Tuesday, March 1, 2011

What the F?!

Last weekend I decided to take advantage of the tail end of the Dubai Shopping Festival to find some clothes on discount to fit my son who grows like a weed.  The prices of kids clothes is really almost criminal these days, so until they are older and much more choosier, this is the only way.

One thing that often surprises me here is the music that is played in some of the stores.  This was a place that sells beachwear and surfboards, so I get that the music should be a bit edgy, but when I hear the repeated use of the f-word, I am always a bit shocked and confused.  How does that work in a Sharia law country?  Even in a non-Sharia law country, it’s an unlikely mix except maybe in a tattoo parlor?  While Dubai is very cosmopolitan, I’m not just sure how down it is with urban language.

This is not the first time that I have come across this, nor am I the only one. I have other friends in Dubai who have had the same experience.  Once I was in a shop that sold professional clothing for men and women and some of the raunchiest rap music I have ever heard was on.  I asked the staff if they were aware of what the lyrics were saying; they had no idea.  When I explained them to the manager, he immediately ran to the back of the store and turned the music off creating a very embarrassing silence.

I’m personally not that offended by people who use the f-word, or other four letter words.  I grew up in Texas, and both men and women alike use it.  It can be useful sometimes.  At the least it’s a great emphasizer, or stress reliever.  I have cleaned it up now that I am a mom, although I am human, I digress sometimes.  I do not use it graphically, and I do not like to listen to it where my response is “eww” or some other similar reaction to disgust.

So, out of curiosity, I asked the manager who selects their music.  Perhaps it’s a playlist sent from the company.  For many vendors this is an important extension of their brand.  He informed me it was just various playlists from the employees’ i-pods.  Basically, whatever they were in the mood for.

So, I then have to ask, “How does that work with the f-word and all in Dubai?” He was kind of embarrassed and didn’t know what to say.  I didn’t want to embarrass him, or put him on the spot, but since I have come across this before, curiosity was killing me.  So I proceed.  “How does that work if His Highness, Sheikh Mohammed came in to shop?  I mean do you think he would mind the f-word in the music?” While his primary language is Arabic, like most locals in this country, he speaks English very well.

The shop manager then proceeds to explain to me that they would for sure change the music if Sheikh Mohammed, or someone else of high level came into the store.  I am visualizing this seeing staff leap over surfboards and bikinis as Sheikh Mohammed enters.  Would they make it to the i-pod in time to push the button to the next song, or even better, change it to the Sheikh Mohammed preferred surf playlist?

The manager then proceeded to ensure me that they were careful with their choice of music and if a song had too many profanities in it, then they definitely would not play it.  However, one or two f-words are okay.  How can I argue with this logic?  It clearly makes sense! 

On that note, I proceeded to purchase some new swimming shorts for my son and head over to the other beach shop across the hall to see if there was anything on sale for mom.  As I walked in, my favorite Nelly song Hot in Here was on.   I love this jam, and I probably do not understand half the lyrics with out the help of an urban dictionary.  For those of you not familiar with this song, its gettin’ hot and Nelly is encouraging a girl to strip as they dance.  But the groove is excellent.


Noon Kaaf said...

Excellent Stuff Pam. You have picked up an issue here that has many other under-currents for life in Dubai. The duality of existence that we have here. Keep it up!!

Pam said...

Thanks Noon :)