Pokémon Go is still going strong world wide, despite the hiccups and server crashes that have caused plenty of angst to the augmented reality game’s devotees. We’ve heard about the dead bodies discovered, guys walking off cliffs and the guy in Baltimore crashing into a police car while chasing lord knows what.

The Niantic Labs guilty pleasure, which has transformed countless neighborhoods from Santa Cruz to Bogotá into nocturnal hangouts, has turned anti-techies into rabid gamers and has even launched its own underground economy. This has become especially true in the United Arab Emirates, where the hottest thing to hit the Middle East since, well, 50C temps in the summer, has inspired entrepreneurship and fomented government angst.

For Emiratis who wanted a powerful Pokémon catcher but did not want to go through the work leveling up, local media reported that high-level accounts were selling for as high as AED 15,000, or over US$4,000. The game has seen Poke Stops and Gyms sprout up all over the country, from the Burj Khalifa in Dubai to Masdar City near Abu Dhabi International Airport.

But the problem, according to some officials, is that the quest to catch Pokémons has led expats and locals to intrude on private homes, while one motorist left his car on the side of the road in Dubai to chase one of the virtual creatures. Police have warned about the dangers of distracted walking, which is not surprising considering how brutal those summer days are in the Gulf region.

And of course, the concerns over security have led the UAE’s government to warn residents that the GPS functionality in Pokémon Go could lead to security risks. Indeed, despite the fact the UAE is one of the safest nations on earth due to its security infrastructure, users have been urged to restrain themselves and proceed with caution. The risks, in fact, have been all over the map. Just ask the manager of a Victoria’s Secret in Abu Dhabi, who had a hilarious encounter with an expat trying to catch a Pokémon without no clue that he was in scandalous surroundings. Another resident, ahem, walked into a pole.

Yes, there are risks of encountering that “dangerous antisocial element,” let’s face it, overall this silly game is a good thing. People are socializing, they are walking and despite the occasional fool who crosses the street while playing the game, more people out on the street means the streets are safer. As a society we are entering a brave new world, but it is one we have to adjust to and welcome – because there is no going back. The way in which we entertain ourselves and socialize is going through yet another transformational change.

If you happen to travel to the UAE, and played a little Pokémon Go, let me know how your experience was!

Image credit: The National

About The Author

Leon Kaye

Leon Kaye is the founder and editor of GreenGoPost.com. Based in California, he specializes in social media consulting and strategic communications. A journalist and writer since 2009, his work has appeared on Triple Pundit , The Guardian's Sustainable Business site and has appeared on Inhabitat and Earth911. His focus is making the business case for sustainability and corporate social responsibility. Areas of interest include the <a Middle East, sustainable development in The Balkans, Brazil and Korea. He was a new media journalism fellow at the International Reporting Project, for which he covered child survival in India during February 2013. Contact him at leon@greengopost.com. You can also reach out via Twitter (Leon Kaye) and Instagram (GreenGoPost). Since 2013, he has spent much of his time in Abu Dhabi, UAE, working with Masdar, the emirate's renewable energy company. He lives in Fresno, California.