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Dubai to Ban Public Kisses, Skimpy Clothes

March 16, 2009 by  
Filed under Travel News

Dubai is in the process of passing a set of behavior guidelines that are aimed at expatriates and visitors to the Gulf city. The restrictions will include an end to dancing, kissing, or hugging in public. Couple that with limiting bikinis and “skimpy” clothing to private resorts and Dubai has made significant changes to its policies. The response is partly connected to the British couple that was convicted for having sexual relations on a local beach last year.
dubai-beach-kissing.jpg Couple on Dubai beach © Mike O’Connell

A significant portion of Dubai is filled with migrant workers, expats, and tourists. It’s not surprising that locals would fear an erosion of their culture. Toss in the conservative nature of the region and Dubai was destined to make some changes. That being said, a significant percentage of their revenue comes from tourism. That income may take a major hit with travelers looking to enjoy the local beaches. Are tourists still going to come if bikinis aren’t allow at public beaches? Part of the allure of Dubai is the Middle East culture without the strict provisions. A backlash is likely.

Would a ban on public affection and “skimpy” clothing cause you to avoid a trip to Dubai? Does Dubai have a point? Are the migrant workers, expatriates, and tourists crossing the line?

Read about Utah opening its bars to the public after 40 years of restrictions.
gennaro-salamone-photo.jpgGennaro Salamone is the founder and editor of Enduring Wanderlust. Feel free to contact him with questions, comments, or inquiries with reference to contributing a travel article or photograph for publication.


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32 Responses to “Dubai to Ban Public Kisses, Skimpy Clothes”
  1. Lisa says:

    Dubai was on my list of places to go, but a bikini ban would have me thinking about another choice. I respect the local culture, but a beach is a beach. I’m fine with not wearing skimpy clothing off the beach tough. In terms of kissing and hugging, I can deal with that too. I fear bad for those who live there though.

  2. John H says:

    I’ve been to Dubai twice. It’s a pretty relaxed place culture compared to the rest of the Gulf. I’m wondering if they’ll really enforce this tightly. I hope not, but I also hope that visitors will respect the culture properly.

  3. Gennaro says:


    I think you provide a fair compromise here. Keep all restrictions, but the beach clothing. Not sure they’ll go for it. If tourism drops, it might have an effect, but a lot of people also go to the private resorts.

    @John H

    I do think it’s important to respect a local culture. It’s the smart thing to do as a travelers for a variety of reasons including safety and making friends with locals. Not to mention respect. One wonders if the policy is even true to Dubai’s nature.

  4. Well things change and time moves on. Although it is still quite acceptable for anyone to wear as little as they want (even naked) on the public beaches of France, it is no longer permitted to go topless in restaurants, on the streets or anywhere-else in public. That includes the men.

  5. Jay says:

    “Once we suppress love, we suppress living”- Jay

  6. Gennaro says:

    @Kevin Phoenix

    It’s true that things change over time. I’m interesting to see where it leads.


    That makes a lot of sense. I’m wondering if stopping public kissing and hugging will have an effect in that realm of society.

  7. jen laceda says:

    It’s really up to the country what they want to impose. As responsible tourists, we should all be respectful of each country’s laws and policies. This said, it will NOT change my desire to travel to Dubai.

  8. J.D. Meier says:

    It’s always interesting how the pendulum swings and where boundaries get set.

    I always wonder about all the dialogues and discussions that lead up to “thou shalt not kiss in public.”

  9. Gennaro says:

    @jen laceda

    It wouldn’t stop me from visiting either. It’s interesting to see cultural differences. It’s probably a bigger issue from expats or migrant workers.

    @J.D. Meier

    That’s an interesting point. That must be an interesting dialogue between government and religious leaders, behind closed doors.

  10. This is a strange law to me, but hey I am in the US and not in Dubai so what is customary to me is not necessarily what is customary in Dubai. It rings of High School though, I wonder if they will hand out detentions for PDA? 😉

  11. Gennaro says:


    Ha! That just might be the next step.

  12. Kikolani says:

    I think with any foreign place you visit, you should do a little research on local customs, and abide by them. Personally, if I ever travel to Dubai, it would be to play on the round tennis court that is near the top of the building you have pictured in this article. It’s amazing.

    ~ Kristi

  13. Gennaro says:


    I agree. That’s a seven-star hotel. Not too bad 🙂

  14. Sire says:

    Trust the British to upset everyone, and to think that films always seem to portray them as being prim and proper 😉 Still I am surprised that it took so long to bring this in, and I think that they were looking for a good excuse to ban the bikini.

  15. Gennaro says:


    A little surprised by the ban of the bikini since people have been wearing them for years there though I’m not shocked by cutting down on public kissing. Dancing too? They use to say pretty bad things about Elvis’ moves.

  16. rehan khan says:

    i have been to dubai thrice, everytime i discovered a new dubai, an international city where life should not be confined to bans an all.

  17. Gennaro says:

    @rehan khan

    It is a place that is constantly re-inventing itself. You made a valid point.

  18. It’s important to respect the norms of the local culture. That being said Dubai needs to decide what they want to be. Yes, they are in the Middle East but they have also developed an entire economy on international tourism – almost like a playground of excess. I suppose most tourists, however, visit the private resorts so it won’t really matter too much.

  19. Gennaro says:

    @Kim Woodbridge

    That’s very true. They built their own image and economy on the back of excess. Makes it interesting to see what happens when they pull back from it.

  20. Sharon says:

    That is a bummer because Dubai seemed more tolerant than their neighbors, but when in Rome or Singapore or Dubai, I will follow their rules and customs.

  21. Gennaro says:


    True, it’s best to follow the when in Rome philosophy. We’ll see where it goes. Might end up being more show and less action in terms of enforcement.

  22. fly girl says:

    It actually doesn’t suprise me that Dubai has proposed bans on skimpy clothing and public kissing and dancing. They are concerned with preserving their culture, which doesn’t condone any of the above. It defintely wouldn’t stop me from visiting, I think respecting a place’s culture and customs makes your experience even richer. I’m sure the expats will figure out ways to get around the bans.

  23. Gennaro says:

    @fly girl

    That makes a lot of sense. I’m thinking the expats will find places too. Pubs or clubs that let them do their thing.

  24. Kenneth Monis says:

    I think the new rules on PDA would cost a lot to the Dubai visitors. A Tourist place and having rules where Public Display of Affection such as kissing on the cheeks and hugging are not allowed would drive Dubai to a loss on Visitors. Having Sex in public is absolutely not fine. But a simply affection like hugging should not be banned.

  25. Mtlboss says:

    I believe that the new laws that they are pushing for is to somewhat express the concervative views of the older locals. To them, they are not accustomed to a more western like Dubai. However because tourism is directly related to dubai’s economy, I don’t think they will be strict about them.

  26. jill says:

    im going to dubai this yearr?
    can anyone please tell me if i can or can not wear a bikini on a beach or hold my boyfriends hand ??????????


  27. aanchal says:

    i think you should abide to the rules of dubai and not exploit their culture….
    you have a room to do all your personal stuff like kissing or sex…
    i think dubai is a good and beautiful destination to visit…

  28. David L says:

    Well I don’t really know how the locals feel about it. I suppose if all the residents are fine with such resctrictions who am I to say otherwise, but from my very humble European point of view, it reeks of fascism. At any rate I know I will never visit there, because I wouldn’t want to accidently show affection for a loved one and get thrown in prison. It seems over the top to me. There are limits for me as well though. I think sex out on the beach is not acceptable. I haven’t been to a country yet where it is, not even Holland.
    But the bloke above who said you should always check about local customs before you travel is spot on…. When in Rome?

  29. Nazim says:

    I can’t understand what’s wrong in a kissing of a couple?, If its illegal, dubai should remove kissing scenes from all the movies and posters. I have seen arabs wishing by kissing each other. What is it mean, only we can do and you can’t???., i think dubai is a good and beautiful destination to visit…

  30. Gennaro says:

    @Kenneth Monis – That’s possible.

    @aanchal – When in Rome…

    @David L – Coming from the West, people are coming from a different perspective.


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