Advice to Tourists fails to reach out

The police-issued brochure entitled Advice to Tourists appears not to have reached much of its target audience.

By Aisha Tariq

Published: Sun 26 Aug 2012, 8:49 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 2:27 PM

In at least three major hotels in the Capital city, the staff had not seen or even heard of the pamphlet brought out last month by the Abu Dhabi Police informing newcomers of behavioral dos and don’ts in the UAE. Upon the brochure’s release, the police said they would be distributed to tourists at airports, hotels, tourism operating companies and public places frequented by visitors.

When asked, a number of hotel guests said they had not been given the pamphlets at any stage of their trip. But in spite of not receiving any information from the authorities, tourists still felt relatively informed and unworried on the subject of appropriate behaviour in the UAE.

“We’ve got an idea because we’ve done our research before coming,” said Sheetal, a British tourist visiting with her family. “We can look it up on the Internet —there’s quite a lot of information available, obviously. We know about the dress code, that we can wear our swimsuits by the pool.”

Her sentiment was echoed by Dorner, an Austrian tourist whose Internet research assured him that bathing suits would be permitted pool side and at the beach. Apart from this, he said: “My feeling is that there are no limitations, because no one told us ‘don’t wear this, don’t do this’. We feel very free here.”

The 14-point guide, available in 12 different languages, was created “to ensure that tourists adhere to local rules and regulations, and do not upset the traditional and cultural values [of the UAE],” said Brigadier Omeir Al Muhairi, Deputy Director of Abu Dhabi Police Operations, last month. Some of the brochure’s warnings are clear-cut, such as the illegality of drug possession or alcohol consumption in unlicensed locations. Others are less so, notably the recommendation to “wear respectful clothing”.

Filipina Arlene, who has lived in the UAE for 18 years, feels that these gray areas make it difficult for both visitors and residents to conform to the rules. “Respect for the culture, that’s fine with us expatriates, but they cannot force the rules at this very moment because people don’t know what to follow,” she said. “When it comes to dress code, from what certain point do we have to follow?”

Those who reside in the UAE have developed a sense of what is appropriate in different situations, says Allecia, a seven-year resident of Abu Dhabi, but tourists could benefit from clearer guidelines. “Some visitors don’t understand that this is a religious country and they should follow rules,” she said.

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