abu dhabi

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Thoughts on Visiting the UAE as a Gay Man

Just wanted to share my impressions.

While writing the previous post, a straightforward review of the Park Inn Yas Island, I wanted to get into the back story of the hotel booking and the overall impression that it left, but then decided it would be better to separate the thoughts into a different post.

When me and boyfriend decided to book the Park Inn for an 18-hour layover, I selected the double bed option without even thinking about it. Force of habit.

Then, he said out of nowhere, “Did you book two beds?” “No, why would I?”

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Visiting the UAE

We read the reviews and saw that another gay couple recommended getting two separate beds, because in the UAE being homosexual is illegal. Not “participating in homosexual acts”, but simply being homosexual. For residents, the highest penalty is death. For visitors, it’s deportation, fines, or prison time.

It’s also illegal for unwed couples to share a double bed, for what’s it worth.

So after reading that, I completely canceled the first booking and re-booked for two twin beds instead.

gay in uae

Reserve, oops, rebook

Respecting culture

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Hotel Review: Park Inn by Radisson, Abu Dhabi Yas Island, UAE

I stayed here as part of my RTW trip last year, following a superb flight on Etihad in Pearl Business class from MEL-AUH. South Pacific to the Middle East on Etihad using American AAdvantage miles is a sweet spot. For the 14 hour flight, they only charge 45,000 AAdvantage miles each way. That is a crazy steal of a deal on an amazing product.

I was also able to somehow convince United to let me drop CAI-JFK on Egyptair (which is a dry airline) in favor of Lufthansa AUH-FRA-JFK, which were pretty decent (and very “wet”) flights. It left us with an 18-hour gap to fill, and we didn’t want to stay in the airport the entire time. I poked around and decided to pay $90 for the layover at the Park Inn Yas Island. 18 hours would be plenty of time to sleep, eat, take a dip in the pool, shower, and get back to the airport.

So right when we landed, we found the chauffeur desk at AUH and took a car to the Park Inn, courtesy of Etihad (I believe the chauffeur service has since been discontinued on award bookings).

Etihad chauffeur desk

Etihad chauffeur desk

That photo encapsulates the whole experience I had that day: kind of a blur.

I did one of those where I showed up and crashed into the bed without taking pics first (bad blogger!), then woke up in a haze to a cloudy day and decided to catch up on email rather than swim.

Check in desk

Check in desk

Walkway to elevators

Walkway to elevators

When we got to the hotel, it was still the middle of the night. We were dead tired, but the check-in agent was fast and kind, and we veritably collapsed into the separate twin beds.

Hallways

Hallways

The room

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