DUBAI // Atlantis, The Palm has issued an apology after customers in national dress were turned away from brunch at the hotel's Asian seafood restaurant, Saffron.
"We had been following a directive regarding entry to guests in local dress to venues providing live entertainment," said a spokesman for the hotel.
"However, we have readdressed with both CID and DTCM, and have reconfirmed that this does not apply to brunch.
"We apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused."
A 1999 directive issued by Dubai's Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing says: "Access to discotheques and dance clubs is forbidden to people wearing the national dress of the Arab Gulf Cooperation Council."
Saffron's Dh435 brunch runs from 12.30pm until 4pm and includes all alcoholic drinks and all you can eat from 220 dishes.
An industry source said he was not surprised by Saffron's policy, as it was a brunch setting that could easily be interpreted as contravening the department's licensing rules.
"If CID comes into my restaurant and someone in national dress is even standing at the bar, it is a fine of Dh10,000 to Dh15,000," the source said. "Police would give us a slip on the spot, which we would have to take to DTCM."
The department could not be reached for comment.
Ayesha Al Saeed, 24 an Emirati, said she would have been mortified if she were turned away at the door.
She and her husband often go out to licensed restaurants in national dress.
"I wear the abaya and the shayla and we go to restaurants in hotels where sometimes someone at another table might be drinking, but we just go and mind our own business," she said. "I've never been questioned at any restaurant.
Mohamed S, 31, said a couple in national dress might look out of place at a brunch, "but it's their decision and if they're OK with it, the restaurant shouldn't stop them".
The Dubai Department of Economic Development said anyone wishing to complain should call Ahlan Dubai on 600 54 5555.