ABU DHABI // Visitors and non-Muslim residents in the UAE have been asked to dress modestly and respect local culture this Ramadan.

The Tourism and Culture Authority (TCA) of Abu Dhabi said short or tight clothing can attract unwelcome attention and is best avoided. In addition, it advised that it is generally best for ladies to cover their shoulders and legs.

Mohammed K Al Dhaheri, the director of strategy and policy at the TCA, said this week: “We do not advise a specific dress code during Ramadan; non-Muslims – both men and women – are asked to dress conservatively whenever they visit.”

With regards to beachwear, Mr Al Dhaheri added: “Public beaches, private hotel beaches and hotel pools will all be open as usual and you can continue to wear swimwear in these areas.

“Some hotel pools will also serve refreshments from poolside outlets. Swimwear is, of course, acceptable but, again, we recommend guests use some common sense in their choice of swimwear.”

While most of these instructions are advised, some others are enforced.

Lawyer K K Sarachandra Bose, from Dar Al Adalah Advocates and Legal Consultants, told Abu Dhabi Police magazine 999: “Nudity is strictly forbidden in every part of the city and is liable to be punished by imprisonment or deportation.”

He said unwitting actions, such as wrong clothing choices, may offend as “Emiratis dress conservatively and expect expatriates also to dress conservatively when in public”.

Although the attitude towards dress is fairly liberal throughout the emirate, a healthy amount of respect for local customs does not go amiss, especially when shopping or sightseeing, Mr Al Dhaheri said.

Apart from traditional oud music, there is generally no music played during Ramadan, with nightclubs, on the whole, closed and no musical entertainment in pubs and bars, although they do remain open and serve alcohol after 7pm.

“Residents and visitors are asked to show respect for etiquette during Ramadan and are respectfully asked to refrain from eating, drinking or smoking in public places during daylight hours,” Mr Al Dhaheri added.

However, non-fasting guests or visitors are welcome to eat and drink in the privacy of their own room without offering food or drink to any Muslim guests, he said.

Children under the age of 12 are not expected to fast, although they are requested to be respectful of others around them that may be fasting, the TCA suggested.

Mr Al Dhaheri said Ramadan is an opportunity for non-Muslims to understand the traditions and beliefs of Muslims, and experience a completely different way of life.

To know more about the cultural implications of Ramadan, where to go, what to do and what to see, log on to www.visitabudhabi.ae.

source: the national.ae