Face jail for dressing inappropriately in public in Dubai
Dubai - Most malls in Dubai have a sign on their gates, asking visitors to dress appropriately.
By Sarwat Nasir
Published: Fri 28 Sep 2018, 10:33 PM
Last updated: Sun 22 Mar 2020, 2:58 PM
Residents and tourists who dress "inappropriately" in public places can face up to three years jail time and deportation for "harming the country's public morals", legal experts have warned.
The comments follow a viral video on Twitter of an Arab woman who spoke about how she reported a "woman who was dressed inappropriately" to a mall security in Dubai. The security then provided the woman with an abaya to cover up.
Some Emirati Twitter users supported the Arab woman's move and said that residents and tourists should respect UAE's culture, while, some also said that they had "no problem" with what they were wearing.
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"There are no context or law that regulates or controls clothing limits or set penalties for it, but there is the Article 358 of the Federal Penal Code of the State, which says that indecent actions or anything that might be prejudicial to public morals made by a man or woman in public and could be considered as indecency would be punishable by six months to three years and deportation, according to the first paragraph of the Article 121 of the same law," Mohammed Talal Al Tamimi, a lawyer at Tamami & Co,, told Khaleej Times.
Most malls in Dubai have a sign on their gates, asking visitors to dress appropriately.
The UAE government's official website also asks tourists to "dress modestly". "Emiratis dress conservatively in traditional dress and can be offended when people dress inappropriately or not in accordance with Islamic values," the website says.
It adds that both men and women "might feel more comfortable wearing loose-fitting clothes" that cover up the shoulders, arms and legs.
No separate law for men and women
Ashish Metha, managing partner at Ashish Mehta & Associates, a solicitor and legal consultancy firm, told Khaleej Times: "It is the duty of every resident and visitor to dress appropriately in public. Generally, ladies in public places like streets, shopping malls and restaurants etc, should wear shorts, skirts which are of appropriate length and down to the knee or of knee length. The authorities may punish an individual by custody and or impose fine on him or her for wearing indecent, vulgar or inappropriate dress in public. Beach wear and swim suits are only allowed in designated areas of beach or swimming pools."
He added that men should also follow appropriate dressing sense while they are in public. He said men should have shorts that reach to the knees, t-shirt or a shirt.
"In some government offices, especially in court premises/halls there are specific boards/hoardings regarding instructions to wear appropriate/decent dress. Clothing shall not indecently expose certain parts of the body, be transparent or display obscene or offensive pictures, slogans, or gestures and anything that might cause religious or cultural offence, etc. Having said that, if a person's outfit is vulgar and somewhat exposes certain sensitive parts of his or her body in public places amounts to indecency, authorities may take action against such person resulting in punishment by fine or imprisonment," Mehta said.
Follow the guidelines
Majid Al Futtaim malls across the country have signs in place at the entry gates that warn visitors to dress appropriately.
A spokesperson from Majid Al Futtaim Shopping Malls said in a statement to Khaleej Times: "We welcome diverse visitors, both residents and tourists from all over the world throughout the year. We remind visitors' about the culturally appropriate dress code and behaviour in the UAE with messaging at our malls' entrances. All Majid Al Futtaim's shopping malls follow a courtesy policy, which is in line with the government guidelines on dress code, to help guide our visitors and ensure the comfort of all guests."