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07 November 2006

Veiled shots

Broken connection?

Smile! You're on candid camera!
Image source: Bonnie Ellis

EUROPE'S ONGOING debate over Muslim veils reminds me of the time last year when I tried taking photographs of Abu Dhabi's sprawling Marina Mall. It was my first week in the United Arab Emirates, and I wasted no time taking shots of the impressive lobby and black-marble staircase. Suddenly, some tall, burly men descended upon me with the menacing attitude of Attila the Hun.

“You are not allowed to take photographs of Arab women,” snarled one of them, his dark Middle Eastern eyes ready to devour my camera. My first thought after this rude interruption was, “Which part of this lobby looks like an Arab woman?” I held my tongue back (because the burly men were scary and I was getting scared) and looked around.

Voila! I saw the object of our contention. There, at the foot of the staircase, stood three women. With black veils shrouding them from head to foot, it was easy to miss them in the black-marbled architecture of the mall.

When in Rome (Dubai, in this case), do as the Romans (Dubai'ites) do: don't shoot the women.

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