UAE Dress Code: Should it be enforced by law?

UAE Dress Code Law Dubai indecent tourists locals
Having lived here in Dubai for 20 years, I've practically seen it all. And I mean seen it all.

Daisy dukes cut like underwear, crop tops, VPL (Visible Panty Line), thongs, muffin tops, leggings as pants...

Then there are the guys:  hairy butt cracks, really transparent wife beaters, saggy moobs (man boobs), crocs -which should be banned in my opinion, sandals with socks (fashion disaster), colorful skinny jeans from Karama market...

I could go on with the gory details but I don't want to lose my breakfast.

So the question is: Should there be a UAE Dress Code?

One person on Twitter decided to start up their own campaign to educate and inform people about UAE's Dress Code  (@UAEDressCode) and why it should be enforced due to cultural and religious considerations here. However, what initially began as a debate turned into quite a war of words.

I picked out a few succinct tweets out of the vortex that was beginning to spin out of control.




It got pretty heated with people who were in favor of the dress code starting up arguments and insulting people.


Here's my opinion about it all:
Firstly, you are in a country where you should respect the rules, at least the ones explicitly mentioned in malls. If you're a tourist, an expat, a local or resident, it applies to every single one of us.

Secondly, people, stop comparing a law about dress code to a law banning smoking indoors. It's not the same thing. Smoking kills people, wearing short shorts when you haven't shaved your legs may gross people out, but it doesn't harm them in any way that is detrimental to their health.

Thirdly, a law for dress code isn't extremely practical when there are so many different cultures living together. "Decently dressed" to one person may be lewd to someone else. Someone may consider wearing a sari - a traditional Indian outfit for women - to be elegant, however, a bared midriff may be offensive to many. Sometimes, what's decent and what's not is quite subjective. To start fining people who do not obey a proposed dress code would be disastrous.

And lastly, I think there should be a law against people who stare at women, being creepy and/or judgemental as this is far more "offensive" than wearing a pair of short  shorts.

What do you think? Do you agree with a UAE Dress Code? Did you agree or disagree with this post or any of the tweets above? Let me know in the comments below or Facebook me /Tweet me.

For more information on the proposed law, read up:
http://www.thenational.ae/news/uae-news/minister-backs-call-for-mall-dress-code
http://www.thenational.ae/news/uae-news/hemlines-go-online-as-dress-code-law-sparks-debate

Also, helpful tips on what to wear to avoid trouble:
http://www.expatwoman.com/dubai/monthly_faqs_Dubai_Dress_Code_8955.aspx

13 comments

  1. I see two problems with laws that dictate dress codes.

    The first is that these laws are almost ALWAYS sexist and directed towards women. The woman showing skin is immediately slut shamed. The man leering at her is off the hook simply because 'he is a man, it is natural for him'.

    The second is that these laws are usually steeped in religion and culture. This is something we accept in the Middle East. But to be frank religion and legislation have no business mixing.

    On another note: whether or not clothes or the person wearing them looks good in them is besides the point. It doesn't belong in this argument.

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    1. I do agree with you. Women are always judged for what we're wearing. Which is why I pointed out the faults men make here too.

      About laws being steeped in religion, well, what are you going to do? It's a Muslim country. Most ethics, morals, and laws do have some basis in religion. I'm not going to go into that in detail because I'm afraid my arguments might be quite reductive.

      Also, I hope no one things that how a person looks in clothes is part of my argument for having a dress code. It isn't. People are free to wear what they want to wear and look however bad they want, a dress code isn't going to change that.

      Thanks for commenting, do come again. :)

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  2. Here's the thing, I have no problem with a dress-code, because there is basically one already. It's not criminalized, but what this group is wanting IS for it to be a criminal offense, which is utterly ridiculous. People should be free to express themselves however they wish WITHIN the confines of the society they live in. Simple as that. The best thing would be to create POSITIVE awareness about this campaign, rather than the us-vs-them mentality of the @UAEDresscode group. I'm totally for a public awareness campaign, especially around Hotels and Airports, but enforcing a law that criminalizes what people wear? Utterly ridiculous. I think there are more important issues facing the Dubai/UAE community right. Shame is, this kind of trivial junk galvanizes such an aggressive, fundamentalist portion of the UAE community and paints a bad picture. Why can't we get this kind of response regarding seatbelts, animal welfare or speeding on roads?

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    1. I completely agree with you! It would be a perfect world if people cared more about real issues that actually mattered.

      Also, I completely detest the us-vs-them ideas that the twitter feed is spreading. The people who started it all do maintain that they aren't targeting expats but they keep re-iterating and warning people not to "give expats a bad name by being rude and disrespectful". I'm sorry, but if the opinions of one person makes you say something like that, then you really need to sort some things out!

      I wish there were positive campaigns out there, and more support for freedom of speech and expression. That's more important than arguing over the length of a girl's skirt.

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    1. Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it. There's always more on the way :)

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  4. all i can add is when in ROME...............

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  5. As an Emarati, I do not believe that a law should be passed.

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  6. As an Emarati, I'm 100% for that. there's a time and a place; I don't want to see people dressed like that in malls. frankly its quite embarassing and I HAVE seen girls with their whole after twelve outfits in dubai mall, lol it was hilarious and uncomfortable I actually felt a little bad for them cause everyone was looking at them as if they were fresh meat :)

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  7. 1- For me it is more about respect for the culture of the country where you live. Respect is something that comes from within the individual not enforced by laws. In France viel is banned and vieled women had either to take it off or leave the country or even make a change in style that makes the veil appear more like a fashionable hat or something. Veiled women had to cope with the situation in France. This is the rule of the country where they live.
    In Dubai, if the locals or the government is not confortable with the clothing of some people, I think ppl should consider repecting this cultural difference too.
    If mall signs are begging ppl to follow a certain dress code out of repect to the country culture and local citizen visiting the malls so why not? Knowing that Dubai has beaches, bars and other places where ppl of different cultures can wear whatever they like.
    However, I'm still not with Law enforcement. I'm more with campaigns as previously dicussed.

    2- On the other hand, why do I feel it is becoming a bit late to enforce such rules now? Why is this concern with what ppl wear taking place now? This status has been doing for long already. So why particularly now? I really can't figure out why.

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    1. Yeah Shimo, completely with you on this. Respect that some places have a certain dress code in place for a reason. No one would wear a bikini to work, so this is no different. :P Oh, this whole debate started up because some Emirati girls started a whole social media campaign about it. If you'd like, read more about it here: http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/uae/society/decoding-the-cultural-divide-in-the-uae-1.1030647

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