Dubai is recognized as one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Similar to any other nation, Dubai, the cosmopolitan hub, has its own laws, beliefs, and rules. It is highly recommended that visitors should follow the cultural taboos, regulations, and rules while visiting a country and before purchasing their plane tickets. The Emirate of Dubai extends a warm welcome to its visitors. However, it also expects a specific set of behavior from the tourists. In case you have made plans for holidaying in Dubai, it is imperative to note that the culture of this emirate is distinct. You need to accept this fact and make sure to respect its local culture — the way you do so in your home country. Here are our tips on what not to do in Dubai, which will come handy for you.
1. Wearing revealing or disrespectful clothes while visiting the city
You will be pleasantly surprised to know that the UAE is more lenient with the way people dress up than what many people would like to perceive. However, the dressing codes are not the same in all the Emirates. At the same time, a majority of these Emirates permit the visitor to wear Westernized clothes. It is important though to dress respectfully while visiting Dubai. It means that you should be mindful of dressing up according to the place where you would be going. Refrain from wearing transparent/suggestive/immodest/offensive/revealing clothes in public places. Swimwear or bikini can be only worn in pools, water parks, and beaches. Women should avoid wearing dresses with a deep neckline.
2. Using or carrying drugs while in Dubai
The UAE practices a complete zero-tolerance approach with respect to the use of any kind of drugs. Dubai’s drug policy includes consuming or carrying any amount/ kind of drugs. In case you are visiting Dubai and found doing or carrying drugs, the local authorities can lock you up. You may be even tried at the local court on charges of a severe crime. The policy is also applicable to prescription drugs. In the past, many people have been imprisoned and even deported for failing in drug tests, which they consumed in some other country. Thus, it is crucial for the tourists to not indulge in or abuse drugs while they are in Dubai.
3. Drinking or eating during the holy Ramadan month
If you have been told to avoid visiting Dubai in the holy Ramadan month, it is actually an overreaction from some quarters. You are not prohibited from drinking or eating during Ramadan. Plus, no one expects you to fast for the entire day. Of course, you are free to eat as you please at your hotel. You will also come across restaurants, which are covered but open. You can enjoy eating in such places. However, drinks will be only served to you after sunset. Just ensure not to drink or eat in public prior to sunset. You may also join the residents for iftar, which means ending a fast after the sun sets.
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4. Click pictures of women or locals without their permission
According to the cybercrime laws of the UAE, it is a crime to take photos of people without their consent. Irrespective of how great the urge is to capture the locals through your camera lenses, do not do it. Dubai frowns upon clicking pictures of locals, especially of women’s. Visitors also need to be careful about staring at the local women for a long duration, trying to engage in an undesirable conversation with them or harassing them. Avoid posting such pictures on social media because local residents may file a suit against a photographer.
5. Public display of affection in pubic places
While there is no doubt that the United Arab Emirates is a popular destination for honeymooners, it is imperative for the visitors to be aware that the country does not permit public displays of affection. In fact, even kissing in a public place may lead to imprisonment for a couple. Thus, it is best for you to avoid all kinds of PDA when you are visiting Dubai. The policy is applicable in all public places in the city, even in bars and clubs. Dubai also frowns upon the act of hugging a friend or an acquaintance if the latter belongs to the opposite sex.
6. Drinking in public
While the United Arab Emirates has a number of clubs and bars that serve alcohol, visitors should be careful not to drink alcohol in public. Drinking is not permitted in any such venues where there is no shop that sells alcohol. It also means that visitors should not carry beers at public beaches or while walking down a street. Rather, tourists should ideally look for one of those many places where people are allowed to consume alcohol.
7. Being flippant towards the local religion and culture
While visiting any nation in the world, visitors should be respectful towards the culture and religion of the destination country. So, do not show disrespect to anyone while you are traveling to Dubai. You might dislike or hate Dubai’s laws, politics, traditions, customs, or culture but keep your views strictly to yourself. If tourists show any disregard towards Islam, the rulers of the country, or the Emirati culture, they may land up in a jail. Religious and culture respect should be also applicable to everyone else.
8. Purchase fake goods in Dubai
In case you are planning to visit Dubai soon, be careful of not purchasing fake goods in the city. If you visit the famous Gold and Spice Souk in the Emirate, you will find people asking you whether you would like to purchase a Cartier watch or a Chanel bag. You need to simply ignore such salespeople and walk straight. While it can be tempting to purchase an inexpensive designer bag, you could land up in great trouble in case you get caught while shopping at one of the illegal outlets in Dubai.
9. Import porn or pork
Make sure that there is no adult or pornographic material with you when you are visiting the United Arab Emirates. Also, refrain from visiting adult or porn websites while you are in Dubai. The government of Dubai has blocked all sites pertaining to gambling, dating etc. It is also important to note in this context that it is illegal to import pork from other countries to the United Arab Emirates.
10. Staying in a hotel when you are below 18 years
If a person wants to travel to the UAE after graduating from a high school, they should think again and give the country a miss. In fact, it is not legal to stay in a Dubai hotel when you are under 18. In other words, if you are below 18 years, you should be accompanied by an adult while staying in a hotel there.
11. Never use your left hand when greeting people
Avoid getting rude stares from locals and try not to use your left hand in situations when you are being introduced to someone. This also applies when opening doors, or handing someone something, you are only allowed to use your left hand for drinking water. This is a practice many locals look down on because historically, left hands were used to “clean up” before the renaissance of the toilet paper and flushing water, thus, it is still considered dirty and unkempt. Those who are left-handed are highly recommended to try and practice being ambidextrous while in Abu Dhabi at least, just to pray proper respect to locals when greeting or serving them.
12. Avoid taking your medicines out in public
Those traveling to UAE with mild and severe conditions often require medication to be packed in their luggage. However, it’s important to note that while exploring around, it is often considered illegal to bring around drugs even with prescription out in public. Those who are traveling with anxiety medication should properly pack it in your suitcase along with the doctor’s prescription. Those who are caught can end up in prison for four years minimum. Many tourists often forget the strict rules the Middle East follows when it comes to drugs, and usually ignore the warning signs. It’s important to note that traveling to UAE means properly learning the local rules and what to abide by to have a safe and pleasant trip exploring this majestic wonder.
The most appropriate way to spend a great vacation at any place is respecting the country’s regulations, rules, and culture. After all, things are not the same in all places. The actual fun part of any holiday is to observe, respect and learn from different cultures. We hope the above list of what not to do in Dubai will be useful during your visit.
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