The First Time I’ve Been Scared At Immigration…

Collectively I’ve spent months of my life in the Middle East, and I’ve never even felt a little bit scared. And that’s only natural, since I’m mostly hanging out in countries like the UAE, and not Yemen.

Dubai-1

The “modern” Arab countries are sort of facing their own crisis, though. They’re torn between traditional roots and trying to build a long-term sustainable economy, which requires foreign labor. So while most of the Gulf countries have very strict laws when it comes to human rights, they’re virtually never enforced, since people would run.

But that doesn’t mean weird things don’t sometimes happen. For example, cussing via text message in the UAE can get you a prison sentence and/or a massive fine, and it’s illegal to write “bad words on social media.” All of which is to say that most of the “modern” Middle East operates under a system of unofficial tolerance, unless you tick off the wrong person.

Like I said, I’ve never felt unsafe anywhere in the Middle East, despite having published many thoughts on Middle Eastern countries, made some jokes about executives at certain Gulf carriers, and being an all around deviant. 😉

Anyway, a couple of days ago I had a ~20 hour layover in Doha, so went into the city for the night. The following day I returned to the gorgeous Hamad International Airport, and headed to the Al Safwa First Class check-in area.

Hamad-Airport-1

There’s a dedicated first class immigration checkpoint at the end of the hall. There was only one counter open, which was being operated by a lady.

There was no queue, so as I went up to the counter she was just chatting away on the phone, as I find to be the norm in the UAE and Qatar. She kept talking, and after maybe 30 seconds hung up. However, she kept mumbling in Arabic — I couldn’t figure out who she was talking to, since she wasn’t on the phone, best I could tell.

Hamad-Airport-2

She kept typing and scrolling and whatnot. After maybe three minutes she said “please wait a while.”

“Sure, no problem. Where should I wait?”

She pointed for me to stand maybe six feet from the counter. There were no other passengers who were being processed, so it reminded me a bit of this scene in “Meet The Parents,” where it’s not Greg’s turn to board yet, even though there’s no one else in the gate area:

I stood there for maybe five minutes, at which point I went back to the counter and said “should I keep waiting over there?”

“Yes, you wait.”

Alrighty.

Some more passengers arrived, who assumed I was queueing for immigration. I said “go ahead, please.” They said “no, you first.” “No, it’s not my turn yet, apparently.”

Hamad-Airport-3

A similar interaction happened with the next dozen or so people who passed the checkpoint.

I actually didn’t put much thought into what was going on until I had been standing there for about 10 more minutes, at which point I went from complete calm to sort of internally panicking.

“Oh shoot, did I piss someone off?” was the first thought which came to my mind. I’ve certainly had some commentary on Qatar’s treatment of workers, and of the airline’s CEO, and of the airline in general… and I suppose I’m orientationally deviant.

A few minutes later a guy showed up in a police uniform, which is different than the more “traditional” dress usually worn by the immigration officers.

He took me over to the next counter, where he started doing a lot of typing and scrolling, had me look in the camera (as is the norm when processing people at the immigration counter), etc.

At this point I wasn’t sure if my next stop was a glass of Krug at the Al Safwa Lounge or a Qatari prison (maybe they serve Krug in Qatari prisons?! Being the richest country in the world has to get you some perks, no?).

Fortunately just as quickly as it all started, I was sent on my way, as the guy opened the immigration “gate” and said “go.” A minute later I was in the Al Safwa Lounge!

Al-Safwa

Certainly one of the stranger situations I’ve faced at immigration, which sent me into a brief panic, if for just a moment.

Anyone have any theories?

Comments

  1. The kicker is that they don’t have to tell you if they have a problem with you or what the problem/issue might be in Middle East countries. They don’t have to tell you why you have to wait, and they didn’t. They don’t have to tell you why you might be taken to an interrogation room, or to prison. The point of this story is to pass on his personal experience. If you don’t want to read it, move on. sheesh.

  2. ? This shows how little you’ve traveled to non ‘first class’ airports. Far more unusual stuff happens in less developed places. you should really try some real world travel sometime.

  3. Had a similar issue in the UAE, entered in AUH and was leaving from DXB. Immigration officer couldn’t find any record of us (3 people) ever entering the country. Took a while and eventually he decided our word and the stamps in our passports were good enough. I figure he didn’t feel like holding up the line and would fix it at a later time.

  4. This happens to me at least 30% of the time — and I never fly to the Middle East. Must be nice being white…

  5. So basically nothing happened. Yawn. I’ve had much worse, like getting denied entry into a country where I had residency (but not citizenship) and getting in trouble at work because of it.

  6. I like your newly coined phrase, “orientationally deviant”
    Should trademark that. But you are not deviant my friend, although some stone age religious idiots/governments may think otherwise. “Orientationally secure” is more like it. Screw them.

  7. Almost as bad as what happened to my “orientationally deviant” partner in another scary place. But not quite.

    I travel there a lot and never thought about it before, although many less experienced (and less enlightened) people have warned me I’m taking chances travelling there. Still, it was probably a one-off, so I’m not going to cross it off my list out of irrational fear.

    But in case anyone’s curious, the airport code was ATL.

  8. I think it is time I stop supporting little nazis like Lucky that write gabage like this. You will no longer get me clinking your credit card links and supporting your bullshit. I think everyone else should do the same. What ever happened to freedom of speech? I guess that does not apply to you when it is uncomfortable for you, because you delete MY COMMENTS!!!! Something that doesn’t agree with you and you go crying…. Amazing how much integrity you think you have and how principled you think you are until it is not in your benefit.
    You have to keep everybody else quite that is not a sucker.
    When I saw the thing about you taking your dad for a big trip, I thought that was awesome, but I wonder if he would give that up in a second to have a son who isn’t gay.
    If I were a father in his position, I would. See, this site is just your bullshit side of the story. We don’t hear about what you do to your parents. Maybe some poor people that don’t love their kids look as a big trip as great and are easily bought off, but real people aren’t.
    AMAZING HOW YOU DON’T HAVE ANY PROBLEM DENYING ME MY RIGHT TO SPEAK…..
    I guess America should have values, but you don’t need to? You just have to hurl hatred around and think you deserve a cookie for doing it.
    FUCK YOU. I’m sure those people in Qatar are glad you are out of their country. Too bad they didn’t get you. And seriously, if they did, it wouldn’t be for anything that you pretend you do, it’d be for being gay, or maybe being a schmuck. You are a descendant of Nazis.

  9. I’m always scared at immigration. Totally unaccountable authorities can do anything they want to you for any reason. It’s like doing business with psychopathic drug cartels, except the drug cartels are actually accountable for getting their business done can’t just detain you forever.

    @Susan yes, exactly the same as US immigration.

    @Lucky I liked the comments better when you were still denying JohnnyMac his freedom of speech.

    Does anyone know why Lucky was passing immigration on his way out of the country? Most countries put immigration on the way into the country. Qatar isn’t one of the pre-clearance countries.

  10. Johnny Mac. Wow. This is just a web page for travelers. It should be just that. I wander what you said that was deleted because if this statement from you was not I think it is best not to read this. Reading this would get me in trouble at school and not to think what my parents would do. Try to enjoy what you have and make the best of it. Wish you the best. Jason F

  11. @johnny Mac

    You are an awful human being. Why would your write such a disgusting post? If you don’t like the site, don’t read the site. Idiot.

  12. Lol why is it that the people who complain the loudest about freedom of speech are the ones who don’t get that it doesn’t apply in this situation?

  13. When Lucky deletes a post that states unambiguously that he is “a descendent of Nazis” he is improving the reading experience for me and I appreciate it.

    We all “get into it” in the comments and there’s plenty of disagreement. I give as good as I get. But there is a limit to the offence one should be subjected to and I think personal insult is a good place to draw the line.

    “Free Speech” refers to your inalienable right to start your own blog, not to ruin someone else’s.

  14. Lucky, I think there was a notation in your profile that required messaging one of His Excellency’s staff to ask whether he wanted you allowed into the lounge, or arrested and sent to prison! Fortunately for you, it was the former. 🙂 Of course I actually have no idea, but its certainly possible Qatar Airways has put an alert on you with Qatari Immigration. In all seriousness, you should be careful what you say about him.

  15. What a pointless and over exaggerated article. You must be completely out of things to write. Basically no story here.

  16. Holy crap, JohnnyMac. You need an education. Freedom of speech means you don’t get put in jail for what you say. It does, however, still allow for the people around you to silence you in a multitude of ways.

  17. @Johnny Mac
    You may want to consider seeing a therapist. If you already do, fire them and hire another. When that fails go crawl back under whatever rock you came from… Society will not miss you.
    Sincerely, straight German guy

  18. Yo J-Mac, good job letting “we the readers” know why you’re being censored and Lucky, that took guts to print because his post was genuinely creepy. Can’t we all just try to get along in a civilized manner?

  19. Why bother visiting Arab countries? My rules for travel are I only visit countries where Americans are liked and the police don’t carry machine guns. There’s no reason, other than a voyeuristic curiosity. to visit Muslim nations until there is a reformation in their world.

  20. It’s funny that Johnny Mac’s name links to “www.tryingtobelucky.com” I think there’s more story there (of the sour grapes variety) than meets the eye.

  21. Given recent events, I believe we all are going to experience some peculiar situations with customs & immigration. I’m not going to worry about it. Tomorrow, I leave for my first trip to Vienna. I guess I should be concerned about security but I am frankly far too happily excited about staying at the Sacher and going to the opera.

  22. Ben, I also appreciate you posting Johnny Mac’s extremely offensive comment. His commentary on your sexual identity and reference to Nazi Germany were way out of line. Perhaps JM should travel a bit more, experience some non-Appalachian culture and practice a bit of tolerance and acceptance. Chill pill Johnny Mac.
    CdB

  23. “orientationally deviant” or not I would tread carefully next time your in that part of the world and on your nights out. They are not “modern” societies, with values stuck in the Stone Age as we know. Be careful lucky.

  24. @ Johnny Mac, you are right, some fathers of gay sons would prefer to have a straight son. I’ll bet that your father would prefer that he had a highly successful gay man instead of a jackass for a son.

  25. You could write a story about getting up and brushing your teeth (or not) and people will line up to comment about it. Morons. Yeah me too!

  26. @Gustavo,

    Ben’s not great at Executive Summaries. You’ve just got to plough through the waffle and think about it for a bit before it hits you. Basically, in this instance, it’s much ado about nothing. Or as some would say, it’s scratching the bottom of the barrel.

  27. Ken’s comment was outstanding!! Summed it up rather nicely I thought!
    Now that we are all aware how narrow minded Johnny Mac is, we can just ignore any future comments he might wish to share!
    It is always polite to make allowances for someone of his type.
    I have to wonder how much or even if, his Daddy loves him and his outstanding attitude?

  28. Wow – some of the comments on here are scary. What is more scary though is that we all wax eloquent about the ME3 when it comes to service and luxury, but actually only like transiting through the airports. Go through immigration in DXB or DOH and the immigration officers are all locals – all other jobs at the airport are handled by migrant workers. The immigration officers hardly even look up, or talk. Most have a cell phone earplug and are chatting away to someone else, don’t even dare smile, and talk in rough and rude gestures and motions of the head and hand. The harsh reality that you are NO ONE dawns pretty fast no matter if you are in the fast track lane or not. All the fawning and attention in one of the EK suites amounts to naught when your blood goes cold as you wonder the worst as Lucky did. Singapore for instance is not particularly warm and welcoming at the immigration desks (both inbound and out) but the officers are professional, polite and efficient with none of the arrogance you encounter in the airports of the ME3. Alas, I still don’t think the 10-20 minutes of being treated like dirt has gotten to the point yet that it would convince me to forego the on board experience they offer (even though QR’s cabin crew seems to have become more surly as of late)

  29. Hi Lucky,
    I just want to say a few things. I personally like your blog a lot and I have been a reader of it for quite a long time. However, I do find it insulting that my countries get insulted like this. (I’m emirati). Everyone has the wrong perception about us. Replying to johnny mac’s comment I would say if you don’t like the fact that he is gay, you should ignore those posts. I do because I don’t find them pleasant to read. However, I would appreciate a less insulting attitude towards my country and others around it.
    Regards,
    Hamdan

  30. When will people understand that freedom of speech is not absolute and certainly doesn’t include the freedom to be a knuckle-dragging f*cknugget. Freedom of speech starts with the responsibility to be civil. Time to bring the ban-hammer down on someone.

  31. Yes, this is a non-story.

    It$ good marketing for Lucky to po$t comment$ like Johnny Mac’$…he get$ to double the amount of comment$ people make for $ure 😉

  32. My analysis is that Johnny Mac hates himself, has daddy issues, and may be gay himself but is too frightened to come out of the closet. We should pity him, but his rants should not be published as he has nothing of interest to say.

    BTW: I had no trouble in Abu Dhabi UAE last month. Quick efficient in and out at immigration.

  33. Susan
    If you were pulled over to the side in the EU or North America, would you be sat down by the officer and offered a cup of coffee with biscuits while they positively engage you in conversation on why you are being held up or if you are willing to go for a secondary screening?
    How narrow minded can you be?

  34. I find Lucky likeable , In person I expect I would enjoy knowing him . I enjoy hearing about travel experiences . As years go by I’m less and less inclined to classify people .
    However if you are rude and hateful it matters not to whom , that is irrelevant , you are simply a rude and hateful person. There is a surplus of such shabby behavior recently . Grow up , be a better person . Don’t disgrace yourself . I’m writing for your benefit johnny mac

  35. Its sad that people dont really have much sympathy for people that this does happen to every day until they think its their turn.

    Here is a reality check for all those people who love going to Dubai, its a backwards place and they are lying to you about how good it is, for some people the lying stops.

  36. I love all these people that think Lucky can block me…….. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
    THAT JUST GOES TO SHOW ABOUT HOW STUPID YOU ARE. You probably believe that TSA provides security too and that we are all safe on planes.
    Lucky can block me about as well as the Obama administration can vet Syrian refugees.

  37. Well we all should be glad to have to right nationality. I would like to share a story which happend to a friend of mine in Qatar. He has the syrian nationality and lived and worked in Doha for more than 10 years. In his last job he was a well paid employee of the state owned agency who is planning for the soccer world cup. So my friend is gay, and though gay rights aren’t existing in the country, but still its a place like the UAE where you can live as a gay, if you keep a low profile. Somehow he must have pissed someone off big time. One day two months ago he was arrested from his beautiful Doha apartment and was imprisoned for 4 weeks without ever have access to an lawyer nor was he been told waht the charges are. He was beaten, and had to sleep in a overcrowded prison cell. At the end he was driven to the airport on a eviction order. At the airport he learned that he had to leave the country forever. He was luck enough not to be evicted towards Syria, as no direct flights exist now, he was send to Turkey. He is now living in Istanbul with the help of friends. Needless to say that his apartment, his bank accounts all his wordly live he enjoyed has been taken from him. He was also given a life long travel ban from all the Gulf countries. I think we have to remember such stories to get the broader picture of these countries.

  38. “He was also given a life long travel ban from all the Gulf countries”

    That part sounds hard to believe.

  39. @Adolph

    If by “irony” you mean to suggest that there were no gay Nazis, perhaps you’d find it interesting to read about Ernst Röhm who headed the Stumabteilung. Röhm was eventually purged and as is more widely known, many gay people were sent to the camps.

  40. I’m always terrified transiting Dubai. Someone was jailed after they found 4 poppy seeds that had fallen off the roll they ate on the plane and someone else was jailed for 4 years after they found a microscopic trace of marijuana (0.003g) on the sole of his shoe.

  41. I seldom have issues at immigration. But lucky seems to have problems following instructions…… of course you are supposed to continue to wait until you are called… unless it is an unreasonably long time and you are up for stirring the shit as they say….you should shut your mouth and wait till you are called.. this applies anywhere ..unless you wanna risk an incident….

    So I had an incident at Batam seaport one day.. coming from Singapore on ferry with a return ferry ticket on my Canadian passport I was asked by the monkey at desk…if i had a return ticket to Canada…what sort of stupid question is that… I came from Singapore wtf would I need to have return ticket to Canada…I was willing to give him a nice piece of my mind but I decided to wait for his stupidity to pass…and he consulted a colleague who waved him on…

    If Singapore does not question my monthly in and outs and 30 days stays who are you people to care about my entry and exits into Singapore.. I only stay in Indonesia for 24 or 48 hours at a time… idiots…moral of the story.. sometimes you get idiots at immigration.. this happens everywhere..

  42. @martin anyone who works in these shitty countries and keeps all their money there is a stupid idiot… if your friend is highly paid as you say he should have had the brains to stash his money elsewhere.. I for example bank in 2 different countries and neither is the country of my citizenship or where I am currently residing… now what would I consider shitty countries.. let me list them for you.. every country in the african continent..all gulf and arab states…all countries in asia including singapore because they have no real rule of law that people in western countries are familiar with, your bank accounts can be frozen etc doesn’t happen much in Singapore but it really depends on your personal situation but it is not like the gulf states in that way… but yes and the baltic states and the non Euro zone EU countries…..and basically anywhere that is not Canada, US, UK, EU-Eurozone, Switzerland, British Isles, Australia… if you don’t live or work in these places you should at least be banking there.. US of course is not some place anyone would want to bank… if you are not American (coz no non us banks want american customers these days lol) So moral of the story again… know where to bank….

  43. I really like this post. I can see why some people find it empty, but to people who’ve spent a bit of time in the Middle East, it captures the uncertainty that lurks underneath everyday life here.

    I live in Saudi, and I like it very much. But once in a blue moon I’ll be reminded I live somewhere that doesn’t follow the laws of other countries, where you ultimately have few rights. Everything can be hunky-dory one minute, and then suddenly a panic can set in that a situation might not end well …

    Also, you experience a lot of bizarre situations in the Middle East – you often don’t know what’s going on. (I’ve heard Saudis themselves use the word “crazy” more in the few years I’ve been here than in all my years previous.) It’s not the same kind of uncertainty that you experience in, say, India or Cambodia. It has a wackiness that sometimes has a touch of menace. So I understood your post, Lucky. I’ve felt it myself.

  44. Lucky,

    Kudos to you for writing posts like this. Your banner clearly states “tips, tricks and travel with Lucky” I would consider ANY travel experience you have travel with Lucky. For people to expect you to have 4 to 5 breaking news or unique insight posts every single day is ridiculous. I’m sure everyone would complain more if you started recycling news or nitpicking every detail about past posts as that would get very stale. You mix in your experiences with news and deals taking up the majority. Dont worry about negative people they will never be happy and will always find a nit to pick.

  45. “Someone was jailed after they found 4 poppy seeds that had fallen off the roll they ate on the plane and someone else was jailed for 4 years after they found a microscopic trace of marijuana (0.003g) on the sole of his shoe.”

    Links to articles that mention this? Otherwise, you sound like you’re just making this stuff up.

    This story doesn’t really offer any tips…

  46. I regularly award the Best Comment of the Day Prize. So, congratulations, Johnny Mac! You win my (new) prize for the Worst Comment Ever Posted.

    You somehow combine complete logical incoherence and illiteracy with the self-knowledge of gnat. Grammar, spelling, punctuation? Bah, humbug, right?

    A fine job all the way around, really — a Mount Rushmore of badness.

  47. @Robert Herrington

    J Mac sounds like a liberal who is jealous of others doing better than himself.

    But I agree this post is much ado about nothing.

  48. Just for another take on your experience….Imagine you are an Immigration officer, shortly after the attacks in Paris. A young man with two passports, no visible means of support (sorry) with multiple entry and exit stamps in his passports wants entry into the first class lounge, which may give him access to some wealthy and highly placed people.
    Is he laundering money? Smuggling drugs? An arms dealer? Would you want to know a little more about him before you allowed him into the first class lounge?

    For what it’s worth, I’ve seen some pretty rough treatment of people by immigration officers and TSA agents in USA airports. This may have just been some overly cautious person Googling you to see who you were.

  49. Jay – I’d just like to let you know that you’re white trash. You’re inferior white garbage, the lowest of the low, and you deserve to be slapped and disowned by your friends and family for saying that all Asian countries are ‘shitty’ simply because your worthless white hillbilly American ass is too narrowminded to appreciate countries that don’t have English as an official language. You automatically lost all credibility when you called Singapore ‘shitty’. Yeah, the U.S. government can confiscate your money and stop you from leaving the country for the wildest of reasons and you’re choosing to pick on a country that has some of the best banking infrastructure in the world?
    Yeah, I’m not even going to bother dragging this out further. Have fun when China, India, and Russia nuke your country to bits. We’ll have fun in our ‘shitty’ countries whilst America remains a festering wasteland. As a matter of fact, it already is, what with all the rioting and illegal immigration madness and shooting sprees and whatnot. Makes you really wonder which country’s the shitty one here eh

  50. Hey Lucky,
    my theory is you may have gone over to the Qatari or Gulf States passports only desk, some countries get peed off about wrong passports at wrong desks.
    I my experience I havent any many problems at Immigration, I have a UK passport and I once was qizzed by UK immigration on my travels, similar your Canada immigration experiences. For me the friendliest immigration was Sweden, upon arrival at Stockholm I requested a stamp (being a EU citizen you get stamps) which was met with rasied eyebrows, but after a short (but nice) chat with the immigration officer, she stamped my passport (even asking me where I would like it).
    Which brings me on the next question, I would love to see you passport stamp collection, any particular favourites?

    Maddy.

  51. Good lord…so much hate and nonsensw on this post.

    Ben, quite simply – do you have or have you had an Israeli Visa/Stamp on this Passport that got you held up at Immigration. It could be as simple as that.

    The two countries don’t have Diplomatic relations and don’t start with the Muslim/Jewish thing…this is political. Like of someone had Iranian stamps plastered all over their passport…they’d have a rough go at it at US immigration as well.

    Now, to Martin – I have lived in Doha and Riyadh for over 20 years combined and while I sympathise with you ans your friend, the one thing I have learnt is that whoever says they got “Blacklisted” from the GCC and they were/are 100% innocent…are lying.

    They don’t bust into your apartment unless it’s drugs, prostitution or spying. You want to challenge me…tell your friend to send me his Qatar ID # and I’ll eMail him back the police report to see what he’s accused of. If he’s in the right, I will personally take his case to a lawyer here to get him cleared.

    @Jay – boy aren’t you a piece of work. So all non-White countries are shitty, eh? Then don’t come and work here. Go back to where you c from and flip Burgers for 10$ an hour and live on foodstamps. #trash.

  52. Hey Lucky, I think this highlights the fact that if you are adventurous, occasionally you are going to get those cold sweat moments. A couple of examples below with some possible explanations if of interest (apologies in advance for the long post).

    So I had a similar issue trying to leave JED – got to the airport in plenty of time but at immigration I was stopped and sent to and fro between the immigration desk and the supervisor’s office at the back of the hall. This went on for about 45 mins. Eventually, the BA manager rocked up and asked what was happening. After much discussion I was made to sit on a wobbly sofa in the supervisor’s office. Another 30 minutes later, they were closing the gate for my flight. Panic was starting to set in.

    The airport duty manager and the BA manager rocked up saying they would hold the flight for me while this was being sorted. I was asked to follow a young immigration officer back out through the airport, through the security area and into arrivals, and into the arrivals immigration, where they scanned my passport in again and then told me to wait while someone else walked off with my passport. More panic as it was now past the departure time.

    BA manager rocks up again demanding to know what was happening and I said I had no idea. We all wait around and finally the young immigration officer turns up with my passport and says I can now board the flight. As he escorts me to the plane with the BA manager, he explained that my passport wasn’t scanned into the system properly on arrival even though there was an arrivals stamp (from the VVIP Arrivals Lounge no less!). Therefore he had to scan my passport back into the system so they system could process and record my exit from the country. Brand new IT systems apparently. Anyway, I made it onto the flight (now 20 mins delayed) where I stepped into the CW cabin and all eyes and heads (including my boss!) turned round to look accusingly at me. All I can say is that I was overwhelmingly relieved to be on the plane.

    Then there was the incident 10 years ago in Cuba where the exiting immigration officer tried to rip open the back page of my passport out to see what the passport chip looked like. I was already holding up the queue for about 10 mins as he read all my visas one by one. He then looked at me and simply said “Spy?”. Couldn’t tell if he was kidding or not. Cue rising panic. Fortunately I had my wits about me and said “Como James Bond?”. At which point he looked at me, shook his head, stamped my passport and sent me on my way. Phew … I think.

    All part of the travel experience.

  53. The same thing almost happened to me too Lucky Schlappenpig. Was waiting at Dubai immigration to leave, and the girl chewing gum and constantly adjusting her abbaya, staring around and processing our line about 6 times slower than all the others. (We counted!) Waited and waited and got impatient. Eventually I approached.

    Are you… ok? She asks.

    Yeah… fine… thanks… not your usual immigration question.

    She looks at me. Looks at my passport. Looks at me. Looks at my passport. Adjusts her abbaya. Stares at me. Does nothing. Chews her gum. Looks s l o w l y through my passport.

    Is there a problem? I ask.

    She stares at me. I kinda smile. You go over there she says. Slamming my passport down. I look behind me. Where…? Why…?

    I don’t have to tell you why. She states.

    At this point my husband joins me and asks what’s going on.

    I’ve no idea. But she’s not letting me through.

    You go over there!

    Why?

    I don’t have to tell you anything!

    By now we’re worried. Bemused. Angry at her arrogance.

    You don’t have to tell us, but it would be nice if you did.

    She refuses. Then does the same thing to husband passport too. Eventually refusing both of us.

    We went back to the general area she waved at, behind the queues to an ‘office’ and have our passports checked by an old man who said something about date stamps… when asked why. Then let us through the fast track. All very bizarre and thoroughly unpleasant.

    It’s always unpleasant flying into/out of Dubai I find. Unfriendly immigration. Never a smile! Queues. Never any SPG status recognition with emirates even though they have a partnership. Hate it!

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