Dubai talks: A heated debate about the dress code in the city

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Dubai talks: A heated debate about the dress code in the city

Police say UAE law bans photographing any person and releasing video clips without their consent and permission

By Mustafa Al Zarooni/city Editor

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Published: Fri 15 May 2015, 12:40 AM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 10:38 PM

AP file photo

Dubai  - The debate over the implementation of a dress code in Dubai has heated up on social media this week.

A viral video of an incident in which an Emirati woman asks two Arab women to wear modest clothes and the news that Dubai Municipality is giving abayas for scantily clad women while doing transaction at its customer service centres have evoked enormous responses from Emiratis and expatriates.

Khaleej Times was the first to write about both the topics on Tuesday.  It emerged on social media sites on Wednesday that one of the actresses, Abeer Sabry, was trying out an outfit in the fitting room prior to the incident in the video. It was alleged that she had also walked into the store area in her underwear to find another size, which provoked the Emirati woman to question her when the actress came to make the payment.

Ahlam Amin Mirza, a government employee, said government departments providing abayas to women who do not follow the dress code is a welcome move.

“There are countries where women are required to wear abaya everywhere. Here, we are just asking the women to be neatly dressed. I don’t suggest providing abaya to women in shopping malls but I think we should have a similar option even in malls.”

Culture of country should be respected

Zayed Al Shamsi, head of the Emirates Lawyers and Jurists Association, said Emiratis and expatriates should follow the Code of Conduct issued by the Dubai Executive Council, which tackles a dress code under the section on decency code, in respect to the culture of the city, religion and customs.

“The culture of the country should be respected as well as the customs and traditions of its people. People should avoid all kinds of indecent behaviors in all parts of the emirate,” he said adding that the code of conduct has made it mandatory for visitors of public places, be they government buildings, trade centres (shopping malls), streets, restaurants and stores to wear suitable attires.

“Whoever is found wearing indecent clothes can be prohibited from entering public places,” he warned.

Rida Fatima Ali, commenting on KT’s Facebook page said: “Almost at every entrance of a mall, they have written the same rules for women. But nobody actually cares.”

Suzan Al Saraj, also a KT reader, said: “When in Rome, do as the Romans do. When visiting a foreign land, follow the customs of those who live in it. It can also mean that when you are in an unfamiliar situation, you should follow the lead of those who know the ropes.” Many expatriates also voiced that Dubai, being a tourist friendly city, needs to keep its liberal attitude towards people from other cultures.

Major-General Khalil Ibrahim Al Mansouri, Assistant Commander-in-Chief of Dubai Police for Criminal Investigation, has underscored that all visitors, tourists and residents of Dubai are treated well and what a lady has done, whose identity so far has not been confirmed, by hurling bitter words and trespassing on the privacy of the Egyptian actress has nothing to do with Emirati people who respect all nationalities.

  The UAE law, he pointed out, bans photographing any person and releasing video clips without their consent and permission. This is what the suspected lady has done. Most Emiratis agreed that the Emirati woman’s behaviour was uncalled for.

However, the issue has shed light on the issue of the modest (decent) dress code. People see some women and young men wearing improper clothes, which are inconsistent with the public dress code, yet nobody can take any action. (With inputs from Sajila Saseendran)

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