Monday, January 24, 2011

Sharjah public decency rules

I stumbled across Sharjah's rules of public decency yesterday when I was poking around a municipal website looking for a way to check traffic fines online. I was already familiar with these rules from second-hand sources like the university's welcome packet, but this was the first time I read them at their source.

For your consideration, I have excerpted a few highlights from the pamphlet. Check them out (my comments in italics):

Men's Dress Code
Indecent Dress or Behavior:
- Very short pants in public or commercial places like malls and public offices.
- Chest nudity. (This is my new favorite term.)
- Ezar in public places (Ezar is the local Emirate male underwear). (No, I don't know what Ezar is so I can't explain further. Sorry.)

Women's Dress Code
Indecent Dress:
- Clothing that exposes the stomach and back.
- Short clothing above the knee.
- Tight and transparent clothing that describes the body. (Again, I love the term "describes" in this context.)

Rules Regarding Public Beaches
Beaches are among the public places that people use for their leisure activities like swimming, or enjoying the scenery. Thus, it is important to make these places enjoyable and liked, so that people will not hesitate to use them. Therefore, all swimmers should wear conservative swimwear that is acceptable to the culture in Sharjah.

Do not wear swimwear in streets or other public places.

Ladies Areas
For social and cultural considerations, women have their own private areas that are not to be used by men. (Did anyone else's brain come screeching to a halt after reading that sentence and then go back to read it again because it COULD NOT POSSIBLY have meant what you thought it did the first time around? No? Just me? Oh.) To protect their privacy, and to avoid nuisance, men are not allowed to visit these "Ladies Only" places, except in acceptable circumstances, in accordance with society's norms and culture.

A Man and a Woman Illegally Alone
It is not allowed for a man and a woman who are not connected by a legally acceptable relationship to be alone in public places or in suspicious times or circumstances.

All in all, it's a very sensible set of rules, don't you think? What gets me is that these rules of public decency are absolutely enforceable - by Sharjah city employees, security officers, building guards, and the police. These are more than just guidelines. And really, when you think about it, they're only slightly stricter than the rules at the BYU, so it's hardly an adjustment at all to follow them.

I'll have to talk to Jeremy about his constant chest nudity, though.


Liz Johnson said...

Not to mention Jeremy's very short pants. He's like a walking public decency violation.

I am curious about the "being alone with somebody in a public place." What does this mean exactly? If you saw a male coworker of Jeremy's, for example, could you stop and chat with him if you were in a crowded area? How are you both "alone" and "in public?"

Bridget said...

I noticed that contradiction as well. Isn't it far more illicit to be in a private place, alone??

Susanne said...

These are great! I've heard people say that when they see someone of the opposite sex out in public, they will often NOT talk to them out of cultural consideration. Oh, I think it was in a book I read in 2009. She said although this man may have been to their house for dinner and be friends of the family, they will not stop and chat on the street and will not even usually acknowledge they know one another if she is alone.

Coming from the South where we tend to stop and talk to perfect strangers on occasion, I find this odd.

I love the chest nudity description too. And, yes, describing the body...cute way of putting it!

(I'm glad they told those men to leave the women's private areas alone! :-))

Kat Clark said...

Hey, my privates are my privates thank you very much. ;) And yes, please tell Jeremy his chest nudity is getting out of hand.


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