MIDEAST > Campaign against dressing of expatriates starts in Qatar

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News

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The campaign aims to educate exptariates about wearing appropriate dress.

The campaign aims to educate exptariates about wearing appropriate dress.

When in Rome, do as the Romans do. That is the message of two campaigns started by local women in the Gulf countries of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, Aljazeera website has reported.

Najla al-Mahmoud is a Qatari behind the “One of Us” public awareness push, which hopes to educate foreigners in Qatar about wearing the appropriate dress.

Specifically, she wants people in her country to cover up between the shoulders and the knees. During the summer “scenes of exposed flesh increase,” al-Mahmoud said.

“We are offended by this but we are sure that people don’t know and we are sure that people will respect this. Why wouldn’t they? We want to educate them.”

Most local women in Qatar and the UAE wear an “abaya,” a black garment that covers most of the body. Men wear the “kandura,” which tends to be ankle-length and a shade of white.

The “UAE Dress Code” campaign, started by locals Hanan al-Rayes and Asma al-Muhairi, began out of disgust at the sight of foreigners dressed in what they deemed to be inappropriate attire, according to media reports. “Whether you like it or not, this country has its own culture that should be respected and protected by its own people,” read one of their recent tweets.

Public awareness alone not enough

Hamad al-Rahoumi, a member of the UAE Federal National Council (FNC), does not think public awareness alone is enough, as there are people who are aware of cultural norms but choose to ignore them. Al-Rahoumi has suggested legally enforcing a dress code, but the law would act more as a deterrent than to punish people.

On social media and Qatari networking sites, some foreign women who have both applauded and denounced the modesty movement said they think time would be better spent campaigning to enforce laws that could save lives, for example fining people who smoke in areas where lighting up is banned, or requiring the use of seat belts.


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US Observer

6/19/2012 9:36:32 PM

You are asking for trouble if you don't follow the norms of the society in which you are visiting. I lived in Kuwait and understood it was not a good idea to wear shorts.After witnessing Arab men in Istanbul who could not force themsleves to stop staring at non covered up woman, it occured to me you have a whole region of people with little self control. That's why you women are covered up...how silly is that and how silly is it you have been convinced it was for the religion?

mara mcglothin

6/19/2012 4:39:23 PM

SPOT ON KURIOSERNKURIOSER!!! Everyone has a different opinion of modesty. You can't have your cake and eat it too! Qatarians should be willing to do the same when visiting the West. Why should we allow Burkas when they are clearly a security risk in the West(anyone could be under there)? It shouldn't be "tit for tat" no pun intended, but it is reality. If you ever ride public transportation and must sit next to a women in a full raincoat in the hot summer time, your opinion would change.


6/19/2012 4:37:24 PM

@Ameer. No, you don't get to argue that point, you can have your cake.....I agree that many expats under dress in Muslim countries, but you can't eat it too. A woman enshrouded in cloth is offensive to many westerners, for different reasons perhaps but you can't nitpick, it's one or the other.

KuriouserN Kuriouser

6/19/2012 2:39:47 PM

@ Ameer- I can somewhat see your point, however, what is valued as modesty in many Muslim countries is not welcome by many westerners because it is not interpreted as modesty, but as subjugation and repression, which conflicts with their values of freedom. To look only at this issue as one of modesty is to fail to see it from both perspectives.

Ameer Raschid

6/19/2012 12:30:22 PM

Request for a minimum of modesty should not mean a reciprocity for immodesty or a tit for tat that goes contrary to another culture or beliefs. if one goes to Europe, the expectation is to observe the normal dress there but not ;to expect others who have a different or higher standard of modesty to conform to a culture based on fashion and attraction. Airlines sometimes insist on a dress that is not excessively open where the passenger has not used common sense by wearing a night club style

sam stevens

6/19/2012 11:12:36 AM

I absolutely agree with when in Rome analogy. So could we then please ban the turban,skull cap, burka,veil & hijab, in non muslim countries & Europe, that would be much appreciated.

american american

6/19/2012 10:35:02 AM

fair enough, but does this apply to muslims in western countries as well?

KuriouserN Kuriouser

6/19/2012 12:43:51 AM

“Whether you like it or not, this country has its own culture that should be respected and protected by its own people.” I wonder what these people wear when they visit the West, and their opinion of countries such as France banning the burkha, etc.
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