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Thu 28 Jul 2011 01:01 PM

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Tourism body urges ‘discretion’ for Ramadan rule-breakers

British trade body says Dubai risks tourist appeal by clamping down on offenders

Tourism body urges ‘discretion’ for Ramadan rule-breakers
Ramadan is expected to start this year on August 1, with all Muslim adults expected to observe a fasting period during daylight hours

Britain’s largest travel trade body has urged Dubai to behave “sensitively” to visitors caught breaking cultural laws during Ramadan for fear of damaging its reputation as a tourism hub.

The Association of British Travel Agents said it had told members to warn tourists visiting during the Holy month that they would be face curbs such as a ban on eating and drinking in public during daylight hours.

But said trade body added that Dubai authorities should use “discretion” in tackling British tourists that breach the laws.

“We would strongly recommend that the Dubai authorities practice these enforcement measures with a degree of sensitivity and discretion so as to avoid causing unwarranted distress to foreign visitors and the risk of significant damage to their tourist industry,” the trade body told Arabian Business in a statement.

Dubai has received high-profile coverage in the British press in recent years, following a spate of arrests relating to crimes such as culturally inappropriate behaviour. Partly to blame may be a poor understanding of local laws, such as the consumption of alcohol without a licence.

The British Embassy said in 2009 that Brits were more likely to be arrested in the UAE than anywhere else in the world.

Hotel chains Jumeirah Group and Hilton Hotels & Resorts said last week they had issued etiquette guidelines to guests visiting their Dubai hotels during Ramadan.

However, Dubai’s tourism agency, DTCM, said that visitors to the emirate should take responsibility for respecting cultural laws.

“It needs a joint effort,” Hamad Mohammed Bin Mejren, executive director of business tourism at DTCM, said Sunday. “It is important for visitors to respect our culture.”

A British expatriate was this month fined AED3,000 by the Dubai Court of Misdemeanours for insulting Ramadan in a status update on Facebook.

Dubai expects its tourism industry to continue to account for around 19 percent of the emirate’s GDP despite an overall increase in the number of visitors, said Bin Mejren.

The Arab Spring has helped bolster the number of visitors to the emirate, as business to traditional tourist destinations Egypt and Tunisia slowed to a trickle.  

The number of guests at Dubai hotels increased 13.6 percent in the first quarter of the year, DTCM said in June.

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Omar 8 years ago

So now "The Association of British Travel Agents" has the audacity to advise Dubai not to uphold its values to get more tourists!! UAE nationals are some of the most tolerant people on the planet. I do not support the UAE and Dubai to use more discretion towards people that are not following local laws and being respectful to local cutlure. If visitors do not respect the culture they are visiting, despite being advised of it, then Dubai does not want them!

There is a reason why Brits were more likely to be arrested in the UAE than anywhere else in the world...and its not the fault of the UAE!


By the way I am ashamed to say I am a Brit!

Anna 8 years ago

Culture should be respected . I agree with Omar , UAE nationals are very tolerant people . I have lived in Dubai and it is shocking to see how so many foreigners behave , they enjoy the tax free and high salaries, why not respect local laws and culture ? Regarding tourists, if they are not prepared to show respect, then they should choose another destination.

Telcoguy 8 years ago

Fine, but then why keep pushing Dubai as a tourist destination for westerners. May I remind you of the movie "sex and the city"? or will this also irk AB?
Just be consistent.

BuJamal 8 years ago

@ Telcoguy, Dubai and the UAE are tolerant tourist destinations but that does not mean at all that they are lawless backyards of the depraved and debauched. The Association of British Travel Agents should instruct the Brits to mend their ways and conduct themselves in a more dignified and responsible manner while abroad otherwise they will face the dire consequences. I am sure our guest Telcoguy is well versed with the laws and regulations of the UAE.

Omar 8 years ago

Dear Telcoguy,

Tourists should be encouraged to visit the UAE and are welcome. When here all that is requested is that respect local laws ans customs.

There is a reason "Sex & City" was filmed in Morocco and not the UAE, despite being cast by Hollywood as being set in Abu Dhabi. The reason is that the UAE would not allow such a film to be made in the country. Also, Hollywood creates fantasy and seldom reflects reality. I say his whilst not claiming the UAE is perfect and denying that there is a lot of going on under the surface that is unsavoury.

Telcoguy 8 years ago

That distinction may and will be lost in the tourists. Dubai (much more than AD) has positioned itself specially in the UK as a tourist destination against other mostly mediterranean destinations.
If you do not know the kind of tourists that attract I suggest you check Spain Cyprus or Greece Beaches in summer.
If you want tourists that is how they are, if you do not like them then stop advertising bargain holidays in the UK is fairly simple
BTW I love the rhetoric from the other poster "lawless backyards of the depraved and debauched. " when we are discussing if people can drink water in the street.

Marijke 8 years ago

How about the british Tourism Body making a little bit more effort in knowing what countries' habits, laws and regulations are. If they had done that, they might have known Ramadan was coming up and were able to advice people traveling to the region about this. I know for sure hotels here in the region do inform tourists about this. So if you don't think you can abide by the laws, stay at home or go somewhere else!

Lanuk 8 years ago

Yes I think that was the biggest mistake made by them (the UK tourist body), they should just tell people that Dubai is to be avoided during the Ramadan, period.

To begin with, I have never understood why anyone sane would want to visit Dubai during summer? What has the city got to offer that any of its competitors do not?

charles 8 years ago

agree Omar. I wonder if the Dubai Tourism authority still promotes people to come during this time as they do all year round, and if so, it adapts its advertising pointing out it is Ramadan and the laws that apply?

EX-Dubai Expat 8 years ago

Typical of the British to complain about anything and everything. When are they going to realise that the sun has set on the Empire and that they now have to accept the fact that they will not get what they want all the time.

Ramadan is a period of deep religious significance to the Muslims and anyone who is a guest in a Muslim country should respect that.

You are not being asked to fast with the Muslims, there are many palces in Dubai where you can find food, albeit discretely.

If it is too much to bear, than there are a lot of other places to go to during this period.