Dubai is one of the most famous destinations among travelers from around the world. Dubai welcomed 14.2 million overnight visitors in year 2015 -registering an increase of 7.5% over 2014. While the Emirate of Dubai welcomes visitors from different cultures, they have their own culture which is deeply rooted in everyday life.
Just like any other country, UAE has its own set of rules, beliefs, and laws and the cosmopolitan hub Dubai is no exception. While welcoming its visitors with an open heart, the Emirate of Dubai (the whole UAE, in fact) expects certain behavior from them.
If you are planning to visit Dubai, you should keep in mind that the culture of Dubai is different. You must accept this very fact and make sure you respect the local culture – just as you would respect yours in your country.
The difference between cultures sometimes causes unexpected trouble for travellers. This trouble can be easily avoided by accepting the existence of other cultures and respecting them.
This brings me to the list of 10 things you should NOT do in Dubai or any other Emirate of UAE. Keep these things in mind and follow them to enjoy a pleasant stay in Dubai.
10 Things You Should Not Do in Dubai
1. Don’t Disrespect…
… anyone. You might hate/dislike the culture, customs, traditions, politics, laws and many other things about the country you’re visiting. But keep that hatred to yourself.
Avoid disrespecting people, culture, religion, rulers etc. while in Dubai.Things might be different in your country (or other countries), but you’re NOT in your country, remember?
2. Don’t Drink/Be Drunk in Public
While Dubai is liberal towards allowing alcohol consumption, you should not be drinking in public. There are places like clubs, bars, hotels where you can get a drink or two, but say NO to drinking in public.
While at it, let me also tell you not to get drunk and roam around the streets of Dubai. If you appear drunk in public or are caught driving while drunk, then be ready to be charged by authorities.
3. No Public Display of Affection
I know you love your partner. You might want to kiss, cuddle or hug your lovely partner SO badly but give that affection a rest. Public Display of Affection (PDA) is considered indecent by locals and you don’t want to get in trouble.
Public Display of Affection and sex in public also brings us to having sexual relations outside marriage. Sex before/without marriage is one of the most serious crimes in Dubai. You should learn to control your horses and simply not get involved in sexual activity with a person you are not married to.
And of course, you don’t need to be ‘married’ to visit Dubai. But you need to be married to the person you’re getting involved in sexual activity with. This includes sharing a room with someone you’re not married to or getting involved in sexual activity in a taxi.
Trust me, you don’t want to get in any trouble for not being able to control your desires, do you?
5. No Homosexuality
You might be a homosexual or LGBT supporter. But things don’t work the same way in this part of the world. Homosexuality is illegal and a serious crime in UAE.
In simple words, you should give your sexual orientation or support for homosexuality a rest while visiting Dubai.
6. Don’t Take Photos Without Permission
No matter how badly you want to capture locals in your camera – don’t do it. Taking photos of locals, especially women’s is frowned upon in Dubai. This also includes harassing women, staring them for a long time, or engaging in an unwanted conversion with them.
I’m not sure why would you even do that, but if you try to capture a photo thinking no one would know – and they DO come to know, get ready to be charged by authorities.
The same goes for government/military buildings. Don’t take photos of such buildings.
If you really wish to take a photograph of someone, why not ask first?
7. Don’t Eat/Drink in Public During Ramadan
You might have been advised to entirely avoid visiting Dubai during the holy month of Ramadan but that’s an overreaction by those who don’t wish to respect the culture of the place they are visiting.
First, you are not ‘banned’ from eating or drinking during Ramadan, neither you are expected to fast the whole day. You can, of course, eat at your hotel. There are restaurants which are open but are covered so you can enjoy your meal. Drinks are served only after sunset.
Just make sure not to eat or drink anything in public before sunset. After sunset, the whole face of Dubai changes and you would love to indulge in the beauty of the Emirate – by enjoying the local culture and cuisine. You can also join the locals for iftar (ending of fast at sunset).
Believe me, there can’t be a better time to closely observe a culture completely different than yours.
8. No Drugs
Why only in Dubai? No one should be doing drugs anywhere, anytime!
UAE has strict laws and zero-tolerance policy against drugs. This includes carrying or consuming any amount of drugs. If you’re caught carrying or doing (including after doing) drugs, you will be locked up and will be tried on for a serious crime.
Not only drugs, UAE has strict laws against bringing some medicines – otherwise allowed elsewhere – into the country. If you must carry your medicines to UAE, be careful of their amount and keep the doctor’s prescription as well as your medical report along.
A list of controlled medicines in UAE is available here. Read more about banned items here.
9. No Pornography
I will keep this short. Don’t carry ANY type of pornographic/adult material into UAE in ANY form. Don’t try to visit porn/adult websites while there.
Just so you know, sites related to dating, gambling etc. are blocked.
10. Avoid Offensive/Revealing Outfits
Refrain from revealing/offensive/immodest/suggestive/transparent clothing in public places. Both men and women should avoid sleeveless tops, shorts, clothes with offensive text or graphics. Women should avoid dresses showing deep neckline. Also, avoid cross-dressing while you’re at it.
Bikini or swimwear is supposed to be worn on a beach, water park or swimming pool only. Avoid topless/naked sunbathing on beaches or pools.
If you think it’s weird being told what to wear and what not to, think about ‘burkinis’ (designed to ‘cover up’ modesty) being banned in France! People think differently throughout the world. Deal with that.
Things You Should Not Do in Dubai: Summing Up
The best way to enjoy your trip to any place is to respect their culture, rules, and regulations. Things are different in different parts of the world. In fact, why would anyone be visiting a new place if it was completely identical to their own place? The real fun is to observe, learn, and respect different cultures.
That’s it, folks. These were 10 things you should avoid doing in Dubai for a pleasant stay. Keep these things in mind and follow some common sense. I’m sure your trip to Dubai will be awesome.
Have something to add to this article? Have your own Dubai experience? Why not share with me?
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