10 Things Not To Do In the UAE

to the left

1. (Not) To The Left, To The Left

Don’t greet anyone with a left-handed shake.

Don’t open doors with your left hand.

Don’t hand somebody something, especially food, with your left hand.

Definitely don’t eat with your left hand.

Note: Left Handed people should try to become ambidextrous as best they can in these situations to avoid offending the locals.

on phone

2. Snap Snap

As a traveller, you’ll be tempted to whip out your camera or mobile phone to capture some shots of the city and its people. But be advised: it’s disrespectful to take photos without receiving the proper consent, especially if you’re trying to take photos of women and children.

kiss

3. PDA

Any public display of affection in the UAE could potentially result in a fine or, even worse, spend some time behind bars.

Regardless as to whether or not you are married to that person, if you want to avoid getting arrested, please avoid holding hands and hugging your partner. These acts are considered socially unacceptable, so don’t end up like the British couple who spent one month in jail for smooching and hugging in a gas station restroom.

medicine

4. Medication

The UAE has a strict anti-drug policy, which means you should never bring any illicit drugs, even if it’s a prescription medication.

Airports are on high alert to search for rule-breakers who attempt to bring them into the country. Those who are caught will likely be arrested and face up to four years in prison. 61-year-old Perry Coppins was detained after he was busted for bringing his anti-anxiety medication through customs.

no smoking

5. No Smoking, Please

Feel free to smoke in a house or a car, but smoking isn’t allowed in government facilities, offices, malls, or shops. Some outside places will have designated smoking areas, but make sure there are signs clearly posted that say it’s okay.

Note: The same applies to vaping.

modesty

6. Don’t Forget: Modesty Is The Best Policy

Dubai is a stylish city with all the latest designer fashions from around the world, but there has been a recent crackdown on women wearing tight, short, low-cut, skimpy or suggestive clothing in public spaces. You’ll see signs about this modesty campaign posted in the Dubai malls. This rule seems open to interpretation and hard to police, but keep your clothing relatively conservative (ie, don’t flash a lot of skin and curves), and you should be fine rather than fined.

swear

7. Don’t Say The F-Word, The S-Word, The B-Word… You Get It

No public cussing here! Bite your tongue and keep the insults, profanity, and vulgar language to yourself, and do not under any circumstances spout any blasphemous or disparaging remarks against Islam while in Dubai. This is considered a serious, punishable offence and more than a handful of foreigners have been jailed for making an off-the-cuff comment. Please just refrain from any utterances that may be deemed insulting to Muslims. Freedom of speech is not a universal right.

clothes

8. No Nudity, Please

I know this one goes without saying, but I must write it anyways. Nudity is not allowed in public places. Appropriate swimwear is okay at the beach, pool or water parks, but women must refrain from going topless. And men must also keep their shirts on when walking through the streets, even on the jogging paths.

tea

9. Perhaps, Stick To Tea ☕️

Compared to the rest of the Muslim world, the UAE is fairly lax when it comes to consuming alcohol. As a result, there are some places in the city where you can find alcohol if you’re dead set on getting some. However, make absolutely sure that you’re only consuming in locations that allow it, like, outside bars, certain restaurants, and a selection of hotels. Drinking anywhere else is a big no-no.

stronger

10. Stronger Together

So, even though Abu Dhabi is filled with millions of people, as of mid-2015, only about half a million of those citizens are actual locals or Emiratis. It’s best to think of Abu Dhabi locals as the ultimate gang of townies. They’ll jump lines, steal tables from you at restaurants, that kind of thing. Locals look out for other locals, and — as a result — they get preferential treatment. Just … be cool about it.

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