x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Bikini ban will not hurt tourism, say RAK hoteliers

Ras Al Khaimah announced the ban on Monday but later clarified that it is not outlawed - just strongly discouraged.

Ras Al Khaimah // A bikini ban on public beaches will not affect tourism or daily life, according to hoteliers and residents.

Police said on Monday that women in skimpy swimwear and men in tight trunks could face fines. They later backtracked over their statement.

The emirate is conservative and the most common beach attire for women is an abaya. There are no ladies-only beaches.

Tourists and western expatriates are a rare sight on RAK's public beaches. Most beachgoers are Asian workers or Emirati, Arab and Asian families.

Few women swim and even fewer sunbathe. Most are there to enjoy the outdoors and picnic with their families.

This is in marked contrast to the beaches of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, where tourists and bikinis are a common sight.

Hoteliers said guidelines would make things clear for tourists, who can continue to wear bikinis and tight trunks at hotels and resorts.

"It's a good idea, a good idea of course," said Hardeep Negi, general manager at Bin Majid Beach Hotel. "We're in the country, we need to follow the country's religion and customs."

All guests at the hotel travel to the emirate on charter holidays and are educated about what to do and not to do before they arrive, Mr Negi said.

Public displays of affection and clothing that shows a lot of skin, such as short skirts and sundresses, are discouraged outside the resort.

RAK Tourism has given hotels and resorts digital touch-screen kiosks that provide visitors with information about cultural expectations.

azacharias@thenational.ae