Monday, April 11, 2011

Shooed away

To my surprise and irritation, I was refused admission to one of Abu Dhabi’s watering holes one evening last week. A quick check of the posted rules revealed that I was not a member of this private club, and I’d not submitted copies of my passport, visa, liquor licence and two mugshots. But that wasn’t the reason for not being allowed in.

I wasn’t wearing a kandoura either, so that also wasn’t the reason.

I was, in fact, wearing casual business attire, with long trousers and a long-sleeved open-collared shirt. But, disastrously, I was wearing Birkenstocks. And this alone was apparently sufficient to prove that I was undesirable.

Actually, the dress code posted at the entrance permits sandals up until 7pm, at which time the landlord presumably rings a bell and the Sandal Gestapo throw out anyone who’s not wearing closed shoes. Except women, of course. Despite there being absolutely no gender bias in the written rules, it’s only those of a male persuasion who are persecuted in this way. The management had no problem with my Beloved Wife and her flip-flops, nor any of the other women in the place.

Yet that a month or so earlier, I was allowed to exchange my money for liquor in the same place without being challenged about my choice of footwear.

In a different bar on another occasion, I was only allowed to join my drinking buddies after pointing out that I’d recently had surgery, and that wearing closed shoes was impossible. The manager reluctantly allowed us in provided we sat in the naughty corner where none of the other patrons could see my feet. Later that evening, a group of Emiratis turned up in their national dress and were quite happily served beers. So much for the theory that suggests the anti-sandals rule is to ensure that everyone seen drinking does not appear to be a Muslim. This is utterly ridiculous: changing your attire doesn’t change your religion, and open-toed shoes prove absolutely nothing about someone’s beliefs.

The truth is simply that I hate wearing shoes.

There’s nothing like several hours a day in closed footwear to bring on an attack of Tinea pedis, or possibly even Aphtae epizooticae, and that’s even with clean socks daily, not wearing the same shoes on consecutive days and Dr Scholl’s Anti-Fungal Spray (Catering Pack), and sandals offer a sensible compromise where going barefoot would be considered too weird.

The Sandal Gestapo even appeared at work. Apparently it’s a Health and Safety issue. But the traditionally-attired Omani PRO is apparently immune to all forms of foot injury. As are all women. What is on the Y chromosome that makes guys’ feet so fragile? It’s only blokes who are apparently vulnerable to having their tootsies damaged in the office. Note that: in the office, not on a construction site or while riding a motorbike.

I continue to find it ludicrous that I have to dress as if it’s a wet winter Wednesday in Wigan in order to impress the client and his cronies in their loose flowing robes and sandals.

And no, wearing sandals does not make me want to dispose of my SUV in an environmentally responsible manner and instead ride a homespun organic bicycle.



Paraglider said...

Yes, it stinks, and not the feet. I've had the same thing happen to me in Doha Sheraton and Ramada hotels.
At least in Abu Dhabi you can gain admission and service without having to have your passport-or-qatari-id-original-only-no-copies-allowed scanned. This stupid rule was introduced here about 18 months ago and serves no purpose except to create nuisance.

Tumbit said...

Few things annoy me more than 'clothing rules'. Like Golf clubs - would I become an undesirable just for the simple matter of playing a round in a shirt that did not possess a collar ?


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