Dress code for tourists: Places where you have to mind what you wear

Tourists snokelling at Pulau Perhentian in Terengganu, Malaysia. Authorities in the Malaysian state of Terengganu on Sunday said they would soon impose a dress code on female tourists as outlined by the state government. Now, it appears, however
Tourists snokelling at Pulau Perhentian in Terengganu, Malaysia. Authorities in the Malaysian state of Terengganu on Sunday said they would soon impose a dress code on female tourists as outlined by the state government. Now, it appears, however, that the plans were the result of a misunderstanding. Terengganu Chief Minister Ahmad Razif Abdul Rahma today clarified that the dress code policy would not be imposed, the Malaysiakini website reported. -- PHOTO: TOURISM MALAYSIA

The authorities in the Malaysian state of Terengganu on Sunday said they would soon impose a dress code on female tourists as outlined by the state government.

According to media reports citing the Terengganu government news portal Teganukita, the move targets women in particular although it contains rules for both genders.

Although the guidelines, drafted by the Terengganu Islamic and Malay Heritage Council, would not require men and women to comply 100 per cent with the Islamic dress code, visitors and locals must be "decently" dressed. Those who fail to do so would be called for "counselling".

Now, it appears, however, that the plans were the result of a misunderstanding. Terengganu Chief Minister Ahmad Razif Abdul Rahma clarified on Monday that the dress code policy would not be imposed, the Malaysiakini website reported.

But there are places with special attire requirements for visitors. Here's a look at some of them:

Saudi Arabia

Foreign female visitors to the kingdom have generally been expected to abide by its traditional dress code.

A statement on the US State Department website warns women that those "who choose not to conform to this dress code face a risk of confrontation by the Mutawwa (Commission of the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice) and possible detention and arrest."

As part of its strict dress code in public spaces, women are required to wear a full-length black robe, known as an abaya, and a cover for their hair, The Guardian reported.

Earlier this year, United States First Lady Michelle Obama caused a stir when she decided to forgo a headscarf during her visit to the kingdom. Officials said then that while women are recommended to abide by the code, those who travel as part of a foreign delegation are often exempted.

Qatar

Qatar last year launched a social media campaign that advised tourists to dress modestly in public. The campaign using Twitter and Instagram aimed to educate visitors on acceptable forms of dressing.

"Reflect your respect" leaflets were also distributed with diagrams of appropriate clothing.

For example, short dresses, sleeveless clothing and crop tops were no-gos for women, while men were told to avoid shorts and vest tops that showed off their chest.

"If you are in Qatar, you are one of us. Help us preserve Qatar's culture and values, please dress modestly in public places," a message from the leaflet read.

Qatar's Islamic Culture Centre has also launched previous initiatives to educate foreigners on attire requirements.

United Arab Emirates

Police in the capital of the United Arab Emirates in 2012 issued an advisory of the dos and don'ts for tourists that were made available at the Abu Dhabi International Airport and hotels there.

Among others, tourists were advised to wear "modest clothing" and not engage in public displays of affection such as kissing or other forms of indecent behaviour.

A useful guide for tourists on the airport's website urges visitors, both men and women, against wearing excessively revealing clothing in public places as a sign of respect for local culture and customs.

But it was not just the authorities that have embarked on such efforts. A Twitter campaign dubbed @UAEDresscode was also launched that same year by residents wary of what they saw as the growing number of foreign shoppers in low-cut dresses and hot pants in the city's luxury malls.

Most malls have policies in place that require "conservative" dressing and encourage shoppers to avoid showing shoulders and knees but few publicise or enforce them.

The Vatican

The Holy City in 2011 saw new rules on dress code that were aimed at curbing the number of scantily-clad tourists.

Although visitors to the St Peter's Basilica had long been urged to dress appropriately, the Vatican extended the dress code to St Peter's Square. St Peter's Square borders the city state and Rome.

Under the new rules, short skirts - defined as those above the knees - and bare shoulders were not allowed.

Following the move, visitors who flouted the rules were pulled away by guards while some women were told to layer up by buying shawls or scarves.

Source: The Star, Malaysiakini, The Independent, The Daily mail, The Huffington Post, The Guardian