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JustHere | November 15, 2017

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‘Modesty’ campaign relaunched. What’s your definition of modesty?

‘Reflect your Respect’, a campaign to promote modest dressing in public, is all set to launch on June 20, just before Ramadan. This campaign, which was previously known as ‘One of Us’, is a grassroots campaign aimed at encouraging expatriate men and women to respect local cultural values by covering their knees, shoulders and midriffs in public spaces.

This campaign is organised by a sub-group of the Qatari Women’s Association (QWA) that runs programs that serve the society. In 2010, the group sought the help of the Qatar Tourism Authority in distributing leaflets in public places such as airports, airplanes etc.; however, they did not hear from them.
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In an article last year, JustHere had discussed the dress code debate. “Individual freedom of expression versus people’s comfort in public spaces. In a multicultural society, deeply rooted in a traditional faith, this is a question not easily answered.” Read the whole article here. That still holds good.


Mariam, a representative of the Association, spoke to JustHere about ‘Reflect Your Respect’ campaign. “Six years ago, as we approached the World Cup 2022, the population of Qatar increased and at present, the population of Qataris compared to non-Qataris is very small. As a result of this influx of different people, many new things have been introduced into Qatar. Our idea with this campaign is not to offend or annoy anyone, but just to ask that they respect our culture and sentiments, in a friendly manner. It’s not a matter of religion, it is about guests in a country respecting their hosts’ values while they reside in their country. We believe that females are like pearls who should be covered by an oyster. Women dressing in an immodest manner sends out wrong messages to people,” she says.

“We have heard from a large number of people who want to volunteer for this campaign, many non-Qataris too.”

The campaign’s name ‘Reflect Your Respect’ comes from the Arabic expression ‘Ya ghareeb kullik adeeb’, which loosely translated means ‘Expatriates be polite’, she mentions. To begin with, the group will launch the campaign on June 20 at five popular locations around Qatar, the names of which will be announced via Instagram and Twitter once confirmed. At these locations, they plan to have child volunteers distribute t-shirts, brochures, balloons, chocolates and flowers to members of the public.

Mariam says this campaign is also about getting all women to help out in spreading the friendly message and the QWA has received feedback from many people in countries around the world in support of this. “We have heard from a large number of people who want to volunteer for this campaign, many non-Qataris too; and people of all ages, who are responsible for different aspects of the campaign. The media portrayal of women is getting worse everyday; they refer to us as an object of attractiveness, nothing more. We have to change this.”

For people to acquaint themselves with local culture is what she recommends for people visiting or moving to Qatar or any new country. “I believe that before people arrive in Qatar, they should orient themselves with the culture of the country they are visiting or moving to by reading through websites or books or talking to people. This is something we practice when we go abroad. When I had to apply for a visa to the United States, I followed the requirement by keeping my ears uncovered for the photo even though it made me uncomfortable. Embassies in should play a more active role in holding orientation sessions for newly-arrived residents too.”

The Constitution of Qatar also specifies that all people must “abide by public order and morality, observing national traditions and established customs”. “All we need is to establish a certain dress code so everyone feels comfortable. We plan to organise these events every three months, hopefully,” she adds.

What’s your take on the dress code debate?


  1. HoHum

    “We believe that females are like pearls who should be covered by an oyster” — that is classic of the most conservative strands of scriptural interpretation. Who is “we” anyway? This is like saying that the views of a few powerful American conservatives on abortion and motherhood represent those of all Americans.

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