The notice about respectful clothing at Dubai Mall. Most malls in Dubai display signs asking shoppers to wear respectful clothing. Image Credit: ABBAS AL LAWATI/Gulf News

Dubai: An attempt by a group of Gulf national women to enforce a dress code led a British tourist to strip down to her bikini at Dubai Mall.

A group of Gulf national women recently tried to enforce a dress code morally acceptable to them by distributing leaflets to women they found to be dressed inappropriately, a Dubai Mall official said.

A British tourist who was approached objected to the gesture and stripped down to a bikini she was wearing underneath in defiance. It is not known whether the protesting women were part of an organised campaign or organisation to enforce a moral code."She was wearing very revealing clothes as it is, and decided to dress down further after she was approached, which led to an argument," he said.


"We are often approached by women in the mall asking us to reprimand and remove offending women from the mall," he added. The argument between the Gulf national and the Briton landed the women in a police station.

British newspaper the Daily Mail reported a British holidaymaker was "charged with indecency in Dubai", which was then reported by other media organisations. Dubai Police have said, however, that there isn't a case open against a British holidaymaker.

Colonel Dr Mohammad Nasser Al Razouqi, Deputy Director of the Criminal Investigations Department for Police Station Affairs, told Gulf News the incident was a "minor" argument in Dubai Mall.

There were conflicting reports about the Gulf national's nationality. Colonel Al Razouqi said an Emirati woman approached the Briton, criticising her low-cut "indecent" clothes, after which security officers notified police about the argument.

"We called in both women to the police station to resolve the matter amicably. We didn't charge the Briton or open a case against her," he said.

The woman's clothes "were so short and revealing, close to a bikini. Such outfits are not permitted in shopping malls or family-oriented public areas," said Colonel Al Razouqi.

Most malls in Dubai display signs asking shoppers to wear respectful clothing. A Levantine Arab shopkeeper at Dubai Mall said she was "sick" of seeing people dressed "inappropriately" walking around the mall without being reprimanded. "And this doesn't only apply to women, by the way. I regularly see men in hot pants walking around the mall and no one says anything to them either," she said.

"Despite the fact that security guards are required to stop such people, they are intimidated by loud-mouthed shoppers who will tell them off. Fortunately we have undercover officers who patrol the mall, but it's obviously not working as it should," she said.

Lieutenant Colonel Jamal Al Jallaf, Deputy Director of the General Department of Crime Monitoring Affairs at Dubai Police, said violations of public decency are not perceived as security or criminal matters, but there is a moral duty to preserve the country's values and traditions.

Different cultures

"We do take into consideration that different cultures have different definitions of what is and what is not acceptable. Our effort is to maintain harmony among the many communities we have in the country."

Simon Goldsmith, Second Secretary for Political and Media Affairs at the British Consulate in Dubai, told Gulf News: "We are aware of an incident and are offering consular assistance."

In April a British couple were jailed for a month and fined Dh1,000 after being found guilty of public indecency and consuming alcohol. They lost their appeal.