A question I’m often asked by people coming to Dubai is: What can I wear?
They’ve probably read in the media the story about the British shopper who wore see-through clothing to the mall and received a stern warning from an Arab lady. Angered by the telling off, the shopper stripped to her bikini – surprise, surprise, leading to the police being called and her arrest.
It’s common sense really that in a Muslim country you need to be respectful of the UAE culture. I got it wrong once (shorts in Sharjah, on Friday, at prayer time), and a man in a Kandura leaving the mosque shielded his eyes from me. As he started muttering under his breath, I felt so bad I hurried my whole family away, back into the car, and back to Dubai, where the decency laws are less strict and I knew my outfit wouldn’t cause offence. (More on what not to wear in Dubai info.)
You get so used to seeing less flesh in the UAE that, on trips to the UK, it always takes me by surprise to see midriffs and bits-that-are-best-left-hidden on display. I do understand why: For a couple of fleeting weeks, the sun comes out and in a flurry of sunshine, cider and sunglasses the public strips off. It’s all cropped tops, boob tubes, Daisy Dukes and strappy sandals, until the heavens open and the weather turns biblical.
And I had to laugh when I saw this picture on Facebook today, not just because of the oh-so-apt slogan on the passing bus, or the fact my friend told me the naked cyclists appeared out of nowhere. But because, really, their ‘attire’ is not terribly different from the naked thighs, eye-popping cleavage and exposed derriere sported by some on your average night out in the UK.
Gotta love the relaxed nudity laws that made this event possible, even if it was all over in a flash!