Special Features


Dubai - Local Customs

It is hoped that everyone enjoys their time in Dubai, and as such people are expected to behave responsibly and respect the culture, traditions and local laws of the emirate. It is customary for men to shake hands as a form of greeting. However, local women tend not to offer their hands to men, and some local men would prefer not to shake hands with a woman. It is best to wait until a hand is offered when meeting someone for the first time.

Visitors – particularly men – should avoid staring at local women or attempting to make eye contact. And permission should be sought before any photographs are taken of locals, especially women. Photography of government buildings and any petroleum or military installations is also to be avoided.

Upon entering a home, it is customary to remove shoes. Visitors should offer to do this. However, showing the soles of feet can be considered rude or offensive; care should be taken when crossing legs to ensure that the soles of feet are not pointing towards anyone.

Visitors are free to dress according to their personal choice – but it is best to wear conservative items, avoiding wearing revealing clothes in public places or places of worship. Swimwear is appropriate at beaches and swimming pools. Public displays of affection between couples should be avoided as they can be considered offensive.

• As with the vast majority of countries around the world – including the UK – drugs are illegal in Dubai. Dubai has a very clear policy regarding drug trafficking, smuggling and possession, which is one of the reasons why the emirate has one of the lowest crime rates in the world. Very clear guidelines are issued to visitors regarding bringing certain medicines into Dubai: to travel with various over-the-counter medicines such as Codeine, it is necessary to carry an accompanying doctor’s note or prescription to authenticate its use. It is advised to take the medicines in their original packaging and an appropriate quantity for the length of stay.

Dubai features a wide range of world-class dining and entertainment facilities, catering for an international audience, and alcohol consumption is widely accepted within these licensed premises (most hotels, restaurants and sports clubs). As with many destinations around the world, the abuse of alcohol in public spaces is not tolerated and in this respect Dubai is no different. The legal drinking age is 21 and it is an offence for anyone to buy alcohol from an off-license without an alcohol license.

During the month of Ramadan, whereby Muslims observe a month of fasting, visitors to Dubai should refrain from eating, drinking and smoking in public during fasting hours.



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