Dubai: Reem Captain and Roudha Al Majid have taken it upon themselves to clear the air on the issue of cultural sensitivity. The communication and media students at the Zayed University in Dubai are introducing a handbook, Emirates 101, that explains what is and is not acceptable in Emirati culture and lifestyle for the benefit of both tourists and expatriates.
Emirates 101, the young Emiratis say, will serve as a reference guide for tourists and expatriates who come to the UAE with none or very little knowledge of the culture, customs and lifestyle of the country. They have also started a Facebook group under the same title where members can ask questions about local sensitivities.
"Reading about expatriates getting arrested or deported for inappropriate behaviour, we thought it is mainly due to their ignorance. That is why we felt there is a need for guidebook like Emirates 101 that explains in detail the dos and don'ts of our culture and customs so that they do not end up breaking the law without even knowing that they are doing it," said Roudha.
About 500 copies of the book will be available in bookshops and supermarkets free of charge by next month.
The content of the book covers the lifestyle, culture and places to visit in the UAE. Each section has a set of questions and answers that explains in clear and simple terms how to enjoy their stay without getting into trouble, whether it is on the beach or at a pub.
For instance, the book does not shy away from answering pertinent questions on the places where alcohol is available and how it can be purchased legally, as well as whether it is okay to stand or sit close to Emiratis and how to mingle with them.
The book warns people not to wear bikinis in restaurants or cafes, sunbathing nude or topless and not display too much affection in public as it can lead "in extreme cases" to jail or deportation.
Reem says there are no clear guidelines for visitors on where the line is drawn when it comes to respecting Emirati culture.
"But as Emiratis who grew up here, we know the limits of acceptable behaviour. We are a cosmopolitan society, but there are certain things that we hold in high regard and which do not change. Our book is an honest attempt to convey just that and help them have a fruitful time in our country," said Reem.