New dress code for visitors in malls, public places

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Muscat: People entering malls in Muscat wearing sleeveless shirts and shorts could face fines of up to OMR 300, and jail terms of up to three months, as part of new rules drawn up for people to dress modestly while in public.

The rules, which apply to both men and women, were drawn up by the city’s Municipal Committee, and submitted to the Municipal Council, which will submit it to the Minister of the Diwan of Royal Court for approval.

Speaking exclusively to the Times of Oman, Qais bin Mohammed Al Ma’shari, the chairman of the Public Affairs Committee of the Municipal Council in the Governorate of Muscat, said, “The terms of dressing modestly have not been specified in great detail, but must include covering the body from the shoulder to below the knee.

“This clothing must not also violate the terms of modesty by ensuring it properly covers the required parts of the body, should not be revealing, and not having any sensitive drawings or illustrations on them,” he added. “Wearing a veil, however, is not included in the concept of dressing modestly, because of the multiculturalism, ideologies, and religious tolerance in the Sultanate.”

“The rules will be the same for residents in the country, as they are for Omanis,” explained Al Ma’shari. “We need to make sure that the clothes worn do not breach the etiquettes of modesty. Therefore, this decision will include everyone without discrimination. As part of this decision, males and females will not be allowed to wear shorts above the knee, as well as sleeveless shirts that expose the chest and shoulders.”
The rules requiring people to dress modestly were drafted after the municipal committees in the capital, as well as mall managers and shop owners received many complaints from members of the public about people not following proper dress codes.

According to Article 294 of the Omani Penal Code, which was issued by Royal Decree 7/2018, those who appear in public places in a manner that violates public decency, and is inconsistent with the traditions and customs of society, will face punishment by imprisonment of a period of between one and three months, and/or a fine ranging from OMR100 to OMR300.

“We relied on the Omani Penal Code with regards to imposing penalties for those found violating these rules,” he said. “The penal code states that ministries do not have special legislation on this subject, as the matter relates to public morals.”
“The committee’s recommendations have been submitted to the Municipal Council for its next meeting in October 2020,” added Al Ma’shari. “After this, the council will submit this to the Minister of the Diwan of the Royal Court, and once approved, it will  be considered a law, and those affected by it are addressed accordingly.”

To provide more clarity over these regulations, representatives from the Royal Oman Police, the Ministry of Social Development, and commercial establishments in the Sultanate were consulted.

They stressed the necessity to legalise the rules that have been drawn up, and to spread awareness among the public, on the revised dress code in the form of media such as information boards and leaflets.

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