Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Qatar's 'One of Us' Campaign

The following is a re-post from Here There and Everywhere, Intlxpatr's, Blog.  I like it.  Kuwait may not have the same social problem (yet) but from what I have seen, the trend is starting to grow; not even so much from expat women, but from Kuwaiti women.  Clothes are getting a lot more revealing - and that is even when the girls are fully covered (hobaya and the like).

Anyhooser, this kind of gives ladies who might be travelling to the GCC an indication of what types of clothes the local ladies would like us to pack. Personally, I have no problem with it.  I've always dressed somewhat conservatively.

Expat women who don’t wear enough clothing has long been a bone of contention for traditional and conservative Qatari women, who find themselves a minority in their own country. I remember well the anguish in the voice of one of my friends talking about how the salesgirl her mother was speaking with was showing “everything” AND she didn’t even speak Arabic, only English. Her mother was wondering whose country Qatar was?

Qatar doesn’t want to go to the extreme lengths of Saudi Arabia, they just want the non-Moslem, non-local women to cover up a little. Oh! Not just the women, the men, too! It’s a cute campaign – If you’re here, you’re one of us. I like it. It has a welcoming sound, but at the same time it politely reminds the expat that we are a guest in their country. This is the expectation, stated politely. Here is one of the visuals
(I found this article on Doha News)

A grassroots modesty campaign started by a group of Qatari women this summer has received the backing of the Qatar Tourism Authority, with the goal of helping visitors and expat residents “avoid embarrassment” and “feel welcome” here, the group has announced.

The “One of Us” drive, which was launched in June, highlights the part of the Qatari penal code that prohibits wearing “indecent” clothing in public, but adds to it by clarifying what exactly is deemed inappropriate – namely, bare shoulders and legs.

QTA will ensure that the dress code campaign guidelines will be displayed on posters in shopping malls and public spaces. They will also be posted on the QTA website and in future guides and brochures that the group publishes.

In June, campaign organizer Najla Al-Mahmoud told Doha News:
I don’t blame foreigners as they come from a different culture and they don’t know that it’s not acceptable… that’s why a group of ladies from different group of age gathered and decided to do something for Qatar…
We don’t want to interfere with anyone’s religion and force them to wear hijab … we only want modest clothing. It’s a matter of etiquette and class. We want to be able to go to public places without a lot of flesh around us.

Despite organizers’ efforts not to raise hackles, the campaign sparked a fierce debate on social media and Doha News about local/expat relations and the definition of decency.

Commenter J wrote:
This is a tricky issue for ex-pat women here as being “modest” is relative. And there are lots of mixed messages. You may see a young Muslim woman wearing a Shayla, a long, loose skirt, and the tightest long-sleeve shirt you’ve ever seen, leaving little to the imagination. And men wear tight t-shirts, tight skinny jeans, and shirts with the first three buttons open showing their chest. I think this campaign should not be aimed at everyone, not just at ex-pat women.

Others said they supported the campaign and expressed appreciation for having concrete guidelines to follow.

Meanwhile, Qatar University rolled out its own dress code in September, to mixed reaction from the student body, who are now prohibited from wearing tight, revealing clothing (including tight abayas) and casual wear like sweatpants and Bermuda shorts.

Read more:


Chirp said...

SOmetimes it bothers me the way some people dress, but then who am I to judge them? If they want the attention let them be.

If we want people to dress conservativly in our countries and respect our culture and our laws, will we respect the law put out in France and Belgium banning the burqa?

Anonymous said...

I recall once sitting in a boat with some Saudi women next to me and they were looking at a Kuwaiti woman walking along the shore and they were discussing how 'haram' she was because they thought she was indecently dressed. She was wearing a jogging suit with no abaya. Who is to say 'what is appropriate in the GCC, when you have GCC people dressing very western. Many people think they are dressed conservatively, but to others they may view inappropriate. If there is to be tourism in the GCC and people are contributing to the country economically by staying there in high temperatures, there is to be a compromise. This policy does not work in Dubai, and it may not work in Qatar, but Qatar does not have huge tourism numbers, it is more expats who reside there. Kuwait is different, because of the high crime rates and aggressive behaviour of the local men here, many expat women go to extreme measures to dress conservative. Who would wear a bikini on a beach in Kuwait? You'de have to be mad!

Desert Girl said...

Anonymous 12:21 - ...and I won't even comment about what not to wear on the gay beaches... (giggles).

Didn't the UAE try a policy like recently?

Chirp - "When in Rome..."

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

I think it is a good idea that they started this campaign. I have recently moved to Kuwait from the US I am on a tourist Visa my husband is here for work. I have seen American women dress inapproiately. I feel that if you are going to another Country no matter what Country it is you should educate yourself as to the dress in that Country. I myself have some clothing that is revealing but I also wear things over or under this type of clothing. I don't wear items in the US that is revealing either. I respect other Countries moral beliefs and try to dress appropriately. I also feel that if a woman dresses in a manner to draw attention to herself she will get attention and it may not be the kind she wants.

Anonymous said...

I would have to agree with Chirp. By restircting people to sucha vague description of appropriate then it is left up to interpritation. I have a good example. I am a full American girl and have lived here my whole life pretty much (that is a whole other story) and I went to college here. I dress modest in general both here and the states. One day when i was at uni i was wearing my husbands shirt (obvisouly too big for me) a pair of long bermuda shorts, and a pair of sneakers with my hair in a pony tail. you could say I looked like a 12 year old little boy going to soccer practice lol. however I got kicked off campus for my shorts being too short when they were past my knees whereas tons of girls were in shorts and skirts far shorter and tighter than anything I swear. I was humiliated in front of everyong and laughed at by the same "covered" women who showed far more than I did. Its not my fault my legs are snowy white therefore more noticable in a sea of tan. Rules like this are dangerous and can really hurt people.