While (the rich in oil) Abu Dhabi is the capital of UAE, Dubai has been more known among the emirates and in entire Middle East. It is because of its aggressive structures and openness to embrace innovations. This is probably the right thing to do since they had no oil source, risk appetite considered. This liberty did boost the tourism and other businesses and attracted a lot of visitors. Currently, 80% of its population is comprised of expatriates.
With Dubai’s boom and (just in time with) its sudden fall due to illiquidity to sustain its projects, its Executive Council has recently issued a formal Code of Conduct (in particular, list of prohibited behavior in public). As I read each point, I was not surprised at all. These are, but, reiterations. Before coming to UAE, I prepared myself for a big adjustment. To my relief, it was not a 180-degree turn. Except for limited source of pork and non-serving of dishes with pork in the restaurants, hotels and other establishments, everything else are fine especially the freedom to practice our faith and relaxed dress code.
We got to wear very Manila. I remember when I joined the Kapampangan Tour last December. One of the things which Anton asked me was if women (expats) are required to wear abaya (traditionally a black garment that covers the whole body except the face, feet and hands). No, not at all. With my more than a year stay here, I’ve willingly understood the restrictions especially for the women. My interaction with Arab colleagues, that includes reading some parts of Quoran (not required, I just wanted to), helped me to know where they are coming from.
It’s understandable though that a lot of expatriates are reacting to the newly issued rules by the Executive Council of Dubai. To quote verbatim, here are some. The bold fonts are mine.
(a) Alcohol consumption shall be confined to designated areas (i.e. licensed restaurants and venues that serve alcohol to their clients). Being caught under the effect of alcohol outside these places (even in light doses) can lead to a fine or incarceration.
(b) Buying and selling alcohol is controlled by very strict laws. Alcohol is exclusively sold by specialized licensed stores. It can only be bought by holders of an alcohol-purchasing license (this license is only attainable by non-Muslims). Buyers shall respect the local culture by carrying their alcohol in paper bags such that it cannot be seen.
(c) Photos of people – and especially photos of women and families – in public places shall not be taken without their permission. Taking photos of people is a sensitive issue in Dubai’s local culture.
(d) Begging is forbidden in all parts of Dubai.
(e) Dogs are forbidden in parks and beaches.
(f) Muslims pray five times a day. Each prayer is announced from the mosques by a call to prayer. When the call to prayer is heard, music shall be turned off in all public places and cars, and Muslims shall be allowed to perform their prayer duty.
(g) During the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn to sunset. Throughout this month, eating, drinking or smoking in public spaces during daylight is considered a public offense and is punishable by law.
I can see your reaction as you read those. But the most talked about portions are these:
(h) In other public places such as streets, shopping malls and restaurants, shorts and skirts shall be of appropriate length. Moreover, clothing shall not indecently expose parts of the body, be transparent, or display obscene or offensive pictures and slogans.
(i) Beachgoers – men and women – shall wear conservative swimwear that is acceptable to Dubai’s culture. Swimwear shall not be worn outside the beach, as decent dress is the rule in rest of the city. Nudity is strictly forbidden in every part of the city and is liable to be punished by imprisonment or deportation.
(j) Displays of affection among couples – whether married or not – in public places does not fit the local customs and culture. Holding hands for a married couple is tolerated but kissing and petting are considered an offense to public decency.
Public displays of affection, as well as sexual harassment or randomly addressing women in public places is liable to be punished by imprisonment or deportation.
(k) Loud music and dancing are forbidden in public places like parks, beaches or residential areas and must be restricted to licensed venues only.
What brought these? One report says that a series of incidents, including crackdowns on cross dressers and the expulsion of two British expats found guilty of having sex on the beach, has thrown the clash of local and foreign cultures in the limelight. Probably, this is one of the things that made the red flags glaring.
I’ve heard several reactions from locals and non-locals. Here are two examples that will show how wide the (reconcileable) gap is. Derived from separate conversations:
From a local: My 5-year old daughter is very much embarrassed whenever she sees women at the mall showing their arms and legs. “Mama, aren’t they shy to expose their bodies?”
From a friend who’s vacationing in Dubai this April (I forwarded to him the copy of the Code of Conduct): Ano???? Bawal ang holding hands kapag hindi pa kasal? Kalokohan ‘to. Ipapacancel ko na yung flight ko.
It is pretty challenging to find the balance between traditions and practicality. By simply saying, “When in Rome, do what the Romans do” is hardly applicable. Let’s see if Abu Dhabi’s and other emirates’ executive councils will issue a similar code. As long as blogging is allowed, I’m fine. 🙂
What are your thoughts?
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0 thoughts on “Is the party over?”
i think I can live with these rules, though I’m pretty sure sooner or later I’d break one of them. 🙂 i don’t know though if i can live under such codes for a long time, it seemed too strict for my stubborn head, baka maparusahan pa ko. hehe.
mordsiths last blog post..So What If I’m From UP?*
“(i) Beachgoers – men and women – shall wear conservative swimwear that is acceptable to Dubai’s culture. Swimwear shall not be worn outside the beach, as decent dress is the rule in rest of the city….”
i wonder why in JBR (jumeirah beach residence), two-piece bikinis are allowed. a friend has taken pictures while they were in that beach a month ago and from the background some brits are in 2-pc bikinis.
in sharjah, it’s a lot stricter with alcohol. there are no licensed liquor stores and strictly no store/restaurant/supermarket is allowed to sell pork or anything with pork.
but at least, these rules are still livable compare to the rules of saudi arabia. i’ve finished reading Princess by Jean Sasson. truly an eye-opener on the lives of women in saudi. will post about it soon.
yummybites last blog post..a gloomy-slash-cool thursday
Seems like Dubai’s going backward and not forward. Still, people in the UAE experience much more freedom than where I am right now.
CandyQs last blog post..a sweet surprise
Very contradictory because Dubai, according to what I’ve heard is trying to attract Westerners to visit and invest in their country, yet knowingly impose rules that controls even the simplest human decision on “how to dress.” If they’re controlling on what you can wear and what you can do, what’s next?
kaynis last blog post..Not Another Cookie
My aunt just arrived from Dubai today, and she told me about those new rules. I guess living in another country really requires a lot of adjustments. Still, rules in Dubai aren’t as strict as those in Saudi, right?
katcarneos last blog post..A Night at BoNa Coffee
such harsh restrictions especially to liberated foreigners.
one word. horrifying.
Angelis last blog post..Rush Mode
i don’t think most of these rules are unreasonable at all. if these would be implemented here [in Pinas], especially the restrictions on alcohol, mas ok sana. taking photos of people without their permission is impolite…ifugaos in batad get irritated when tourists take their photos without warning. and loud music should be regulated…there was a motorcycle parked near my apartment last night with very loud rap music. why impose your kind of music to other people? i remember a night in milan when we heard loud music at the piazza, near the duomo. it was about 11 pm, and i thought—wow,, parang ‘Pinas pala dito! then i saw the music-lover…he was riding a tri-sikad, and he’s Pinoy! he even bragged that he assembled the tri-sikad himself, parts came from Manila.
naturally, expats in Dubai would resist the Code of Conduct. people love to enjoy their freedom at home in foreign lands. but as we all know, life is a series of trade-offs. if i live in dubai, i would probably whine about why dogs are forbidden in parks and beaches.:D
luna mirandas last blog post..Food Friday: shrimp & salmon kebab
living in other country really needs a lot of adjustments. and i think i can still live with these rules.
blue roses last blog post..Thank you and updates!
no photo taking? naku, mag-ingat ka wits… 🙂
these rules for me are a bit tolerable, as long as they are they for a good reason. so are all these applicable to you also?
grabe talaga ang mga differences among cultures ano? 😉
kgs last blog post..Kwentong Pinoy: larong kalye
I hate to say it, but some of these rules will probably work well if implemented in Manila. Worth to mention are the liquor control, the begging and loud music. The others are a bit harsh, but I do understand where they are coming from.
Manila definitely needs strict rules. Pero ala Singapore level siguro, not Saudi. 🙂
garandos last blog post..Don’t Let The Wife Buy The Undies
a colleague of mine (who is European but who lived in Dubai for a long time)forwarded me these new rules and she was so shocked. We both think that this will discourage a lot of tourists from visiting dubai.
kreezs last blog post..Early mornings, new beginnings
“Loud music and dancing are forbidden in public places like parks, beaches or residential areas…”
did they define “dancing”? i mean, what if you are so happy and you can’t help yourself but “dance” hehehe. well, some really hold on even to age-old traditions. but then again, this is their territory…
i’m happy they are not regulating the internet. yet. 🙂
ekstrangheros last blog post..The Web 2.0 Generation
Well kahit nakakainis, they made these rules to preserve something. At least there’s discipline. I agree with Garando, we need strict rules here in the Philippines. Mga simpleng bawal tumawid, di pa ma-follow! >.< My gulay.
what do they mean by conservative swimwear? 😛
I think it is about time they enforced stricter control over dressing codes. I lived in Dubai for 6 years (1995 – 2001) and every year I was shocked that foreigners (mostly Westerners) and some of our kababayans as well could get away with wearing really skimpy outfits in an Islamic nation.
Yes given that Dubai is more liberated in its views but that shouldn’t mean you can openly flout your ‘assets’ and offend the sensitivities of the local populace.
Daphnes last blog post..Food for thought
What about holding hands between two males. I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of that. Hehe
deutss last blog post..DSLR Cameras: What’s the Take?
The rules are strict but tolerable, esp since you don’t have to wear an abaya. Some actually make sense. It all boils down to respecting their culture. Sana we also have that sense of respect here in Pinas.
Ricos last blog post..shockingly simple
I’m a bit surprised by the change but given what other Islamic countries have as their rules, Dubai is still very much a moderate state.
bws last blog post..The Apology Act
I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.
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