Instead he'd simply be shot, the shooter acquitted by the jury of his peers.

    Someone should go ahead and confirm the lack of cross-dressing legislation in Oman by getting into drag and parading at the City Center.

  19. I had to go and ask if there is a law?? There is no clear law against cross dressing, but it falls under the category of improper dressing in public.

    Who defines what is improper?? I don't think any country has any clear cut definition of what is cross dressing. I guess it's left upto the authorities do decide if the person crossed the line.

    "Someone should go ahead and confirm the lack of cross-dressing legislation in Oman by getting into drag and parading at the City Center" so Boxster tell when are you planning on volunteering so I can come and watch.

    I still don't understand why do cross dresser insist on doing so in public and make a scene, why don't they just do it in private???

  20. I've noticed a few comments that ruffle my feathers a bit. 1) I know plenty of crossers dressers - I live in Texas. They are all still alive and have never been shot at. Now that that silliness is behind us I take issue to all of the remarks regarding westerners as being responsible for the idea/influence of cross dressing and any other form of lasciviousness. When you speak of "westerners" to whom do you refer? Specify. Asia, which I do believe is the East, but perhaps not by your definition (we haven't determined that yet!) is the original creator of cross dressing. Men dressed as women harem in full makeup, performed in opera's in full makeup and there is even one male opera star who married another man under the guise of being a woman. Greek, romans and asians all have thier own seperate history's of men dressed as women and guess which little peninsula is wedged between all of those influences? This one. So don't blame the 'westerners', whomever they may be...they actually followed suit later. Much later in history.

    MC - I thought this was a very well thought out blog and I get what you are trying to say. It all seems so ridiculous. Especially to think that when I was in Dubai last and was completely shocked by the lack of clothes worn in the Mall of the Emirates. Why pick on some crossdresser? He/she was probably more covered than most people present.

  21. woops - "lived" in Texas...and I left out the 2)...sorry.

  22. This is an interesting post...
    I don't know how much you all are aware of a book published in the 1980's called "Xanith in Oman" which talks about transsexuals in Oman. It was written by someone called Wikan.
    Also, in a book called "Behind the Veil in Arabia: Women in Oman", by Unni Wikan (the wife), there is a chapter in that book called "The Xanith: A Third Gender Role?" where the writer talks about transsexuals and their roles in Omani society. There are pictures too. You can find the book in Google books and the article in JSTOR. Here is the full citation:
    Wikan, U. (1977). Man becomes woman: Transsexualism in Oman as a key to gender Roles. Man, 2(2), 304-319.

    So for all those Omani’s who oppose cross dressing in Oman: too bad because it’s a looong standing tradition!

  23. We westerners are such hypocrites. On one hand we love to talk shit about other countries laws, but on another we ourselves love to use them, if not by government, by the people. There have been more murders of transies in us than any other place.

  24. Lets face it - this is just another one of those 'culturally' sensitive areas. Of course States and Countries will write laws that reflect their belief systems. Its also important to know what they are.

    That said, I think it sounds like a naive and poorly thought through law and argument here ... there is usually a large difference between a 'crossdresser' dressing for perhaps for purely sexual reasons and someone who identifies as opposite to their 'born' gender because they are transgender or gender dysmorphic.

    Most countries in the so called 'civilised' world do provide the GLBT community with support and laws that don't discriminate - so my advice would be to support them and try and avoid the ones that dont.


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