Displaying an impressive disrepect for local culture, a British woman stripped down to her bikini and walked through the Dubai Mall after a local Emirati woman confronted her about the low-cut shirt she was wearing that, in her mind, violated the local conservative dress code.
Mall security brought both women to a police station where they were detained briefly, then released.
There have now been a string of incidents in Dubai. In March, a British couple spent a month in jail for kissing in public. An Indian couple got three months in jail for exchanging sexy text messages. In 2008, a British couple went to jail for three months for having sex on the beach.
Titanic Editorial: Dubai needs to make a decision. If they want to position themselves as a major tourist destination (especially for charter trips) and business hub for Westerners and the rest of the world, they’re going to need to make some adjustments. I’m not saying they should change their values or culture or dress differently. They just need to find a better way of informing visitors about their unique rules and a better way of punishing foreigners who violate them. If a foreigner commits one of these social crimes (inappropriate dress, inappropriate speech or touching), a fine of perhaps $100 – $500 seems like a more realistic punishment. Months or days in jail is WAY overboard. And Dubai tourism will continue to pay for it with bad PR as long as they keep it up. They need to understand that it’s not easy for many Westerners to make the adjustment. A couple on a honeymoon might forget and spontaneously kiss while walking down the beach. It’s especially difficult because hotels and bars seem to have a different set of rules. If you step into a Western hotel, you can wear a bikini, drink, and kiss without penalty. Dubai is a fascinating city in many ways (I’ve had the pleasure of visiting it 4 times), but tourists need to be able to relax and walk down the street (or thru a mall) without fear that they’ll be chucked in jail for a crime they didn’t even realize was a crime.