Dubai: Where morality and modernity coexist

Armstrong Williams | 1/31/2019, 12:50 p.m.
When I arrived in Dubai two week ago as the guest of billionaire business mogul Khalaf Al Habtoor, I expected ...
Armstrong Williams

The Arab perspective on news, information and the media is tailored around Arab values—the values of family, morality and rule of law. Unlike in America, where we have the First Amendment that protects journalists from government interference, the Arabs see the media as a political actor. They hold the highest standards of reporting to provable facts and have very strict laws against publishing false and misleading information. From their perspective, these restrictions help hold the media to a higher standard of reporting of facts in a balanced way.

This view also extends to almost all other parts of Arab society. Their society is held together by a strong sense of moral and family values that start at the household level and go all the way up to the legal and political system of the country. Dubai, for example, has been compared with Las Vegas because of its opulence and luxury. But in almost all other respects, it is the complete opposite. There is almost no crime in Dubai, no drugs, no alcohol and no pornography, and everyone is treated with dignity and respect. The reality is that women are protected; there is very little sexual harassment or child abuse. The society strictly enforces moral values and insists that everyone adheres to them.

Although their approach might be widely criticized in the West, in many respects it is the envy of the world in terms of achieving a society of peace, civility and prosperity. We might criticize their rule of law, but it works when people adhere to the standard instead of practicing moral relativism. Seeing the fruits of morality in Dubai makes one wonder whether our society here in the West might have gone too far in terms of accommodating immoral behavior to preserve the mantle of “freedom.”

It is truly remarkable that Dubai and the other emirates have managed to build modern and robust societies that reflect their own values of moral excellence. Americans who admire their society should keep that in mind and try and consider whether there are lessons to be learned here at home.