Does Dubai need more female lifeguards, in light of recent beach tragedy?

Father refused to let male lifeguards save his drowning daughter, claiming it would 'dishonour' her
Image for illustrative purposes only
By Sarah Williams
Mon 10 Aug 2015 11:37 AM

Dubai needs more female lifeguards in order to reduce cultural sensitives over male lifeguards engaging with female victims, as demonstrated by a recent tragedy in which a 20-year-old woman died after her father physically prevented lifeguards from saving her as she drowned off the coast of a Dubai public beach, an expert has claimed.

The father has been arrested and prosecuted by authorities after his actions led directly to the death of the woman, Emirates 24/7 reported.

“The Asian father took his wife and kids to the beach for picnic and fun. The kids were swimming in the beach when suddenly, the 20-year-old girl started drowning and screaming for help," said Lt. Col Ahmed Burqibah, Deputy Director of Dubai Police’s Search and Rescue Department.

“Two rescue men were at the beach,” he continued, “and they rushed to help the girl.... The father was a tall and strong man. He started pulling and preventing the rescue men and got violent with them. He told them that he prefers his daughter being dead than being touched by a strange man.

“This is one of the incidents which I cannot forget. It shocked me and many others who were involved in the case," he said.

“She died unfortunately, at a time when she had a chance to live, especially that the rescue men were so close to her to pull her out of the water.”

Hotelier has written before about the need to ensure that guests understand water safety before they use leisure facilities.

Unfortunately, cultural training is not a standard part of lifeguard training either for hotels or beaches, but it is important to recognise the issues that your property’s staff may face.

Waseem Ahmed, Director of Risk, IHG Group, Dubai Festival City, told Hotelier Middle East a critical element of beach safety especially when operating in Dubai and other Gulf countries is to understand the cultural sensitivities associated with the cultures of locals and expats.

"Organisations and governments must employ certified female life guards to deal with females which in most cases is already in place whether its government or private sector.

"But it is equally important to create an awareness amongst the community that the role of a life guard is that of a life saver like a doctor and if in extreme cases when female life guards are not available male life guards must act or else we risk losing human life."

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Last Updated: Thu 26 Jan 2017 01:27 PM GST

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