Dubai "Dos and Don'ts"
The below information is a guide to some of the key Do's and Don'ts while you are either visiting or living in the City of Dubai
No Public Displays of Affection
The code of conduct states that displays of affection between couples (whether married or not) in public places does not fit local custom or culture. Whilst holding hands for a married couple would "probably" be tolerated, kissing and petting are considered an offense to public decency. Public displays of affection, sexual harassment or randomly addressing a women in public places, is liable to be punished by imprisonment and/or deportation.
Whilst Shorts and Tee Shirts might be acceptable in areas such as in your hotel, on the Beach and around the Swimming Pool, you should cover up more in public areas such as the Mall where the knees and shoulders should also be covered. If visiting places such as a Government building, a Mosque, other religious sites or older parts of the city it is strongly advised to wear loose fitting clothing that covers the arms, legs and shoulders and in some cases (such as visiting a Mosque) ladies might be required to wear a headscarf also.
Drugs are stricly forbidden in any size. Buying or selling drugs is considered an extremely serious crime and can result in life-imprisonment. Some legal drugs in other countries can be considered illegal in the UAE, so it is strongly advised to check with the nearest UAE Embassy or Consulate BEFORE you travel. A doctors note is also strongly advised with any prescribed medication you might be traveling with.
Don't Drink Alcohol in Public
Drinking alcohol anywhere in public other than licenced bars, restaurants, private venues and clubs is forbidden.
Photography of restricted areas such as Military areas, palaces, courts and other Government buildings should be avoided.
You must have permission before taking pictures of others, particularly of people in traditional dress. Please take extra caution, even if there is someone in the background of a picture you are taking.
It is illegal to go topless anywhere in Dubai and bathing costumes must only be worn on the beach, by the swimming pool or at Water Parks. It is also illegal for a male or female to go bare chested in any other public area.
Loud music is forbidden in public places like parks, beaches or residential areas and must be restriced to licensed venues only.
Dancing is allowed in the privacy of your home or at licensed clubs, but dancing in public is classed as indecent and provocative.
No swearing or hand gestures
Use of swearing or hand gestures in Dubai can get you fined, put you in prison and/or get you deported.
Sexual relationships outside of marriage
Sexual relationships outside of marriage are illegal, irrespective of any relationship you may have with your partner outside of the UAE. Cohabiting, including in hotels, is also illegal. If you become pregnant outside of marriage, both you and your partner face the possibility of imprisonment.
There is a zero tolerance policy on drink driving in Dubai. Under no circumstances should anyone get behind the wheel of a vehicle with any alcohol consumed at all.
Bouncing a Cheque
It is illegal to Bounce a Cheque in the UAE. If you write a cheque and don't have sufficient funds in your account to cover that amount, you may face criminal and civil charges. It is possible to face jail time for this and you will not be able to leave the country until the amount is paid in full.
Alcohol consumption is only allowed by non-Muslims and only in licenced bars, restaurants, private venues and clubs. Residents are required to have an alcohol license to consume alcohol anywhere, or to hold alcohol in their home or in their car. You must also be over the age of 21 to consume alcohol.
Smoking is illegal under the age of 18. Smoking is not permitted in government buildings, offices or malls.
Any form of Pornographic material is illegal in Dubai.
It is illegal to work in Dubai without an official working Visa
Using your right hand
Some muslims might consider it disrespectful to use the left had to eat, whilst mostly it is considered a superstitious thing. To be on the safe side though, it is advised to eat with the right hand, as the left hand (the back of the left hand also) is usually used for yawning, coughing or sneezing. You won't get into trouble for using the left hand, but it's a good tip to know as its' always good to show respect.
One should always remove their shoes before entering a muslims house or a Mosque
Showing the soles of your feet
It is deemed to be rude if you show the soles of your feet, due to them being dirty, as thye are perceived as being unclean.
Ramadan: Ramadan is a popular time of year to visit Dubai; although all residents and visitors must refrain from eating or drinking in public in daylight hours, it is a wonderful time to experience the local culture and strong religious heritage of the city.
Non-Muslims may eat and drink in designated areas, and many hotels and shopping malls will have various outlets that remain open during Ramadan.
Mosques: It is possible for non-Muslim tourists to visit certain mosques in Dubai; perhaps the most impressive is the Jumeirah Mosque, tours of which can be booked through the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding.
General points to note:
Noise disruptions, bad language, making obscene gestures and showing disrespect in any way to Dubai’s religion or its leaders are all forbidden and may land you in legal trouble.
Muslims pray five times a day. You will notice that the Mosques call people to pray through a speaker system. At this time you will also notice public music is turned off as Muslims perform their daily prayers.
Be aware that drivers who are not close to a Mosque, may stop at a convenient lay-by to pray privately.
During the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn to sunset. Throughout this month eating, drinking, smoking, playing loud music and dancing in public places during daylight hours are strictly forbidden and punishable by law, including for non-Muslims.
Every evening during Ramadan, Muslims celebrate the breaking of their fast with an evening meal called Iftar. You will find many hotels and restaurants throughout the UAE who provide Iftar buffets.
Please note that the above information is only meant as a guide. We certainly haven't covered all of the Dos and Don'ts, so please seek further legal advice if you think there is something we haven't covered, or to confirm the accuracy of what we have written.