The Qatar government has launched a campaign aimed at educating tourists and residents in the appropriate manner in which to dress while visiting the country. The ‘Reflect your Respect’ campaign, advises tourists to cover up and respect the state’s Islamic culture. The message was issued via social media. Leaflets stating “When you are in Qatar, you are one of us” are also being distributed by women and children volunteers.
“Help us preserve Qatar’s culture and values by dressing modestly in public places,” the campaign states, alongside a graphic which depicts unacceptable garments – including shorts and vests for both men and women. “It is expected that you wear decent clothes and women should avoid wearing any garments that are too tight, too short or translucent, such as miniskirts or sleeveless dresses. Both men and women should also avoid walking around in their swimming suits away from the beaches or swimming pools.”
According to The Huffington Post, campaign spokeswoman Umm Abdullah stated; ”We don’t want our kids to end up imitating this – we want to preserve our traditions and our values. Expats have their own places where they don’t have to be covered – but we have the right to go to hospitals, to the market, to the malls, to the beach, without seeing these things.”
In a country where eighty-five percent of the population are expatriates, the campaign has been met with mixed reactions. While some expats are happy to respect the country and culture that they are visiting, others resent being asked to cover up in non religious areas such as malls and beaches which are typically Western hangouts.
Qatar is home to about 17,500 British nationals and 40,000 more visit every year, according to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). The country faces its largest ever tourist influx when the 2022 FIFA World Cup is held there in eight years time.