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'No entry' rule angers Emiratis

Action will be taken against restaurants that discriminate against UAE nationals, an official at the Department of Economic Development has warned.

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Restaurants practising discriminatory policy will be penalised.
Gulf News

Dubai: Action will be taken against restaurants that discriminate against UAE nationals, an official at the Department of Economic Development has warned.

Any restaurant that prevents entry to UAE nationals and those dressed traditionally "without a valid reason" will be dealt with by the authorities, said Mohammad Hilal Al Murooshdi, director of the Compliance Division at Dubai's Department of Economic Development.

The warning came after a Gulf News reader, Mohammad, was turned away from a Dubai restaurant for wearing a kandura, the traditional outfit worn by UAE and Gulf Arab nationals.

When a Gulf News reporter visited the restaurant, he too was denied entry. Citing the availability of alcohol, a manager at the Aprés restaurant located near the Kempinsky Hotel Mall of the Emirates, said he would only be allowed to enter the venue if he came back wearing "normal clothes", without specifying what they constituted.

He pointed to a notice outside the door saying that those dressed in shorts and baseball caps would also not be allowed in after 7.30pm, but violators could be seen entering without being stopped.

Justin Bishop, Executive Manager at Aprés, told Gulf News that the restaurant's policy of denying entry to those dressed in "national dress" after 7.30pm was in line with verbal instructions from the "licensing authorities" of not allowing Muslims access to alcoholic beverages.

Al Murooshdi agreed that UAE nationals were not allowed to consume alcohol, but said they could only be denied entry to places whose sole function was the sale of alcohol, but not to restaurants.

Bishop argued that the restaurant's business was primarily based on alcohol after 7.30pm, but added that the kitchen was open till 11pm and "pizza is served till 1am".

Denying Emiratis from eating at a restaurant is inexcusable, said Al Murooshdi. "If food is being served there, then everyone has a right to access it", he said, urging the public to complain to the consumer protection department if they face similar treatment.

When a complaint is received, said Al Murooshdi, the restaurant administration is asked to provide an explanation for their actions.

"If it is found to be at fault then they are required to sign a pledge not to repeat it. If there is another violation, we take it up with the hotel administration, which can force the restaurant to comply".

Have your say

Have you ever been denied entry to a restaurant for being dressed traditionally? Do you think door policies at restaurants are practised more strictly on those dressed traditionally?

Your comments

Discrimination based on behaviour (including dress) is completely allowable because fellow patrons can make or break a retailer's desired atmosphere. If the Department of Economic Development really wants to pursue this, why stop with restaurants? Why not go after nightclubs as well?

It make a lot of sense to have some restriction. Let's grow up and not inflate such issues. Also every restaurant has a business to do, patrons to entertain and a kind of ambience to contain the patrons. Mind you, it's all about the food, then why bother much about such a trivial issue.

This is a clear case of confusion between the licencing authorities and the restaurant. They took it too seriously and abused its stipulations.
N. A. Sajwani

Well, as a Muslim I will not enter nor eat any food from a restaurant that serves alcohol.
A. Parekh

I totaly agree with the resturant and I think the UAE national should not take this personally. Muslims should not be in resturants that serve alcohol in the first place....
W. Tahan

Well, there is a dress for every occasion. when in office, on fieldwork, partying, sleeping etc. Dress code does apply to create the required atmosphere.

Actually, we face similar practices in Italy where in some restaurants and public outlets they require people to wear ties or certain outfits. I think if a restaurant needs to keep a certain image it should be allowed to do so as this is not discriminatory but just a style the outlet is willing to portray. If the denial was practiced to a certain nationality then that would have been outrageous and frankly very grave in my opinion, but this is not the case.