Playing loud music, wearing short shirts, dancing, nudity, kissing and even holding hands in public are all considered inappropriate behavior under new guidelines laid down by the authorities of Dubai, according to a press report on Saturday.
The Dubai Executive Council issued a list of special standards governing public behavior that requires Dubai residents and visitors to respect the customs of the Muslim country and avoid what the council considers inappropriate behavior, the Arabic-language Emarat al-Youm reported.
The rules, which apply to all public places, include a ban on all forms of nudity, playing music loudly, dancing, kissing between men and women and unmarried couples holding hands.
In addition, the council ordered that anyone caught under the influence of alcohol—even a small amount—outside designated drinking areas would be fined or imprisoned.
Any breach of the guidelines, by nationals or expatriates, carries a possible prison penalty or deportation, the paper said, adding that the guideline have been distributed to governmental departments and private companies.
The order also requires all visitors of public places, such as government buildings, shopping malls, streets and restaurants to dress in “appropriate” clothing, otherwise they would be denied entrance.
“Pants and skirts have to be of appropriate length and outside clothing should not expose body parts indecently and should not be transparent,” the guidelines stipulate under section “public behavior.” Slogans or pictures considered "insulting" to any group or religion were also prohibited.
Nasser al-Hamali, the council spokesperson, refused to comment on the report.
"We are not authorized to give any interview now and do not have any comment on this issue. We don't care what is published in newspapers," he told AlArabiya.net. "Let the press and the people talk."
But an official government source familiar with the matter who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter denied that such guidelines had been issued and said that if the report were true other newspapers would have received a copy of it.
Dubai, a member of the seven-emirate United Arab Emirates, has a diverse culture as it is home to a foreign population made up mainly of low-skilled workers from Asia and white-collar, mainly Western, professionals.
Unlike most of its neighbors in the conservative Gulf region, the emirate tolerates a relatively relaxed dress code and hosts dozens of hotels that have bars and clubs, where alcohol is legally served.
However, a series of incidents, including crackdowns on cross dressers and the expulsion of two British expats found guilty of having sex on the beach, has thrown the clash of local and foreign cultures in the limelight.