When visiting Dubai or anywhere in the UAE it is always worthwhile learning about common courtesy. This short read will give you enough information on Etiquette in Dubai to ensure you have a pleasant stay and to help with the way you conduct yourself whist staying in Dubai.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the federation consisting of seven “Sheikhdoms” or states of the Middle East, bordering Oman and Saudi Arabia. Resting along the Persian Gulf, the UAE is celebrated for its mind-blogging skyline, bewildering modern architecture, scintillating beaches, expansive barren desert, impressive skyscrapers and of course duty-free shopping opportunities.
If you’re planning your UAE tour and looking forward to explore a different world beyond the western countries, then you must be aware of few common etiquettes.
The UAE is a Muslim country and there are few things that are treated as offensive which the western world may deem normal. Below are some important points to bring you up to speed with etiquette in Dubai for tourists.
There is nothing better than treating people around you with a warm greeting. The usual greeting in UAE is ‘salaam alaikum’ which means ‘be peace with you’. When you are greeted with the same phrase, you should reply them back with ‘alaikum assalam’ which means ‘and on you peace’.
Furthermore, Arab men usually shake hands when they meet someone but they don’t do this as firmly as they do in West. They prefer a more delicate and softer handshake at the first meeting of the day.
In addition, remember not to offer a handshake to the opposite sex until, and unless they take the lead to offer a handshake. Always offer your right hand to greet someone. In fact, you should use the right hand when passing or offering something as left hand is considered unclean in Muslim culture.
Public Displays of Affection in Dubai
When it comes to public display of affection for your partner or spouse, you should limit that to your hotel rooms only.
Kissing or hugging is more or less acceptable here but too much PDA has landed many travellers in bother. Some people have previously been charged with obscenity in a public place.
Dress Etiquette in Dubai
Islamic people are not very open to the idea of showing too much skin in public, particularly for women. This may not fit your modern idea but we advise to dress decently while enjoying your stay in the UAE.
Dressing decently doesn’t mean you have to cover every part of your body, but it would be better if you wear dresses that don’t flaunt too much of your skin.
Swimsuits, shorts and bikinis are perfectly fine for pools and private beaches but do a little bit of covering as soon as you enter the public places.
Women are not bound to cover their head all the time but they must do so before entering a mosque or any other holy shrine in UAE. This is treated as a way to show respect to their culture and religion.
Drinking Etiquette in Dubai
Alcohol is not banned in UAE but only places with proper license can sell it. You can have your portion of alcohol from such places but never dare to get drunk in public as it is a crime both legally and socially. You must carry a ‘purchasing license’ to buy alcohol in Dubai.
Drinking in the many nightclubs around Dubai and hotels is absolutely fine. If you’ve had a little too much and don’t want to risk walking home just hail a taxi.
UAE has a zero tolerance policy for drink driving. If you are planning to drive back your way to hotel, don’t even think of touching those bottles of alcohol.
Despite the strict laws on alcohol in Dubai, Dubai has a vibrant nightlife of which you can read more about here. Having respect and acting appropriately does not mean that Dubai cannot offer a fantastic nightlife.
Eating Etiquette in Dubai
Hygiene is a very important part in Middle Eastern cultures and therefore you must learn to showcase good eating etiquette if you’re planning a Dubai trip soon.
Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly before you take to the table. You should also enter a toilet or find a place outside if you need to blow your nose. After eating, you can pick your teeth and that’s totally acceptable.
Furthermore, when you’re at a restaurant, try to take food only from your side of table. Don’t stretch across the table to get your food as it is treated ill-mannered in the UAE.
Tipping in Dubai
Although service charges are all included in your restaurant bill, it is almost mandatory to tip. Simple tip calculation follows the rule of 10-15% of the total bill.
Gifting Etiquette in Dubai
Gifting is a common social etiquette in the United Arab Emirates. Don’t forget to gift the host with some chocolates, fruits, flowers or pastries when you are invited to their place.
You should remove your shoes at the entrance of someone’s home unless you are instructed to do otherwise. Eating all of the food on your plate gives the notion that you must be still be hungry. So, leave a little bit of food on the plate to indicate you are full and satisfied.
Whatsmore, never refuse coffee when it is offered. If you see incense is passed around, it means your meal is over and you may leave now.
Etiquette During Ramadan
Ramadan is the holy month when Muslims keep fast and they literally don’t drink or eat anything during daylight. Non-Muslims don’t come under such religious practice but it is no harm to show sensitivity to those fasting souls.
Avoid eating in front of anyone partaking in Ramadan during daylight. Food can be ordered in private or hotel room but don’t drink or chew in public as that is rude.
Photopgraphy Etiquette in Dubai
If you want to capture everything that you experience during your UAE holiday tour, you must be planning to take as many photos as possible.
Before taking the snaps, look for the signboards. If photography is prohibited in the area, it is not ethical to take photos. When you want to snap someone, always ask him/her before pressing the shutter button of your camera.
In this article, several travelling etiquettes have been shared to make your UAE experience much easier. Keep the above in mind and you will be just fine.
Whether you agree with some of the Etiquettes in Dubai or not, it is of course common courtesy to respect the laws of the land you travel to.
Thank you for taking time to read about Etiquette in Dubai. We hope this post has been helpful for your visit to the UAE. Make sure to come back for more on Travel & Living in Dubai & Abu Dhabi. Follow us on Pinterest and subscribe on Youtube too!