Gay Abu Dhabi – The Nomadic Boys

Gay Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi is the capital of the United Arab Emirates and second-most populous city in the UAE after Dubai.

Initially, Abu Dhabi began as a magnet for the oil industry, but over the last decade, it grew massively in popularity as a tourist destination.

Whilst crime is very low in Abu Dhabi and it is a safe destination to visit, for the LGBTQ community, the reality is a lot different. Homosexuality is illegal here, so just like LGBTQ rights in Dubai, you run the risk of being arrested and/or deported if you get caught being open! Despite this, many LGBTQ expats (who are mainly cabin crew for Etihad) live here without any problems and have even created their own underground gay scene.

We visited Abu Dhabi during our travels in the UAE and give our take on whether we think Abu Dhabi is safe for gay travellers based on our first-hand experience. To be clear, we are not advocating Abu Dhabi as a gay haven, simply an honest account of what it was like for us.

By Stefan Arestis – Full Story at the Nomadic Boys

Gay Lebanon – The Nomadic Boys

Gay Lebanon - The Nomadic Boys

Exquisite food, impressive UNESCO sites, crazy nightlife and some of the most handsome guys to walk this planet…on the face of it, Lebanon is a gay man’s wet dream right?
In some ways, it sure is! By Middle Eastern Arab standards, Lebanon is often regarded as a very liberal and progressive place. There’s even a vibrant gay scene in Beirut. We certainly rate Lebanon as one of the most gay friendly countries in the Arab world.

BUT: this is by Middle Eastern standards!

The Middle East is one part of the world where being openly gay can get you into a great deal of trouble (Israel, a gay paradise, being the sole exception). For example, in say, Saudi Arabia, Egypt or Iran it’s a straight-up capital punishment. In places like Lebanon, Dubai or Abu Dhabi, being gay is very much an arrestable offence that can get you a prison sentence, a fine and deportation.

The purpose of this article is to describe our experience of travelling in Lebanon as a gay couple, present a balanced perspective and give advice for LGBTQ travellers who want to explore it. It is a stunning country, one that you won’t regret visiting…but this is still very much an Arab country where being gay is against the law. You will need to go back into the closet, avoid all PDAs, set all your social media to private and never post anything gay related online before or during your trip.

By Stefan Arestis – Full Story at the Nomadic Boys

Dubai Gay Life – The Nomadic Boys

Dubai Gay Life - The Nomadic Boys

“How dare you promote travel to countries where being gay is illegal Nomadic Boys, you should be ASHAMED!”

…is the typical comment we receive on social media each time one of our posts about gay Dubai, gay Abu Dhabi or gay Iran gets shared. But before you judge, remember that whilst a country has anti-gay laws, that same country still has an LGBTQ community who you risk turning your back on, right when they need you the most.

We have always been adamant that just because a country has spurious LGBTQ laws, this should not prevent us from visiting. We instead believe that it is far more productive to get out there and be a visible and positive representation of our community to show to that society that we are not some freak perversion that needs to be persecuted. Doing this is going to do so much more for the local LGBTQ community’s struggle for visibility against an oppressive government, than boycotting them is going to achieve.

Dubai Gay Life

But look, we get it! We also used to feel this way. After all, the United Arab Emirates is no different than its Middle Eastern neighbours when it comes to LGBTQ rights. In short, there are none. Being gay here is a crime, full stop! Officially it’s punishable by imprisonment, deportation, a fine, and worse, death. Whether or not these are strictly enforced, the very existence of these laws is so insulting that it simply serves to conjure up natural feelings of intense hatred within us – “how can such a government be so loathsome of us that it wants to eradicate and kill us? How dare they?!”

Yet we disagree that boycotting them is the solution. That is what these oppressive governments want us to do: ignore and turn our backs on them so they can continue crushing any LGBTQ visibility and pretend we don’t exist! Instead, from our travels in countries with anti-gay laws, we’ve learnt that the more productive way forward is to get out there and support gay friendly businesses in that country as much as we can and use our platform to give a voice to the local LGBTQ community.

Therefore, for this article, we are super proud that our buddy, Zayed, was happy for us to interview him about what gay life is like in Dubai and what it’s like growing up gay in the UAE. Zayed has however asked that he is anonymous in this interview using ‘Zayed’ as his alias.

By Stefan Arestis – Full Story at the Nomadic Boys

Lebanon Gay Life – The Nomadic Boys

Lebanon Gay Life - The Nomadic Boys

When it comes to LGBTQ rights, Lebanon is a bit of a blur. On the one hand, it’s renowned for being one of the most gay friendly Arab countries, but on the other, life is still a challenge for the local LGBTQ community.

Lebanon has a fantastic gay scene (by Arab country standards!), it has the largest gay club of the Arab world (called POSH), it’s the only Arab country that has a Pride event, and has a growing number of politicians that publicly campaign for the decriminalisation of homosexuality.

But, this is still a place where conservative homophobic religious voices retain a strong influence in politics as can be seen by the way they try to repress Beirut Pride each year.

We were fortunate to meet the founder of Beirut Pride, Hadi Damien. In 2018, Hadi was arrested and only released on condition that he cancels the remainder of that year’s Beirut Pride. A year later, the 2019 Beirut Pride formally went ahead, but the organisers were, again, forced to cancel the opening event due to the same religious pressure. In this interview, Hadi tells us more about his experience as an LGBTIQ+ activist in Lebanon, his experience being arrested, and what life is like for the local LGBTIQ+ community.

Lebanon Gay Life

I grew up in a family that was not obsessed with gender roles and stereotypes. There were, admittedly, the occasional “you’re a boy, don’t act like a girl” comments which destabilised me and contributed to my self-consciousness. I monitored my gestures, my tone of voice, and later on my glances.

Gay or not, I’d probably have gone to the same school, but my experience with homophobia would have been different.

By Stefan Arestis – Full Story at the Nomadic Boys

Gay Beirut – The Nomadic Boys

Lebanon is one of the most liberal, progressive and gay friendly places in the Arab world. This is saying a lot for a country where homosexuality is still a crime. However, by comparison to its Arab neighbours, Beirut has the best (albeit quite underground) gay scene, including one of the largest gay clubs in the Middle East called POSH.

We visited gay Beirut from Cyprus to celebrate Stefan’s birthday over a long weekend and absolutely loved the food, the people and of course the many gay parties. This is our gay guide to Beirut featuring the best gay bars and clubs, events, gay friendly hotels and best things to do.

Gay Rights in Lebanon

Lebanon doesn’t have the best track record with regards to LGBTQ rights. Homosexuality is illegal, there are no anti-discrimination laws, there is absolutely zero recognition of same-sex partnerships and the LGBTQ community are banned from openly serving in the Lebanese army.

On the plus side, proactive steps are being taken by judges and some politicians to decriminalise homosexuality and it was declassified as an illness in 2013. In addition, the right to change legal gender was introduced in 2016. From our experience travelling in the Middle East, Lebanon definitely ranks as one of the most gay friendly Arab countries, but remember, this is an extremely conservative region of the world when it comes to LGBTQ rights.

By Stefan Arestis – Full Story at the Nomadic Boys

Middle East Gay Travel Resources

Jerusalem Museums – Globetrotter Girls

Jerusalem Museums

Visiting Israel is always a wonderful idea. You’ll want to see as many historic sites as you can while you are there, and specifically in the holy city of Jerusalem. Jerusalem packs a huge punch in the tourist department – from ancient architecture to modern structures. But the Jerusalem museums are don’t-miss outings. Here are my favorites.

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Gay in Iran – The Globetrotter Guys Boys

Gay Iran - The Globetrotter Guys

We have never been to Iran and in all honesty know very little about it. Speaking to friends, they would say the same.

Iran is ruled under Sharia Law which to say the least is very anti LGBT and as a gay couple, this often deters us from visiting a country like Iran. Safety comes first after all.

As such, we were very intrigued when speaking with one of our followers on Instagram, Pouya and his boyfriend Sobhan, who are a gay couple living in Iran.

With such little information out there about the day to day life of a gay Iranian we wanted to ask some questions to learn more about gay Iran, give these guys a platform and share their responses with you.

If anything, perhaps someone reading this from Iran or a similar country may take comfort in this interview and know they have people in their country that support them!

Anyway, over to Sobhan and Pouya to learn about being gay in Iran:

Hi guys, thank you so much for speaking with us! Please introduce yourself to our readers!

Pouya: Hi Sion, Ben and everyone reading this!

We are so glad to know you both and wish to see you one day here in Iran or somewhere else.

My name is Pouya, I am 30 years old and M.S. at Energy Engineering. I am working at an energy management company and still live at my parent’s home.

Me and Sobhan have been in a relationship for 1.5 years and we are planning to live together soon.

By Stefan Arestis – Full Story at Globetrotter Guys

 

Dubai Gay Friendly Hotels – The Nomadic Boys

Dubai Gay Friendly Hotels - The Nomadic Boys

In 1991, there was just one sole lonely skyscraper in Dubai: the Dubai World Trade Centre. Fast forward 3 decades, the city has mushroomed with over 400, including the tallest building in the world – the Burj Khalifa (830m / 2,723ft). Dubai’s growth over the past 30 years has accelerated its reputation from a desert city to one of the the most exciting and modern places in the world, earning it the nickname: the Las Vegas of the Middle East.

Dubai is also a major transport hub, making it a useful stopover to break up a long flight. Whether you’re visiting on a holiday or a layover, it’s always a fun place to come for beach time, shopping and some fascinating culture.

Gay travellers should be mindful that homosexuality is illegal in Dubai, so take care to avoid all public displays of affection. Despite this, a large underground LGBTQ scene does exist, particularly among the large cabin crew staff who live here.

In terms of gay, male-only hotels, there are none!

Your friend in destinations like these are the large international brands, which are accustomed to LGBTQ travellers and will always welcome us. Here are our favorite Dubai gay friendly hotels.

By Stefan Arestis – Full Story at The Nomadic Boys

 

Lesbian Tel Aviv – Go Girlfriend

Lesbian Tel Aviv - Go Girlfriend

If Tel Aviv isn’t on your radar as a destination you need to visit, think again. The city is buzzing. It’s vibrant and artsy. It also has great shopping and a growing culinary scene. It’s happens to be Israel’s fastest growing city and its second largest after Jerusalem. Plus, over the past decade, Israel in general has become much safer in terms of security and you can travel without worry.

We consider Tel Aviv to be one of those gateway cities where flights are frequent and plentiful. Like Iceland is a stopover opportunity for many trans-atlantic flights, adding Tel Aviv as a stopover to a Mediterranean vacation can introduce you to a new cultural experience pretty easily.

Tel Aviv may seem far from where you live, but with a bit of planning and foresight, you can plan a trip there quite easily and go for a few days, or even a week, if you have the time. Tel Aviv makes for a great girl’s getaway with your girlfriends or sisters. Or go on a multi-generational trip with one, or both, of your parents and children. While it’s in the Middle East, Tel Aviv is more like New York City than Cairo. It’s modern, with skyscrapers and large buildings, plenty of hotels, and so much to see and do.

By Holly Rosen Fink – Full Story at Go Girlfriend

Lesbian Tel Aviv Travel Resources

 

Most Gay Friendly Muslim Countries – Keep Calm and Wander

Most Gay Friendly Muslim Countries - The Nomadic Boys

Being openly gay in the Arab world is certainly not an easy feat! If it doesn’t land you a jail sentence or even a death penalty, the huge stigma attached to it will likely compromise your job prospects, alienate your family, or worse, make you the target of some pretty nasty homophobic violent crimes.

We have travelled extensively around the Middle East as a gay couple and overall had a positive experience. For example, we climbed the world’s tallest building in Dubai, got lost in the rich culture of Jerusalem, wondered around the souks of Tunis, visited stunning mosques in Abu Dhabi and even found a few gay clubs in Beirut. Of course we were always cautious to avoid any public displays of affection and only booked a double bed in hotels we were certain are gay friendly.

In this article, we’ve set out the 5 most gay friendly Arab countries based on our first hand experience and research. To be clear, this relates to the 22 Arab countries around the Middle East and North Africa, which are also member states of the Arab League. They are: Jordan, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Morocco, Mauritania, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, the Comoro Islands, Iraq, Djibouti, and the United Arab Emirates. This does not include Israel, Turkey and Iran.

The point of this article is to show that outside of the pink comfort zone of the gay friendly countries of the world, there also exist pockets of LGBTQ friendly destinations, even in the more unlikely of places, like in the Arab world!

By Stefan Arestis – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander