There are two unique factors that contribute to tensions in Dubai.
The first is its explosive growth. Money pouring in has made it a city of luxuries; however, those luxuries come at a price.
The second is that 90 percent of its population is from other countries. With such a large expat population, it's easy to forget that it's part of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and, consequently, subject to UAE laws. While any country has the right to govern itself how it chooses, the challenge is that these laws are often very different from what expats might expect, so something that was normal back home can land you in jail.
Dubai blocks content that contradicts "the ethics and morals of the UAE." While this is mainly targeted towards gambling, pornography and illegal drugs, it has been used to block news websites and blogs that were critical of the UAE and sites that support the LGBT community.
Dubai has a Code of Conduct which polices people's speech and dress. Profanity and rude gestures are illegal. This can be an unpleasant surprise when visitors come from countries where those behaviors aren't restricted.
Non-Muslims are only allowed to consume, transport or possess alcohol if they have a license to do so, though licensed establishments often don't check to see if people have the correct permits to drink.
Although Dubai is a popular holiday spot, drunken shenanigans that might get you a fine or a warning back home could land you in jail for up to six months in Dubai.
You can be imprisoned for up to 10 years for consensual gay sex in Dubai. Couples who have been caught have been thrown in jail. You might think you're safe if you're straight, but a 15-year-old boy who was kidnapped and raped was accused by the doctor who examined him of being gay and fled Dubai out of fear of being charged with homosexuality.
9. Its Construction Workers Live In Slave-Like Conditions
Upon entering Dubai, however, their passports are seized and they work in conditions that are "hazardous to the point of being deadly." Employers withhold wages for months at a time and have them live in cramped labor camps with overflowing toilets and little food.
10. Domestic Workers Who Are Abused Have Little Protection
Domestic workers in Dubai are brought in from Asia and Africa, where recruiters convince them that it's a way out of poverty.
Once they're there, however, they're subject to abuse from employers such as failing to pay them their wages, forcing them to work long hours without breaks and denying them food and medical treatment. Some workers have even reported that they've been physically abused, such as one woman, who claims her employer broke her wrist and then refused to take her to a doctor. Other women have said that they've been raped by their employer. Their employers, however, hold their visas and have say over whether they stay in the country, so these workers are reticent to report these abuses.
Even if they did, domestic migrant workers aren't protected by UAE labor laws.
11. Women Who've Been Raped Have Been Convicted Of Crimes