Visiting Dubai: Five Need to Know Culture Tips

Updated: Feb 3, 2019


When you think of Dubai, a few staples immediately come to mind: glitz, gold and everything Gucci. It doesn’t disappoint. Rich in culture and growing tourism, Dubai is still a Muslim country worth being mindful of cultural etiquette. Dubai is unlike anywhere else on the planet. With its bold architecture and audacious style, the United Arab Emirates’ largest city is a distinct fusion of its Bedouin heritage and an ultramodern style all its own. Dubai doesn’t just live up to its reputation; it will completely exceed your expectations. Explore the glitz and glam, and then uncover the ancient traditions of this multifaceted city.

Here are a few tips to help ensure you have a positive experience:

1. You can wear regular clothes – with caution

You can dress as if you were going to Europe, to include the beach. You may be surprised to see how dressed (or not dressed) tourists are on the beaches. This may come as a surprise but welcomed relief if you know how HOT it can get. There’s also no need to wear a traditional hijab and abaya, unless visiting a mosque. In Burj Khalifa and Burj Al Arab, women are expected to wear closed-toe shoes, long skirts and covered shoulders while dining in restaurants. Extravagant and colorful cans will be considered offensive and it’s still encouraged to cover your shoulders, no matter the attire.

2. Be mindful of PDA

PDA is illegal and can be cause for arrest, especially if you are in a same-sex relationship. Holding hands and the occasional kiss on the cheek may be acceptable but be certain to avoid the acts in more causal environments such as beaches, nightclubs and bars.

3. Don’t shoot the locals

Tourists are not allowed to photograph locals without their permission. It’s a sign of poor manners and disrespect. Women dressed in long black robes cannot be photographed at all due to religious reasons. It’s also not a good idea to take pictures of the local police stations, sea berths or airports.

4. Public intoxication is a no-no

Purchasing alcohol would require a license and would be easier to do at a duty-free location. Tourists are permitted to drink in licensed restaurants, bars and hotels. However, it’s illegal to consume alcohol on the beach or drink in public.

5. Educate yourself on basic etiquette

There’s nothing worse than unintentionally offending a local or host. Keep in mind that it’s highly offensive to exchange food, money or other items in the left hand. When entering a house or mosque, removing shoes is required.