10 Things to know before you go to Dubai / by Beau Dunn

10 Things to know before you go to Dubai

Dubai’s skyscraper filled skyline, exclusive nightlife scene and world renown luxury shopping allude to the notion that Dubai is a city of the future. While the city is home to ultramodern infrastructure, the UAE’s customs and laws date back centuries and are very different to those of the West. The UAE follows Muslim and Sharia laws, in order to ensure your trip goes smoothly, here are some things to know: 

 1)     Modesty is key.

Under sharia laws revealing clothing is illegal to an extent. When in public be sure your clothing covers at least your shoulders and upper legs. This applies to men too—men must wear a top unless they’re at the beach or pool. These laws are more relaxed in private resorts, shopping centers and other tourist destinations, however it’s best to dress with an air of caution and keep it conservative. 

 2)    Bring a scarf or pashmina!

Dubai is home to some of the world’s most beautiful mosques that are definitely must-see’s when visiting the city. Modesty dress codes are strictly enforced; women should wear loose-fitting clothing with long sleeves and cover their heads. Some mosques will have pashminas for tourists to wear, but it’s best to go prepared with your own. 

 3)    No PDA!

Public Displays of Affection may be awkward in the US, but in the UAE they can warrant jail time. It is illegal to kiss, hold hands or cuddle in public. Be sure you and your partner keep it PG when out and about. 

 4)    Drink with Caution

This may be a fairly obvious pointer regardless of where you’re traveling, however in Dubai it’s illegal to drive with any level of alcohol in your blood system. Even blowing a .01 could warrant jail time, so play it safe and call and Uber. (Yes they have Uber in Dubai!) It is also illegal to drink in public, and public intoxication can warrant jail time. 

 5)    During Ramadan (Holy Month) you cannot eat, drink, chew gum or smoke in public during daylight hours.

Sharia laws state that nothing is permitted to pass through the mouth between sunrise and sunset. This applies to foreigners and tourists in public areas during Ramadan as well. The month of Ramadan varies from year to year depending on the lunar calendar, so be sure to check before you plan your trip. This year Ramadan falls on May 26 – June 25. 

 6)    October-April are the best months to visit

Dubai has two seasons—hot and hotter. October-April is considered the winter season, which is very mild and brings ideal tourism weather. 

 7)    Keep it down!

Playing loud music in public areas is considered unlawful. Leave the DJing to the DJ’s. 

 8)    Ask permission before taking pictures

Unless you’re taking a scenic shot of a major touristy area, never take a picture of a stranger without their permission, it’s considered especially inappropriate to photograph a Muslim woman without her permission. It is also advised not to photograph government buildings and military installations. 

 9)    Tipping isn’t expected

Like many counties outside the US, tipping isn’t really expected in Dubai. Most restaurants will add gratuity to your bill. Bellmen, taxi drivers etc. don’t expect tips, though it is okay to give them a small cash tip for their services. 

 10) Don’t break the law!

In short, it’s smart to respect and abide by the laws of the UAE. If you are caught breaking the law and arrested, you are not entitled to legal representation or consular help. Dubai is a beautiful city full of rich culture, be courteous of their customs and your trip will go smoothly!