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Emiratis want crackdown on women's skimpy dress

Published Jul 06, 2012 06:49am


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In this photo taken Saturday, June 23, 2012, women of different nationalities walk at the Jumeirah Beach Residence Walk in Dubai , United Arab Emirates. – AP

ABU DHABI: With the number of foreigners dwarfing that of locals in her hometown of Abu Dhabi, Asma al-Muhairi has become increasingly anxious at the prospect of her younger nieces abandoning their full-length black robes in favor of Western attire that seems to be everywhere she goes.

But it wasn't until the 23-year-old marketing worker came face to face with two scantily-clad female foreigners at one of the many luxury shopping malls in the United Arab Emirates that she decided to take action.

"While going to a mall, I saw two ladies wearing ... I can't say even shorts. It was underwear," said al-Muhairi, whose black abaya—a long garment worn by conservative Gulf women—is offset by a gold Versace watch and egg-shell blue handbag.

"Really, they were not shorts," she said. "I was standing and thinking: 'Why is this continuing? Why is it in the mall? I see families. I see kids around.'"

Failing to persuade the mall to intervene, al-Muhairi and another Emirati woman, Hanan al-Rayes, took to Twitter to air their concerns in May.

They were inundated with responses that prompted them to launch a Twitter campaign dubbed @UAEDressCode that aims to explore ways to combat the growing number of shoppers in low-cut dresses and hot pants.

As the campaign picked up steam, it also has served to symbolize the growing concerns among Emiratis, a tiny minority in their own country.

Emirati citizens account for a little more than 10 percent of the 8 million people living in the Gulf nation. Most of the population is made up of Asian, African and Middle Eastern guest workers, as well as Western expatriates living here temporarily.

The overall population more than doubled over the past decade as the country embarked on a building boom that transformed Dubai, up the coast from Abu Dhabi, into the Arabian Gulf's financial hub and a popular tourist draw.

"I think in an increasingly tumultuous region and in an era of powerful and often intrusive globalizing forces, citizens of the UAE are increasingly concerned that their traditions and core values are being eroded," said Christopher Davidson, an expert on Gulf affairs at Britain's Durham University.

"In some senses, it is a grassroots reaction to authorities and leaders that have for many years done little to check this erosion," he added. "We've seen reactions to alcohol, so now we are seeing a reaction to immodest dress."

Jalal Bin Thaneya, an Emirati activist who has embraced the dress code campaign, said it is a way for Emiratis to show they are concerned about the loss of traditions.

"If we were the majority and had the same make up, things would be different," Bin Thaneya said. "You wouldn't need anything. You would see Emiratis everywhere and you would be afraid of offending them ... Now, we're a minority so you feel the need to reach out to an authority."

As the number of foreigners has increased, so have the stories of them violating the UAE's strict indecency code, which limits drinking to bars and nightclubs and bans public displays of affection. A drunken couple was caught having sex on the beach and another allegedly having sex in a taxi. A Pakistani was deported for flipping the middle finger at a motorist, and the courts are filled with cases of foreigners having sex out of wedlock.

Most Emiratis rarely come face-to-face with misbehaving foreigners.

The malls, however, are a different story.

They are one of the few places where everyone comes together to escape the brutal summer heat. The cultural clash is hard to ignore, as families of traditionally dressed Emiratis shop and relax in cafes alongside foreign women wearing tank tops, shorts and even transparent gowns over bikinis.

Most malls have policies in place that require "conservative" dress and encourage shoppers to avoid showing shoulders and knees, but few publicize them or enforce them. The police didn't respond to a request for comment but told the Gulf News newspaper there is nothing they can do since there are no specific laws against immodest dress.

"People were seeing it for a long time but they didn't say anything," Bin Thaneya said. "You can't go to the police for such stuff. There is no one to go to. You can't go to the mall management. The mall security guard gets paid less than someone at McDonald's. He isn't going to do anything."

Al-Muhairi's campaign is just one of several over the years led by Emirati women who have tried in vain to enforce the dress code—handing out brochures, confronting foreigners. But hers has benefited from the growing popularity of social media as well as the Arab Spring popular uprisings, which has given Emiratis a sense they can speak out on some social issues.

The UAEDressCode feed has more than 3,300 followers with a lively discussion that includes plenty of support for a code but also concerns that it would unfairly target foreigners or create divisions between locals and foreigners. Unlike similar campaigns in Kuwait or Saudi Arabia, the impetus for a code has not come from Islamic hard-liners, but from moderate locals like al-Muhairi who love their Starbucks and Western movies but just want foreigners to respect local customs.

"We are not asking others to cover up like us. We are giving them freedom based on their beliefs and religion," al-Muhairi said. "We are not judging and saying this shows she has other interests. We never want to judge. Do whatever you want and wear what you want but with limits. Just respect the public here."

The campaign has caught the attention of the Federal National Council, which pledged last month to push for stronger measures to enforce the dress codes. That came after the country's culture minister, Abdulrahman al-Owais, supported efforts to emphasize the conservative traditions of the UAE.

Members of a half-elected, half-appointed council have suggested a law could include warnings and fines but not jail time for offenders. But the FNC has no law-making powers, so any decision now rests with the UAE government.

"If there is a law, the behavior will be different," said Hamad al-Rahoomi, an FNC member who compared a UAE dress code to laws in France that bans the niqab, in which a veil has only a slit exposing a woman's eyes, or the new dress code at Royal Ascot in Britain that aims to limit provocative outfits.

"We don't want to catch people. We just want people to think of the other parties," al-Rahoomi said. "What I want is to go with my family in my country and not see something that is harming me."

Tourists—some in skimpy summer dresses, others in shorts and T-shirts—defended their right to wear what they want, either because it is fashionable or keeps them cool in the summer heat. None of the 10 people interviewed in Dubai and Abu Dhabi knew about a mall dress code, nor were they advised their outfits violated it. Several said a dress code law would go too far.

"I think it's ridiculous because most of the people in Dubai are tourists," said Sarah, a 21-year-old tourist from Kenya wearing a short dress exposing her shoulders and legs. "I want to go somewhere where I would be comfortable in my own skin as a travel destination. I feel comfortable like this and this is how I will dress."


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Comments (152) Closed

kanza Jul 07, 2012 02:37am
I have lived in UAE all my life, and completely understand where the locals are from. The country has been built on backs (and sweat & blood) of foreigners, and it would be naive to say UAE could ever have reached this point without attracting foreigners into the country. Yet, as extravagant as Emiratis might be, as filthy rich as they may be, it is understandable that any local population would want to preserve its culture and traditions. Their govt made a decision to Westernize and now they see what that means. The move should be commended. No one is asking to curb freedom of expression and forcing foreigners into a burka, but certain cultural sensitivities must be understood and respected. (And please, dont tell me the lack of modesty falls under the freedom of religion act!) What may be one person's right may be offensive to another - but working to reach a common ground of mutual respect should be commended and not criticized. I dont want to live in a world whereI'm being *forced* to be free according to the West's interpretation of what freedom is, just as I dont want to be forced into submission to adhere to some bygone era rules. But I will work toward coexisting and cooperating -- instead of telling you to take my way or the highway!
Khizr Jul 06, 2012 03:20pm
Mukesh Ji, have you seen a lineup in front of US embassy in any Pakistani city that you are talking about?:) Some (not all) of the countries in the West are more tolerant of religious freedom and freedom of speech than other. But the fact remains faith & religion is one of the main divide amongst the people of the world and it is part of human nature.
Ashfaq Jul 09, 2012 12:08am
@VDUK, you got it all wrong.. I believe UJMALIK is implying that there is hypocrisy or double-standards when it comes to treating westerners and non-westerners... I didn't see any one of the people caught having sex in public identified by their nationality but a Pakistani was, for showing the finger... and deported, seriously? Now that's hypocrisy.. I have been a westerner by residence for the past 32 years but have spent 9+ years in the ME and though personally not, I have seen these double-standards played out all the time.. .. And as for burqa, those countries/societies are not governed by any religion and are given freedom of practicing religion and those who choose to wear it, burqa is also a religious attire. Shorts and minis are not!
raza Jul 09, 2012 03:45am
all the females in the pictures are arabs !
irfan Jul 06, 2012 08:40pm
Agreed with Mukesh 100%
@Daniyal_Akhtar Jul 06, 2012 06:04pm
if west is promoting "every one should have the same rights" why would they put ban on veil in France?
Zain M Jul 09, 2012 03:42am
Having lived in Dubai for a big part of my life I think there is enough social freedom here and I strongly feel that one should respect the local customs and sensibilities. When we live in West we live according to their rules then why not the same applies for UAE. Please don't try to make it an issue of religion or East vs West as we are so fond of doing it in Pakistan.
Jay Jul 08, 2012 06:53pm
If Muslim ladies can wear their dresses in western countries, why can't the western ladies wear their dresses in Arab worlds??? I really can't understand these (Muslim's) mentality...
Sarah Jul 06, 2012 07:16pm
I agree, if western countries can ban hijab and tear off scarf from girls faces, they should learn to respect the dress of the countries they visit!
suku Jul 08, 2012 08:53am
That is what muslims are doing in europe, spoiling the local culture
loneliberalpk Jul 06, 2012 05:44pm
Why not? It's not like they have anything better to do.
Nasser Jul 06, 2012 07:50pm
Kicking out foreignors from Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh for hardly a crimnal act, by the Arabs shows their inferiority complex too.
zabardasst Jul 06, 2012 08:37pm
Oh yeah, what about Arab girls wearing hot pants while roaming around on the streets of London and New York?
Sunil Jul 06, 2012 08:24pm
So, scarf equals to virtue? I think you like the 'scarf' not the girl!! For all we know beneath the scarf she could be really 'bad' as a person.
gulshan Jul 07, 2012 02:57am
And Muslims going to western countries should do the same. Shouldn't they?
Sunil Jul 06, 2012 08:19pm
ummm, 'A' says he/she is born and raised in Dubai. What makes you think he/she is not local? and leave to where?
Tot ba tot Jul 08, 2012 10:36pm
Dear Mukesh, Line up at any Pakistani embassy get a visa and we hope to welcome you to Pakistan. Not only Q and Pindi but any city you wish. Though walking around in underwear is not recommended you are free to wear dhoti & kameez, lungi and bush shirt, pajama and kurta , langot and bunyan, burqa, Sari, keech, pant and shirt or a school uniform. If you wish to walk around starkers people will think of you as mad or a jogi (you being a desi). However, this behaviour would not be acceptable if it was a blond white woman. Yes, we still suffer from racial complexities of the age of imperialism. Anyway hope to see you soon.
Syed Jul 08, 2012 09:34pm
Actually you are not well informed, they have been advising tourists on dress code for the past couple of year now, especially in the malls or where families hang out,Dubai has reserved areas on beaches for tourists so they can be whatever they want to be away from open public. Rich they (locals) may be but they are also trying to keep their triditions intact.
guest Jul 07, 2012 01:07am
Why dont YOU? :P
Saad (DXB) Jul 08, 2012 02:48pm
You didn't get his point.. He made 'Friends' with '26' Arab girls
ashfaq hussain Jul 06, 2012 03:30pm
Like France recently said they have their owm culture and can not tolerate women in veils and made it a law to ban veil. Similarly, if UAE has concerns of their culture and identity you should get out of there if you do not want to respect their culture. Education, cars and living styles has nothing to do with culture and religion. When u live in Rome behave like the romans do is an old wise saying. As for the uneducated/unemployed Emirati parent buying mercedez for an 18 year old is irrelevant to the topic here. It is like they are born at the right place, at the right time.
There is no debate Jul 07, 2012 02:54am
I think people are debating just for the sake of it or they are just too free to write whatever it comes to their mind without a second thought, anyway. The whole article and campaign is summarised in one paragraph and I don't find any issues with it.. “We are not asking others to cover up like us. We are giving them freedom based on their beliefs and religion,” al-Muhairi said. “We are not judging and saying this shows she has other interests. We never want to judge. Do whatever you want and wear what you want but with limits. Just respect the public here.” This has been a request from the local community to respect the public. What's the problem, being in my own country can't I ask that ???
Malik Jul 07, 2012 04:34am
If UAE walas have such an issue with their culture being tarnished, stop issuing visas and importing labor from other countries and work themselves. When you bring an individual, it is NOT like bringing a machine, an individual humanbeing has culture, traditions, values, dresscodes, mannerism, wants etc which all with that individual to whereever that individual lands, including UAE. BTW, I am an American Pakistani and been to Dubai, the thought of living their and plight of our non-Arab, non-White workers in that God Forsaken country abhors me down to my core. I think, more than culture, locals should learn how to treat humanbeings with basic tenets of Islam i.e, Pay them proper timely wages, give them same standards and opportunities that they bestow upon themselves, do JUSTICE to these poor souls working for these snobs.
Zero Jul 06, 2012 09:55pm
So you worked in Dubai for '15 years' as a 'slave' and didn't realize it? Heck, that says plenty about you!
Khawar Jul 06, 2012 07:25pm
Having a ban on the niqaab in France is no way different to Arabs banning this. The principles are the same behind both ideologies. Think about it without the religious side of things. No country in this world is being truly run by religion. Not even Saudi.
Muhammad Ashraf Jul 06, 2012 01:58pm
It is time for our intellectuals to think and guide the society that who we are are and how we we want to live? I think we are muslims and want to live like muslims, we beleive that we are answerable to Allah for all our deeds. If one agrees to my above sentence then everything else becomes quite straight forward. Islam give very clear guidence on how and what one should wear. Follow Islam : very simple. Unfortunately, we do not see what are the teachings of Islam, the most misunderstood Religion in the wold.
Anon Jul 06, 2012 07:35pm
I am sorry A. Modern amenities, like cars, while were created by Westerners, are not against the tradition of the Arabs. The Arabs are not against cars and western food because nothing in their culture and religion stood against these two things. However, dress codes and alcohol drinking were things forbidden in their culture/religion. I am pretty sure you would not threatened westerners to stop using algebra or algorithm just because westerners are against polygamy, would you?
Asif Jul 07, 2012 01:38am
You deserve this as you hasitate to mention any other nationalities but mention Pakistani quite well for using his middle finger to a dumb idoit Arab motor cyclist.
Huma Jul 07, 2012 01:39am
Locals are parasites who feed off their government. When you compare them to other countries with no natural resources e.g. Singapore you realize that the gulf nations unfortunately have not developed their most important resource- skilled and educated manpower.
A Jul 07, 2012 10:57am
Ever had a 5 year old point to a shopper in front and say, "why is she is only wearing her undergarments?"
STAG Jul 06, 2012 06:38pm
@whatfor007 Jul 08, 2012 08:47am
What Local culture where people from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, are deported for very small offence & the locals & western countries people get away with the biggest crime is this Local Culture
RAJKIE Jul 06, 2012 05:14pm
It is their right because it is their land. You are the one who came here to work and get rich, which you could not.
Anon Jul 06, 2012 07:44pm
ujmalik, The Latinos in America and Muslims in Europe contribute much to the prosperity of Western societies, I never hear Americans/Europeans opening up to these "foreign culture". Sensitivity demanded from Arabs is one thing; however, the lack of respect to Arab culture either by refusing to learn and speak Arabic to living in a secluded expat neighborhood are examples of the lack of sensitivities among non-Arabs who've moved to Arab world. I am pretty sure you know how Europeans/Americans will react when they come across a Pakistani who has two wives and could not speak German while living in Germany. Straight to the jail with deportation following the jail terms. So, the Arabs have been showing tremendous patients in dealing with these foreigners. No jail, no deportation.
manish Jul 07, 2012 05:14am
why so? they are working hard, and making money, demanding that the locals should care about their life as well.
Susanna Jul 07, 2012 03:14am
I hate seeing adults wearing shorts. No one is going to die from covering up just a bit. In the US, people walk around in street clothes that do indeed look like underwear. It's disgusting.
Khalid Jul 06, 2012 05:09pm
Just live and let live. It's their way of showing off what they have (good figure) just like we have our way of showing off what we have (manners, culture, etc).
A Jul 06, 2012 11:42am
Bush Jul 06, 2012 04:35pm
Hahhahahha good one!
Jonny Jul 07, 2012 04:29am
Mukesh, lines in front of the US embassy are much longer in Indian cities so don't get on the bandwagon of Incredile India yet
Zero Jul 06, 2012 10:01pm
Why thumbs down? Take off your blinders of bias and appreciate the absolute femininity that she projects!
Jon Jul 07, 2012 04:23am
There is no such thing as locals etc. Land doesn't belong to anyone. USA used to be a totally race and country, it got run over by Europeans and others and now it has a total different face. People have limited lives, after that the land belongs to those who walk on it.
ashfaq hussain Jul 06, 2012 03:38pm
You should not just feel pity for them. Actually we are the pitiful right now even though we are in majority by numbers if you consider the Islamic population. You should make them follow the culture of the country. If France says it is our culture so we ban the veil. Then Arab countries should say this is our culture we ban your dress code. It is not a tit for tat. It is logic reasoning why shall they have the cake and eat it too always?! Maybe arrogance? Now Germany is saying circumcision is taking child's destiny and deciding. The court is arguing that may be if the child is given a choice he may not want to have done it.
harry Khan Jul 07, 2012 12:16pm
Back in 1990, I had the honour to make friends with 26 Arab girls from a school in Edgware London.
Jim Bo Jul 08, 2012 03:29pm
Well said!
Mustafa Jul 07, 2012 12:50am
"Ah don't they wish those scantly dressed women were Pakistani, Indian or Bangalis so they could throw them out of the country at their whim? " I liked the first comment as we all know had those foreigners been from any of the third world countries it would have probably been a different story.
Rizwan Afridi Jul 07, 2012 12:47am
Please, then tell your co-religionists to stop wearing headscarfs and niqabs in the West. Because I see lots of Arabs dressing like theyre still in Riyadh, and not Detroit.
Rizwan Afridi Jul 07, 2012 12:45am
Don't think that France is representative of the whole world. That is a silly assumption Muslims make. Go to London, Toronto, Madrid, NYC, Chicago - you'll see hijab, abaya, niqab, and chadors all there. The West is infinitely more tolerant than the police state that is the UAE.
Rizwan Afridi Jul 07, 2012 12:43am
What are you talking about? Have you ever been to a major Western city? You'll see hijab, abayas, and shalwar kameez everywhere. The West is 10000000 times more tolerant than the Arab world. And if the UAE doesn't want foreigners in their country, they should start educating themselves and learn to run their own country instead of taking up lazy civil service jobs. They are very proud that the thobe is their dress code for their civil service jobs - but their less proud to do hard work.
muneer Jul 07, 2012 12:39am
no body forced you serve them..... it is good for you too that is the reason you want to do it.....
Rizwan Afridi Jul 07, 2012 12:40am
Can you imagine the uproar in the UAE if Abayas were banned in London as an offense British tradition? It would be considered an outrage! But it Western clothes are found in the Emirates, then Emiratis wholeheartedly support bans. Hypocrites. If they don't want foreigner clothing in their country, then they should learn to run their economy by themselves and not rely out outsiders. Because as it is, Emiratis take up lazy civil service jobs, and leave everything else to talented foreigners.
George Jul 07, 2012 12:21am
There must be a piece of code to live a happy life. You've to respect the values of the locals.
BCD Jul 07, 2012 12:11am
Yes in US state is not involved in what people do and what people wear ! but you can;t say that about europe where state controls what you wear ! is that the same rights ?
Wes Jul 06, 2012 11:26pm
western lifestyle is not just about skimpy dresses..foreigners should be mindful of a strictly conservative society they live in and try to show regard of the local culture.
Arshad Ali---Karachi Jul 06, 2012 10:51pm
Why dress-control for women only. Men also wear skimpy clothes. And by the way if you put a woman in a box with a small hole in it, some guy will find it attractive, so why punish women for men's desire. Lady --- Don't live in stone age,
Abdullah Bajwa Jul 06, 2012 10:26pm
bhai jaan then not than
abdullah bajwa Jul 06, 2012 10:27pm
bhai jaan 'their' not 'there'
abdullah Jul 06, 2012 10:28pm
bhai jaan 'then' not 'than'
Zero Jul 06, 2012 10:17pm
I beg to differ .. most of the West is very tolerant and of everyone. I wouldn't brand all Muslims as intolerant (of foreigners) but yes, Arabs in general definitely are. Lesson: Do in Rome as Romans do!
sri1ram Jul 09, 2012 03:38am
Hmmm, given the amount of money being spent by Indian tourists all over the world today (China, Europe, Americas, Russia) especially in the last five years, it sure looks like the third world description for India will need a upgrade pretty soon, just like China does not come in that category anymore. Yes, India still has endemic poverty, but also has hundreds of millions pushed into the middle and affluent classes now.
Zero Jul 06, 2012 10:07pm
If you don't like a place, people, culture, then leave .. that's a no brainer. Stop whining already .. I say that to both the pro-west and the -east!
Salman Jul 06, 2012 06:32pm
Most of them come for education and buisiness, very few come for their right to be naked.
A Jul 06, 2012 10:53am
Sana google "Salwa al Mutairi". Check her thoughts on foreign women in arab lands. Which would you prefer?
A Jul 06, 2012 10:49am
In uae, foreigners dont have the rights like the locals. There is no democracy in the uae. Foreigners are slaves. If the west is so bad than why do muslim people go there? Heck i was in dubai for 15 years, i didnt like to be a non citizen with no rights so i moved to canada. Shouldnt everyone be treated equally, local or foreigner! Fyi Canada is a champion nation of human rights, uae can learn a lot from them
Muhammad Jul 06, 2012 10:44am
If westerner can't tolerate Muslims in their countries then what are they doing in UAE.
ashfaq hussain Jul 06, 2012 03:48pm
Dear Mukesh, I think there is no doubt we can follow islam better in western world than in islamic countries. Most western laws given equal rights regardless of gender, race or religion. But lately, there is a islam bashing in the west just before the elections. As well, islam is being singled out like in france they say by law women can not wear veil... the democracy is being politicised. You grow into adulthood carrying what your parents have practiced be it culture, religion, dress code and so on. The is sheer ignorance of the law enforcing departments and a dangerous trendsetter for all religions and cultures.
abj Jul 08, 2012 11:50am
I never knew a a pair of hot pants could shake up a country
A Jul 06, 2012 10:34am
Born and raised in dubai, i feel the locals need to be taken over by force by the foreigners. The locals enjoy comfortable lifes while the foreigners make money for them. Local high school drop out are making more money than their hard working foreign counterparts. Does an 18 year old deserve a brand new benz bought by his/ her unemployed local parent? If these locals are so against western lifestyle, than stop buying foreign cars, stop eating foreign food, stop watching foreign movies. Preservation of their culture means to live like their grandparents, in the desert rather that air conditioned luxary villas n luxary cars!!! If the malls are unislamic, than stop going there.
A Muslim Jul 06, 2012 05:18pm
Muslims all over the world do have a problem. They want to stay in 16 century.
ashok Jul 07, 2012 04:18pm
If you want western syle malls,discos,bars etc then have guts to face the western dress.
Khan Jul 06, 2012 03:13pm
I have lived in North america for the past 13 years, and I have worn my hijab, worked and have been well respected where ever I go. If Arabs do not want the tourists to behave as tourists...stop giving Visas. Do not judge. Remember, if you dictate, so will the others. How would you like it if someone asked you that when visiting the west, you had to take off your burqa, hijabs, and wear body forming clothes?
Guest Jul 06, 2012 03:11pm
Are you of loose morals? Her arms are bare. Her clothes are tight, showing all the curves. She is in the company of (judging from their dress as we allways do) who*es. And finally, god forbid, she is SMILING and LAUGHING.
Agha Ata Jul 06, 2012 12:30pm
If women's dress seduces men, that is their problem. They should learn to control. Women do that, too; they control. If men cannot control their desires, how can they control women? Don't talk of the west. How do Chinese or Japanese women dress? And how many Pakistani ladies wear a hijab on Karachi streets, or even in villages where they work with men in the fields, and consist of 70% of population of Pakistani women?
Agha Ata Jul 07, 2012 12:40pm
There was a time when just showing her face was considered vulgarity, but only in small cities. It changed slowly as society evolved. It is still evolving. Yesterday's vulgarity is today's acceptd norm. What can we do?
Zero Jul 09, 2012 11:58am
@Deb: Oxford dictionary defines femininity as: the quality of being female; womanliness. Merriam-Webster defines it as: the quality or nature of the female sex. How you translated femininity to sexual preferences is lost on me?
@bilalchd Jul 08, 2012 09:51am
poor pakistani got deported for a rude gesture .. too bad
VDUK Jul 07, 2012 11:44am
then why muslims fight for burqa and sharia law in france uk us canada... hypocrisy at best...
Jawad Jul 08, 2012 11:32pm
I just came back from Egypt and I live in the west. While being in Egypt - Egyptian women dress no differently than any other Arab country when they might leave Egypt what they wear may be a different story but than again when Emarati women come to the West they too change their shades. And to be fair to the Egyptian women while there, I was told that the large majority of un-scarfed women are non Muslims. You are probably aware, Egypt has a very large Coptic Christian population and in most cases they are very affluent and well travelled.
syedmazharali Jul 07, 2012 10:32am
Yes! indeed U.A.E. Govt. think about it as many European countries have a dress code in which hejab is prohibited. why not we impose ebaya on them. regards
non Jul 08, 2012 08:59am
Dubai was created to be a place for foreigners. That's all there is to say about that place.
Rahul Jul 08, 2012 05:38pm
was not aware of many ! Btw how many except France ?
paxtani Jul 08, 2012 04:57pm
If restuarants and clubs of west can have dress code, then why is it a problem when people of a Muslim country want a dress code for public areas, malls.. etc?
paxtani Jul 08, 2012 04:47pm
it doesn't matter if you are born in Dubai.. you are still not local, if your parents were not local.... that's how it goes in UAE.
Agha Ata Jul 08, 2012 12:45pm
Foreigners can do anything in their own country, and Arabs can do anything in their country. If foreigners don't like it, they will stop coming. Just as Arabs should stop going to non Muslim's country if they dont like their dress.
SJay Jul 08, 2012 11:02am
In case a law is made for dress code, it should apply to locals only at best, not foreigners. It is the local women and men that should be responsible for their own acts. Just because you want to protect your own culture doesn't mean that you should enforce law on foreigners. You should be responsible for your own men and women. If a local girl wants to dress up like foreigners, law should apply to her. She should be held responsible for dressing up scantily. If local men are getting seduced, law should apply to local men. As for sex in public, the best you can do to protect your city is to limit it to private places.
SJay Jul 08, 2012 10:56am
In case a law is made for dress code, it should apply to locals only at best, not foreigners. It is the local women and men that should be responsible for their own acts. Just because you want to protect your own culture doesn't mean that you should enforce law on foreigners. You should be responsible for your own men and women. If a local girl wants to dress up like foreigners, law should apply to her. She should be held responsible for dressing up scantily. If local men are getting seduced, law should apply to local men. As for sex in public, the best you can do to protect the messed up city is to limit it to private places.
Surya Jul 08, 2012 10:49am
Ali jaan, u shld know the reason for this by urself. Just google for India's population and can make out that due to its huge population, it is obvious that there will be intense influx for job search outside the country. The qn here is not abt who is the largest immigrant country but religion. Also, almost all countries have no probs issuing visa for Indians.
gary Jul 08, 2012 10:26am
Leave the west and go where you came from.
gary Jul 08, 2012 10:23am
Muslims must learn to respect other humans first,women can come later.
gary Jul 08, 2012 10:20am
How come arabs are flooding the west with their mosques?
Kashmiri Jul 06, 2012 09:52am
A Foreigner coming to Arab Land needs to be culturally sensitive, and dress according to local traditions and values. An Arab going to to West would only do what they do in their country (if we question them, then you questions about our rights, freedom and Democracy) Great Going!
Guest Jul 06, 2012 03:05pm
Just as Muslims observe western dress and custom when when they want to become citizens of that country let alone visiting.
Ninja Turtles Jul 09, 2012 05:09am
Yes but when the French ask Muslim women to take off their Hijab since they find it offensive then don't whine about it. Respect what their public wants.
A Jul 06, 2012 04:44pm
I did
A Jul 06, 2012 11:45am
Well everyone should have the same rights, that's what they practice in the west.maybe that's the reason Muslims come to western countries.
SQureshi Jul 09, 2012 04:41am
Its going to be a hard thing, this skimy dress crackdown for a number of reasons. 1) The Emirati men, will not pass a ruling full heartidly, you should see them oogling such skimpy subjects at the malls and beaches. 2) The Emirates based on these freedom for foreigners has been able to attract so many in numbers & continues to do so. Restrictions would mean negativity and restricted numbers. You can't lure someone, let them be as they are and then put restrictions - that is not taken so well. 3) Surrounding Gulf states would need to crackdown too in order to send the message out loud and clear that this is not the way to go about. There are other many major things that the Emiratis need to crackdown on before they take to dressing down. What is sad in all is that locals & other muslim women have started to follow this, primarily on the pretext that it is allowed to dress down in the UAE, this is not the KSA, they say!
M U G Jul 06, 2012 01:43pm
Mukesh Jul 06, 2012 01:47pm
Its not only the westers who dress like this - one should see the women from Egypt, Labenan, Jordan etc when they go to malls in Dubai.
Ali Jul 06, 2012 02:49pm
and so is true about the indians who despite of having a gdp of 8 -9 % in past years and booming economy has one of the largest immigrant population in the world.. just go to heathrow and see it urself..
Mukesh Jul 06, 2012 01:52pm
You may not believe what an arab does when he goes to west on a pleasure trip.
Shilpa Jul 06, 2012 02:37pm
If u want people from other places to come visit or work and contribute to your economy, you have to be tolerant to them otherwise things wont work out.This I think is true for all nations.So,live and let live.
ahmet abdulaziz Jul 06, 2012 07:17am
Like the west is heading for extremism against islam (by banning hijab), the muslim countries too are on their way of resorting to extreme measures to enforce their own way of thinking. Where would these lead? More and more extremism and nothing else. Lest we all learn to live side by side with people from different cultural and religious background. It is not that much difficult, if we just try to come out of the world of taboos.
Timmy Jul 06, 2012 07:25am
Second that! Just with addition that the movement shouldnt be baed on completely protecting the customs rather purity of land and the people that reside in it, as such acts only promote vulgarity!
Mukesh Jul 06, 2012 01:37pm
Dear Mohmmad - Its wrong to say that west can not tolerate muslims. Yours is a bit of emotional statement. If you look at the numbers of muslims in western nations and number of westerners in muslim nations (I mean immigrants only) then it will be clear to you. In western nations - muslims and others are free to practice their religions and have equal rights but compare that to UAE, Saudi Arabia etc and then you will see the difference. Just pass thru the road in front of US embassey in any pakistani city and the lineup there will tell all the facts. regards
Zero Jul 06, 2012 11:54am
I like the woman with the scarf in the article's pic over the rest!
@aalishan Jul 06, 2012 07:47am
i don't understand this..... they want dress code to be followed!!!! Abaya is to cover your body, but as i see more women wear (fashionable) abaya for revealing themselves, there is nothing Islamic in these abayas that they wear in Shopping Malls...... So how can you make someone else follow rules that u cant follow yourself.... and as for what foreigners say about dress code; every Mall i have visited display these kind of messages "Please wear respectful clothing" and showing picture of shirt that covers from shoulders till knees, now its up to people what they consider Respectful.....
baig Jul 06, 2012 07:55am
a Twitter feed with 3,300 followers .... and makes it way as a news item in Dawn.....duhhhhh
Zero Jul 06, 2012 11:51am
If you are so unhappy with the 'locals', why don't you leave?
Saad (DXB) Jul 06, 2012 08:02am
I have been living in Dubai for 5 years and have never felt that Emiratis are an unreasonable lot. I have many Emiratis working as colleagues in my workplace and I have found them to be quiet a jolly bunch. I share a passion for cars, football, travelling and gadgets with many of the local guys (local is a term generally used for Emiratis by foreigners and themselves alike) and once you get to know them, they are the friendliest people. In fact, unlike the sub-continent or Africa, you can just walk up to the police, ask them for directions, for information about the Dos and Dont's or to lodge a complaint. Most recently, I walked up to a couple of cops and complemented their brand new BMW. They were kind enough to tell me about its specs and also showed me the interior.. However, just like I would want any guest in my house to behave anyway he likes as long as he doesn't break the broader rules or disrespect the sanctity of my home, Emiratis have every right to do the same. They don't ask for much.. On a broader scale, don't break the law and respect the Arab and Islamic Culture. I believe this is one of the most tolerant places in the world. Look at the underlying racial currents against foreigners in US, UK, Germany, France etc. and how they are resented by the locals in those countries as being people who stole their jobs. In UAE, all foreigners are welcome, so long as they can find themselves a job. UAE realizes the potential of synergy and that 1+1 doesn't have to be 2, it can at times, be 11.
iarrai Jul 06, 2012 08:13am
Some westerners are Hippocrates when we muslims want to follow our rules in there country they forbid us and when it comes to them in our muslim countries it is there right to do what ever they want, so sad i feel piety for them.
Inam Ullah Jul 06, 2012 08:24am
Although Dubai ia an international city, but foreigners should keep care of local culture and religion. One should keep great care in dress and others manners in others cultures/
ujmalik Jul 06, 2012 08:28am
Ah don't they wish those scantly dressed women were Pakistani, Indian or Bangalis so they could throw them out of the country at their whim? Though there is a place around the world for countries or regions to advise a dress code for their residents (like some American cities asking teenagers not to wear low hanging jeans), but even then the Emiratis need to understand that all the prosperity this influx of foreigners bring them - they have to broaden up their sensitivities.
Inam Ullah Jul 06, 2012 08:30am
Although Dubai ia an international city, but the alien or westerners should keep care of local culture and religion. One should keep great care in dress and others manners in others cultures/
Sana Jul 06, 2012 08:51am
I stand firmly by this decision! Being born & raised in the UAE, I've observed the transition as more and more foreigners piled in. As much freedom and entertainment Dubai offers to foreigners, I think it is our duty to follow their rules & regulations and respect their culture & religion. I don't think they're banning or forcing anybody to do anything against their will. Everyone should know that UAE is an Islamic country, and Islam forbids a woman to display too much skin and hence become a symbol of immodesty. This isn't extremism either, because if European countries think that they have the right to dictate Muslim women's lives & declare them as "oppressed" and ban Hijab etc, then I'm sure Muslim countries have at least so much right so as to request foreigners to not wear lingerie in public. Sounds fair enough.
millerd Jul 09, 2012 01:38pm
I am sorry A, you missed the point. The issue here is the survival of the host culture and not about the change of life style. Elements of western culture , the dress code , mixed gatherings open show of affection and intimacy is affecting the young local culture . In local cultural context it is contaminating the tradition , values and beliefs of host culture.There is a growing concern among the conservative elements in the society that It is slowly eroding the traditional modesty in young people, and young generation is increasingly compromising values alien to the local culture. . Preservation of culture and change of life style are two different issues. Changes of life style are brought about by increase in wealth and affluence, this may very well trigger some natural social adjustments. The concern is that the imported cultures especially the western culture is accelerated this adjustments by compromising local sensitivities and most affected from this change are young Emirates.
Rattan Singh Jul 07, 2012 05:54am
Best answer Mukesh
Mohsin Jul 07, 2012 06:00am
excellent sana!!! Unfortunately i m seeing the replies of our muslim brothers and really feels shameful. I ask all of u who are in favor of women exposing their bodies, and thinks its their right, then can u all send your sisters and mothers in bikini in the malls and let the people look at them and get seduced. One more thing i know my this post might not be publiched due to personal attack but if you get this just reply from your heart. These western societies makes women only a sex symbol and nothing else. Use her and throw her. Islam gives much respect to women as compared to any other religion. If you are against hijab then what would you say about nuns?
Mohsin Jul 07, 2012 06:06am
and forget what Allah says.....
sreeraj Jul 07, 2012 06:09am
muskesh dear well one is against muslims..but it is your thoughts what make you think that all world is conniving against you..I am not blaming you but apogee of all the problems are the mullahs who misinterpret islam or intentionally deceived you.World will be happier place when you realize this fact.Sooner better will be the result.Even in my state,kerala southern most state of India muslim constitute about 33 percent of population.We have lived peacefully for centuries.But now mullahs have started preaching their ideas. I could see the change in the thoughts of every one including my close friends.
shah Fahad Jul 07, 2012 06:45am
agreeD.....These r the People who makes beaches like jumeiraaaaa...Only Allowed in burmuda..ahh we cant even go there in a trouser or paint.they made the clubs for westers..So nOw whats the Problem with them..that they want the DrESs code...??????iam a muslim and iam nt againt an abayaa..its to much good...but if ever these gals visited to Europe and they make the law to wear the Dress like this country will they?????? ahhhh these localss only tak to sit in an Ac ROOm and Ac fitted Car.. Nothing elSe..Coz they dnt know how to WOrk in 45 c in this June and July.
Iqbal Jul 07, 2012 06:51am
Regression is often the choice of those scared to lose their distinct identity. Will they go back to not using cars and planes?
Ishtiaq Ahmed Jul 07, 2012 07:00am
I live in UAE and know first hand the sensitivities of the local population I also travel widely and can say that in Dubai, you can find some people most provocatively dressed as no where else. Lets' face the fact that UAE, which has over 200 nationalities, great recreational facilities for expatriates, locals and the tourists. If anyone was talking about need for imroving workers' living conditions, I would live that. But dress code; have you not heard the old proverb 'do in Rome as the Romans do'.
Deb Jul 07, 2012 07:21am
We don't want to know what your sexual preferences are. Kindly keep them to yourself.
elena Jul 10, 2012 09:11am
I have a theory that most of the extreme clothing worn in the malls - shorts showing plenty of rear end and tops showing off midriff and more are actually designed by the wearer to deliberately shock. Some people just crave attention even if it is of the most negative type. Unfortunately , most of them would not have the courage to dress that way in their own country but feel that in Dubai they get a double thrill from wearing clothing that frankly make them look like cheap slappers. They get sensible women annoyed (not just Emiratis) and they have lots of men ogling them. Sacrificing their self respect for some negative attention. How hard is it to put a shawl over the strappy dress and keep the length below the knee. Quite a lot of westerners dont want to see your fleshy parts either
Adeel Jul 07, 2012 07:45am
and you call urself muslim
@Ocapsat Jul 07, 2012 09:07am
when these people whine for dress code why do they forget Sharm-al Sheikh beach in Egypt. How about being concerned with miseries of expatriates committing suicides every day. Why not acting human as Humans. Why only dress code offend them in their own backyard. The very same woman act otherwise when visiting west. isn't it seems like locals are scared of becoming a minority the 'salves' are out-numbering masters. The whole of GCC is a place blood sucking peninsula, a person spending 30+ years working for half of a-wage what a high-school fail local gets as sponsorship fee ends up as retired expat. no visa extensions allowed. The human rights does not exist dual standards of law for locals & expats for arabic speaking & non-arabic speaking. instead of whining for dress code, there shall be a uniform code of ethics & local laws across the board for everyone living as legal resident the the UAE>
Aht Jul 07, 2012 04:28pm
@VDUK: so you want to spoil local culture and don't respect there country values. you like naked women in market and street. so sad..
187 Jul 08, 2012 02:50pm
You always have to respect local laws, customs and traditions. Expats live in these countries because they have a much better opportunity to earn money and support their families. Not many countries provide such a benefit to foreigners. No foreigners should even have the right to think of overthrowing the locals 'by force'. You are born and raised in Dubai but it seems you do not have the slightest understanding of their culture. Furthermore having a tourist industry or buying foreign goods by no means infers losing your culture. It worries and sickens me to see such great support for negative comments like yours.
AAA Jul 08, 2012 11:40am
Nasr Jul 07, 2012 06:31pm
Indecency should always be condemned. But the way some middle eastern countries discriminate and treat people from the subcontinent is more and more condemnable.
a z khan Jul 07, 2012 06:59pm
These are so called muslim rulers ,even in china skimpy dress is banned in trains due rape cases and assault cases ,Islam doesnt hate women dress its only protect them from animality in men!1
Mukesh Jul 07, 2012 07:04pm
Khizr ji - you caught me here. I agree - I have never seen a Pakistani city ever, was just giving an example - I apologise if I have offended you. I do wish to come and see Rawalpindi (where my father was born) and Quetta (where my mother was born) some day. Regards - Mukesh
Mukesh Jul 07, 2012 07:06pm
Agree with your statement Ali ji - I apologise if I have offended you by giving the examaple of line up - was a bad example.
Mukesh Jul 07, 2012 07:07pm
Dear Jonny - I apologise if I have offended you and yes the line up is much bigger in Indian cities and I never discussed incredible India in my reply.- Regards - Mukesh
Mohammad Ataullah Jul 07, 2012 07:22pm
Masha'Allah very good, intelligent and sensible answer
Runa Jul 07, 2012 08:10pm
Well said
Razzaq Jul 07, 2012 08:15pm
Very true.
iykhan125 Jul 07, 2012 11:44pm
This is a very good point by the author. If we look at the whole situation with an open mind, we would see that citizens of the country who are already in minority and who happen to be Muslims, obviously would like to follow Islamic values. Lets not forget that some other Muslim countries are not even close to being moderate like UAE..... They are not even asking to completely cover your bodies like it is required in other Muslim countries. They are simply talking about to be respectful of their values and to wear moderately acceptable clothes. This is not Politics and certainly not rocket science.....Be respectful of the country and their values.
Sara Jul 08, 2012 12:34am
Whichever country you visit in the world, you should respect their customs and culture.It doesn't matter if there are more EXPATS, you have to remember this country belong to the UAE people and its their country, so we should respect and follow their customs when we enter their country.I think the UAE authorities needs to keep an eye and make sure everyone is following the rules.
illawarrior Jul 08, 2012 03:32am
Foreigners are dressing this way in Dubai, because they can. Either there are no rules, or the rules are not enforced. They do not dress like this in Saudi, because Saudi does not allow it, simple! Dubai is free to enforce a strict dress code, however, it chooses not to, because it wants the tourist dollars to boost its economy. It is amazing how often principles can be evaoprated by money.
M. Hanif Jul 08, 2012 03:57am
Mukesh large number of ur people earn from UAE, remember this note.. and its must for me if i come to India i should respect the culture and religion.. So we are talking about countries, not a single person..
Shez Jul 08, 2012 06:29am
apart from the fact that one should respect local traditions, the bias nature of this article is highlighted in the following points: 1) They call women who wear Abaya as 'Conservative'. Who is this writer to judge what is conservative and what is not. The abaya is a local traditional dress. If they are conservative, then women who wear skimpy dresses, shall we say they are immodest? 2) No nationality has been mentioned, except 'Pakistani'. What biasness of the editor? The couple who were caught having sex on the beach were British, mention that too if you want to mention Pakistani showing his middle finger. 3) Tourists and Expats interviewed, who say they are not aware of any dress code should either get a lesson in 'how to read English' or get their eyes checked as all the malls in the UAE have a dress code clearly mentioned in all the entrances and the majority of the malls are constantly mentioning it on the large digital notice boards throughout the malls. Ignorance is no bliss
Shez Jul 08, 2012 06:37am
Agreed that the West has freedom more than the Arab world; however you seem to have gone on the wrong track. the article was not about religion at all. It was about respecting cultures and local traditions. One should respect that no matter where you live. If you are in England and the tradition is to wear a fancy hat and suit to the Ascots then you should wear that. Like Sheikh Mohammad of UAE himself wears a suit and tie when he goes for the Ascots (and not turn up in his local dress); however you would never see him in western attire in his official trips. I am sure there are traditions which one should respect. if we go to the masjid, mandir or a gurdwara, we would normally wear decent clothes and cover ourselves rather than go in a bikini. now thats common sense and respecting cultures.
salah khan Jul 08, 2012 07:03am
Absolutely true my friends, the uae people and arabs with money think they are superior beings. they are such hypocrites !!
SSH Jul 09, 2012 06:01am
Yeah but they dont work or walk in skimpy clothes!!
tahseen Jul 09, 2012 07:07am
UAE has to to make a law against dress code in common places like parks, shopping mall, etc. bc the UAE is a very respectable country 4 the Muslim so the foreigner have to make them self in limit to move in UAE or any other muslim country.
@m4n1sh Jul 09, 2012 08:43am
That piece of code is to mind your own business
@m4n1sh Jul 09, 2012 08:45am
People are respecting your culture and religion by not asking or forcing you to wear skimpy clothes. Now you respect their culture by letting them wear what they want to. This is a very simple solution which avoids any conflicts
@m4n1sh Jul 09, 2012 08:52am
They do keep care of local culture by not asking or forcing local people to wear hot pants.
shah Jul 10, 2012 05:01am
this is nt a mater of religion.its a matter of Dress i dnt think so that UAE is right.even they r using and doing all like westerns and also UAE had provide all this to Weterns here.they Y UAE is doing So NOW...its nt Fair .as to me i Dislike this...
sriram Jul 11, 2012 04:54am
ujmalik Jul 12, 2012 05:34am
wish you actually read what I wrote earlier.