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Bikini Ban in Northern Emirate

April 22nd, 2013 · No Comments · Abu Dhabi, Dubai, The National, tourism, UAE

The UAE is made up of seven Emirates, and you are forgiven if you do not know more than two — Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

The three northernmost emirates have little or no oil, a fair number of Emiratis who are anything but wealthy, and a predilection for conservatism, both in matters of religion and morality.

So, when Ras Al Khaimah banned bikinis on its beaches today, perhaps a typical reaction from Westerners who live here was: “You mean bikinis were legal in RAK till just the other day?”

RAK, as it is known, like Fujairah and Umm Al Qaiwain (the latter being the most obscure of the UAE’s seven emirates), have plenty of beaches and some of them have Europeans, tourists, in particular, with precious little sense of local sensibilities.

As the news story in The National noted, when Emiratis in RAK go to the beach, “it is common for women to dress … by putting on more clothing so that they do not attract attention from men”.

Here is the issue summed up: “The two most popular beaches in Ras Al Khaimah are located next to hotels where swimmers sunbathe in thong bikinis or trunks alongside women in burkinis, a modest full-body swimsuit designed for Muslim women.”

If you followed the link, above, you saw the photo of a Western woman in short shorts, which is considered out of place — or just plain rude — by the locals, some of whom will flee the premises rather than have to look at such immodesty. Even in Dubai, which is the most liberal emirate when it comes to dress, would be uncomfortable with that.

Thus, RAK has put up signs at public beaches, and in the corner of the sign are pictograms of a woman in a bikini and a man in small swim trunks with a red line through them.

Like everywhere in the world, visitors to the UAE need to be aware of local customs and preferences when out in public.

It isn’t that hard, and can be summed up, here, very simply: Don’t show much skin, ever.


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