MIDNIGHT in a crowded bar and prostitutes in short skirts and skyscraper heels are blatantly touting for trade – they do not have to wait long.
Some British tourists approach a couple of the girls, hand over £500 for an hour of their “company” and head off to a room in a nearby hotel.
There is no doubt the people here are buying and selling sex.
But this sleazy transaction is not taking place in some brothel in Eastern Europe — this is DUBAI, where the strict Islamic religion forbids holding hands in public, where homosexuality is illegal and sharing a bedroom outside marriage will get you banged up.
Shockingly, there are 30,000 prostitutes working in Dubai, the largest city in the United Arab Emirates.
Local women outside may be hidden from public view in burkhas, but inside the late-night venues are scantily clad call girls of every shape, size, nationality and ethnicity.
Dubai’s paid-for sex trade is accepted by expats and locals as the norm. Even the police seemingly turn a blind-eye to the sordid behaviour going on all around them, despite prostitution being illegal and the strict laws banning women from dressing “provocatively” in the street.
The oldest profession in the world is actively encouraged in the hotels and bars.
Some provide a free buffet and drinks vouchers for the working girls and others rent them regular rooms because of the big-spending clientele they bring in.
It is not just the hotels making a fortune from the lucrative sex trade.
Zara, 28, earns thousands of pounds from willing punters.
She says: “I go to Dubai a couple of times a year to work in the big hotels.
“Every bar is full of working girls — it’s the hidden culture out there.
“My main clients are businessmen from all parts of the world and local Arabs.
That shocks some people when I tell them.
“The businessmen pay £500 an hour and are just after straight sex.
“Arabs are slightly different because they have an obsession with cleanliness, so I spend most of the hour in the shower, which I find odd.
“With locals, the sex normally doesn’t last longer than ten minutes.”
She adds: “Businessmen automatically take you for a prostitute in Dubai if you are a woman alone in a bar and they’ll come and chat.
“I’ve been bought gifts of upwards of £5,000 on some shopping sprees.
“Any money I make I wire back to Britain because you can only take so much out of the country by law.”
Dubai gives the impression of being a safe holiday hot spot with its plush hotels, sandy beaches and — thanks to its strict Islamic religion — very little crime, alcohol or sex.
But behind the windowless bars and clubs, prostitutes are busy plying their trade. They come from all over — Nigeria, Philippines, China, Thailand, Europe and Russia.