Qatar — a country caught up in controversy related to its slave-like working conditions — is focusing heavily in recent days on modesty.
For visitors in Qatar, clothing isn’t optional. It’s required — and in bunches. NBC News reported Thursday that Qatar wants tourists to cover up, specifically to dress modestly so that the locals aren’t offended.
“A grass-roots campaign set to launch next month implores ex-pats and tourists to recognize local values by covering up from their shoulders down to their knees,” Christina Boyle wrote for NBC News.
The campaign also includes a Twitter account — @Reflect_Respect — which in recent days offered tips to people on what they should or shouldn’t wear while in the country.
For women, dresses, skirts and clothing with a modest neckline are mostly acceptable, the account states. And both men and women shouldn’t be wearing beachwear when away from bodies of water, the account said.
Spokeswoman for the campaign, Umm Abdullah, talked to Doha News this week about what dressing modestly means for the country.
“People say they don’t meet enough Qatari people, but this is because we don’t want to go to these places and see these things,” she said to Doha News. “Our kids as well, we don’t want them to end up imitating this — we want to preserve our traditions and our values. They (ex-pats) have their own places where they don’t have to be covered — but we have the right to go to hospitals, to the market, to the malls, to the beach, without seeing these things.”
Why would people be flocking to Qatar, a country with few tourist sites? One reason may be that the country will host the 2022 World Cup.
But that presents its own complications. Back in September, The Guardian released an investigative report that showed slave-like conditions in the country. Qatar operates under a kafala system, which has been likened to modern-day slavery, The Guardian reported.
“Dozens of Nepalese migrant labourers have died in Qatar in recent weeks and thousands more are enduring appalling labour abuses, a Guardian investigation has found, raising serious questions about Qatar's preparations to host the 2022 World Cup,” The Guardian story read.
Jeremy Stahl of Slate more recently commented on the working conditions in Qatar. Though the working conditions have been featured heavily on ESPN and in other forms of media, the country still claims nothing nefarious is going on.
“Qatar claimed as recently as this Tuesday that not a single person had died while doing work for the World Cup,” Stahl wrote. “The contention rests on the fact that the hundreds who have died on infrastructure and construction efforts were working on ‘non-World Cup projects.’ ”
Stahl said it’s time that something is done about these working conditions. He said that Sepp Blatter — the head of world soccer’s governing body, FIFA — needs to put more pressure on the host country ahead of its World Cup.
“But if Blatter refuses to put pressure on Qatar to follow through,” Stahl wrote, “the sporting and international community needs to direct pressure on Blatter himself.”