If you're planning to take a trip to Dubai, one of the world's most multinational cities and the Middle East's tourism and business hub, there are a number of things to keep in mind. Visitors from the United States and Europe will find a culture much different than their own. We've compiled a must-read list of activities one must steer clear of to stay out of trouble and to avoid offending anyone.
- Always be mindful you are in a Muslim country and showing disrespect to their religion, flag or leaders of the country is punishable by law. Give a little respect. Dress modestly where it is appropriate and give respect to the local culture.
DRINKING AND DRIVING
- The legal age for drinking is 21. Drinking in public is not allowed neither is being drunk in public. Penalties can be fines, deportation or imprisonment.
- There is zero tolerance in Dubai for getting behind the wheel of a car if you have been drinking alcohol. Get a taxi or use the Safe Driver service. That also means the morning after the night before.
TAILGATING AND LANE-JUMPING
- The limits are clearly signposted. Ignoring them will incur a large fine as will driving too slowly in the fast lane.
MOBILE PHONES AND DRIVING
- If you get caught right on someone's bumper and flashing your lights, a fine is sure to follow.
- If you do not have a headset or hands-free device your phone must be switched off when you are driving.
- Give way to pedestrians. Likewise do not try and cross the road where there isn't a clearly marked crossing.
SEX OUTSIDE OF MARRIAGE
- Something as simple as a kiss or cuddle could see you being arrested or sent to prison.
- This is completely illegal and there are very severe penalties for anyone caught doing this.
- Don't get caught lighting up in a shopping mall, government building or a shop. A hefty fine can be the unwelcome result.
- However much you might feel like it, keep any foul words inside your head. Hurling verbal obscenities will get you fined or worse.
IT IS ILLEGAL TO HARASS WOMEN
- Keep your hands in your pockets. However tempting it is to give someone the finger, this gesture and sticking two fingers up at someone are seen as criminal acts.
PHOTOS OF PEOPLE
- Prolonged stares, eye contact and unwanted conversation will all come under this rule and can get you in trouble.
PHOTOS OF BUILDING
- Taking anyone's photo without their permission is illegal and you can be arrested and/or fined for doing so. Be considerate if you wish to take photos and ask, especially if people are in their national costume.
- In general, photographs of government buildings, mosques or military installations should not be taken.
- This is completely illegal and any homosexual acts can lead to very severe punishment.
MEDICINES AND PRESCRIPTIONS DRUGS
- Have respect for someone else's beliefs. It is illegal for non-Muslims to eat, drink or smoke in front of Muslims between sunrise and sunset.
LOUD MUSIC AND DANCING
- Many items we take for granted to cure our aches and pains are in fact illegal in Dubai. Always check and check again before entering the UAE with any kind of medication.
- Loud music and dancing is forbidden in public places like the beach, parks and residential areas. It is restricted to licensed venues.
- When a woman is introduced to an Arab or Emirati man do not go to shake his hand unless he extends his first.
- Public park, benches and bus stops must be treated with respect and anyone suspected of damaging public property will be dealt with swiftly and sharply.
- Alcohol can only be bought from licensed shops and then only by non-Muslims. Whether resident or visitor it is essential to have an alcohol licence to purchase any kind of drinks. Show respect for local customs by always carrying any purchases in a bag that is not see through.