Emirati women have launched a campaign encouraging tourists and expats to dress more modestly in UAE shopping malls, in recognition of local socio-cultural values.
Whilst Emiriti women favour the all-encompassing modesty of the abaya, visitors and foreign residents need to be reminded to dress decently in public places. The campaign was launched by Hanan Al-Rayes and Asma Al-Muhairi after the pair encountered "a young woman in shorts that they considered left little to the imagination" in a shopping mall, Above Top Secret reported.
Al-Rayes noted that although lots of people were staring at the woman in shorts, no one called police to complain about her immodest dress, so at variance with local customs. Alarabiya reported local malls have signs asking people to dress modestly, but no action is taken against those who violate the guidelines.
According to Gulf News the campaign's message is "expatriates should respect the UAE’s cultural values when in public spaces". It is not attempting to enforce foreign women to wear the abaya as Saudi Arabia does, nor impose a veil.
Al-Rayes said "We are not looking to create any media rancor and drive foreigners away … All we are looking for is to represent our country and culture.” She also likened the campaign to the niqab ban in France, saying “I can’t argue against France banning the niqab [face veil], this is their law and people should respect their laws."
Those who follow the campaign, which has the Twitter hash-tag #UAEdresscode, are encouraged to make complaints against people dressed in revealing clothes who frequent the malls.