Asmaa Al Hameli | April 23, 2013
Ras Al Khaimah has issued a new law banning bikinis and tight men’s swim trunks on public beaches. I strongly believe we – as a community – have failed to be clear about what sort of behaviour by visitors is allowed and what is not allowed.
The seven emirates are united, yet divided. I do not know in what sense we are united when we cannot even come up with a unified guideline about dress code.
What is allowed in Dubai is not allowed in Abu Dhabi and what is prohibited in Sharjah is permissible in Al Ain. Such contradictions leave tourists and our fellow residents confused. But the issue not about bikinis, it is about a lack of cultural and religious awareness.
Tourists do not always come here for the sole purpose of hitting the beach. But they are here to enjoy their vacation. In fact, the majority of tourists come from Europe where they often do not get sufficient tanning time and sunlight. Wearing swim suit is part of their culture and they do not walk on beaches in swimming attire to offend anyone. The reality is that they are unaware of the religious and cultural values.
Too often tourists come from an environment that is different than ours. We have a social responsibility to educate them upon their arrival about the country’s culture, religion and prohibitions. Perhaps one solution is to have tourist-only beaches, which can be avoided by people who prefer more modesty in the sun.
A few months ago, there was an uproar on Twitter about creating a dress code in the country. Unfortunately, we have yet to see any concrete plans from higher authorities. Delaying the introduction of a plan shows our lack of seriousness.
I do understand people’s concerns about this issue, but shouldn’t we take the time to let tourists know how we feel about the whole issue and ask how they feel? By doing this, we could come to a mutual understanding.
*Editor’s note: Asmaa wrote this blog before the RAK police statement clarifying the stand on beachwear.