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Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Non-entry, sort of (re-posted, click for access to blog site)

I was going to write an entry about the sale of pork being banned in the UAE because of swine flu, but no sooner did I sit down to write it, it turned out that it hadn't been banned at all. (I am probably the last Dubai blogger to comment on this, but there you go!)

I don't know if the story made it to the UK press, or Western press in general. If it did, I suspect most readers would have been surprised to know that pork was available here in the first place. The fact that it is, along with alcohol, is usually a surprise to most Westerners looking at coming here on holiday or to work. Johann Hari did enlighten Independent readers of booze fuelled expat behaviour, but neglected to mention that their mouths were also dripping with the greasy, greasy, fat of swine. To have done so, I expect, would have been a transgression too far.

Pork can be bought from 'non-Muslim only' signposted sections in most supermarkets. It's fairly pricey, but there is a wide choice. I have ventured into the pork section in the past to have a look- it feels kind of naughty, as you slip into a 'special' area. (Pork is not consumed in the Saul household). Most of the larger hotels also offer pork dishes.

The fact that the UAE allows pork into the country in the first place reflects the general tolerance there is for other people's way of life. There are churches here, non-muslims can drink alcohol and buy pork. Whilst those three things don't necessarily form the bedrock of every expat's way of life, I think it's pretty decent of the authorities that they are allowed.

When I first arrived here, I knew that alcohol was available, but I was surprised to see that pork was too. More importantly, I was also surprised to see that my local Dubai supermarket was fully stocked with exactly the same brands of razors, shaving cream and deodorant, at much cheaper prices (at least back then) than I was paying in London. I could have saved myself a good chunk of space in my luggage if I had known there was no need to ship over six bottles of Gillette shaving gel for sensitive skin...

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