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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 20 November 2018

Dubai to introduce more family-only beaches

Hundreds of instances of bad behaviour, including photographing women in swimsuits, were recorded on Dubai beaches last year

Family-only signs put up last year at the Dubai Offshore Sailing Club. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
Family-only signs put up last year at the Dubai Offshore Sailing Club. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

Dubai has unveiled plans to designate some of its beaches as family-only to provide safe spaces for women and children.

The Supreme Committee of Maritime Affairs, headed by Lt General Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, proposed the move during a meeting this week. It aims to provide privacy for conservative families.

Signs will be put up to mark the beaches that will be family-only, where single men will not be allowed. Rules on dressing modestly will be enforced, too.

Hundreds of instances of bad behaviour on Dubai beaches were recorded by police last year – 289 men were caught photographing women in swimsuits and 743 cases were reported of disturbing beachgoers.

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Family-only areas will encourage conservative families to visit Dubai beaches

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The move was welcomed by many, including Sohair Al Jorraid, a Syrian mother of three, who feels uncomfortable at public beaches because the crowds of male beachgoers make her feel embarrassed.

“I prefer to take my children to the ladies’ club. There are no men starring and I feel more comfortable with friends and my children,” said Mrs Al Jorraid,

Mrs Al Jorraid, in her 30s, said many families prefer to have their own space at the beach.

“When I tell my husband that I am going to the beach, he requests that we not go to a public beach. I know many families who feel the same about public beaches. Families prefer to have a specific place just for them and it will encourage them to go more often to the beaches."

Mohammed Jaber, a Lebanese father to a 7-year-old girl, said he does not allow his wife and daughter to go to a public beach alone.

“Many men and labourers go to public beaches fully dressed and stare at women," he said.

Ms Ola Ameer, a 29-year-old Jordanian with an Australian passport, said it makes no difference for her.

“I do not usually go the beach much, but it will encourage my mother to go more often. Designating a family area for beachgoers will encourage husbands, their wives and kids to go to the beach,” said Ms Ameer.

“I guess it’s a good idea. Some workers, who are fully dressed, stare at women, which makes them distressed. Some women I know prefer to go to women’s clubs, but it’s a bit expensive and not everyone can afford it.”

Last year, signs declaring family-only areas were placed at the Dubai Offshore Sailing Club saying it was dedicated to families and that visitors must wear respectful swimwear. However, the signs were later removed.