When visiting another country, it’s only good manners to read up on and observe that country’s customs. But for some reason, that isn’t happening when folks visit the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – and it’s causing a bit of an uproar.
If you only read this intro, remember this little tidbit: If you’re a woman and you’re planning a visit to Dubai any time soon, be sure to pack appropriate items alongside your toothbrush and pajamas – namely, Capris and short-sleeved t-shirts. And you would do well to just leave the tank tops and short shorts at home.
If you’ve visited a mall in Dubai, you’ve likely seen this little handout requesting modest dress:
There are also signs saying the same thing posted at the entrances. These signs are largely ignored, with many visitors entering the mall in shorts and sometimes even bathing suit tops. And it’s wildly offensive to the people who live there.
Well, Hanan Al Rayyes and Asma Al Muheiri have had enough of it – so they started a Twitter campaign demanding tourists respect Emirati society and its laws. Rayyes told The National, “We don’t want people to start wearing the abaya or anything, we’re just asking them to cover up parts of the body that are sensitive to our culture.”
There’s both a designated twitter handle, @UAEDressCode and a hashtag conversation #UAEDressCode – and both are pretty active, with lots of support. The goal appears to be more of an awareness campaign than anything else, but some Emirati frustrations are evident:
And some outsiders take issue with the guidelines:
They campaign hopes to encourage malls to take a stronger stance and enforce the dress code, though this seems like an uphill battle, particularly in Dubai, as it’s such a tourist attraction. It will be interesting to see if stores will risk missing out on sales by getting behind this campaign or if things will continue on as before.
For the most part, outside of those who are rightfully aggravated, folks participating in the Twitter conversation really just seem baffled as to why these societal norms are so blatantly ignored. And one person offers a link to a helpful site that shares modern tips on how to dress modestly.
What do you think? Should UAE visitors modify their dress to conform to cultural standards? Let us know what you think in the comments.
(Arab woman image from Shutterstock)