Reflect Your Respect Dress Campaign in Qatar

22 Jun 2014

This kicked off on Friday afternoon at malls and public spaces around Doha to encourage expats and tourists to dress modestly

Qatar Center for Voluntary Activities, Qatari Women Association and Dar Al Sharq are heading up Reflect Your Respect campaign at four malls; Villaggio, Lagoona, Landmark, and Ezdan, as well as at Souq Waqif and Aspire Park. Leaflets entitled “Welcome to Qatar” were handed out by volunteers at the five locations, urging people to cover their shoulders, knees and midriffs, as part of a drive that was previously called One Of Us when it began in 2012.

In Aspire Park, groups of Qatari women accompanied by children wearing t-shirts bearing the campaign logo released balloons and wandered around the park, handing leaflets and an accompanying rose to any expats they saw in the area. Meanwhile, at Villaggio, male volunteers handed out leaflets to passersby and encouraged them to write down their thoughts in a comments book, and in Landmark, cupcakes, chocolates and flowers were handed out along with the leaflets.

Leaflets being given out yesterday called for expats to help the group “preserve Qatar’s culture and values” by dressing modestly in public places. Written in both Arabic and English, the leaflet also cited Qatari law as the basis for the campaign. It included two legal references – the first to Article 57 of the Qatari Constitution, which states that “abiding by public order and morality, observing national traditions and established customs are duties of all who reside in the State of Qatar or enter its territory. ”The other reference was to the country’s penal code, citing a punishment of six months and a fine not exceeding QR3,000 for those judged to be making gestures, reciting songs, uttering indecent phrases or carrying out obscene acts in or near public places.

However, there appears to be no specific element of the penal code that targets dress code in Qatar, although many malls and parks have their own clothing rules, which are enforced by private security guards. The leaflet also supplies a telephone number for people to call to report “cases of violation.”

Reflect Your Respect has also published a campaign video on youtube. The film, directed by Abdullah Al-Ansari, shows an expat mother, wearing a long pair of pants and what appears to be a sleeveless sports top, playing with her child in Aspire Park. It then shows a Qatari mother and child approaching the woman, and handing the expat a leaflet explaining the campaign’s dress code. The expat woman expresses surprise, and is then seen in various scenes around the city wearing clothing that covers her legs and arms completely. This is a marked difference from the guidelines given in previous statements from Reflect Your Respect spokespeople, which have only called for shoulders and knees to be covered.

So it looks like it's time to cover up ladies!