In the just-released comprehensive list by the World Economic Forum on the safest destinations in the world, the universal body has declared the United Arab Emirates as one of the safest destinations in the world, second only to Finland!
This has managed to raise quite a few eyebrows. The third position was bagged by Iceland on the list.
Why the brouhaha
This list is compiled every year as a part of the Tourism Competitiveness Report, and hence it usually entails a surge of international tourists into the top countries. This makes the decision to include UAE even more delightfully surprising since the usual perception about the Gulf countries is that women need to be extra careful while outside in these areas, and freedom is a mere term thrown around. But apparently this is not true anymore. Apart from the UAE, there are two other Gulf countries that make it to the top 10 – Oman (4th) and Qatar (10th).
And if you're wondering where India is on this important list; it is ranked at a lowly 114 out of a total of 136 countries considered for the report. SMH.
What do real travellers say about UAE?
Although opinions will always vary, but a major chunk of travellers indeed concur with the World Economic Forum report.
According to popular travel blog, One Mile At a Time, "the locals are usually pretty well-off, so it’s not like they’re going to pickpocket you. And as a tourist you won’t really interact with many locals, since almost all front line employees are from other countries". UAE is full of people from other countries. If any of them commits a crime, they're usually deported immediately, which prevents crime.
One of the most common misconceptions about UAE is about illicit relationships. The truth is that the UAE couldn't care less if you go to bed with someone you aren't related to, since most hotels are owned and run by foreigners.
Speaking about LGBT activites, UAE's population is in fact just as progressive as the best of them. But again, like most countries in the world, laws on LGBT rights are still primitive in nature. While LGBT activities are still illegal in the UAE, underground gay nightlife is very much prevalent, especially in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. If convicted, official punishments include a prison sentence, fines, torture, deportation, vigilante executions, whippings and death.
What you must be cautious of, though
UAE may officially be one of the safest destinations in the world, but there are still some things that you really need to be cautious of while here.
Dressing: While it's acceptable for women to wear short-sleeves and skirts everywhere, it's recommended that they go fully clothed to the countryside. That way, they'll enjoy respect of the orthodox locals as well.
Public Displays of Affection: "Social rules" of the country involve discouraging hugging, kissing and holding hands in public.
Alcohol Consumption: Many hotels outside of Abu Dhabi and Dubai may not serve alcohol inside their premises. Do ask before you check in. However, you can still request a bottle-opener or a corkscrew if you are carrying your own liquor. Driving under the influence of alcohol is considered a serious offence.
Common Sense: Like everywhere in the world, common sense will ensure that you have a glitch-free journey. This includes dealing with potential swindlers, sexual predators and taxi drivers that tend to overcharge foreigners. Police is at the disposal of tourists 24x7.
Overall, I'm sure this article has helped burst any misconceptions you had about this Gulf state. If you are suddenly interested in visiting the UAE, you can refer to this itinerary. You can also book the safest hotels in the country right away.
If you've been to the United Arab Emirates already, we'd love it if you would share your experience with other travellers on Tripoto!