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UAE: "Dress right" drive snowballs

Online drive was spearheaded by two Emirati women who were shocked to see scantily-clad women when they visited Marina Mall in Abu Dhabi and The Dubai Mall.

Dubai/Abu Dhabi: Prominent UAE personalities have weighed in on a campaign calling on people to dress modestly after it became a trending topic on the social networking site Twitter.
The hashtag (#UAEDressCode) has been active in the last 48 hours with noted Emirati personalities including activist Jalal Bin Thaneya (@Binthaneya) and current affairs commentator Mishaal Al Gergawi (@algergawi) lending their voice in support of the campaign.
We see more shorts, short skirts and dresses not only in the evening at restaurants and nightclubs, but every day and everywhere. It doesn't shock me personally, but I am not sure how this is valued by the families here in the UAE
Hana, Lebanese expatriate
The online drive was spearheaded by two Emirati women who were shocked to see scantily-clad women when they visited Marina Mall in Abu Dhabi and The Dubai Mall.
Hanan Al Rayes (@noonworld) and Asma Al Muhairi (@simplyAsma) started the campaign a couple of weeks ago.
Hanan, who works in administration in Al Ain, told Gulf News that she was shocked when she visited Marina Mall.
"There were women who had come straight from the beach covered with nothing more than a sarong. I also saw women with really short skirts that didn't fully conceal their undergarments. It was disgusting. [On Saturday] I went to Dubai Mall and saw women dressed in shorts that could pass as hot pants."
The incidents provided enough impetus for Hanan and Asma to start the campaign. They launched the drive by composing tweets using the #UAEDressCode hashtag.
"Soon our friends were spreading the word too," said Hanan, adding that she wonders whether it is a lack of awareness that could explain the situation. "I understand that it is summer, but it doesn't allow for disrespectful clothing," she said.
Asma, a marketing professional in Abu Dhabi, told Gulf News: "The same incidents happen to our friends. It is a typical sight at malls, and sometimes it encourages lecherous stares. It is shameful, especially for families with kids."
Their friend, Laila (@lilCat84), an Emirati who works for the government, has been actively supporting the campaign.
She told Gulf News: "We know that we have different cultures and religion, but dress code is something worldwide. No one accepts a lady walking in public wearing improper clothes." Laila added that the UAE's culture is conservative and that it is important for expatriates to be aware of this fact.
"It isn't appropriate to see a lady in minis or shorts or transparent clothing in a mall. I work in a government office where the security prohibits women from entering if they are dressed indecently."
Nasif Kayed, general manager at the Shaikh Mohammad Centre for Cultural Understanding, said he chooses age-appropriate movies for his kids, but when he visits the mall, he cannot control what they are exposed to.
"Why do women wear immodest clothes in a public space like a mall? I hope expatriates realise that we are a country that promotes tolerance and respect. Women should dress appropriately and modestly."
Gulf News sought out Emiratis and expatriates for their views.
"We see more shorts, short skirts and dresses not only in the evening at restaurants and nightclubs, but every day and everywhere. It doesn't shock me personally, but I am not sure how this is valued by the families here in the UAE," said Hana, a Lebanese.
Emiratis find it extremely disrespectful and shocking.
Sultan Al Mazroui calls on the authorities to create laws and regulations that control such behaviour.
"Expatriates should understand that they live in an Arab and Muslim country and should honour its traditions. I urge the authorities to put in place laws that regulate this serious phenomenon," he said.
Mohammad Abdullah, an Emirati, told Gulf News that the issue is not a matter of respect for personal freedom, but rather respect for a country's traditions and norms.
"People don't really intentionally want to embarrass themselves or the people they are living among. The UAE is presented to Westerners as a very open and welcoming country. So, it is easy to assume that almost everything people wear in New York is OK to wear in Abu Dhabi. And, when one sees the many others who have similar attire, it is normal to assume that this form of dressing is acceptable" said Anthony, an American.
UAE dress code

Abu Dhabi: Do expatriates observe the national dress code, understand the UAE spirit, and respect the traditions? Some voiced concerns about the inappropriate way expatriates and tourists dress, that is too revealing and shows no respect to the host country values.
In an interview published in 999 Magazine - the official English monthly of the Ministry of Interior - the British Ambassador to the UAE, Dominic Jermey OBE urged expatriates and tourists to show more understanding and respect to the UAE dress codes.
"It is really important for expats and tourists to understand the norms of the society they are in. So that is why we work very closely with tour operators, local schools, and the airlines to run a global campaign called ‘Know Before You Go.' The campaigns fosters awareness among tourists and expatriates so that they enjoy their stay in the UAE, but in a way that is appropriate," Obe said.
In a previous article published in the magazine's February issue, 72 per cent of expats admitted to having insufficient knowledge about the UAE's local customs and traditions.
It is not too hard to quickly recognise that the culture of the UAE and the region is far more conservative than those of the west. While most people practice acceptable behaviours, there are some who choose to go beyond what is considered reasonable in the host country and risk embarrassment to themselves and their hosts, and in some cases risk breaking the law.

Tweets from tweeps
  • Dear foreigners: you are more prone to being disrespected when wearing indecently. Sincerely, Emirati — Abdulla Kazim Al Kendi (@AbdullaAlKendi)
  • #UAEDresscode brochures should be handed out in the airport , or maybe etihad airways should give it a try... — May (@may_almehairbi)
  • For whoever said that the #UAEDresscode is about ‘attacking' UAE liberals is totally WRONG! It is about the DRESS CODE & nothing else! — KBH @KBinhendi
  • Sure you will be informed by either in airport or your embassy, the law is there but no one is really follows it. — Fahed Al Hashemi @Fahed_1983
  1. Added 11:04 May 14, 2012
    Non-Muslim women need to know that this about having self respect and the campaign should talk to them in terms of what is best for them. If the communication campaign educates them in how to portray themselves in a more dignified way and how to get more respect from people through their garments, they might reflect and do it for their own sake. Phrases such as: "dress up in self respect" or "self esteem is the latest fashion" or "do not spend a lot to end up looking cheap: dress up in dignity" Campaign definitely needs to glorify and push more the image of a honorable modern women and mall authorities need to make sure they stop people from entering whilst using indecent clothes. Or at least they can give them a shawl or something to cover themselves for their own benefit.
    Anonymous, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  2. Added 10:57 May 14, 2012
    I am a British expatriate, but I agree, there are too many people wearing skimpy outfits. Okay in Nightclubs or the Beach this is perhaps more acceptable, but what is the need to wear hotpants or short skirts in an air conditioned mall? It is all about respect. However, I would temper that with if this campaign is to work, then the retailers need to be banned from selling the items in the first place. Look at most shops in the Mall and you have skimpy garments being sold much more than anything respectable. Perhaps this is one of the root causes?
    Anonymous, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  3. Added 10:55 May 14, 2012
    I must say I agree with this initiative. I am from Europe and in my country it is very unusual to see scantily dressed women parading around the shopping malls, so I dont know why it is such a regular occurence here. A modicum of respect and courtesy for the local culture would go a long way.
    Kenneth, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
  4. Added 10:55 May 14, 2012
    I agree to the above comments.. apart from that, I think the embassies of other nations should be given strict dress policies, so that their countrymen are aware of the dressing policies in the Arab countries when they arrive here. If this continues, the Arab nations will lose their charm, arabic culture, etc. This is passively damaging the upbringing of the youth.
    Anonymous, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  5. Added 10:41 May 14, 2012
    I generally believe tourists are the ones who need to be educated. Residents of the UAE generally know what the law states and what customs are in this country. Tourists should be given small booklets at the airport and during check-in of their respective hotels, or even in Taxis/Limos. Security at malls may sound like a good idea, but will create a problem if tourists ("money spenders") are told to go back, rather be informed through a leaflet or booklet in their language is better. The UAE has withstood troubled times due to the sanctuary,security, and openness of the country and its people and to keep this country marching forward means to find amicable/non-violent/non punitive ways to solve a situation. From an expatriate who has lived all his life here!
    Anonymous, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  6. Added 10:38 May 14, 2012
    Modesty should transcend religion and culture. The reason it is strongly opposed by both Islam and Christianity is that it causes temptation for sinful thoughts and perhaps actions. Women who dress immodestly should be corrected and if they ignore the request, they should have a discipline imposed. Not zero tolerance, but a consistent enforcement of proper attire.
    Anonymous, dubai, United States
  7. Added 10:38 May 14, 2012
    Its better to implement the Dress code and Proper attire in U.A.E especially for non Muslim Women ,its really shameful to the culture of Islamic fellow people and the country , lets put in the hands of authority anyone who have seen women wearing incedent clothes should be reported to the police.
    Anonymous, philippines, Philippines
  8. Added 10:31 May 14, 2012
    Well done GN! Finally someone has brought this topic out. It is appalling to see the way expatriates and tourists dress in this country with no respect whatsoever for the culture of the host country. Women in malls, bars, restaurants or any public place have taken complete advantage of the liberal leadership of this country and dress inappropriately all the time. It has nothing to do with personal freedom - it would be wise to remember that most of us are expatriates which means that it becomes our responsibility to respect the cultures and traditions of this country that has given us so much freedom. The only way we can fix this problem is to put some laws in place that will penalise people for dressing inappropriately. Handing out brochures or posters or advertising it will not cut it and once people start getting fined this is when the disrespect will stop. I sincerely hope that GN will help to spread awareness about this.
    Simy Matthew, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  9. Added 10:25 May 14, 2012
    Well brothers and sisters already posted what i completely agree with in terms of dressing code and behavior. However, I just have a little comment to the sister who said"No matter what woman wears;man still stares" I in fact disagree with this....A woman gets respected by her dress code and behavior at first place-Whereas, a woman dressed in indecent clothes, would definitely be exposed to everyone's eyes.... Indeed, we are more worried about our kids than ourselves. We try hard to teach our kinds decency and good behavior but the streets reflect the opposite....We shall hope and pray that the authorities take strict action against this or at least limited to some place but not to the public....
    Anonymous, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  10. Added 10:25 May 14, 2012
    “Man in early times was almost naked, and as his intellect evolved he started wearing clothes. What we do today and what we are wearing represents the highest level of thought and civilization that man has achieved, and is not regressive. It’s the removal of clothes again that is regressive back to ancient times''.
    hunaina hanin seif, dubai, United Arab Emirates


Anonymous said...

I work in Saudi Arabia. I have visited UAE many times.
I support this initiative. I hope and pray to God for the success of this campaign.
Let the whole world know about this discussion and have the lessons for the benefit of human race.

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