Going to the zoo? Cover up.
The Dubai Zoo is cracking its whip on women wearing short and sleeveless clothes, XPRESS has learnt. Those wearing clothes above their knees and exposing their shoulders are being asked by the staff at the entrance to cover themselves up with a shawl.
This reporter who turned up at the Zoo in a sleeveless up-to-the-knees dress to verify the dress code was stopped at the entrance.
"You cannot go in. Your knees are okay. The problem is with your shoulders," the staff at the entrance said. A shawl was given and the reporter had to wrap it around the shoulders to gain entry to the zoo located at the Jumeriah Beach Road.
Dubai Municipality spokesperson said the above dress code is a law. "It is the law. And we are implementing it not only in the zoo but in all the parks too," said the official.
But visitors, especially women, said they were taken by surprise by the strict dress code implemented at the Dubai Zoo, which is a tourist attraction in the emirate.
"I was shocked by the rude comment that I am not dressed up properly. The staff gave me a shawl and asked me to wrap it around my waist as I was wearing shorts. It made me feel as though I were naked," said Fitore, a tourist from Kosova. The physiotherapy student who is on a first-time visit to Dubai was wearing a red long-sleeved shirt and a jeans shorts.
Ese John from Nigeria was regarded indecently dressed in her jeans and sleeveless t-shirt. "They just gave me a white scarf and asked me to cover," said John. A first timer to Dubai, John said she was not aware of any dress-code to be followed in Dubai.
Notices are put up at the gate and inside the zoo asking visitors to wear respectful clothing. "Shoulders and knees should be covered," it reads.
However, some visitors said there weren't any specific dress code last time they visited the zoo. "I was wearing a jumpsuit without shoulders last year when I visited the zoo, and no one stopped me. This new rule that we have to cover the knees and shoulders has taken me by surprise," said a Dubai resident who requested not to be named. She and her sister were wearing white scarfs over their shorts as instructed by the staff.
According to the staff, restrictions on wearing revealing clothes have always been there but they have started implementing it more strictly since last year. "It is a public place and rules are very clear as how to dress up. As the the place is close to the beach, some women show up in their bikins," said the emirati staff.
Even as public decency laws are being widely debated in Dubai, tourists and residents are asked to dress modestly and show respect to the Islamic culture and traditions by their respective embassies. In the Travel guidance section, the UK embassy instructs British citizens to abide by the dress code and refrain from public display of affections and drinking in public.
Shopping malls in Dubai too have similar notices at the entrance asking visitors to refrain from clothing that is offensive to the local culture.
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