Register for our free newsletter

Latest News

Dubai’s dress-code drama

dubai dress code

A cultural clash between conservatives and the not so conservative is a tight rope legislators in the UAE have to learn to master.

June 12, 2012 5:22 by

For fear of sounding like a broken tape recorder, Kipp’s going to keep this short. Yesterday we spoke of the paradox of Qatar, in particular the conflict between opening five star restaurants and implementing an alcohol ban. To drive our point home, we tsk-tsked at confused little Doha’s ways and heralded Dubai for teaching “its fellow Arab nations …a spanking lesson in branding.” We were referring to the resolution of the cultural clash of conservatism and capitalism-but is it really a question long since resolved?

A closer look at the local press today may suggest otherwise. Take for instance the call from a member of the FNC for a federal law against ‘revealing clothing.’ Hamad Al Rahoumi a representative from Dubai who said  people going to malls need to be dressed and act appropriately: ” Why come to the mall in shorts? If they want to wear shorts, they can go to the beach. At a mall in Dubai, two were in front of me kissing passionately on an escalator. What do you do then? Another couple had their hands in each other’s back pockets. For those coming with a family, this sight is not appropriate.”

Al Rahoumi’s comments are anything from ground-breaking. Similar sentiments have been expressed for some time now. In fact, last month two Emirati girls made headlines when they launched a campaign on Twitter concerning the need for residents and tourists to observe the dress code within the UAE. Hanan Al Rayyes and Asma Al Muheiri expressed their ‘disgust’ at seeing scantily clad women walking in malls and insisted on a compromise “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.”

Kipp has been in the UAE long enough to understand the issue is a lot more complicated than meets the eye (no pun intended). How does one enforce a stringent dress code without scaring away the massive expatriate population living within the UAE-yet at the same time, how much can you stray from local values without being disrespectful? It is a tough tight rope to walk, but here’s hoping to a more effective solution than a blanket ban for either side.


  1. mandarin on June 13, 2012 12:56 pm

    Its just about plain common sense. There are lots of places in the globe where if you walk in to a public place with barely there clothing … you might be advised to cover up… While a majority of the UAE population resident or otherwise seem to understand the ground sensibilities, the rest are determined to convert any public space into their version of Ibiza…there must be a way to curb these loose cannons rather than throw the rule book at them

  2. Anna on August 27, 2012 6:56 pm

    I visited Dubai last November, It was my second time. I went to the hotel bar to eat something and I was surrounded by many prostitutes who had very short skirts, their breasts were popping out of their dresses and selling themselves by showing their potential clients their rates on their mobiles. Where is the dress code in this case. I found this really hypocritical. It’s not ok to show your shoulders or your knees but it’s ok during the night at hotels to be extremely provocative. Explain that to me please.

  3. Vanessa McPherson on December 24, 2012 11:52 am

    Common decency around the world would dictate that one shouldn’t wear the same attire in a shopping mall than you would wear at the beach.
    Expats are lucky to live in a very open, tolerant society and they should repay this generosity by respecting the emirati culture and muslim religion.
    Kissing and being intimate in public is not cool for anyone to see…

  4. Shanti on December 25, 2012 11:13 am

    These days if a girl or a lady covers up with expensive or normal clothes are NOT RESPECTED but LOOKED DOWN upon by these so called half-naked girls that the covered ones are fashionless and not in their society and they belong to some other planets. These media – electronic and print are the reasons for the this mind set. You see any advts in the print or electronic, all the women are scantily clad. When you switch on radio, they give away couple invites for silly questions winners and ask the winner, who are they going with, who invariably says ‘Girl’ or ‘boy’ friend which the channel expects them to speak. Look at any host of TV show, they come there to project their body only. This disgusting behaviour has become order of the Day. If you dont follow the suit, you are considered an outsider. Pity situation.


Leave a Comment