x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Minister backs call for mall dress code

Take our dress code law survey: A UAE minister told the FNC today that he fully supported the idea of instituting a dress code in the Emirates, and the council membership agreed to raise a recommendation to the Cabinet to create a federal law.

Dr Abdulrahman Al Owais, Minister of Culture, Youth and Social Development, and the chairman of the National Council for Tourism and Antiquities, supports call for a dress code law in the UAE.
Dr Abdulrahman Al Owais, Minister of Culture, Youth and Social Development, and the chairman of the National Council for Tourism and Antiquities, supports call for a dress code law in the UAE.

ABU DHABI // A minister has given his support to the proposal for a federal law enforcing a dress code in public places such as shopping malls.

And the FNC has agreed to recommend such a law to the Cabinet.

Dr Abdul Rahman Al Owais, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, told the FNC yesterday that while it was not in his power to create a law, it was needed.

“I agree that it is important to show the importance of traditions and culture,” said Dr Al Owais, also chairman of the National Council for Tourism and Antiquities.

“In the UAE we are a conservative society. We hold on to our traditions. I speak as the head of the national tourism council and our powers are limited.

“I agree with the idea of a federal law but it depends on the Cabinet.”

Dr Al Owais said the main problem was not with tourists but with residents who ignored cultural sensitivities. He said many did not know enough about the country’s culture.

The FNC member Hamad Al Rahoumi (Dubai) presented the idea of the legally enforced dress code and agreed that residents were the main offenders.

“It is a big percentage of residents, not just tourists, and some do it on purpose, not by accident,” he  said.

Sharjah and Dubai have their own dress policies but the lack of a federal law has meant no punishment and no incentives for people to abide by the rules, he said.

“If these policies have no law behind them, then how are they [offenders] punished?” Mr Al Rahoumi asked. “In some countries they do not allow a face veil or a headscarf. We must also have laws to organise our dress code here.”

He said behaviour was also an issue and he had seen couples kissing passionately in malls, which made families uncomfortable.

“I can stop myself from going to the beach and witnessing these sights but I cannot stop going to the mall to shop,” Mr Al Rahoumi said.

Dr Al Owais said the tourism council was working to spread awareness, with pamphlets distributed to shopping centres, hotels, airlines and travel agencies, and would do so more vigorously.

osalem@thenational.ae