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Travel & Tourism

Governing Your Social Behavior in Dubai

A food court, Dubai.
Tourists at a food court, Dubai. Credit: WN / Smtia
Dubai is predominantly a Muslim country but still, it doesn't impose any stringent rules or regulations on its visitors. Amongst all the Emirates in UAE, the laws in Dubai are the most flexible allowing the necessary freedom to a tourist or a business expat.

As a visitor to any foreign country, it is our duty that we govern our social behaviour or act according to the customs prevailing there. Compared to other Arabic/Muslim countries, visitor women have the freedom of clothing and also to roam around Dubai.  Obviously, you have certain limitations which you need to follow.  A few years back exposing skin was banned in public places such as shopping malls, beaches etc. Such rules have been relaxed now (considering the roaring tourism business) and women tourists are now allowed to wear "western" clothing but with certain restrictions. Bathing suits are okay at hotel pools and private beaches. Dubai law has clearly mentioned about the dress code to be followed at public places with huge signboards. Dress code for men is also (though not as stringent as women) is there. Avoid wearing crazy or tacky clothes and remember don't bee too bold.

Ramadan, the holy month of fasting for Muslims has the utmost importance in Dubai. This festival takes place during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. The festival dates are never fixed as it is dependent upon the sighting of the new moon. Guests and tourists have to follow all the stringent rules in this holy month from the sunrise to sunset, as it is a sign of regard. You have to abstain from alcohol, dancing, chewing gum, smoking and singing in public places during the day. This is mandatory as per Dubai Law, you won't find any food or drink joints open during this time. The life after sunset brightens up the restaurants and pubbing places, malls working overnight.

General Etiquettes in Dubai:

  1. Make sure that your Arab friend consumes alcoholic drinks before offering a drink to him.
  2. When in the sitting position, keep your legs firmly placed on the ground and not crossed.
  3. Always eat/drink with your right hand as the left hand is considered to be unhygienic in the Arabic world.
  4. Do not show the soles of your feet or shoes as this considered as a mark of disrespect to the other person. 
  5. Don't walk in front or stare at a Muslim when he is praying.
  6. If you are not a Muslim, then prior permission is required to enter a Mosque.
  7. Never point fingers at the other person as this is considered very impolite or disrespectful.
  8. No public display of affection.
  9. Avoid aggressive behaviour under any circumstances. 
  10. Seek permission of local people before clicking their photographs.

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