When it comes to the latest gadgets, or software for that matter, there’s nothing you cannot get in the UAE if you know where to look. Having recently acquired a PlayStation 3, I was looking for God of War 3, an action-fantasy game reputed for its great storyline, gameplay and stunning graphics.
However, having been banned in the UAE for its sexual and violent content, it was not available in leading electronics stores. The bylanes of Bur Dubai, Deira and Rashidiya are famous (or notorious) for stocking everything from banned games to iPad 3s, but I wondered if it was available in malls.
On a whim, I entered a small store selling video games and accessories in an upmarket Dubai mall, intending to get some tips on where to get God of War in Dubai.
While waiting for the customers to thin out, I ended up buying Virtua Tennis 4 (which is a perfectly legal game). At the cash counter, I casually asked the guy in charge whether “God of War 3 was in stock”. I expected a stiff ‘no’ or even a knowing smile, but he walked into a backroom without a word and returned with all three editions of the game.
There was some bargaining to be done with a straight face. He quoted Dh299, I said Dh269, which is what most games generally cost. He then told me the game was banned and that I should consider myself lucky he was selling it to me at “great personal risk”.
He only sold such games to a “select list of clients”. His games were brought in by “friends” travelling frequently to the US or UK. The deal was struck at Dh275.
I later discovered that all three editions of the game were available on souq.com for little under $50 (around Dh180).