In Dubai, which is part of the Muslim-majority UAE, there’s a balance between maintaining local customs and accommodating the diverse international community. Here’s an overview of the social etiquette and rules:
Dress Code Flexibility:
- Dubai’s laws are among the most liberal within the UAE. This flexibility extends to dress codes, especially for tourists and expatriates.
- Women visitors have more freedom in their choice of clothing compared to other Muslim countries, but modesty is still advised.
- Bathing suits are acceptable at hotel pools and private beaches. Public places like shopping malls and public beaches have dress codes, but these have become more relaxed in recent years.
- Ramadan, a significant Islamic event, involves fasting and is observed during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. The dates vary each year.
- During Ramadan, everyone, including tourists, should avoid eating, drinking, smoking, and singing in public during daylight hours. This shows respect for the local culture and adherence to Dubai’s laws.
- After sunset, life in Dubai becomes more vibrant, with restaurants and malls staying open late.
- When offering an alcoholic drink, ensure that the Arab individual you are with consumes alcohol.
- Sit with your feet flat on the ground, not crossed, as a sign of respect.
- Use your right hand for eating and drinking, as the left is traditionally seen as unclean.
- Avoid showing the soles of your feet or shoes, which can be seen as disrespectful.
- Do not walk in front of or stare at someone while they are praying.
- Non-Muslims need permission to enter mosques.
- Pointing fingers at others is considered rude.
- Public displays of affection are discouraged. Holding hands, hugging, and kissing in public is considered socially unacceptable and if caught indulging in such acts, you might land up in jail.
- Aggressive behavior should be avoided.
- Always ask permission before taking photos of local people.
- Cussing in public in Dubai can lead to fines or arrest due to strict laws against offensive language and gestures.
- Twerking in public in Dubai is not advisable as it may be considered indecent or offensive under local decency laws.
- Chewing gum in Dubai is permissible, but it’s considered impolite to chew gum loudly or dispose of it improperly.
- Vaping is allowed in designated areas in Dubai, but using e-cigarettes in public places can attract fines.
- Having tattoos is legal in Dubai, but they should be covered in public places, especially if they contain offensive images or language.