Why This Book Is Banned In Dubai


Not only is gay sex banned in Dubai, but so are gay book characters. The city of riches, in its never-ending quest to be the world’s top everything city, plays host to the International Festival of Literature. And they were all excited about Geraldine Bedell’s book The Gulf Between Us, because it’s set in the Middle East. But then organizers found out about the gay sheikh character (complete with English boyfriend), freaked out, and disinvited Bedell.

It probably didn’t help that the entire plot was “set against the background of the Iraq War,” reports the London Times.

And now, not only has The Gulf Between Us been banned from the International Festival, but also from even being sold anywhere in the United Arab Emirates.

[Bedell says,] “It is incredibly affectionate towards the Gulf. I feel very warmly towards it, except when things like this happen. It calls into question the whole notion of whether the Emirates and other Gulf states really want to be part of the contemporary cultural world … You can’t ban books and expect your literary festival to be taken seriously.”

She said that the gay sheikh was a minor character.

Authors due to attend the festival, which begins on February 26, include Kate Adie, Jung Chang, Carol Ann Duffy, Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Anthony Horowitz, Frank McCourt, Sir Mark Tully and Wilbur Smith.

One author contacted by The Times privately condemned the censorship: “One always hopes that these sorts of literary festivals open people’s minds to other people’s cultures, but this doesn’t seem to be the case here.”

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  • Sebbe

    Not surprising, and after traveling to Dubai, IMO the only thing worse than the Americanized version of everything in the world is the Dubaized version.

  • Larry

    Dubai wants to be Hong Kong in the Middle East, but it’s going to need to get its act together. Already, there was that French boy who was raped and then held responsible by the government, and I just read in the NY Times that laid off workers are leaving in hordes because if they can’t pay off their credit cards, cars and apartments, they’ll actually be sent to debtor’s prisons.

  • Sebbe

    @larry – yes foreign /migrant workers I believe, not citizens of course whom hold an entirely different position in society in the UAE.

  • John in CA

    If the Republicans had their way, Dubai would be the role model for America. A paradise for uninhibited consumerism – complete with theme parks, luxury hotels, and vast indoor malls – coupled with archaic, repressive medieval morality. If you’re a GOPer, what could be better than that?

  • Stef

    I’m surprised they had Frank McCourt if they are being so huff and puff about morality. Frank’s books Angela’s Ashes and ‘Tis are ladened with premarital sex, lots of slang, crime, etc…

    I mean, in Dubai people get arrested for pre-marital sex as well, so I figured it’d be as much a morality dis in their eyes as homosexuality.

    Overall, the whole thing is ridiculous. I completely agree with whoever said “how can you take a literary festiival seriously when certain books have been banned?” It’s so stupid.

    I hate theology. I hate organized religion in general. It ruins everything.

  • sal

    @John in CA: except some republicans are not fans of the Muslim faith

  • BobP

    I hope this event gets moved or cancelled. These idiots needs to understand that people are not going to go along with their archaic and barbaric laws. Everyone except for Star Jones, of course.

  • Charles J. Mueller


    Dubaized version.

    An excellent double entendré.

    A fantastic piece of word-play, Sebbe!

    My hat’s off to you. ;-)

  • Sebbe

    @Charles – haha, thanks, I coined it after my first trip there. LOL

  • stryker

    And the ironic thing is I can’t walk 2 city blocks in Dubai without getting hit on by Arab men!

    Oh its true about expatriates leaving in droves. I’m one of them. Economy in total meltdown. I’ve had so many friends retrenched.

Comments are closed.