Pork and alcohol. No no, not together (at least not typically), but pork and liquor are the two items that are tough to find here in the UAE due to Muslim beliefs – the UAE is an Islamic country (rulers and all).
I happen to love both, pork and alcohol that is, so I was really worried (#whitegirlproblems) that I wouldnt be able to find them here and would need to have visitors smuggle in bacon and wine 😉 Not the case, thankfully! Here’s a bit of background:
Alcohol in the gulf is not fully or strictly forbidden, as indicated in the little map above; the rules really vary from country to country. Thankfully, we live in one of the dark green countries and can buy alcohol, meaning we can purchase alcohol at duty free in the airport, in limited liquor stores with a special license, or in hotels. Phew! We just applied for our liquor license where we essentially had to show proof of our residency, our religion (no Muslims need apply), and our salary – hopefully we should be receiving that in the next few days!
Now some brief background as to why alcohol is haraam (forbidden) in Islam; truly, the abstinence form alcohol is a command from Allah (dictated in the Qur’ran), which is the law that governs Islamic nations, Dubai included. Alcohol is haraam for the reasons you would anticipate (and understandably so): it impairs judgement (and could cloud prayer) and it could be viewed as addictive. To each his own, and while we’re here, I definitely want to respect the rules and customs here in the UAE (though, selfishly I am glad we live in one of those dark green countries!) 🙂
So that brings me to the other item: pork. Above is a photo that I snapped in the grocery earlier today of the pork section – non-Muslims only! In there, there are the pork lunch meats, pork chops, pork and beans…you name something with even trace amounts of pork in it, you will find it in this section; and each grocery store I’ve encountered here so far has one of these special areas.
As with Jewish law, Islamic law similarly states that “…for the consumption of pork, that the land animal must have split hooves and chew its cud and it cannot have one and not the other…the pig has split hooves but does not chew its cud.” (per Wikipedia). THEREFORE, no pork for Muslims. That’s okay, more bacon for us 🙂 (Side note: turkey bacon is really good!)
So there you have it: two forbidden food/drink items here in Dubai. If you have any interest, you can read more about halal here – the more you know, right? Until next time….