Traveler’s Guide to Dubai – Local Customs and Expectations

Dubai Beach Hotel Shot

A Polite Guide to Dubai, Where Cosmopolitan Meets Tradition

Dubai Beach Hotel Shot

The United Arab Emirates values hospitality and welcomes visitors with luxurious beaches, awe-inspiring architecture, flavorsome dishes, and rewarding historical sites. Dubai, the most sophisticated and progressive state of the UAE, is a wonderful place to experience the magic of a mysterious culture, but travelers must be aware of local customs and traditions.  While all may appear to be glitz and glitter, travelers must be aware of local conservative customs of the area.

With this guide of practical advise about the lifestyles in Dubai, you will have a wonderful journey without offending any local moralities.

Dress Code

Respect the local practices and dress modestly. Shorts and T-shirts might be fitting at resorts, but conservative dress, covering the shoulders, limbs, and chests, is more appropriate when sightseeing, shopping, and dining. Swimwear is fine at the swimming pool or beach, but cover up elsewhere. Good news: sandals are always in season.

Food and Drink

Arabic cultures treasure generosity, and as a visitor, you will receive a warm reception. Dining tables may require sitting on the floor, and remember to make sure the soles of your feet never face another person. Since it is customary to remove shoes at the door, be sure to wear clean socks! Use only your right hand to eat (the left is considered unclean), although you may hold a cup with it.

Drink alcoholic beverages only in licensed businesses, usually a hotel; you cannot purchase or carry alcohol without a special license. Never use alcohol in public, and realize inebriation carries penalties.

Oh yes… Behave Yourself

Because Islamic law governs the land, many customs may seem limiting; if you approach these differences with an understanding attitude, you will be richly rewarded with a deeper grasp of the culture.

Go light on displays of affection: holding hands is reserved for married persons or family members; hugs and kisses are not public events.As a cultural quirk, you’ll see men hold hands, which indicates friendship.

Dubai Arab Family

Muslim men and women may observe the religious practice of avoiding contact with the opposite sex – don’t expect to shake hands unless they offer first. A woman might use a hand-over-heart to indicate a cordial welcome. You’ll find common sentiments shared with Middle Easterners, the feelings are just expressed differently.

Use your entire hand to gesticulate, as pointing with a finger is rude. A thumbs-up is the equivalent of using the middle finger in Western culture, so don’t make that mistake.

Religious Traditions

Dubai Golden Mosque

While in Dubai, don’t miss the opportunity to visit a mosque, a cornerstone of Islamic life. Both men and women should wear clothing that covers skin. Women will need to don a headscarf – often there are scarves and robes you can borrow if you’ve forgotten yours. Always remove shoes, hats, and sunglasses at the door. There will sometimes be separate entrances for men and women. The interior of mosques can be absolutely stunning, but do inquire before taking photos, and never snap shots of worshipers.

Ramadan is a compelling month to visit Dubai, (usually in June, but dates vary each  year) and provides an opportunity to glimpse an event observed for centuries. Remember, there is no eating, drinking, or smoking in public areas during daylight hours during Ramadan. However, hotels and malls accommodate the needs of visitors.

A Fresh Viewpoint on a Venerable Culture

The joy of travel is to experience disparate cultures and be open to see alternate perspectives on lifestyles. If you make a small effort to show respect, you will be able to more fully experience this fascinating country.

Photo Souce:  Pixabay

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