SATC 2, Sex and the City 2 Movie, Sarah Jessica Parker

Craig Blankenhorn/MMIX New Line Productions, Inc.

Sex and the City 2 takes place in a Muslim country. With all the sex and drinking, how did the filmmakers get away with that?
—C., New Mexico via the Answer B!tch inbox

You aren't the only one puzzled by the story's setting. Abu Dhabi, not exactly a place where you'd see Sex and the Anything:

In fact, in a newly released clip, Sarah Jessica Parker's Carrie calls the Middle East "just like Jasmine" from Aladdin "but with cocktails," a blithe declaration that got at least a few Muslims wondering what the filmmakers were thinking.

When it came time to shoot the sequel to the first SATC movie, they needed a Middle Eastern setting to represent Abu Dhabi, where power publicist Samantha brings her "gals" on an all-expenses paid, Eat Pray Love-style trip.

In the film, Carrie announces that she's always been fascinated by the Middle East: "Desert moons, Shahrazad, flying carpets." (She might want to read something other than Vogue before hopping on the plane.)

Once the women arrive in this magical foreign land, Samantha talks about menopause, Charlotte erupts into shrieks of "oh my gaahhhd" with Old Faithful-level reliability, and the requisite sex and cocktails, presumably, ensue.

It's that last part that has Muslims understandably confused.

Yes, for the record, alcohol is widely available in United Arab Emirates, there are plenty of good times to be had there, and there are spoilers indicating that repression of women is dealt with in the plot somehow.

But still, for a franchise that's basically about sex, martinis and clothes—clothes without veils—the UAE setting does feel a bit tone-deaf, at least, to some Muslims.

"I thought the location was a bit odd for that kind of movie," Ibrahim Hooper of the Council of American Islam Relations tells me. "The UAE and Gulf countries in general are fairly socially conservative, and it also seems a bit odd that they would be in that location talking about drinking."

Screenwriter and director Michael Patrick King reportedly visited Abu Dhabi to do research for the film, yes. So surely he found out that cultural sensors in Abu Dhabi routinely cut out kissing, nudity and cussing in films. (The UAE also doesn't seem particularly keen on showing SATC 2 in its theaters.) The human rights record there, particularly for women, is so appalling that a United Nations committee called out the UAE for routine discrimination.

And oh: Husbands have the right to beat their wives and cannot be prosecuted for raping them.

For the record, the filmmakers apparently did no shooting in Abu Dhabi. The crew apparently tried to get permission to make the flick in neighboring Dubai, but local authorities said no. Finally, filmmakers settled on Morocco, which SATC 2 director King describes as "Muslim light."

Maybe they just should have set the movie in Morocco, then. Plenty of desert moons there, too. Plus, Charlotte could shriek about visiting the Casbaaaaah.


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