Cdn supports UAE woman's Twitter campaign for decent clothing among foreigners

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - At least one Canadian expatriate says a popular Twitter campaign trying to combat skimpy clothing among visitors to the United Arab Emirates is a good reminder about respecting local customs.

Alison Stoody, a former Vancouver resident who works as an elementary teacher in the nearby city of Dubai, says she doesn't wear tiny shorts or mini skirts out of respect for the country's conservative culture.

She says the local Emirati women driving the Twitter campaign are simply concerned about foreigners coming into their country and dressing in a way that's against their beliefs.

The @UAEDressCode Twitter handle was created by a 23-year-old local marketing worker in Abu Dhabi after she saw a group of foreigners wearing very short shorts in a shopping mall.

Although many malls in the middle eastern country have moderate dress codes, the rules are rarely enforced.

Asma al-Muhairi started the Twitter campaign to raise awareness about how local Emirati women — who are now a minority in their home country — do not appreciate the skimpy fashion choices of foreigners who flock to the country.

The Twitter account now has more than 3,000 followers and has sparked a lively discussion that includes plenty of support for a dress code, but also concerns that it would unfairly target foreigners or create divisions between locals and foreigners.

Twenty-five-year-old Stoody, who has been living in Dubai for a year, supports the local womens' cause.

"They're not asking these girls to come and start wearing a burka, or start wearing a head scarf They're not asking them to convert to Islam, and start reading the Qur'an," she said.

"(Foreigners) shouldn't be prancing around in little dresses. I think they should be wearing something a little more appropriate."

Emirati citizens account for a little more than 10 per cent of the eight million people living in the Gulf country.

As the number of foreigners has increased, so have the stories of them violating the UAE's strict indecency code, which limits drinking to bars and nightclubs and bans public displays of affection.

Most of the country's population is made up of Asian, African and Middle Eastern guest workers, as well as western expatriates living there temporarily.

The overall population more than doubled over the past decade as the country embarked on a building boom that transformed Dubai, up the coast from Abu Dhabi, into the Arabian Gulf's financial hub and a popular tourist draw.

— with files from the Associated Press

Organizations: Associated Press

Geographic location: United Arab Emirates, DUBAI, Abu Dhabi Vancouver Arabian Gulf

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