x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Do fasting rules apply to pregnant women and do bare arms cause offence?

Whether fasting rules apply to pregnant women in the UAE and if bare arms cause offence.


Dear Ali: My wife is seven months pregnant and we are not Muslims. I understand that pregnant women are not required to fast during Ramadan. Does this mean that she can drink water in public or would this be considered disrespectful or illegal? JB, Dubai Dear JB: It's never a straight answer. When you say "in public", do you mean on your house balcony? Or the car park? Or the beach or the mall? When out in a public place such as a shopping centre, I'd advise her to try to avoid drinking because it would be seen as disrespectful. Mall staff would probably ask her to drink in private and, if she continued, she could face criminal charges.

Dear Ali: Ramadam Kareem. Do Muslim women find it offensive to see bare arms, or is it just shoulders that should be covered out of respect? Shukran. P?P, Dubai Dear PP: When it comes to dress code in any Muslim society, the level of devotion to the faith is the main meter that determines what is offensive or not. That means, if you visit Saudi Arabia, where most Muslims are conservative, the majority of people could be offended by bare arms. Here in the UAE, some people remain conservative while others are more liberal and don't mind what others do within an Islamic framework. This diversity of views comes with our openness towards other cultures. But we still have our limits. Having conducted hundreds of cultural awareness workshops, I have learnt that some expats find it offensive to see other expats' lack of respect for our country's Islamic traditions. No matter how open we are, we all still live in a Muslim society. If I were to say all Muslim women would find bare arms offensive, I'd be exaggerating. But it would also be untrue to say none would be offended. My advice is to remind people of the values most Emiratis share, and the reasons why we appreciate conservative dress. In the UAE, many women wear bikinis at the beach, and you don't hear many complaints. The same applies to revealing clothes worn in nightclubs. We understand and accept the nature of such places. But showing a lot of skin in a mall or an office would raise eyebrows. For more on the UAE's dress code and values, check www.askaliminiguide.com The Dubai version is due out soon.