Dubai’s dress-code drama
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 Eva Fernandes
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.