What are some travel tips for a tourist in Dubai?
Dubai is a cosmopolitan and liberal city, but there are a number of things to keep in mind with regard to dress code and behaviour:
Dress: People dress conservatively in most public areas. Swimwear is acceptable at the beach or around the swimming pool, but not in other public places. Shorts and t-shirts are common in many areas, but when visiting mosques, religious sites, or older parts of the city, loose-fitting clothing that covers shoulders, arms, and legs is more appropriate. Women are usually required to wear a headscarf in mosques.
Etiquette: When greeting members of the opposite sex, it’s important not to offer to shake hands unless they extend their hand first. If you’re invited to a majlis — a private place where guests are received and entertained — remove your shoes at the entrance. It’s customary to accept and eat food and drink with your right hand. Avoid showing the soles of your feet or pointing your foot at anyone. If you’re with an important guest, it’s considered rude to cross your legs. Public displays of affection should be minimal. Holding hands is acceptable, but kissing and hugging in public is not.
Ramadan: The month of Ramadan is considered the most sacred month in the Islamic calendar. Residents and visitors must refrain from eating or drinking in most public areas during daylight hours. Non-Muslims may eat and drink in designated areas, and many hotels and shopping malls have restaurants that remain open during Ramadan.
Drinking and drugs: Alcohol is generally only served in establishments that have licences, such as hotel restaurants and bars. Dubai enforces a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to drinking and driving, and the use or possession of drugs is illegal and strictly prohibited.
Remember that despite the cosmopolitan almost secular air of Dubai, UAE is a Muslim country. You can get away with a lot; they are very tolerant but they can be pushed too far and you won’t know when the crash will come.
So we do see the odd drunk on the streets and occasionally they get arrested. And slung in jail. And deported… but often they just get looked at with disgust.
You can, in Dubai but not elsewhere, often get away with wearing scandalous clothing but you will embarrass your hosts and as above you may occasionally be on the receiving end of sanctions.
Our currency is pegged to the dollar. Make the conversion in your head and it’s a real price. In the malls you can pay in dollars too. Everything is negotiable. Even in the malls. It’s just that in the malls the range is a lot smaller.
If you are with your spouse public displays of affection are not really appreciated. This is Arab and Indian culture and not religious. And don’t forget men hold hands - they are NOT gay. Don’t stare.
Shake hands with all the men you are introduced to EVERY TIME you meet them. but don’t make the first offer to shake hands with a woman. If she’s comfortable (and many are) she will make the first offer.
Don’t be afraid of talking to local people in the cafes. Emiratis are a small minority in their own country and are often thought of as being hard to approach. Nothing could be further from the truth and most are very accommodating and love to talk about their culture and country and help you learn.
Hospitality is key to their culture so expect to be offered coffee or dates or even lunch. Accept graciously.
Don’t try to mangle Arabic if you don’t speak it. You’ll learn phrases from the wrong dialect and just embarrass yourself. EVERYONE speaks English - many better than you and me.