Canada Association of Tourism Employees

The Hidden Facet of Dubai: Intercourse Tourism Has Been Rising

In the Emirate of Dubai there are 4 million people with 10 million inhabitants in the United Arab Emirates. However, the proportion of citizens in the population is only around 5%, which is less than in the rest of the United Arab Emirates. Dubai is home to a very large expatriate population and attracted 19 million visitors in 2019. According to a French daily Le Monde, officially banned but de facto tolerated prostitution has made Dubai a preferred destination for sex tourism in the Gulf.

The hidden gem of globalization

Dubai’s gambling in its spectacular integration into globalization has been particularly successful, even after the 2008 financial crisis that forced the emirate to develop its service activities with tourism at the forefront. Alcohol consumption is permitted in hotels, bars, restaurants and nightclubs with a specific licensealthough it is still banned in public places. It is in such places that sex workers usually woo the potential client.

It is therefore possible to use the services of a companion girl during your stay in the emirate. A tacit hierarchy regards Chinese, Filipino or Indian prostitutes as less valuable than their Central Asian counterparts, who are still less valued than European women, whether Russian, Ukrainian or Western. Arab partners remain the rarest and therefore most sought-after, as they work less often in public spaces.

The number of active prostitutes in Dubai is sometimes estimated at 45,000. It is of course impossible to know this number exactly as it is based on a complex system whereby nationals of the Emirates who are authorized to “sponsor” the entry of a certain number of foreigners with residence visas grant these sponsorship rights to intermediaries without doing so necessarily to know the real activity of the future “immigrants”.

The residence visa system, despite its 2016 reform, still allows this type of manipulation, while the dismantled networks tend to affect the lower end of the prostitution market. The transaction, which is often completed without an intermediary, accredits the illusion of a missing pimp, although it is inconceivable to offer such services in Dubai without solid protection. In 2017 the UN published the testimony of a “sex slave” from Uzbekistan who, after 18 months of nightmare in Dubai, preferred to be arrested by the police of the Emirates in order to be deported. More recently, revelations have been aired in Bangladesh of victims of this type of trafficking who were lured to Dubai by false promises of domestic employment.


Between standardization and vaccination

The peace treaty signed between Israel and the United Arab Emirates last September went hand in hand with the opening of direct flight connections between the two countries. More than a hundred thousand Israeli tourists have already visited Dubai, where their demonstrative hospitality stands against the “cold peace” that was previously reserved for Israeli visitors to Jordan and Egypt. However, the Israeli press has also published several scandalous reports on forms of sex tourism. The daily newspaper “Yedioth Aharonoth” described the catalogs of real prostitutes with the transactions that take place around the pool of a large hotel. The online site “Mako” was interested in the conversion of the Israeli mafiosi to “escort agencies” in Dubai and reproduced in screenshots the exchange that could be viewed as a pimp. The daily “Haaretz” even published an article entitled “Visiting Dubai is like being on the verge of rape”. Defenders of normalization between Israel and the Emirates protested this insolence and relativized the importance of the reported statements, which they did not consider representative.

In any case, sex tourism in Dubai seems to continue to grow in general. For several years now, despite encouraging remarks, the US State Department’s annual report on human trafficking has recognized that “the United Arab Emirates government is not fully complying with minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking in human beings”. The coronavirus pandemic shouldn’t affect this reality, on the contrary. In fact, the voluntary campaign in the Emirates has already made it possible to vaccinate more than a third of the population against Covid-19.

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