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15 Things Tourists should Not Do when Visiting Dubai

By Tanmayee - May 20, 2020
Things Tourists should Not Do when Visiting Dubai

Dubai, a popular tourist destination is considered to be one of the most fun and vibrant cities in the world. While the city is one of the most liberal, relaxed, cosmopolitan cities in the world, you still need to ensure that you’re on your right behavior. Just like any other country, Dubai has its own laws, beliefs, and rules. What might be considered appropriate in your own country, might be inappropriate or illegal here. If you break the law or cross the line, you can be sure to face dire consequences.

However, there’s nothing to be afraid of. All you need to do is read up on the local rules and regulations. By adhering to these guidelines and cultural sensitivities, you’ll have a great time without offending anyone.

Planning a vacation to Dubai and want to be fully prepared before you set foot in that country? We have listed out some of the things that you should avoid when in Dubai.

Here are the don’ts for first-time tourists in Dubai:

1. Do not use your left hand

Handshake in Dubai
Image source: Wikimedia

Using your left hand is considered filthy in Arab culture, as it is traditionally used for “body hygiene”. One has to be mindful to avoid using your left hand in certain situations. When you’re in Dubai, do not greet anyone with your left hand, do not use your left hand to pass on something especially food, do not eat with your left hand. Even if you’ve washed your left hand, it is still considered unclean. You can, however, drink with your left hand. So, be sure to not use your left hand and if you are a left-handed person, you need to try and be ambidextrous. 

2. Public display of affection is not acceptable

No PDA in Dubai
Google Images

When in Dubai, do not display any form of intimacy in public. They consider hugging and kissing to be socially unacceptable and if you’re caught hugging or kissing in public, you can spend the rest of your vacation locked up in jail. However, holding hands is okay for married couples. Do not indulge in such acts in public and get caught. This is one of the most important rules in Dubai.

3. Do not dress inappropriately

When in Dubai, modesty is the best policy. Although Dubai is a stylish city with all the latest fashion trends, it still has certain restrictions when it comes to clothing. Low cut, tight, short, or clothes that flash a lot of skin are considered inappropriate and should not be worn in public spaces like malls, markets, beaches, theatres, mosques, etc. At the same time, Dubai permits visitors to wear western clothes.

4. Do not use profanity in public

No profanity in Dubai
Image source: Pixabay

The Arabs do not encourage the use of profane language. You must be very cautious with your language, especially when in public places or when you’re talking to a local. One should also not pass any comments towards Islam or Muslims as it is a punishable offense.

Also Read: Useful Phrases In Dubai – Break the Language Barrier

5. Do not take a photo without permission

Take photos with permission in Dubai
Image Source: Wikimedia

Dubai is a stunning city with breathtaking views and this might woo you into taking pictures. Although, there’s nothing wrong with taking pictures you need to be extremely cautious while doing so. This is a very strict rule that needs to be followed. Taking pictures or videos of the people, especially women and children without their consent is considered to be an invasion of privacy and you might be penalized or sent to jail.

Also Read: Top Insta-friendly Selfie Spots in Dubai For Its Visitors

6. Do not carry drugs

No drugs in Dubai
Image Source: Pixabay

UAE has a strict anti-drug policy and it does not permit you to bring or use any type of drug – be it prescription medication or illegal drugs. Airports are on high-alert for those who carry drugs into the country. If you’re found carrying it, you will be imprisoned for up to four years. I suppose that is not the visit that you planned? Before packing your bags, do check UAE’s official website and read up on the medications that are permitted inside the country. If you must carry your medication, then do bring the prescription along with you.

7. Cross-dressing is not permitted

Dubai is a conservative community and it is not yet open to the idea of homosexuality. When you’re in Dubai, you need to ensure you don’t crossdress as cross-dressing is prohibited here. Going against the law may lead to imprisonment.

8. Unmarried people are not allowed to stay together

Unmarried couples can't stay together in Dubai
Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

If you are traveling with your significant other and planning to stay together, then don’t. Dubai follows the Sharia law, which prohibits unmarried couples from staying together – be it in a hotel room or elsewhere. You will be penalized or deported or imprisoned if you’re caught cohabiting.

Also Read: Romantic things to do in Dubai

9. Drinking and being drunk in public are prohibited

Drinking in public places in Dubai is prohibited
Image source: Pixabay

While in Dubai, you cannot drink in public places and you cannot be drunk in public as it is not permitted in the country. If you wish to drink, the best place would be to go to a bar. Drinking in a bar is permitted and Dubai has some of the most spectacular rooftops where you can drink and enjoy stunning views of the city. Don’t drink or be drunk in public and get penalized or worse get imprisoned.

Also Read: Most Popular Places to Drink in Dubai

10. Eating in public during Ramadan is restricted

Eating in public places in Dubai during Ramadan is prohibited
Image source: Google Images

It is prohibited to eat or drink or smoke in public places during the holy month of Ramadan. Even chewing gum in public places is prohibited. Regardless of the religion, one should not do much or slurp in public while the Muslims in the city are fasting from dawn to dusk. However, you can definitely consume freely within the premises of your hotel. 

11. Do not make hand gestures

Do not make hand gestures in Dubai
Image source: Pixabay

Some hand gestures that are appropriate in your country, might not be the same in Dubai. Some hand gestures are considered offensive in Dubai. Showing a thumbs-up sign is equivalent to flipping the bird and the “ok” hand sign indicates the devil’s eye. Any obscene or rude hand gestures will put you in jail. 

12. Do not bring prohibited items

If you are traveling to Dubai then you need to be extra careful about what you’re packing. Before you do that, make sure you read up on the items you are allowed to carry. Some of the prohibited items include books with adult content, anything made in Israel, and refrain from carrying pork into the country.

13. Do not insult the royal family

You might be from a different religious background or you might have your own set of beliefs. You might have a difference in opinion about the culture and belief system of Dubai, but make sure you keep it to yourself. If you openly criticize or mock or insult Dubai’s royal family, law, culture, and religion they can put you behind bars or severely penalize you. So, when in Dubai just enjoy what the city has to offer instead of mocking it. 

Each country has its own traditions and beliefs that may seem strange to you. However, when you’re going there to have a good time it’s better to follow the basic rules and guidelines rather than breaking it. Brush through these guidelines while you’re planning your vacation to Dubai. You can create your own customized itineraries with Pickyourtrail and book your family trip to Dubai.

Also Read: Dubai Visa on Arrival Tips for Indian Citizens

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