Planning a visit to the most exciting place in the Middle East? You must be thinking of all the fun and adventurous things you can do on your visit to Dubai, but today we’re here to tell you all about the things that may not be going through your mind while visiting Dubai.
One of the things to remember while visiting Dubai is that the UAE’s most thrilling city has certain cultural and religious values and rules. While this will definitely not diminish your plans of having one of the best vacations of your life, you must make note of these dos and don’ts as a tourist in Dubai.
Do’s For Tourists in Dubai
You can practically do anything when visiting Dubai, almost anything. The city is overflowing with an abundance of activities that are meant for all. Whether you’re an adventure seeker, or a history buff, an art admirer, or a nature lover, there’s a lot of things everyone can enjoy and make wonderful memories with, when visiting Dubai.
As a tourist or a potential expat in Dubai, you will get lots of advice and suggestions on what are the must-do activities and the must-visit places, but what people may miss out on explaining are all the cultural norms and behavioural implications. MyBayut is here to cover most of them today so you can enjoy your time in the city to its fullest!
Dress to impress but make sure it’s modest!
Everyone knows the popular adage ‘When in Rome, do as the Romans do.’ When you are in the UAE it is important to be culturally sensitive to Emirati etiquette and dress appropriately. This certainly doesn’t mean you can only wear clothes that are usually worn by locals. On the contrary, you can wear whatever you please in hotels, resorts and beaches, however, there’s an emphasis on dressing modestly, especially in crowded areas when visiting Dubai.
Here is a quick look for dressing tips in Dubai:
- Swimwear is only allowed on private beaches and swimming pools
- Topless sunbathing is illegal and considered offensive
- Cross-dressing is not allowed
Pack your clothes depending on the month you’re planning your visit. It is usually pretty hot all year long but it does tend to get chilly in the months of December, January, and February so a light jacket would suffice during those months. Don’t forget, you can get arrested for violating dress code ethics.
Respect the Local Tradition when visiting Dubai
Most people love to discover the traditions and culture of the city because it makes them feel connected with the area and its people. Dubai’s traditions are influenced by the religion of Islam and if one makes a conscious effort not to do something considered offensive, the city will make sure to give them an experience of a lifetime without any hiccups. Islam is known as the religion of peace and respect; you give a friendly smile or greet someone with the Islamic hello i.e. “AssalamuAlaikum” or “Salam” as the shortened form, you’re sure to receive an overwhelming amount of hospitality because it shows your dedication and effort in trying to adapt to the local culture.
- Refrain from making hand gestures that may be considered offensive
- Always respect women
- Avoid shaking hands with the opposite sex unless they offer to do so themselves
- Never drink in public areas
Take the Metro when visiting Dubai
This is a common mistake all first-timers make in Dubai. If you really want to travel around the city with a small budget, try to use the Metro for going around town. It is the cheapest form of public transport in Dubai. If you compare travelling via Dubai metro to a cab then you can see a significant difference in the amount of money you can save, plus you can also save a lot of time by avoiding traffic on the busy roads of the emirate.
Here are the things you need to know about the Dubai metro
- Fares are charged in correspondence to different zones
- Tourists generally purchase a silver card or a red ticket
- The red ticket is valid for 90 days while the silver card can be used for up to 5 years
- There are different cabins so don’t forget to hop into the right one else you’ll be fined
- Children under the age of 5 or less than 90 cm can travel for free
Keep your Drug prescriptions when visiting Dubai
If there is anything Dubai has a zero-tolerance for, it is the use of drugs. The policy isn’t just strict against recreational drugs but the government has specific rules when it comes to prescription medication as well. If you bring in any medication without being aware of its status as per the guidelines in Dubai, you could easily get in trouble. It is imperative that you double-check all the medications you are planning to take on your visit to Dubai. Have all your prescriptions with you and try not to carry any medicine that the authorities won’t approve of. Remember, you are here to enjoy and nothing is worth the horrors of being behind bars.
Do Check Timings
This is a very important point because you don’t want to head to a tourist spot just to realize that it’s closing time there. Dubai also doesn’t have the same days of the weekend as most of the world. The equivalent of a weekend here is Fridays and Saturdays while everyone has to report back to work on Sundays.
So make sure you have the timings right for all popular tourist spots in Dubai. It’s better to plan or schedule your day ahead of time so that you can experience the best of this city.
Do Keep Calm
Fines are issued if one is found engaged in aggressive arguments and fights in Dubai. This includes verbal abuse as well. Besides, whether it’s Dubai or anywhere else in the world – ranting, shouting and arguing is not appreciated and is considered offensive. The only difference is, here you can probably face jail time for it or even get deported.
Don’ts for Tourists in Dubai
Don’ts in Dubai mean exactly that – don’ts. No exception. We have summarized a few of the important ones that are absolutely essential for you to not get into trouble while you are on vacation in Dubai. Don’t think by any means that this city is extremely conservative. On the contrary, Dubai has the most number of expats and a huge number when it comes to tourists visiting the city, but since it is a Muslim country, one needs to be respectful of Islamic values and culture.
No PDA or Public Display of Affection
PDA makes most people uncomfortable, however, in Dubai, it can result in a fine or even an arrest! That’s right, the only amount of PDA that is tolerated here is holding hands or innocent hugs. Kissing and beyond, in short, anything that implies a report-worthy behaviour with the opposite sex in public is a giant neon sign that says NO.
Don’t Drink in Public
While alcohol is easily available in licensed restaurants and pubs, being inebriated in public, is a criminal offence. As a tourist in Dubai, the last thing you need is to get deported or sent to jail for being intoxicated in public. If you do end up having a few more drinks than anticipated, get into a cab and go home without causing a ruckus. Also bear in mind that you can only buy alcohol in Dubai if you have a license. So tourists will have to rely on the licensed bars and restaurants for their tipple.
Don’t Take Photographs Without Permission
No matter how Insta-worthy that photograph is, it is offensive to photograph locals and certain buildings in Dubai. Most people would consider it rude to have their photos taken without their permission, so it’s best to ask them first. Other than that, you can take as many selfies as you like. Furthermore, avoid taking photographs of airports, police stations, ports, royal palaces, and military buildings.
Don’t Drink and Drive
This rule has a tolerance level equivalent to the drug policy in Dubai. Zero. Even a slight trace of alcohol in your system can give you a one-way ticket to prison. Dubai is one of the safest cities in the world and it has taken a considerable amount of effort and regulations in place to achieve that recognition. Apart from no drunk driving, if you speed, there are cameras everywhere and a significant fine gets issued. Racing, and using your phone while driving can also get you fined if caught.
Here are some quick don’ts to make yourself aware of and save yourself unnecessary trouble when visiting Dubai. Last but not least, rules are just for your own safety so apart from abiding, don’t forget to have the time of your life in one of the best cities in the world.
- Don’t make or flash rude hand gestures
- Don’t point fingers at people
- Don’t explicitly eat, drink or smoke during Ramadan
- Don’t use swear words
- Don’t dress immodestly when visiting religious places like mosques
- Don’t smoke in shopping malls, offices, and government areas
- Don’t accept drinks from strangers at clubs
- Don’t litter around because you’ll be charged with a heavy fine
That’s MyBayut’s guide to having the best time in this beautiful city without any trouble! If you’re visiting the city soon, take a look at the top places to visit in Dubai in winter to make the most of the good weather. Or experience a bit of culture by checking out the best of old souks in Dubai! Stay tuned to MyBayut for more articles about visiting the UAE!