Manama: Kuwaiti officials have warned that acts of indecency, including wearing bikinis on public beaches, amounted to provocations to the character of the Kuwaiti society and would not be sanctioned.

“Wearing a bikini on public beaches is not acceptable in our community,” Adel Al Hashash, head of public relations and moral awareness department and acting head of the interior ministry security information department, said.

“Visitors should respect the traditions and wear decent outfits. This does not mean we will arrest any woman swimming in a bikini if she did not act immorally,” he told Kuwait Times daily.

Under Kuwait’s laws, policemen are in charge of monitoring public places, but not private places.

“Hotels, clubs and houses are considered to be private places and we cannot enter or take an action unless we have the proper permission or there is a complaint. However, when it is about public beaches, we can take action against any person committing immoral acts,” he said.

According to Mishari Al Ayada, an attorney, swimming in a bikini in public may be considered an indecent act by some people.

“We live in a conservative society and people, especially foreigners, should respect this fact,” he said. “People have to appreciate that it is not proper for a woman to be in a bikini at a public beach. The situation is different in private clubs. In these private clubs or hotels, it is fine to wear swimsuits and bikinis,” he said.

Al Ayada said that violators were usually required to pay fines.

“The law is sometimes applied in moody measures. On some Kuwaiti islands, westerners swim in bikinis and it seems normal, while at the public beach, it is not allowed. Usually such acts are penalised by making violators pay fines. I have never heard of a violator being imprisoned,” he told the daily.