Cover up please: Dress right campaign gets response

Gulf News readers reacted strongly to the report “Dress right drive snowballs”, Nation section, May 14. Most felt that the initiative taken by the two Emirati women, as reported in the article, to make the dress code appropriate to culture an issue of debate was extremely valid and necessary. Some felt it was a lack of respect, while a few thought it had more to do with awareness. We present a cross-section of views. If you would like to join the debate, log on to, or e-mail us at You can also post comments on our Facebook page ‘Gulf News.
To follow the campaign on Twitter: #UAEDressCode

Women wearing revealing clothes is against the region's conservative culture
Image Credit: Gulf News
Women wearing revealing clothes is against the region's conservative culture and offends local sensibilities.
168 Gulf News

Appreciate the freedom
I absolutely endorse what has been said about the dress code. The UAE is a lovely country to enjoy to the fullest of freedom but within the limitations established.
From Mr Suhail Gill

Abide by standards
I believe that there has to be a standard and it has to be followed. There has to be respect for the people here. If they want to dress that way then they should do it in their homes or go to a country where it is acceptable. They should not spread their bad habits for our children to see and imitate.
From Mr Abdullah Mohammad

Teach children right
I am really appreciative of the freedom of culture in the UAE. With all respect to expatriates, I would like to suggest one thing — we expatriates should respect the tradition of the country in all the aspects including dress code and not misuse the freedom. We expatriates and tourists are the main violators of the traditions, especially with regard to dress code. This affects the future generations. Children learn from what they are experiencing; values and culture should be imparted early on in childhood. Children’s minds are like clay, we can mould it as we like.
From Mr Abdul Akbar

Tell them
If you don’t tell expatriates that it is offensive to dress in shorts and mini-skirts, how will they ever know?
From Mr Nawaf
Abu Dhabi
Full name withheld by request

Sense and sensibility
I completely endorse this view. People should learn to respect the culture and social sensibilities of the place they live in or visit, especially when it happens to be the country that provides them their livelihood.
From Mr Ashok Sridharan
Ras Al Khaimah

Follow rules
It is a good initiative. Everyone should follow the rules and culture of the UAE. If you have freedom in the UAE, it doesn’t mean that you do what you want. Please respect the Emirati culture.
From Ms Shaheen Shah

Awareness boost
Dress code brochures should be given out at the airport and when the passport is stamped with the visa. Also, there should be big posters in malls and everywhere showing women dressed decently. On the written signs — make them in colour and list what is not acceptable, so they stand out.
From Ms Karen McGinley

Heat is not an excuse
It is good work, indeed, to raise the UAE dress code issue. I’ve been working in the UAE for the past ten years, and recently I’ve noticed that women’s outfits are getting shorter by the day, especially in malls. I have seen some notices written at the entrance to malls about the dress code, but people never seem to obey those rules. It’s really unethical to dress in this manner in public places, especially where families are coming with children. Why not respect yourself to get some respect from others? If summer heat is the excuse, then think as to how Emiratis and women of other nationalities live and walk around covered in abayas and have lived all along in the harsh desert environment, much before malls and air-conditioned houses. The best solution one can say is that the law and security staff at the malls should be very strict with dress codes and fines should be handed out at the same time. My comments are not to hurt anybody, but just to give the families of the UAE some space to enjoy with their children and their loved ones.
From Mr Vipin
Website comment

Poor examples
It is really upsetting to see even women with children wearing revealing clothes. What will the children learn?
From Mr Jeelani Basha

Don’t misbehave
I totally agree with the concerns. Being an expatriate doesn’t mean that we should misbehave and show poor attitude. We need to respect the culture and feelings of the people in the Emirates. Women should follow a decent dress code.
From Ms Dhanya
Website comment

Please pay heed
Everyone should respect the Emirati culture and also follow the UAE dress code. I request, especially women and girls, to give due respect to this country’s culture and wear decent clothes while going for an outing or shopping.
From Mr Abu Sa’ad Ali Shah

Where does the problem lie?
I am a Western female expatriate working in the tourism industry of the UAE for about ten years now. Whilst I am also concerned about the increasingly revealing clothes, I do not agree with banning such clothes in shops. First of all, the number of tourists has tripled in the UAE, so have the number of residents living in the country. Please do not blame only residents for this trend. Personally, I think tourists are not educated enough (and I place this responsibility with the hotels they are staying in), they are being seen by residents in public and thus girls think it’s OK to dress like this in the UAE. What is needed is proper education by the tourism industry and the authorities (fines in malls, outlet staff at the door) that there is a certain dress code in the UAE. Getting too strict is not the solution in my opinion, but I am happy this topic is being discussed now.
From Ms Martina
Abu Dhabi
Website comment

Shameful sight
I was extremely shocked when I boarded the Metro two days ago. There was a woman who was wearing hot pants and was bending down looking at sights from the window. It was the most shameful thing I have seen!
From Ms Reem
Website comment

Timely campaign
I really appreciate the two women who started this campaign for a dress code. It is essential for the people who are living here to wear respectable clothes. I am a Pakistani and I am really impressed by the Emirati culture.
From Mr Naveen
Website comment

Respect your host
Many of the women who dress like this in the UAE do not dare to dress like that in their home countries. These same women will find it unacceptable that a Muslim woman wear a hijab or face veil in Paris or London. Beyond religion, it is a simple matter of respect. Some women who dress inappropriately know very well that this is not acceptable, but they keep doing it and will not stop until forced to by the law. Tourism always brings clashes like this, but what we see is not tourists, most of these women are residents. The first thing you do when you are invited is to show respect to your host.
From Mr Khalid
Abu Dhabi
Website comment

Unacceptable trend
I am glad that someone has taken this initiative — finally. This trend has been getting progressively worse for the past five to six years. It’s no longer about just shortness of the dress, it’s about people consciously wearing very revealing clothes in public. Some years ago, it was just the women but now we have men wearing revealing shorts, too. I don’t think this is an awareness problem because we see more expatriate residents than tourists who indulge in this kind of behaviour. I don’t think it’s about being conservative or liberal in any way, it is about being decent or indecent. If something is not done to reverse this trend then it will become difficult for women who wear an abaya to move freely and confidently in public. A respectable dress and behaviour code should be strictly enforced in all public places. I have personally complained to security staff and managers against people due to inappropriate dressing or behaviour in restaurants and parks, but the response unfortunately is always very casual. Maybe they don’t have the necessary authority to take proper action against such people. Another major problem is the use of cameras in malls, restaurants, public places without any regard to other people’s privacy. All these issues can be tackled with strict enforcement to ensure a safe and pleasant environment for everyone. A high-profile campaign targeting the residents would really help!
From Mr Mohammad
Website comment

Fashion parade?
Dressing should be according to the occasion — when going for a swim, everybody knows what to wear. It’s the same if you are participating in a sporting activity. But a lot of people do not know what to wear when in a public place. Even in the church, sometimes I feel some people are participating in a fashion parade.
From Mr Cherian
Website comment

Mutual respect
I’ve been living in the UAE for the past four years and have always felt very comfortable and protected given the respect which every Emirati gives to a woman and child. I respect each and every factor related to the UAE and would highly appreciate that we expatriates do the same; yes we feel ashamed when we see females dressed as if they are at the beach, especially when we are with family and teenage children. I would highly appreciate if they understand the need to look decent.
From Ms Lakshmi
Website comment

It’s all about dignity
Have you ever noticed that there is also a particular culture in malls? A mall in the present day is the ideal place to come together, relax and to showcase one’s freedom, fashion and lifestyle. Being more modern than another person is a trend and dressing fashionably or scantily, as in this case, is just lack of awareness of UAE dress codes. Whether people are not aware or just want to ignore it — the UAE offers a lot of freedom to its residents, more than many other countries in the world. We should not take undue advantage of it. Treat her with due dignity. Dress appropriately.
From Mr Vimal Vincent
Abu Dhabi

Serious issue
Undoubtedly this is an Arab country and all expatriates must respect the culture. Short dresses are a bad influence on the new generation. We must take it seriously.
From Mr Mohammad Fayaz
Abu Dhabi

The key factor
Respect is key to this issue — women and men must learn to respect themselves and the culture and society in which they live. The UAE is very welcoming and we must respect the norms here. It would be good for women all over the world to be just that bit more conservative and maybe that will also help with all the immoral issues we are dealing with today!
From Mr George
Ras Al Khaimah
Website comment

Cultural maturity
I am an expatriate who has lived and worked in London, Los Angeles and Sydney. I support the clothing initiative completely — an adult and mature culture requires people to dress appropriate to the occasion. Wear beachwear at the beach, and if you wear casual clothing (men or women), dress in a way that shows respect for yourself and those around you. I am a guest here, have been treated respectfully and enjoyed my time immensely. Being asked to have respect for local cultures and customs is, in my opinion, a simple and respectful thing to do.
From Mr Grant
Website comment

Cellulite display
I’m a British expatriate and I completely agree with what these women are trying to achieve. It’s a shocking sight in the malls, the belts these women wear and try to pass off as skirts are beyond shocking. As much as I support it, trying to get retailers to stop selling the garments is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. Smoking kills, maybe we should stop shopkeepers selling cigarettes. It’s a personal choice of the women to wear this clothing, as it’s a personal choice of people to smoke. Their self-control should not be subject to the shopkeeper’s mercy. I would ask anyone inappropriately dressed to leave the mall. Good luck on this mission. I hope you succeed, as I for one do not like my salad with a side of cellulite.
From Ms Tricia Goddard

Don’t cross the line
Unfortunately this is the sad truth. I totally empathise with Emiratis. When I first came here 12 years ago, it was a country with a decent expatriate population. Now people have no respect for the culture of the country. So, women please wear your 10-inch skirts at home, on the beach and not in the malls. Respect the fact that this country has given you all the freedom you need. The only thing you could give back is a little respect.
From Ms Diana
Website comment

Tough deterrence needed
A drive should be initiated against dressing inappropriately. Yes, we are exposed to Western cultures and their way of life, but there is a limit to everything. The kind of revealing clothes some women wear is very embarrassing and shameful. If fines are issued on the spot by the authorities in full view of the public, it will deter others from wearing inappropriate clothing.
From Ms Cosie Silveira
Website comment

Shocking experience
My last visit to a mall in the Al Barsha area was approximately five years ago. This weekend I took my mum and sister, along with my family, and it was utterly shocking for all of us as most of the men and women were wearing revealing clothes. For a moment we felt that we were the odd people in the crowd. We request the authorities to define the minimum clothes requirements. For example, clothes shall be worn down to the knees, wear decent clothes so that people can move in harmony and enjoy their shopping and feel relaxed.
From Mr Ebrahim Al Mulla
Abu Dhabi
Website comment

Crack the whip
I visited a mall over the weekend, and I have to say that I will not be visiting the place again as the dresses of some of the expatriates and tourists were just too disturbing for me. Although there are signboards and displays about wearing respectful clothing, no one was actually following them. People should be dealt with strictly in such cases.
From Ms Yusra
Website comment

Sensitivity training
This disrespect of the conservative values of the country is widespread. Tourists can be forgiven for not knowing, but most expatriate residents receive some kind of sensitivity training when they arrive, usually from employers via a paragraph in an induction brochure at the start of employment. All malls have big signs at the entrances regarding the dress code, but dare any security guard actually approach anyone wearing clothing that leaves nothing to the imagination? He is more likely to be chastised and disciplined by his bosses than the offending party is to be told to cover up or be ejected from the premises.
From Ms Bint Mohammad
Website comment

Pictures work better
I wear dresses and skirts, but I too am shocked at some of the clothes worn by women in shopping malls. Shopping malls do have notices on the dress code, but I think it would help if they put up pictures. Few people are interested in reading notices and they are mostly in English or Arabic, but pictures can be understood by everyone.
From Ms M. Rodrigues
Website comment

Some respite!
Finally, some respite for people who value modesty. Walking among women who wear inappropriate clothes in malls and hypermarkets totally upsets us. I don’t understand why short skirts and revealing shirts are considered signs of a ‘liberated women’. I can only quote the words from my economics professor during his lecture on globalisation: “Women are being commoditised.” How true!
From Ms Faiza
Website comment

Simple solution
This is an appreciable move. Both men and women should wear decent and appropriate clothing to respect the law, culture and religion of the country. The clothing must meet the norms of the country and people should not wear clothing that disrespects and hurts others.
From Mr Mohammad Yousuf
Website comment

Criminal indifference
This is an important thing in the UAE. If we are living in a country, we have to respect its traditions. People have to wear decent clothes. It is good that this indifference is getting noticed.
From Ms Vijaya Pillai
Website comment

Let the law prevail
Ignorance of the law is not an excuse. Any female visitor coming to the UAE, whether you are a resident expatriate or a tourist, should be responsible enough to know and be aware of the regulations regarding the proper dress code. I believe these women who dress in revealing clothes should be fined, so they will learn their lesson. Hence, I’m calling on all to respect the proper dress code wherever you are.
From Mr Dijay Santos
Web comment

Universal rule
Wherever you go, an individual should respect the culture and tradition of the place for him or her to be respected in return. Although the UAE is liberal, one should not abuse the freedom it offers.
From Mr Brix Marfori
Website comment

Fine them
The best way is to fine them on the spot. I tell you, by fining them, they will never do it again. My roommate repeatedly hung clothes in the balcony to dry until he was fined, and believe me he will never do it again.
From Mr Zaid
Website comment

Embarrassing, to say the least
I am ashamed to be a Westerner and to see so many Western women walking around in the malls with very, very short dresses, small tops or hot pants. Don’t you all understand that we are guests in the beautiful UAE? Everyone has to adapt to the culture that the country follows. When I have guests from Sweden I always tell them how and what to wear and what not to wear. I tell them how to behave and so on. For me it is very simple, yes, it is summer but it is not hot inside the malls.
From Ms Anna
Website comment

The least we can do
As a male Western expatriate, I am embarrassed and disappointed to see that some other expatriates ignore the simple request to cover their shoulders and knees. Visitors to this country should respect local customs. It’s only polite to do as our hosts ask.
From Mr Greg
Website comment

Disturbing trend
I find it so difficult to go out with my wife and children. It is really embarrassing. There is no more respect for our culture and I surely don’t want my children to be exposed to such nudity. The trend is very disturbing, indeed.
From Dr Baqer Ahmad Al Serhan
Al Ain
Website comment

Common sense
I agree that expatriates need to be more modest when dressing and should respect the country they are living in. However, if you look at the clothes they sell in stores, it shocks me even more. It gives people the option to buy revealing clothes, and also, when the mannequins are dressed in revealing clothes, it creates an image that we are all free to wear whatever we please. About people staring at those wearing barely anything, it is unfortunate that no matter what you wear, the men will still stare. That is a different topic. It is sad that people need to be told to respect the culture and that they cannot use their common sense to do so and find out for themselves what they should and shouldn’t do.
From Ms Nadia
Website comment

Decency applies everywhere
Yes, it is quite upsetting to see women ‘almost naked’ in public places such as malls, supermarkets and hospitals. I must also mention that these women who are almost naked are not only Westerners. I have seen women from different cultures wearing revealing clothes. The UAE is a great country that offers us great work opportunities, which we can’t find in our countries. So, in return, the least we can do is to respect their culture. It is not a big deal to wear decent clothing, as decency is a universal standard, which exists in every society. Even in Europe and America people who respect themselves don’t dress in a way that shows too much skin and body parts which should be covered.
From Ms Sandy
Website comment

Modesty makes a statement, too
I am very happy to see that the issue has finally been addressed. The half-naked fashion mode has spread fast, with no respect for modesty. It is time the visitors respect the dress code.
From Ms Mimi
Website comment

Fear factor
I seriously feel that a heavy fine should be imposed on those who wear skimpy outfits in places where families visit. It should come to a point that every expatriate should fear the fine, like how motorists are scared of the radars and fines when they speed.
From Mr Mohammad
Ras Al Khaimah
Website comment

Shared responsibility
I am so very proud of these two women behind the news report who, instead of accepting the status quo, are standing up for what is right and respectful. Everyone must participate in educating people on how to dress appropriately in public. If you see it, kindly make a comment so that the person realises their mistake. Often, it is so natural and acceptable for them that they are unaware of what they are doing or how offensive it is. Signs must be posted everywhere as well.
From Ms Deana
Website comment

False pride
Finally. This campaign was long overdue and it has finally arrived. Kudos to the Emirati women who have started it. It is high time that a strict dress code is established and implemented. I feel so ashamed and embarrassed that barely clothed women walk about with so much attitude and pride. In fact, shopkeepers hover around them and flirt, whereas women who are decently dressed are sidelined. When going to the mall you feel like you have walked into some kind of fashion parade. I hope something really solid comes out of this.
From Ms Amerah
Website comment

Strange behaviour
I must say I agree with this initiative. I am from Europe and in my country it is very unusual to see scantily dressed women parading around shopping malls. So, I don’t know why it is such a regular occurrence here. A modicum of respect and courtesy for the local culture would go a long way.
From Mr Kenneth
Abu Dhabi
Website comment


Gulf News poll result




  • Alia Matuszcyk Al Shamsi

    May 16, 2012 8:23

    not only Women dress disrespektful--does nobody look at the mens???Theire tatoos showing often naked women, their Shorts are like Underware,and their Hair grow is an awful sight if they wear this "boxing t shirts"--its just disgusting. their should be a NORM for Woman and MEN what is acceptable for the society when you go out.NOT only malls---Offices or Souks---WE JUST dont want to see all this naked Skin, sweating wet,or hairy or Tatoos--Its just a matter of AESTHETICS ...So, for EVERYBODY in public should be certain dresscode, so that nobody feels disturbed by their outfits Men or Women Mall or Souk --we had enough.!!!!

  • Arthur Matthews

    May 16, 2012 8:11

    This is a good campaign highlighting the culture of the country. Every country expects its local people respected. The reaction from the local population in the comments have also shown their hospitality & maturity. People from other nationalities who share similar sentiments seem to feel more let down by the insensitive behaviour of ignorant or indifferent people. It is at times very surprising and disappointing to see people from countries where dress code has so much of importance that they wear lighter shades during the day and darker shades in the evening also taking care of Casual / Formal wear. I think all our grandparents have wanted us to dress up as the culture of this place which I don't think is ever out of place. We are not all teenager to be ignorant of what we need to do. In Rome do as the Romans do. Let us put a smile on the face of our hosts "Emaratis".

  • Mohammad Rajeesh

    May 16, 2012 8:01

    First of all i am very happy to See Gulf new bring this issue up . We have a people living in Indian Subcontinental and in GCC , Who believe women are more protected and upgraded with her decent clothing. We request the foreigner to please respect the culture of the country where you visit. It was very difficult to visit the mall in Dubai where we will find the women are around is almost naked. We afraid the future of our children .

  • Sidra

    May 16, 2012 7:45

    Dressing inappropriately is against Islam. Whatever Islam forbids, the decision is for the welfare of everyone, including the ladies who choose to dress this way.

  • F.M

    May 16, 2012 7:42

    It's a serious issue and if it is not stoped it will spread all over UAE. What harm will it do to the Women and young girls if they cover themself , if they don't want to do hijab so at least they can wear decent clothes so that the people, especially the children living in this country don't go astray . When something goes wrong with them who is to be blamed? the women who are wearing such revealing , short and skin tight clothes should not complain that people of UAE don't respect women. It's you who don't want to be respected by others. First learn to wear how to dress and then talk about "RESPECT and "DIGNITY"

  • Ameerh

    May 16, 2012 7:19

    i hope that this thing and debate end soon, i only have one thing to say ... that people should respect the rule and besides decency and modesty please don't take it back, i have choose to live here because of these but hope this country won't be influenced by those character and habits .. they can do that inside their homes or go to another countries...

  • ali khawaja

    May 16, 2012 7:17

    i think everyone has the right to live their own life. its not right to put the restriction on anyone's lifestyle. if you don't think some people are not wearing right clothes then don't look at them. here people from all cultures are living their life so they should have get enough freedom to live life in their way.

  • M.fiyyaz

    May 16, 2012 7:11

    good initiative

  • Jamila

    May 16, 2012 7:08

    I've always wanted to do something like this, If it were only on me, I would have made all ladies "Cover up." Humans, seem to have forgotten the word and action of "shame" getting closer to the characteristics of animals, who are perfectly comfortable in walking nude on the streets. Women, why lower your dignity and status, by allowing all men feast on you with their eyes and mind? I want to thank the women who have taken up the cause and I pray the campaign gets to see a huge sucess

  • aida

    May 16, 2012 6:55

    there should be a law with regards to the Dress Code here in dubai since it is a muslim/conservative country but Proper campaigns and awareness should be spread through out the city and anybody caught violating the law should be punished by jail and cannot be penalized by monetary means, as mainly only visitors in the country wear revealing clothes and can afford to pay fines by cash. So i suggest people who violates the law should be punishable by jail.

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