MUSCAT: Dressing modestly is essential during the holy month of Ramadan, and men and women are expected to dress more appropriately.

Revealing and tight clothing should be avoided by people out of respect for the cultural sensitivities of the Omani people.

There has been a growing concern on social media by the locals on the indecent way people dress up, be in the shopping malls, public places, parks and beaches.

Few of the officials have called for stronger enforcement of the dress codes laid out for expatriates in the country, after many were found to be flouting these regulations.

Foreign nationals in the country have been urged to respect the cultures, traditions and dress codes of the Sultanate of Oman, to avoid hurting local sentiments and to ensure that they follow the law in this regard.

“Citizens, residents, and visitors to Oman must abide by the rules by wearing modest dress in public places and respecting the rules of the community,” according to Amer Salem Al Hasani, a member of the Municipal Council in Muscat Governorate and a representative of the Wilayat of Bausher.

He added: “At the entrance of most shopping malls, you find regulations calling for the need to adhere to modest clothing in respect of the traditions of Omani society. You find signs that say, ‘please wear respectful clothing’, and in this context, we advise covering one’s shoulders and knees.”

Al Hasani’s comments were directed at those customers who do not follow the dress code, after shopkeepers and other patrons complained about rules being broken.

He added: “Wearing indecent dress in public places is not an expression of personal freedom because it offends others and does not reflect our culture and identity.

Al Hasani added: “I hope the Ministry of Tourism will set up a counter at the Muscat International Airport to advise the tourists on the dress code, customs and traditions of the Sultanate of Oman.”

“The Royal Oman Police (ROP) should ensure that action is taken on people who flout the norms of decency in public places, streets, beaches and parks, as punishment is stipulated in the Omani Penal Code.

According to the Omani Penal Code which was made law by Royal Decree 7/2018, the enforcement of wearing proper clothing in public is governed by Article 294a, which lays down a prison sentence of between one and three months and a fine of between OMR 100 and 300 for those who break it. This applies to “anyone who appears in public roads or places in a manner that is prejudicial to public decency or contrary to the traditions and customs of society.”

Salah Al Muqbali, a lawyer, said that any person has the right to inform the judicial control officers if he sees a breach of dress that offends public decency.

Shedding more light on the laws surrounding observing the correct dress codes in Oman and the societal norms surrounding them, Al Muqbali said: “The originality, values, customs, and traditions of society must be preserved, but some exploit this in their desire to stimulate tourism and facilitate the entry of foreigners by waiving social controls. This should not be at the expense of Oman’s community culture.”

Nasr Al Farsi, a member of the municipal council representing the Wilayat of Saham, said: “We do not demand that tourists abide by our style of Omani clothing, we only ask that visitors respect public tastes by wearing respectful and moderate dress, which is accepted by people and does not bother them and takes into account the privacy and traditions of our society.”

Rashid Al-Sudairy from the Wilayat of Yanqul in Al Dhahirah Governorate, said: “Despite the notices put up by most commercial centres (malls) urging modest clothing while shopping, we find people fail to respect our traditions and our society.”

Nasser Al Wahaibi from the Wilayat of Muttrah in Muscat Governorate, was upset on finding “women shopping in indecent clothing in malls and the failure of mall management to stop or warn them.”

Thamer Al-Amri from the Wilayat of Sadah in the Dhofar Governorate remarked: “As Omanis, when we travel to other countries, we adhere to the laws, customs and traditions of these countries. Unfortunately, we find that expatriates overlook our traditions and culture as I experienced during the Khareef season in Dhofar.”