The United Arab Emirates are, as the name of the country already says, a Muslim country. That means that there are some differences concerning the behavior of some more western countries. Since nobody wants to get in trouble for something they didn’t know was forbidden or inappropriate. That’s why I created the following guidelines concerning the Do’s and Don’ts in the UAE!
1. DON’T TALK ABOUT SEXUALITY
You should refrain from expressing any form of sexuality in public. Especially if you’re gay and traveling with your partner, you should be very careful in public. (If you’re booked into one hotel room as a gay couple, you will very likely get a room with a twin bed)
2. DON’T SHOW INTIMACY
Please don’t kiss or make out in public. Even holding hands can be considered inappropriate in some areas. Simultaneously, for example, Dubai is quite open-minded about that topic, and you will see couples (no matter if Tourists or Emiratis) holding hands.
3. DRESS RESPECTFULLY
For sure, you won’t need to wear an Abaya in Dubai if you don’t want to, but you should definitely think about how you’re dressing. Your shoulders and your chest should be covered, and trousers or skirts should be knee-length. While Dubai is again more open concerning that, you should keep in mind that you want to be respectful of others and their religion and don’t show up in a tight mini dress that shows everything. If you want to visit certain attractions, you must adhere to the dressing rules (so check before).
Oh and besides that, it’s so cold in the Malls and Restaurants due to the A/C, which makes it nearly impossible not to freeze when dressing too liberally 😉
4. NO ALCOHOL AND DRUGS
Consuming alcohol in public is forbidden in the UAE. Hotels and Restaurants have to get extra licenses to be allowed to serve alcoholic beverages. If you want to buy alcohol, you have to get a special license (the ‘red card’) and go to special shops.
And of course, the possession or consumption of drugs is strictly prohibited.
5. DON’T USE YOUR LEFT HAND
If you’re shaking hands with someone or hand over food, you should make sure to do that with your right hand as the left hand is considered unclean.
6. RESPECT RAMADAN
Muslim countries like the UAE celebrate ‚Ramadan‘ every year, which means that you have to be extra respectful. Ramadan means fasting, so those who fast will not eat anything from sunrise to sunset. If you’re not fasting, please refrain from eating or drinking in public.
It’s also likely to find many closed-down restaurants during the day. At night, however, there are big parties in the street, so if you’re interested in the culture, you should experience Ramadan once!
7. DRIVE CAREFULLY
If you drive by yourself, drive carefully because others won’t. It’s normal to be overtaken 200m before they need to exit the highway. Nobody is using turn signals, and speed limits are ignored. (Because they know where the speed cameras are. You better stick to the limitations, or you’re paying a lot of money. A LOT!)
Oh, but they use the horn a lot, which is sometimes confusing on an eight-lane street since you never know who was honking and what’s the reason.
… to tip or not to tip?
Usually, the Tip is already included in the bill. If not, a 10% tip is considered polite. Still, they are thrilled if you give a little tip even if the tip was already included. After your Taxi ride, you should round up the sum.
That’s it for my Do’s and Don’ts in the UAE. Now you know how not to step on to someone’s toes on your trip and can enjoy it without any worries! I have to say that Dubai itself is very open-minded nowadays, but still, you should keep your swimsuit on the beach and your party dress in the club. Be respectful to others and respect their religion and way of life.
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See you soon,