Stage, Film, TV
Arab Emirates: No ‘Sex and the City’

Sex and the City 2 had a unique challenge: How to make the fashions that are like a fifth character on the show, seem – at least loosely – appropriate for a Middle Eastern country.

The designers didn’t want to put a shawl on all the characters so they had to figure out other ways to cover their shoulders. Some creative costume choices included harem pants, vintage turbans and crowns made of lace.

Ultimately, reality didn’t stand a chance against the show’s over-the-top fashion sense. For example, Sarah Jessica Parker’s character Carrie wears a purple ball skirt to an Arab market. The movie isn’t actually shot in the Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates – Morocco was the stand-in location.

Producers worked for six months to obtain shooting permits for Dubai, also in the United Arab Emirates, but the title of the film was all that it took to reject the request on moral grounds.

Abu Dhabi too said no. That’s when the shooting location moved some 3700 miles away. The plot of the film follows the four friends from Manhattan on an all-expenses-paid trip to Abu Dhabi for a week.

One can only imagine the trouble that would have ensued if the four fictional, sexually-liberated New Yorkers had actually descended on the conservative Middle Eastern region. Dubai doesn’t tolerate public displays of affection well.

The ladies would have been lucky to leave with some hefty fines cutting into their shoe budgets – if not jail time for their amorous escapades.

Some examples, of Dubai’s hard line on public displays of affection compiled by The Week: December 2004 An Italian man and Egyptian woman are spotted embracing in the back of a cab. The man is fined $3,000. The woman $500.

May 2009 Dubai adopts rules banning holding hands, dancing and kissing – as well as playing loud music in public. March 2010 Two Emirates Airlines crew members get three months in jail for sexting – or sending sexually explicit texts.

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