DUBAI— The Dubai Executive Council issued regulations on public conduct for the emirate that set standards "for social decency which must be followed by citizens, residents, and visitors as a means of respecting its culture, religion, and customs."
The regulations are part of the Council's efforts to place greater restrictions on public behaviour, such as unmarried individuals holding hands, dancing of any type, playing music at a volume that is noisy or bothersome, kissing, being caught under the influence of alcohol outside designated drinking areas and smoking shisha tobacco. Any breach of these rules of public conduct may lead to imprisonment for both citizens and expatriates.
The list also includes a regulation requiring those who visit beaches and swim areas to wear acceptable swimming attire in accordance with the values and traditions of the UAE. Shorts and skirts must also be of an unspecified appropriate length.
Many observers suspect that the new regulations on public conduct are designed to target expatriates in Dubai where foreigners are more than 80 percent of the population. The government is cracking down on public behaviour among expatriates in Dubai after an incident last July when two British expatriates were arrested on charges of having sex on the beach. In another incident, two foreign women were arrested on charges of performing acts that violate public decency on a beach.
Smoking shisha tobacco in public gardens, parks, on beaches, and in all public recreational areas and facilities has also been placed on the banned list. Assistant Director General of Dubai’s Health, Safety and Environmental Control Department Salem Mesmar said, "This action was spurred by the department's desire to achieve objectives of the Dubai Strategic Plan, which aims to protect public health and improving the quality of life for citizens and residents… [and] is a continuation of a programme… regulating smoking in public places… [that] are frequented largely by families with children whose behaviour, social habits, and health are negatively impacted by the presence of shisha smoking."
[Al-Emirat Al-Yawm, Arab News, The National]