This fall and winter, I will begin an Etiquette Series on 20 countries!
I became intrigued by this subject as I always want to be respectful while traveling, and I meet people from all over the world in business and casual settings.
So today’s country is the United Arab Emirates, the city of Dubai.
Ladies opt for a more conservative look. Keeping shoulders covered, wear skirts below the knee, no cleavage, no tight clothing at all. Bikini’s should be worn on beaches and around the pool areas. NEVER wear a G string. It is illegal to go topless!
Be on Time
Punctuality is essential. In Dubai, punctuality is considered a sign of respect.
Handshakes with Arab clients should be gentle and not firm or dominant. Initiating handshakes with women should be avoided to demonstrate your respect.
When a woman meets an Emirati or Arab man, do not offer to shake his hand, unless he extends his hand towards you first.
Public Displays of Affection
Public displays of affection should be minimal – holding hands is acceptable but kissing and hugging in public is not ok. Couples who are caught could be fined or imprisoned.
While you are out socializing
Being loud, noise disruptions, foul 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. Also, best not to bring up political subjects like the Palestinian and Israel conflict.
Swearing at someone in Dubai is also illegal- whatever happens, keep your cool and don’t use that potty mouth- it could get you in serious trouble!
Take care when swearing over social media, the Internet or via popular instant messaging apps such as WhatsApp, too- if a person is found swearing online to another person, and they take offense and complain, they could be fined AED 250,000 and jailed, while expats could also face deportation under a federal law governing Internet users.
Keep your hands to yourself
Hand gestures in Dubai can cause you to be fined, put in prison or deported– depending on who you flick the bird too! So no matter how crazy the driving do NOT be tempted to use a rude hand gesture.
Don’t get too boozy
It is actually illegal to be drunk in public in Dubai, and this can also lead to fining imprisonment, or deportation. 99.9% of the time all will be fine, but you really need to keep your wits about you. Also, there is a zero tolerance for drinking and driving. Don’t even try it.
Valium and Xanax are prohibited ingredients that are illegal in the UAE and should not be casually packed in your luggage. Here is a link to all banned drugs in the UAE.
Hands and feet
Use your right hand for drinking and eating as the left hand is regarded unclean by Muslims as it is used for hygiene purposes.
Refrain from showing the soles of shoes, this would indicate to an Emirati that you think they are ‘dirt’ Keeping feet flat on the ground and not crossing legs is a great way to avoid offending anybody.
However, Emiratis are fully aware that expats and visitors may slip up from time to time and will not take any offense. Mostly it is the traditional areas where etiquette should be followed more closely.
Did I miss anything? Let us know in the comments below.
Sending wanderlust vibes! 💋
Feature photo credit: Andaslife