Jul 7, 2010

SATC 2 - The REAL Story

There have been very few times I've wanted to walk out of a film that I've paid good money to watch, but Sex & The City's latest big screen offering was one such occasion.  This post may be late as no doubt many of you have already seen the sequel but I've been longing to share my thoughts as someone who lived and worked in the United Arab Emirates and has a little inside information on what really went on. Intrigued?...

In March last year, Dubai was abuzz with the possibility of SATC serving as the next location for the sequel. You see, the man behind the franchise, Michael Patrick King, had turned up at the Harvey Nichols' spring/summer fashion parade and was captivated with the well-heeled ladies that attend this annual highlight on the city's social calendar. After exploring the sights which included dining at one of Dubai's top nightspots, Zuma, and staying at the stunning Park Hyatt, he was convinced this relatively progressive Middle Eastern metropolis was the perfect spot for a good old fashioned romp.

BUT on a return visit he was told to leave by UAE officials, denied permits to film in the city and that's when the plot took a disastrous and vengeful turn for the worse. Instead of a celebration of one of the most liberal Middle Eastern cities (where a large population of Western expatriates live happily) it became one giant stereotype, completely disrespectful to Arab culture, not just Muslims. And don't get me wrong, I fundamentally disagree with some of the UAE's laws but just like any other destination I visit, it's my choice to be their guest and so I abide by their rules. 

So here's to putting the record straight:
  • Giving ANYONE the one-finger salute in public will ensure a one-way ticket to jail. It's one of the most highly offensive gestures to both men AND women of the Arab world.
  • Many Arab women are highly educated and well-travelled. It was ludicrous to suggest all the veiled women in the souk had never seen New York. A wealthy Emirati not only travels extensively but also owns some of the world's most sought-after real estate.
  • Emirati women are NOT required by law to wear a veil (called a shiela, by the way). It is part of their national costume and wear it as a matter or pride, it has nothing to do with religion.
  • Tank tops, bare legs and strapless dresses make up the majority of expatriates' wardrobes. YES, some situations or public venues require a little more cover up but very few women feels this impacts on their daily lives.
  • No one considers Abu Dhabi - the UAE capital - to be glamorous, that's a title solely owned by its neighbouring emirate, Dubai.

I would love to hear your thoughts on SATC. To be frank, I was annoyed with the characters long before the sequel hit our screens and thought the Carrie-Mr Big relationship was completely counter to the  so-called empowering message it peddles. If you are interested in how Dubai's REAL glitterati go about their fashionable lives check out Red Velvet Nation or Harper's Bazaar Arabia on Facebook. You'll find plenty of Louboutins and Birkins, but not one single camel!

1 comment:

dana said...

This film could not have been worse! I stayed only because my daughter and sister-in-law were with me and we were having a girl's day, but I had to force myself to stay in the theater. Plus I was hoping they'd take the Arab stereotype all the way and behead the lot of them.

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