A Mideast crossroads gets the Christmas spirit

By Adam Schreck

Associated Press

Published: Monday, Dec. 23 2013 12:00 a.m. MST

The British Embassy in Dubai is using the festive season as a chance to remind its citizens of the UAE's tough drinking and public decency laws.

Its "12 Days of Christmas" awareness campaign on social media includes tweets such as "On the 5th day of #Christmas my friend said to me; If I have overdone it, please send me home."

"Part of enjoying Christmas and New Year is to stay away from trouble," said Edward Hobart, the British consul general.

Non-Muslims in Dubai are expected to respect the city's Islamic roots, meaning organizers of Christmas celebrations walk a fine line in how they present the holiday. Nativity scenes and overtly religious carols celebrating the birth of Christ are rare.

But Christmas trees, including one set up in a traffic circle fountain filled with sudsy soap to suggest snow, are in. So are Santa hats, jingle bells and palm trees swaddled in gift wrap-style red bows.

One supermarket, apparently trying to appeal to all customers, is advertising: "This Christmas: Fresh halal turkey" — a bird slaughtered according to Islamic dietary law.

There are other crossed cultural wires too.

Elliott-Scott, the artificial snow entrepreneur, said he has received requests for different colored snow, like pink and blue.

"Someone asked once if they could have gold snow, but it looked more like yellow," he said. "We suggested: 'possibly it doesn't look the best.' Yellow snow should be avoided at all costs."

Associated Press writer Aya Batrawy contributed to this report from Dubai.

Follow Adam Schreck on Twitter at www.twitter.com/adamschreck

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