If you’d asked me how much drinking liquor was tied into to my idea of having fun, I’d have said “not much.” And I’d have been wrong.
It took going all the way the United Arab Emirates to realize it.
The funny thing is, I’m mostly a wine-with-dinner kind of lady. I don’t really like bars or crowds, and I don’t like the feeling of being drunk. Yet, that little glass of something in my hand is apparently my signal to relax, because dinners in beautiful settings just didn’t feel the same without a cocktail. How funny.
I’m guessing I’m far from alone, and the UAE struggles with this fact. The country belongs to the more open-minded part of the Arab world, and it aspires to be an international playground. Tourism is an important part of its economy. The UAE wants you to visit, and wants you to have a good time while you are there.
So, although observant Muslims are expected to remain liquor-free, concessions are made. Non-Muslim locals can purchase a small amount of alcohol for personal use. Visitors can buy drinks in some hotels.
As a wine drinker, I discovered a glass of my favorite beverage was not only pricey there, it was generally mediocre at best, and stingily poured. I never bought more than one. But, I could buy it.
I did look hard at the substitutes that were provided. How do the non-drinkers remind themselves it is time for play?
Well, in the big cities of the UAE, physical beauty abounds. From dancing fountains and light shows to magnificent architecture, Dubai practically screams at you to appreciate the visual treats in front of your eyes.
Indulgence of the taste buds is everywhere. Food is lavish and generally quite good. Options for extreme indulgence tempt even the budget traveler.
It’s only a few dollars more to get 23 Karat gold flakes added to ones cappuccino. Who can resist the idea? My travel companion and I couldn’t.
Shopping malls are more common than anywhere I’ve ever been, and many of them stay open past midnight. There are water parks and themed museums and plenty more such places to go to relax.
The thriving tourism industry offers thrills instead of drinks. Dune bashing in 4-wheel drive vehicles is popular, and if you pick the right tour, you can also get a henna tattoo. And ride a camel for a minute or too. And watch some pretty impressive fire dancing, up close and personal.
Fun. We all want to have it. Travel to a predominately Muslim country gets one to thinking about whether a drink or two always needs to be part of the recipe.