It’s easy to get complacent about your environment when you’re in an exotic new place that’s full of sunshine and new experiences. You settle into a holiday mode where you automatically feel safe.
Sadly sexual crimes go on here too and you do sometimes read about women being abducted while walking home, rape and assault.
I wrote about some of the strange encounters I’ve had while out with Happydoggy. They’ve been a reality check and as Kisty commented after that post “whether you are in Dubai or not, a woman should always remain vigilant around her surroundings”
A few facts about Dubai:
- It’s reported that Dubai has a man to woman ration of 3:1. This ratio is even more skewed in areas with bachelor accommodation.
In Dubai, “bachelor” refers not only to single men, but also married men who are here without their wives. Bachelors aren’t allowed to live in family areas or enter certain parks.
I’ve even seen “No bachelor” signs in a mall food court.
Note: Nationality rules and the term “bachelor” usually refers to low-income workers notably from the Indian subcontinent. Western men on their own don’t face so many restrictions.
- A large number of expats here are from countries that don’t entertain the principles of female equality or have not had the education to open their mind to the wider world. But education is no guarantee of acceptance, let alone respect. Even in a business environment, an apparently educated Indian male customer once said to me “Who do you think you are? Sit quietly while I talk to your husband.”
- A man wanting to sponsor his wife here must be earning a certain minimum amount. This minimum amount is subject to change and currently stands at AED 4000 a month plus independent accommodation.
Therefore it’s easy to see that a huge part of the labour force will not be here with their wives since gardeners, security guards, watchmen, labourers, general maintenance men, drivers and many shop assistants are simply not paid this amount. Or if they are, then they can’t afford to move out of the shared labour accommodation provided by their company.
Dubai is a wonderful place and I love it here. But ladies it makes sense to practice good walking etiquette when you’re out and about with your dog.
Don’t Talk to Lone Men
This has been a strange one for me because saying a friendly “Good Afternoon” and making good eye-contact is just normal when you’re out walking and pass someone in the street.
But there are over one hundred nationalities packed into Dubai and therefore quite a mixture of cultural differences. The majority population is from cultures where women do not acknowledge men they don’t know. This is normal for them, it’s not rude.
In these cultures, for a woman to greet a man is odd and some men take it as a come-on. As hard and as alien as it might be to you, learn to become more choosy about who you greet. Pick up on the clues because being polite is not worth the hassle. I’ve had strangers follow me into a lift and insist I get off on their floor. I’ve been invited into someone’s house 2 seconds after the “hello”. It’s creepy and scary.
Have Your Phone On
Have your phone on and within easy reach to call for help or take a photo of a dodgy car’s number plate. But use your discretion and evaluate the risk that it will antagonise the guy or whether it’s better to go to the nearest house.
The emergency number for the Police in Dubai is 999. Remember to stay aware of your surroundings so you know what street you are on when calling something in.
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
When I first started walking Happydoggy, I quickly realised I needed to learn to walk AND see at the same time.
You know those SAS men who walk into a pub and within 5 seconds they’ve seen everything that’s going on in the room? Or that game where they put 20 objects on a tray, show it to you for 10 seconds and then have you reel off everything you saw?
Well, that’s the kind of skill to develop while you’re out and about. I’m not there yet but I’m much better than I was. Now I know street numbers, which houses I can approach in an emergency, which cars belong where, when people’s gardeners will be out. When to take a turning on to a different route because something doesn’t look right further up ahead.
Vary Your Route
Alternating between several routes is a way to keep your movements unpredictable. The dog also finds it more natural and stimulating.
If you can find at least 7 or 8 routes then you’ll be able to select a route that feels best for that time of day. You can save the quiet side roads for daylight and the ones with good lighting and people for evenings and early morning.
Trust your instincts. If a route doesn’t feel good to you, choose a different one or do it during daylight only. If you’ve been hassled on a certain road, give it a miss for a few days.
Walk Facing Oncoming Cars
So many roads don’t have pavements here and speeding seems to be a national pastime. Walking facing the traffic so you can see cars that swerve too close. It’s easier for you to see a car than rely on a distracted driver seeing you.
It improves your vantage point too. If a car pulls up, you want to see it full on, not have it come up behind you and catch you by surprise.
Keep Between Your Dog and the Road
Walking with your dog on the inside means it’s easier to control any sudden dashes he makes out into the road, especially when there is no pavement. It’s not just cars you’re watching out for. It’s cyclists too.
Cyclists in Dubai ride on the wrong side of the road and very few have lights or bells. So many times I’ve been walking along facing the traffic when a cyclist overtakes me. If your dog is on the outside, they could run into it or be knocked off their bike into the path of an oncoming car.
Hold a Good Posture
Keep a good posture and a strong walking style. As well as the obvious health benefits for yourself, it also makes you appear more vital and strong and able to stand up for yourself.
As a bonus, it makes your dog walk briskly too and when you slow down to let him sniff and explore, it reinforces your position as he learns that you control his environment. (Theoretically anyway… Happydoggy knows he has me wrapped around his little paw.)
Socialise Your Dog
It’s okay to greet other dog owners. But don’t let your dog go to theirs immediately. Ask if their dog is friendly first and then introduce the dogs to each other carefully.
Although there are a lot of dogs in Dubai, there are not many places for dogs to socialise with each other and the owner has to go out of their way to make sure their dog is growing up with a healthy mind.
Some owners never socialise their dog so it never learns how to behave with other dogs. These dogs could get aggressive with yours. If you don’t like the look of someone’s dog, don’t let yours get near it. As with the Lone Men rule, don’t worry about appearing rude.
Do you have any tips you can add?