Queer Dubai: Safe for Queer Travelers? – The Nomadic Boys

Author: , August 30th, 2018

Queer Dubai

Dubai is regarded as the Vegas of the Middle East. Just like Las Vegas it’s a new, modern city built in the middle of a desert. Unlike Las Vegas however, you risk getting into quite a bit of trouble if you openly express your sexuality in public…

Dubai is one of the 7 “Emirates” of the United Arab Emirates, a country ruled by a monarchy with Sharia Law in place. The other 6 Emirates are Abu Dhabi (the capital), Ajman, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm al-Quwain.

We explore whether queer Dubai is safe for gay travellers to visit, particularly in light of the anti-gay laws in place.

Is it legal to be gay in Dubai?

Short answer, no. Sadly, in Dubai, good old fashioned Sharia Law rules the school. If you’re caught having consensual gay sex, you face a short prison sentence and deportation.

In reality however, the Sharia police don’t come knocking on your door spying on your every move. The previous arrests of LGBTQ tourists happened as a result of public occurrences, like a Lebanese/Bulgarian lesbian couple kissing on a public beach, or a Pakistani/Filipino gay couple having oral sex in a car. In both situations the couples were arrested, imprisoned for a few months, then deported. One famous trans celebrity, Gigi Gorgeous, was denied entry to Dubai in August 2016 when the immigration staff realised she is trans.

Is there a gay scene in Dubai?

As it’s illegal to be gay here, there is no official gay scene in Dubai or LGBTQ organisation. However, thanks to the large expat population and the 20,000+ Emirates cabin crew who are based here, Dubai is seen as a sort of gay mecca by Arab men from surrounding countries. This is because there are a number of underground unannounced gay events taking place each week.

By Stefan Arestis – Full Story at Nomadic Boys

Ten Things to Do in Bahrain – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , May 18th, 2018

Bahrain - Keep Calm and Wander

Riches are the first thing that comes to everyone’s mind when most people think of the Arab world. However, I’d like to add here that besides all of its oil reserves, luxury hotels, glittering gold, and everything expensive, I found Bahrain rich in culture, too. Wandering through the following 8 locations like the intrepid tourist that I am, I could sense the wisps of Arabian culture and the evolution of Bahrain to be just as fresh as anyone would think.

Let’s get down to the list of my top 10 things to do in Bahrain, shall we?

1. Say hi to the history at the Bahrain National Museum

Hitting on its cultural fabric, I first managed to visit a museum. Not just any museum, but the most popular and diverse museum of all the museums in Bahrain. Its postmodern building had much in store for me and I was literally dazzled by the type of landscaping that’s been done here. My favorite sights from the museum are the archeological relics from Dilmun Civilization and the temporary exhibits on tales.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Gay Iran – Tips for Queer Travelers – The Nomadic Boys

Author: , May 12th, 2018

Gay Iran

This is a guest post by fellow gay blogger Michael Demmons of the TheRTWGuys travel blog:

Iran’s human rights record is bad. There is no sugar-coating that. When it comes to gay people, it’s almost as bad as it gets. Most LGBT people who follow the news know the terrible punishments that Iran has imposed for people even suspected of being gay.

Some human rights organisations say that between 4,000-6,000 gay men and lesbians have been executed in Iran since 1979. As recently as April 2017, 30 gay men were arrested in the Isfahan province.

Transgender people fare no better. The only “bright” side is that being transsexual is legal in Iran, but only if accompanied by a gender reassignment surgery. Surprisingly, that surgery can be partially covered by the government. In fact, after Thailand, Iran carries out the most sex reassignment surgeries than any other country in the world.

Is Iran safe for gay citizens? Probably not in general.

Is Iran safe for gay tourists? That’s a little more complicated.

By Stefan Arestis – Full Story at the Nomadic Boys

Fireworks at the Yanbu Flower Festival – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , April 5th, 2018

Yanbu Flower Festival - Keep Calm and Wander

Yanbu Flower Festival is on from March 1 – April 7, 2018. Saudi Arabia isn’t really famous for its flowers because of its weather – and we’re all surprised to hear such an event like this.

Visiting Time: It opens right after the 4:00 o’clock prayer in the afternoon and closes at 11:00 PM.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Twenty Seven Hours in Kuwait – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , March 22nd, 2018

Kuwait - Keep Calm and Wander

Early this year, I was in Kuwait for 27 hours connecting flight on my way to Sri Lanka. It’s my first time to fly Kuwait Airlines and I was not impressed. My flight was delayed for an hour and a half – and apparently, it’s normal for this airline. That’s according to the Kuwaiti guy who is a frequent flyer sitting next to me. Boo…

What to do in Kuwait? I really have no idea. The country is not known as a tourist destination. There’s only very little information about what to do in the city / country. Even my friend who has been living in the Kuwait City for years can’t really recommend a place to visit. He did tell me to walk along the corniche leading to Kuwait Towers. And that’s exactly what I did in the morning – before the heat could burn me to hell.:D What we all know is that they’re rich in gas and oil.

But, of course, there are things to do in Kuwait. I was just not into exploring the city due to the heat, expensive taxis and in such a short time.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Harissa: Where The Virgin Mary is Watching Over Lebanon – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , November 13th, 2017

Harissa - Alain

Lebanon is a predominantly Muslim country but it is the most open-minded muslim country I’ve ever been to. Beirut, as a capital, is littered with Christian churches and mosques. People of two different faiths live in harmony. It’s a city where I didn’t feel like I have to watch out what I do.

I never had that feeling of being paranoid. Sorry Dubai or Abu Dhabi but you still make me paranoid everything I go there (8 times in the past two years). There’s this constant feeling of being watchful – because you don’t wanna end up in jail by just accidentally touching a man’s hip, right? Beirut, on the other hand, has a carefree, relaxed air despite the horrible traffic in the city. The people are nice and the Lebanese men are – oh, boy, don’t get me talking about them. Let’s just say, they’re my type. LOL…

About Harissa. It is a small community on top of Mt. Lebanon where a huge statue of the Virgin Mary is watching down the city with open arms. To reach Harissa, you’ve got to go to Jounieh, a city just 27 kms outside Beirut. It would take an hour with the endless traffic. Or less. Once you reach Jounieh, take a 9-minute cable ride to the top of Mt. Lebanon. You can also drive up there by car but riding the cable would be more panoramic and satisfying.

Jounieh. This city is famous for its club and restaurants. In fact, it is the nightlife spot of Beirut. You can admire its stunning view of the bay when you’re up there in Harissa.

Biblical City. Do you know that Mary and Jesus used to live in Lebanon? It’s been said that Mary would wait for Jesus at a cave in Maghdouche while he preached in Sidon and nearby places.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Lebanon Gay Travel Resources

Al Amin Mosque in Beirut – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , September 23rd, 2017

Al Amin Mosque - Keep Calm and Wander

While I was in Beirut, I had the chance to go inside Al Amin Mosque. The locals call it as Blue Mosque, simply because of its blue dome that sits on top of it. Mohammad Al Amin is not an ancient mosque. Compared to the Blue Mosque in Turkey, in Egypt or in any other countries in the Middle East, this is a new place of worship. It was inaugurated in 2008.

When I visited there on a hot June weather, I was hesitant to go inside because I was wearing shorts. However, I had a colourful sarong inside my bag, just in case I’d be refused entry. I could simply wrap it around my waist to cover my flawless legs.

I was there around 10:30 in the morning but the guard told me to come back at 11:00 because the janitors were still cleaning. So, I walked around the area – despite the searing heat and went back 30 minutes later. Good thing was – the guard let me in – with me in knee-length shorts. He asked if I were a muslim and when I said no, he handed me out a leaflet about Islam. He directed me to a space where I could place my shoes properly. I was the first visitor (or tourist) that day and it was so quiet. I could even hear my own footsteps on a carpeted floor. In fact, I was even guilty of making a teeny bit of a sound.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

I Love Beruit – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , September 7th, 2017

I Love Beirut - Keep Calm and Wander

A lot of cities around the world are joining the fad of installing “I Love …” signs. We have that, too, in my city – Toronto. These signs are usually placed in downtown area or where locals congregate. Or in touristy neighbourhoods.

Beirut, of course, has one. Its “I Love Beirut” sign is found at the lovely Beirut Souks. This is a trendy shopping area where fashionistas abound. Boy, I couldn’t get my eyes off those chic Lebanese men here.

But, one thing I noticed is that, shopping here is a bit more expensive than shopping in Toronto or NYC. You’ll find international brands and fabulous restaurants that serve local cuisine. The good thing is, it’s not touristy and crowded.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Lebanon Gay Travel Resources

Lebanese Cuisine – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , July 8th, 2017

Lebanese Cuisine - Alain

Below are photos of Lebanese cuisine / food I ate while in Beirut for three nights. These are all the dinner food we had for iftar. This is not a regular meal for dinner but it’s a food feast (aka, food porn).

Imagine three adults and a child gorging on these delightful cuisine? We had more than enough for all of us. I never went back to my hotel room every night without feeling bloated and exhausted from eating. Hahahahaha…

Thanks to a high school friend of mine and her generous Lebanese husband who spoiled me with these foods. Their hospitality made me gain extra pounds; Man, I’ve got to try what’s on the table, right? So, you can’t put all the blame on me.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Lebanon Gay Travel Resources

Beruit Pigeon Rocks – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , July 6th, 2017

Beruit Pigeon Rocks

“You’ve never been to Beirut if you don’t have a photo of yourself at Pigeon Rocks.” Those were the words of a friend who offered to host me at her house. I can’t blame her. If you google Beirut or Lebanon photos, Pigeon Rocks never fail to show up. Try googling “Things to do in Beirut” and these rocks are always on the list. In fact, it’s not just the tourists go there – they’re also a hit to the locals.

The cliff that overlooks Beirut Pigeon Rocks is a popular destination for the tourists. It is also a favourite hangout for the locals where cafes littered along the streets. The sea views are a welcome respite from the busy streets of Lebanon’s capital city.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Lebanon Gay Travel Resources