Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Skimpy Clothing in Qatar

Yesterday, there was a report of two Filipina gals arrested for wearing shorts and halter tops to a local mall. This morning, we saw spaghetti straps, totally strapless tops, and very bare halter tops at brunch. When new people come to work here, are the companies giving them any guidelines? Are the women (in particular) listening?


We lived in Tunis in the early 1980’s, and an artist friend silkscreened some gorgeous t-shirts which said, in Arabic – We are not tourists, we live here. Tunis was inundated with European tourists, on vacation, wearing very little and many interested in a vacation “romance.” These tourists made it very difficult for the rest of us, who worked and lived in Tunis and respected the customs of modest dress, and who did NOT want romance or even attention. We just wanted to live our mundane little lives in peace! But who could blame the men? To them, we were all the same, Western. To them, Western equalled loose. It made life very difficult for us. (she says with gritted teeth!)

From today’s Peninsula:

‘All men and women should avoid wearing skimpy dress’
Web posted at: 7/24/2009 3:8:12
DOHA: As the controversy over women from some nationalities wearing revealing clothes rages, there are some citizens who believe that females from some Arab nationalities cannot be excluded from these categories.

Perhaps, they (some Arab women) wear more revealing clothes than their Western counterparts, is the view of these citizens who call for waging a campaign to create public awareness about following a dress code in the public.

Men, especially those who wear sleeveless undergarments and half pants exposing themselves while in the public, are also a target of those who believe that a strict dress code should be followed by all foreigners in the country to respect local social and religious values and traditions.

Here is what some people, including men and women, feel about the issue:

Rashid Hassan — Qatari

“The embassies of major manpower exporting countries here should take a cue from the diplomatic mission of the US, which recently released an advisory for US nationals urging them not to wear revealing clothes. The embassies should also make people from their countries here aware of local social and religious traditions and the need to respect them.”

“We must also launch an awareness campaign. And in shopping centers, particularly which families frequent, security personnel should be trained and alerted to stop such people who are wearing revealing dresses from entering the premises.

“These security personnel should be Arab nationals because only they will be able to help enforce the dress code.”

Rakesh Patel — Indian

“We have to respect local social and religious values and traditions. We have come here to work, make some savings and go back to our respective home countries. So it is binding on us that as long as we are here, we must follow the local norms and traditions and not hurt in any way the sentiments of local people.”

“Like the US embassy, the Indian embassy here should also launch an awareness campaign for Indian expatriates on the issue. The embassy of the Philippines has also recently waged a similar campaign. It’s a welcome move. I am all for respecting local values and traditions at any cost.”

Wesal Hilmi — Syrian

“I am surprised that some married women are among those who wear revealing clothes. We don’t agree with such people. They have to respect our cultural, social and religious values which are reflected in the way we dress.”

“We have been hearing that a committee (at the government) has been set up which is

Looking into the issue and it is gearing up to launch an awareness campaign. If it is true it is a welcome development.”

Ahmed Sabir — Egyptian

“Arabs and Muslims like to cling to their heritage and culture. It is unfortunate that some foreigners here do not show any respect for our social values and traditions. However, we cannot force them to wear what we would like them to, but we can launch an awareness campaign and raise the issue with them. We can convince them through these campaigns to respect our culture, religious values and traditions.”

“In Ramadan, they do show respect for our values and practices. Likewise, they should be made aware and urged to respect our traditions as regards our dressing habits and the need not to wear revealing clothes in public.”

Sherwin — Flipino

“We are here to work. We must respect local people, their social and religious values and traditions.”

Vachy — Filipina

“We must follow and encourage what our country’s embassy here is doing urging us to respect local traditions. They should enforce a law in Qatar making a strict dress code in accordance with local traditions, mandatory.”

Abdullah Hussein — Qatari

“What one wears is one’s own choice. We can’t force people to wear clothes we like. It’s a matter of individual freedom and I believe in personal freedom.”

“I agree that people should respect our social and religious values and traditions, but they should do it voluntarily. We cannot force them. We can only make them aware through campaigns. We can convince them about that and we have to be extremely polite doing that.”

What we don’t want is for the Qataris to get to the point of forming the kind of morality police they have in Saudi Arabia, armed with sticks for hitting offenders, and with arbitrary powers to sort-of arrest offenders. If we don’t monitor ourselves, that is the risk we take.

This is not our country. We do not have the right to dress as we would back home. Please, get a clue.

July 24, 2009 Posted by | Civility, Community, Cross Cultural, Doha, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Mating Behavior, Qatar, Safety, Social Issues, Values | 9 Comments