MUSTAFA AL ZAROONI
Cities are defined by the tastes of people who dwell in them. As soon as you walk down any alley, you know the identity of the city, its place in the world, and how elegant and classy life in its centre can be.
Clothes have transcended eras and civilizations from which countries have sprung from. In many instances, you know the nationality of a person by the clothes he or she wears. There’s a certain traditional dress sense, never mind if it does not appear fashionable to purveyors of style.
If the general appearance of a person is presentable, they do not stand out in a crowd in the negative sense and there can be no threat to public decency. Which means you cannot wear a bikini that you normally would wear to the beach, or bed clothes – to a mall. The issue here is indecent exposure in the most inappropriate locations. That’s why some countries and cities have rules of dressing for specific locations. There are dress codes for their restaurants, shopping malls, or in areas where a crowd gathers.
General public places are where people have to dress in regular clothes – nothing stark or vulgar. Here, people can walk comfortably, shop and do their business without being the centre of attraction for all the wrong reasons.
If simple rules of modesty are breached, social unrest online and in real life will happen – like a recent video clip that showed an Emirati woman shaming an Arab actress for walking out of the fitting room at a mall outlet wearing only her bikini. The clip went viral and sparked public outrage in the UAE. Social media went berserk. Some thought there was nothing wrong with it, others said the woman had crossed a red line.
When one enters most malls in the UAE, warning notices can be seen on decent attire and public displays of affection. There are dos and don’ts and vistors are expected to abide by the rules, which this woman clearly did not follow in her bid to shock.
In Dubai, you find many upmarket places and beautiful streets and boulevards. Yet, when you gaze at passers-by and their tastes, you will be shocked at the low standards of attire which border on the obscene and offends Emirati cultural norms. There’s no need for residents and visitors to fit in, or wear Emirati traditional clothes. All this country is asking visitors is to show some respect for modest clothing which its culture demands. This is no island where people can do what they want.