Traffic Cardinal Traffic Cardinal wrote 16.02.2023

Behave Yourself! 9 Rules to Follow in Dubai

Traffic Cardinal Traffic Cardinal wrote 16.02.2023
7 min

It's not that difficult to pass for an upstanding member of society in the country you know well: even though you might not be aware of the local standards and expectations, say, in France, you will highly unlikely outrage the public decency by doing something wrong (unless you plan to outrage the public decency by intentionally doing the wrong thing). In exotic countries, such as the UAE, it becomes even more complicated: you can seem rude without even knowing what exactly made you look this way! So, err on the side of caution: check out the list of things to pay attention to!

No PDA Allowed

If you're traveling with your romantic partner, you'd better refrain from the public display of affection you may be too eager to exhibit.

PDA (that is, public display of affection) is simply not allowed. Yes, we get it: you want to hold hands, cuddle, and kiss on the beach, basking in the warm sunset, but this is so socially unacceptable that it might put you in jail or at least result in a hefty fine. In short, if you don't want to savor the taste of misdemeanor in a foreign country, you should save your doting impulses for home.

Dress Issues Addressed

Before you ask the question that has been burning your tongue since you started reading: yes, shorts are fine as long as they are not too tight and worn in the city, restaurants, and malls. In terms of religious or spiritual places, such as mosques, this article of clothing is a big no-no.

Obviously, in nightclubs and beach resorts no one bats an eye, but those are not the only places you are about to visit, so follow a simple rule: dress modestly. It means that tight shorts, skimpy clothes, and short skirts are not allowed in public places, and swimsuits must be worn only while on the beach.

Cross Dressing Alert

In certain aspects, Dubai is a very conservative city. While the world celebrates personal liberty to wear whatever your heart desires, the UAE chooses to stay away from the trends, restricting your clothing preferences. Thus, if you cross-dress in Dubai, you can expect a penalty of up to one year in detention and a fine of up to 10,000 AED, so please be cautious.

No Muss, No Cuss

Another elementary thing that will brighten your vacation and save you from any potential threat: watch your tongue. We are not saints, and unusual things may easily miff you, but don't let the evil streak take hold! All vulgar expressions, cuss words, and profanity should be kept to yourself, along with the passing comments that might be deemed insulting towards Islam or Muslims. Remember, you're here to have fun, not problems!

Royal Family Matters

You may or may not agree with certain policies and governmental decisions in the country you’re visiting, and while there, you might be tempted to be a bit too critical: you cannot predict your impressions from your very first day. However, if you feel salty and irritated about something you’ve seen or experienced, which is entirely normal, please refrain from discussing the local laws, culture, people, politics, and the royal family in public. Even though you may have intended to tell a crispy joke, your words may be taken seriously, and you can be severely penalized.

Ramadan Awaits

If you know something about Muslim countries, you are probably aware of the holy month of Ramadan, in which the Quran is believed to be revealed to the Islamic prophet Muhammad. The peculiar thing is that during this period, the Muslims do not eat, drink, or smoke from dawn till dusk.

Of course, you are not obliged to follow suit, keeping a fast each day. However, be respectful to the people around you and don't chew on undoubtedly delicious snacks in the street. After all, there is a variety of more attractive options: you can stay in your hotel room, find a cafe, or choose a lovely restaurant with screened-off eating areas.

Getting Tipsy

First off, alcohol is legal in the UAE, so if you have a penchant for sipping on wine while relishing the sunset, you can emit a sigh of relief (and order yourself a glass of Veuve Cliquot or whatever strikes your fancy.)

However, such drinks are not widely accepted by the locals: they are prohibited in the Muslim culture, so you cannot drink in the street or grab a beer on your way out from a mall. Here's the solution: stop by a bar, order a cocktail, and enjoy the evening with your companion.

Southpaws Banned

In Japan, you are supposed to take business cards with both hands, so you show that the person giving you the business card is more substantial and weighty than humble you. In the UAE, the hand-related situation is a bit more intricate.

In Arab culture, the left hand is considered filthy, as in the distant past, it was typically used for body hygiene. Years passed, and technologies evolved, but the concept is still very much alive, so avoid eating, opening doors, greeting people, or giving somebody things or food using your left hand. If you are an unfortunate southpaw, try being ambidextrous to the best of your ability.

Hands Tied

Irascible drivers, that's your memo!

In Dubai, where you can rent a sports car without a hitch, driving may be aggravated by those who despise the basic traffic rules. Well, this process already demands stamina, sangfroid, and patience worthy of Ned Flanders, but when you see a fellow driver breaking the law, you can easily lose control and insult the prick by word or gesture. No matter how tempting the idea is, take a deep breath, count to ten, and regain your composure.

Unfortunately, body language is never international, and the hand gestures you use at home may be considered rude in the UAE: for example, pointing with your index finger; a fist with the thumb tucked under the index finger; open palm, a thumbs-up, and even the innocent OK sign can... venture a guess here... yes, put you in jail.


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