According to the International Lesbian and Gay Association, consensual gay sex in Dubai is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Because the mentality here is that gay men need to be deterred from homosexual activity, police raids of clubs and private parties are common.
Earlier today we reported how Brit Zara-Jayne, who was jailed in Dubai after claiming she was raped, wept as she was reunited with her family back in the UK.
Chakarova is the recipient of the 2003 Dorothea Lange Fellowship for documentary photography and the 2005 Magnum Photos Inge Morath Award for her photo work on trafficking in Eastern Europe, which she has reported on for the last four years.
At my publishing company, I’m told in no uncertain terms to avoid using gay references within stories which — when writing celebrity, pop culture and fashion — was particularly difficult.
On the surface conditions for gay Dubaiians might seem bleak, but thanks to some quickly acquired gay friends I learn quickly that, despite the legalities, a vibrant gay scene flourishes.
A Syrian man moves close to me on the dance floor, touching my waist and pushing against me in a way that made his intentions very clear.
Despite being conservative by Western standards, this is where alcohol and sex-starved Arabs flock to in droves to get their fix — and that includes the gays.
But what makes this unusual is that I’m not in the relatively liberal West; I’m in Dubai.
A province of the United Arab Emirates governed by a dictatorial royal family and a tourism hotspot attracting the gaze of the world thanks to its constant sunshine and headline-grabbing world’s “biggest” and “tallest” buildings, shopping malls and man-made islands.
For a time, the authorities even patrolled the plethora of Dubai malls, searching for “obvious” signs of homosexuality.
When unsuspecting gay men are entrapped, the consequences of their sexuality are dependent on their nationality.