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Blame Europeans for topless displays, British women say

British expatriate women in the UAE believe other countries should issue advice similar to that of the UK Government's Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) regarding indecent behaviour while on holiday.

Image Credit:Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Gulf News
Jumeirah Beach Residence beach is packed with sunbathers as people enjoy themselves on the weekend.
Gulf News

Dubai: British expatriate women in the UAE believe other countries should issue advice similar to that of the UK Government's Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) regarding indecent behaviour while on holiday.

The FCO warned British travellers earlier this week they faced serious consequences if they were caught "baring all abroad".

R.S., a British expatriate, said: "I think it's right to say that women shouldn't sunbathe topless. I hate it when I go on holiday in Europe and see loads of women doing it. In many cases it can be an unattractive sight and you never know where to look.

"However, I don't agree that it should just be Brits who are targeted. It's more a European issue than a British thing.

"The British Embassy [has] been conducting this 'Know Before You Go' campaign for several years but the same rationale should apply to everyone. And maybe while they're at it they could ban speedos!"

Kate Lynn, 30, a research manager, said: "I think the advice from the FCO is reasonable and it doesn't do any harm to remind people they should respect the culture and customs of the country they are travelling to.

"However, I do think other countries' embassies should follow suit as this advice applies across the board.

"I think the British have a bit of a bad reputation and it does not help with the recent cases here in the UAE. There are people from every country that ruin things for everyone else but I think most respectful people will not be offended by this latest advice."

Claire Johnson, an English housewife, said: "It's reinforcing stereotypes for this advice to be released - it makes it sounds like we're all commoners. From what I see we all behave well out here; it's a minority of people coming out here on holiday that don't know what they're getting into.

"It's a Muslim country and people should respect the laws and cultures of the country they're visiting."

Do you think it is fair to stereotype and target women in such a way? Should the British government give women a chance to defend themselves?

Your comments

I totally agree with the article. Regardless if they are british or any other nationality.
Emmad Al Hassan
Posted: June 18, 2009, 16:12

Every country has its own culture and values. When we visit another country we must respect and follow the rules of that country. A woman must hold on to her values, irrespective of which country she belongs to. The advice from the FCO sounds reasonable keeping in mind that the UAE is a Muslim country and has different norms. By asking women to be decent, I do not think that they are targeting or stereotyping them in any manner. If this were the case then they would have asked all women staying or visiting the UAE to wear an abbaya in public. Behaving decently in public I feel is basic manners which every person must follow. The UAE has people staying and visiting from various countries following different cultures. Viewing people semi-clothed is truly embarrassing especially when one is with family and kids.
Naina Nair
Posted: June 18, 2009, 16:04

Kudus to the British Authorities but this should be applied to all nationalities entering the UAE, as Brits are not the only ones who do such things.
Aisha Jackson
Posted: June 18, 2009, 15:46

I appreciate the initiative taken by the British government. About giving chance to women to defend, what could be a good reason to be topless in a public place? I don't think that any culture, religion, or country appreciates such a thing.
Wajahat M. Chaudhry
Abu Dhabi,UAE
Posted: June 18, 2009, 14:50

I think the whole point is missed here; it's not about targeting brits. This is coming from UK government so it can only address UK citizens. I don't believe the UK gov. cares to dictate to other nationalities how to behave.
Posted: June 18, 2009, 14:43

I think its fair do "know before you go" by British Embassy because all people living in UAE have to respect the culture and tradition of UAE. This is same as you are visiting any european country then you have to respect their culture.
Posted: June 18, 2009, 13:31

I feel it is shameful to have such picture in a newspaper in a Muslim country.
Posted: June 18, 2009, 13:27

i strongly agree to this, this and any other "Blaming" thing should not put on any particular nation, its PEOPLE who do it, not an entire nation.Regarding British Embassy has taken a decent step of awareness and that does not mean that the culprit is the whole brit nation.
Waqar Ahmad
Posted: June 18, 2009, 12:59

all females are not the same but again how will the govt. know? so its a general advice. Other govts. in EU wont give this advice as their citizens were not doing anything like what the british did in dubai.
Posted: June 18, 2009, 12:16

Why you are blaming only Brits. What they do here is what they are doing in thier countries also. But about the dressing style of other nationalities in the shopping malls? In several case their dressing so vulgar and they shows most of thier body.
Posted: June 18, 2009, 12:14

I think the FCO is right in issuing the warning; however I agree that other embassies should follow suit. The majority of women I come across here who are dressed inappropriately are usually not British. The majority of Brits here try to respect Emirati culture, as they respect ours.I think British women feel the need to defend themselves due to the misleading title of yesterday's article actually.
Posted: June 18, 2009, 11:57

I lived in and worked in dubai for eight all times i respected the culture (I am British)regarding beach attire. I also advised visitors if I felt that they were dressing inappropropriatly. However on many occassions I observed other individuals from other countries other than europe dressed in a manner that was in my opinion not culturally sensitive to the UAE. I also feel that the British get scapegoated as an example of whats not permitted.
Posted: June 18, 2009, 11:56

I think, whether Europeans, philipinos, Indians or whoever it is, the women should dress in a decent way.Once I shocked when I saw one lady in a lift with very short skirt and low neck sleeveless top.
Ms John
Posted: June 18, 2009, 11:28

Respect each other and respect others cultures. It's a common thing for many europeans to be topless in Beaches.However, in Europe you can do that, why dont they respect Muslim Tradition and they should understand they're on holidays in a Muslim Country where there are no nude beaches.Respect the Muslim Tradition and the Local Peoples.
Posted: June 18, 2009, 10:34

Yes it is definately a sterio type. Its not just British who do it and its not like ALL BRITISH women do it.Think it should be a DO NOT GO TOPLESS on the beach without targeting a specific nationality.
Savitha VJ
Posted: June 18, 2009, 10:23

I think it is the authorities' responsibility to start educational campaigns via tv, radio and print media. Many people coming to this country just see the quite European lifestyle in Dubai and don't have a clue about islamic customs...As for tourists, hotels should take the responsibility to inform tourists on local values and traditions. Being from Europe myself, I would welcome an initiative like that.
Martina Venus
Posted: June 18, 2009, 10:10

Apart from religion, one should think of her own safety no matter from where he or she is belong to. Just think when you will display yourself in public and then become worried about the cases like molesting etc. Such cases should be delt with iron hand like molesting because both woman and man has a great respect in which woman has the most and if someone disregard her then he should be deserve serious punishment. But the thing is Protect yourself when it is in your hand and dont display indecency in public, it is for your own safety, think like that, also no religion in world ever allow this also!thanks
Posted: June 18, 2009, 09:49

"It's a Muslim country and people should respect the laws and cultures of the country" I personally feel it's not b/c it's a Muslim country, but b/c its a matter of respect in ANY country. I'm American citizen and back home it's againsit the law to run around topless on any public beach.
Posted: June 18, 2009, 09:46

We know how the saying goes " when in Rome do as the Romans do "UAE is being versatile and has given a free reign to its expats and visitors, but that does not give us the right to go to extremes. Each country has its own values, which make it unique.Its absolutely right to stereotype woman who put themselves on display. And its not the UK, all Europeans countries. If you require to tan yourselves, do go to a private beach or your houses.UAE is a safe place and woman in particular feel secure here, lets not violate the place, encourage voyeurism and end up losing our safe haven !
Bindu Sathianesan
Posted: June 18, 2009, 09:44

It is advisable to wear a moderate dress to cover the private parts, whether sunbathing or bathing in the sea. There should not be any exception, whether that person is British or American or European. In my opinion, women who violates this rule should be severly punished.
K. C. Thomas
Ras Al Khaimah,UAE
Posted: June 18, 2009, 09:30

I personally believe that this is a step long overdue.. however the brit women alone shd not b targeted. But why blame the Brit Government?? They can only advise their people, not those of other avoid conflicts of other sorts..
Posted: June 18, 2009, 09:26

I think it is just the matter of two different poles of Magnet being adjacent. These poor European are just here to get tanned, a little education and cultural awareness program by tourism authority will sort out the whole issue.
Mahmoud Mian
Posted: June 18, 2009, 09:22

Everyone agree with this point that we should respect every culture. The thing is why only British expatriate women are pointed out. So this is a good point that British are more curious about the culture of UAE. This thing should not be taken negatively nor should be considered as an abuse.
Mohammad Roman
Posted: June 18, 2009, 09:14

I guess the advice is targeted to those who do it and Not all Brits do that.
Posted: June 18, 2009, 09:08

I strongly believe that it is upto the visitors to make sure that they are aware of the basic social do's and don'ts that apply locally.But focussing on a specific ethnic group does not make sense at all since such ignorance can happen from anybody's part, not just Britishers. I request the concerned authorities to step up on the awareness campaign for visitors from all nationalities.
Laxmi Nair
Posted: June 18, 2009, 08:37

I appreciate the step from British Govt. and I think the step will be taken by Brits in good spirit as every country has its own culture and customs, and travelers or residents should respect these norms. And this applies not only to Brits/Europeans in Asia but also Asians in Europe, it goes both way... God bless u All
Ovais A. Seddiqi
Posted: June 18, 2009, 08:32