Dubai welcomes millions of tourists from all over the world year after year. It is one of the most famous travel destinations in the Middle East because the people are friendly, the gastronomic scene is bustling, marvelous works of architecture and engineering are everywhere, and tons of amazing creative spaces are open to the public. However, you must remember Dubai is a Muslim country governed by Islamic laws, which means there are factors, rules, and laws to consider.
Here are the important dos and don’ts that you should be familiar with in Dubai .
Things You Should
DO in Dubai
Dress appropriately, if not conservatively
Starting with the most basic, ensure you dress moderately, especially in conservative areas, near places of worship, and public places. As with most Muslim cities, Dubai is largely conservative. Of course, this doesn’t mean you need to wear their traditional clothing. Although, when visiting places of worship and religious monuments, women should wear headscarves.
Shopping centers usually have dress codes. T-shirts and shorts are suitable in many places. But make sure your shirt doesn’t have any offensive prints or captions. Women should wear clothes that are not too revealing or tight. Shoulders and knees must be covered, and don’t wear see-through clothing.
Swimwear is generally acceptable around private beaches and swimming pools, but you must cover up elsewhere. If you are unsure, you can ask the resort. Topless sunbathing is illegal.
Cross-dressing is not only frowned upon, but it can lead to detainment.
Respect local customs and traditions
Discovering different cultures and traditions makes you feel connected to the locals of the new place you are visiting. In Dubai, their cultures and traditions are largely influenced by their religion – Islam. If you familiarize yourself with their customs and traditions and respect their religion, they will give you the experience of a lifetime.
One good way to show your appreciation for their culture and tradition is by knowing their most basic greeting “AssalamuAlaikum.” Its literal translation is “Peace be with you,” and they usually use it as a greeting like “Hello.” If someone says that greeting to you first, the appropriate answer is “Wa-Alaikum-Salaam,” which means “And unto you peace.”
Check your prescription medications
Dubai has a zero-tolerance policy on drugs. Those found in possession of drugs can be detained. Moreover, their policy extends to some prescription medications, especially those that contain the painkiller codeine. Thus, make sure you do your due diligence and research about your medications. The last thing you want is to accidentally smuggle something illegal.
Many couples choose to have their honeymoon in Dubai. If you are one of them, be aware that public display of affections are frowned upon in the city and deemed offensive. There are many cases of people getting arrested for simply kissing in public. You can, of course, hold hands with your partner. But this is only acceptable if you are married. This may seem out of place to people from other cultures, but that’s their law and culture. As a visitor, you have to respect that.
The best thing to do is to avoid any PDA until you are back in your hotel room.
Abide by Ramadan rules
If you time your vacation during Ramadan, make sure you are familiar with the rules and guidelines on how to behave during the religious festival. Eating, drinking, and smoking in public are strictly forbidden during daytime.
More importantly, there will be no clubbing, partying, or loud celebrations during their holy festival. Many Westerners avoid this season.
Things You Should
NOT Do in Dubai
Eat or drink in public transport
Eating, chewing gum, and drinking are prohibited in all forms of public transport in the city. This explains why their buses, trains, and trams are so impeccably clean.
Get Drunk in Public
In most Muslim countries, alcohol consumption is illegal. Dubai, on the other hand, allows this in licensed bars, hotels, and restaurants, and non-Muslims are allowed to drink. However, one of the biggest mistakes you can do is to be drunk in public as it is illegal to act disorderly in the city, Muslim or not. So make sure to drink within your limits and have a taxi drive you straight back to your hotel.
Use swear words
Cursing, foul and vulgar language, swearing, getting into arguments, and fighting are frowned upon and could get you arrested. Many foreigners have been arrested in Dubai for this reason and for unknowingly making vulgar comments in the presence of undercover police officers.
Take photos of people without asking permission
It is not only considered rude to take photos of strangers in public, especially if you are taking a photo of local women, but there are laws that protect the privacy of people in the UAE. Taking people’s photos without their consent is an invasion of their privacy. So make sure you explicitly ask their permission.
Moreover, it is also illegal to snap photos of political buildings, government organizations, and strategic military locations for security reasons.
Flaunt your homosexuality
As with other Muslim countries, homosexuality is illegal in Dubai, since they consider all sexual relations outside heterosexual marriage a crime. The maximum penalty for this is 10 years of imprisonment followed by deportation if you are a foreigner.
This doesn’t mean members of the LGBT+ community cannot enter and enjoy Dubai. Again, dress modestly and no PDAs.
This act is the worst thing you can do in Dubai or any Islamic country. Whatever your personal opinions are about religion, do not say anything bad or disrespectful about it in public. Blasphemy is a punishable offense in Islam, so keep your opinion to yourself.
As said earlier, learning their customs and traditions can make a huge difference to your stay in Dubai. It’s a beautiful city and there are countless things to discover. Familiarize yourself with these dos and don’ts in Dubai to show your respect for the culture and have the best time in the city!