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Bikinis aren’t outlawed, but use ‘common sense’

Image is for illustrative purposes only

Signs have been posted on public beaches in Ras Al Khaimah advising beachgoers to dress modestly.

April 28, 2013 2:43 by

Beachgoers, stash away those two-piece swimsuits, briefs and Speedos as they’re no longer welcome on certain public beaches in the United Arab Emirates.

More specifically, the northern emirate of Ras Al Khaimah – in response to complaints filed by local families – has posted warning signs advising the public against wearing revealing swimwear.

The violators will not be arrested or face any particular charges, but will be asked to leave the beach and possibly receive a hefty fine as well – after a second warning.

According to a supporting report by The National, the signs – posted by the police and municipality – read: “All coast goers should commit to public morality and modest clothing”, followed by an illustration of a man in tight swimming trunks, a woman in bikini and a cross over both images.

Captain Khaled Al Naqbi, of RAK Police, advised the public to “use common sense” and “just be modest”.

Obviously, this subject doesn’t simply reflect a mere warning sign on a public beach in RAK; it is a sneak peak of what’s yet to come. The issue of dressing modestly in the UAE has long captivated the public – particularly on public and social forums. Currently, you’re allowed to wear a bikini on beaches in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, but don’t be surprised if there comes at a time when it is forbidden.

Throughout all shopping malls and certain public areas, in both emirates, there are countless signs urging visitors to dress humbly and respectively. Groups on Twitter and Facebook (such as @UAEDressCode) were set up to both educate the public and raise awareness among residents and tourists that a little sensitivity with how much skin you reveal is in order. We all remember that ridiculous woman who, after an argument with an Arab woman criticising her indecency, stripped down to her bikini in the mall in 2010.

In fact, news of this ‘unofficial ban’ has once again ignited a flame of interest in the matter, rehashing an equally relevant news article from earlier this year. Visitors to Dubai Zoo were asked to wear respectable clothing – meaning that knees and shoulders should be covered – and that scarves, if necessary, can be provided at the door. In January 2013, signs were also posted across the zoo.

At the time, Ahmad Abdul Karim, Director of Public Parks and Horticulture Department, Dubai Municipality, emphasised that this move isn’t a newly implemented rule, but simply shines the spotlight on existing laws in parks as well.

According to various reports, such community bans have been greeted with enthusiasm and support – but the issue may still lie with the lack of awareness about the matter. A few days after the signs in the emirate’s public beaches were posted, the head of public relations and moral guidance for RAK Police clarified that revealing swimwear is not ‘officially outlawed’ but strongly discouraged because of cultural sensitivities.

“We respect the rights for people. We follow UAE law,” said Maj Marwan Al Mansoori. “Our campaign is not about catching people. We just want to tell people about our culture and our community.”

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