What not to do when in Dubai

Posted by on September 23, 2014

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Home to the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa, and probably the only city in the world which does not charge income tax to citizens and residents, Dubai makes an attractive destination for both holidaymakers and job hunters. Approximately 80 percent of the city’s population is actually made up of foreigners who are here for either vacation or work.


Of course, this does not mean that the first open Arab city is without restriction. For first timers, it is important to remember that the UAE has unique culture and policies, which many of us living in liberated societies might find too restricting. To avoid finding yourself in hot waters on your trip to Dubai, we cover here the DON’TS in the UAE.

Public Drinking:

Drinking or getting drunk in public is not tolerated; you should only drink in a hotel or your apartment. There is also a legal age restriction which is 21.


Public display of affection, particularly kissing in public is a no-no. Physical contact between the opposite sex, such as holding hands, hugging and the like, is also frowned upon (if not forbidden). Men are advised not to offer to shake a woman’s hands unless she extends her hand first.


Drinking and Eating During Ramadan:

Eating, drinking, smoking and playing music in public is considered an offense reprehensible by law during the month of Ramadan. Non-observers can do so in the privacy of their home or in restaurants where eating and drinking are permitted during the day.

Criticizing Religion:

Expatriates are allowed to practice their own religion, but insulting or undermining the Islamic religion is highly offensive to Muslims and can lead to jail time or a hefty fine. Criticism of the country and its leaders is also against the law.

dubai airport

Revealing Clothes:

While foreign men and women are not required to wear the dish-dasha or abaya, visitors are expected to dress respectfully by avoiding clothes revealing too much of the chest area, legs, and shoulders. T-shirts printed with offensive slogan or images should also be avoided. Recent clothing guidelines added that clothing that are too tight or transparent (revealing body parts) are considered inappropriate. The list goes on. A little common sense about what you should do on holiday in a conservative and Islamic city like Dubai will help you avoid finding yourself in a difficult situation.


Dubai photos by Franz Zwart, Zamil Safwan, Wajahat Mahmood, and joiseyshowaa.

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