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Qatar drive to educate foreigners on dress code

Islamic Culture Center “Fanar” is organising a campaign

Image Credit: Mostafa Sheshtawy/Gulf News
Qatar will soon follow the UAE in launching a campaign to teach expatriates how to dress inpublic places such as malls so as to not offend local sensibilities.
Gulf News

Doha: Growing discontent in Qatar over expatriate clothing has sparked an Islamic centre to organise an awareness campaign to educate foreigners on Islamic and Qatari traditions. The Islamic Culture Centre “Fanar” is organising a campaign targeting shopping malls after a story published in early June in the Qatari daily Al Rayah reported how Qataris were upset at immodest dress in malls. “The amount of immodest clothing is growing in public places, especially shopping malls. Such foreigner behaviour conflicts with our traditions. We do not want our kids to be exposed to it or learn from it, and that’s why we will start this campaign,” Nasser Al Maliki, Chief of Public Relations in Fanar told Gulf News.

The campaign’s starting date is yet to be announced, however the centre is calling for many public meetings with anyone interested in working with them.

“Many foreigners, Muslims and non-Muslims, are interested in working with us. That will help us a lot especially as it is not a religious campaign, it’s a social one,” Al Maliki said.

“It’s good to have an awareness campaigns for foreigners here in Doha so they can at least wear modest clothes in public places. They should respect Qatari and Islamic traditions,” says Wafaa R., 23, a Doha resident.

“We need such campaigns everywhere not just malls. It is getting out of hand. Its not only clothing but we are seeing inappropriate displays of affection in public,” says Hussa, a Qatari woman who supports the campaign.

“I totally disagree with this, everyone should be allowed to wear what they want,” says Rawan, an 18-year-old university student.

“When in Rome do as the Romans do” was a tweet published by the @UAEDressCode, the official twitter account for the UAE awareness campaign.

Some residents fear a large campaign that tackles immodest clothing would discourage tourists and visitors to Qatar, especially ahead of the its 2022 bid to host the Fifa World Cup.

“I don’t mind awareness campaigns, but if it becomes a law it will violate personal freedoms, which I am against,” says Fatiha, a 27-year-old journalist.

“I think many expatriates will leave the country if such a law were to be enforced. Freedom of choice is imperative for this country, especially when it will welcome over one million visitors for the World Cup. ” says Karim Ahmad, a 28-year-old engineer.

Fanar insists however that its campaign is purely a community initiative and they have no intention of pressing for the government to get involved. “We do not want to have a dress code law. We just want to educate people and then give them the freedom of choice,” said Al Maliki.