14 Things Not To Do In Dubai - Updated 2024

What Not To Do In Dubai
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Dubai is recognized as one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. It is home to stunning attractions and great accommodations, such as green hotels and Airbnb vacation rentals. 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 behaviors 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. Check out our tips on things not to do in Dubai, which will come in handy for you.

1. Checking someone’s phone

Checking someone else's phone
Source: Pixabay

Privacy is a very important thing to have, not just for couples, but also between friends, coworkers, and even family members. It’s unfortunate, but having a law to ensure that you can enjoy your privacy is better than having none.

Accessing your spouse’s phone without their permission is something you should avoid doing in Dubai. Someone who does it may end up with a fine of up to 100,000 AED (27,227.19 USD). The punishment is even worse if the purpose is to commit another crime.

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2. Having a dirty car

Having a dirty car
Source: Pixabay

A person’s cleanliness is said to reflect their inner appearance just as much as their outer one. But, according to this law in Dubai, it also extends to a person’s car! As a tourist in Dubai, this tidbit of what not to do may feel like a tad bit excessive. In truth, the law is only meant to target car owners who have neglected their vehicles for a long time.

The reasoning behind this is that these filthy vehicles become prime targets for vandals and pranksters who doodle and write crude gestures and statements on the dirt and dust, impacting the aesthetic of Dubai. Once inspectors have tagged their car, owners get a grace period of 15 days, but it’s better to keep your car clean and well-maintained to begin with.

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3. Wearing revealing or disrespectful clothes while visiting the city

Wearing revealing clothing is one of the things women can’t do in Dubai. And yet, you may 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 dress codes are not the same in all the Emirates. At the same time, a majority of these Emirates permit visitors 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/offensive/revealing clothes in public places. Swimwear or bikinis can be only worn in pools, water parks, and beaches. Women should avoid wearing dresses with a deep neckline.

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4. Using or carrying drugs while in Dubai

Source: Pixabay

Dubai is a very safe country. A big part of it is because 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.

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Dubai Tour Guide


Azira Oussama

Hello, I am Oussama, a licensed tour guide in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. I organize tours in Dubai and Abu Dhabi so you can experience modern and old life of this developed country and witness some of culture while exploring this great place.I also offer airport pick-up and drop-off from Dubai Airport. I am doing tours in English, French and Spanish.

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Dubai Tour Guide

Sultan Karrani

Sultan Karrani

I am an Emirati national working in the hospitality and tour guide industry since 2013. I grew up and worked in most areas of the UAE and I am special at providing guests with real information about the culture of the UAE and the different stories of the places we visit. My goal in my work is to introduce the world to the treasures of Emirati culture and its many tourist sites.

Tours by Sultan

Dubai Tour Guide

Claudia Antunes

Claudia Antunes

Hello ! or Marhaba as we say here! I'm deeply passionate about the history and vibrant culture of Dubai's old city, and I'm thrilled to share this enchanting journey with you. Step back in time with me as we wander through the winding streets, uncovering hidden gems and untold stories. Whether you're a history buff, a culture enthusiast, or simply seeking an authentic experience, my walking tours offer a unique blend of tradition and discovery. Join me as we explore the beating heart of Old Dubai together, one step at a time."

Dubai Tour Guide

Sandra guia Dubai Calvo

Sandra Guia Dubai Calvo

I'm an enthusiastic tour guide passionate about Dubai. With me, you will not only get a guided tour, but an unforgettable experience full of fascinating stories and deep knowledge of local history. Whether we are walking the streets of the old Dubai or enjoying the stunning beauty of the skyscraper , I guarantee you a unique and enriching experience. My goal is to make your experience memorable, educational, and most of all, fun. So get ready to immerse yourself in the cultural richness and beauty of our destination with me as your guide!

5. Drinking or eating during the holy Ramadan month

Dubai Ramadan
Source: Pixabay

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 some fancy 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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6. 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.

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7. Public display of affection in pubic places

Public display of affection
Source: Pixabay

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 rooftop bars and clubs. Dubai also frowns upon the act of hugging a friend or an acquaintance if the latter belongs to the opposite sex.

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8. Drinking in public

Source: Pixabay

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.

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9. Being flippant towards the local religion and culture

Religion in Dubai
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Bjoertvedt used under CC BY-SA 3.0

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.

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10. Purchase fake goods in Dubai

Fake products
Source: Photo by Flickr user xdxd_vs_xdxd used under CC BY-SA 2.0

In case you are planning to visit Dubai soon, be careful of not purchasing fake goods in the city. Some of the things Dubai is famous for are the Gold and Spice Souk in the Emirate, where 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.

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11. Import porn or pork

Pork Shoulder
Source: Photo by Flickr user Joy used under CC BY 2.0

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.

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12. Staying in a hotel when you are below 18 years

Downtown Dubai (7272786966)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Peter Dowley used under CC BY 2.0

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.

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13. Never use your left hand when greeting people

Ali Khamenei is shaking hand with his left hand
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Official website ... used under CC BY 4.0

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.

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14. Avoid taking your medicines out in public

Tablet medication
Source: Pixabay

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.

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Summing up!

what not to do in dubai | summing up!
Source: Pexels.com

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.

Don’t forget to book one of the best beach houses and Vrbo villa vacation rentals to make the most of your vacation!

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Frequently asked questions about things not to do in Dubai

  • What are some of the restrictions followed in Dubai during the month of Ramadan?

    Ramadan is a month not just of fasting but also of limiting desires. You can still dine at restaurants that have covered spaces or in the privacy of your accommodations but do be mindful of adherents who are sincerely following their fasting and faith.

  • What is the preferred dress code in Dubai?

    Even though Dubai has a lenient dress code, visitors should still stick to a modest sense of fashion. This means not wearing provocative designs or styles, such as those showing too much skin or clothing that has insulting or crude statements or depictions.

Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
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Pala Sen is an avid follower of travel and health updates, current affairs and entertainment news from all across the world and writing is a passion for her. She had been previously associated...Read more

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