The north Bohemian spa town of Teplice has produced a special guide for visitors from the Middle East, which includes advice on what to wear in the swimming pool and how to behave in public spaces. The leaflets were produced to minimize conflicts between the local people and visitors from Arab countries, who are the spa’s largest group of clients.
Every year, several thousand guests from the Arab world, mainly Kuwait, arrive in Teplice to spend the season at the local spa resort. Many of them have bought property in the town and are also building houses in nearby villages. But the coexistence between the locals and the spa’s growing Arab clientele has not proved easy. The locals accuse the Arab visitors of behaving inappropriately and not respecting local customs.
The Town Hall of Teplice, which is well aware of the financial benefits brought by guests from the Arab world, recently published five thousand “guidebooks” to help avoid friction between the visitors and the local people. The brochure contains guidance on understanding road signs or advice on how to behave in the city park or in the swimming pool. Hynek Hanza is deputy mayor of Teplice:
“We don’t care what kind of swimsuit they wear, as long as they don’t enter the swimming pool in regular clothes, which happens quite often. The brochure also suggests places that can be visited by families with children, such as playgrounds, so that they don’t all concentrate in one place, which inevitably leads to more conflicts with the locals.”
The guidebooks, which were financed by the Ministry of Interior, are available in tourist agencies in the visitor’s countries, at the Muslim community office in Teplice, in local spa centres as well as at the embassy of Kuwait.
The Town Hall will also use the service of a so-called intercultural assistant, a Syrian man with Czech citizenship, who proved to be very helpful in the past. Among other things, he accompanied police patrols in the town. Hynek Hanza again:
Last year, a group of Muslim inhabitants living in Teplice got involved as well. They provided advice, organised public clean-ups in the park and held a number of cultural events for the inhabitants of Teplice. Abbas Jahaf was one of them:
“We wanted to get to know each other better and discuss the problems together. I think that perhaps many of our fellow citizens have never really met any Muslims and they have only heard about them on television.”
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