THE DOS AND DON’TS IN DUBAI

1. DO USE THE METRO, BUSES & TAXIS   


Dubai has an excellent metro system with two main lines, taking you to most common tourist sites. It is a great way to get around and keep out of the harsh heat. 


Whilst the metro is efficient, clean, cheap, and air conditioned, journey time can still be long. 
  

Also, be aware that it has limited hours and stops running at 1am at the latest. Please note that the carriage at the end of the train is for women and children only.

Here is a link to the Dubai Metro map explaining each zone, times and fares.


Buses cover more extensive areas of the city, however as they make frequent stops, they can be quite slow. Bus stops are air conditioned and seats are within an enclosed space.


Timings can be out, due to the heavy traffic along Sheik Zayed Road.


Read our article How to use Dubai Public Transport with ease before you go.


2. DO REQUEST PERMISSION BEFORE TAKING PHOTOS
   


There are laws that protect the privacy of an individual in the UAE. 


Taking somebody’s picture without their consent, is considered as an invasion of privacy or family life of that person. Do not take photos of women or families in public places. This is a real no no, and could get you in trouble.


It is also illegal to take photos of strategic and military locations, government organizations or political buildings for security reasons.  


3. DO VIEW DUBAI FROM DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES
   


Dubai is quite a sprawling city, so be sure to view it from different perspectives. The view across the creek is wonderful, and walking through the streets is fascinating. 


But be sure to get up high and look down on the outline of the city too.


4. DO LOOK WHERE YOU ARE WALKING
   


Dubai is not a particularly walkable city due to its size and sprawling nature. And on account of the heat, humidity and general state of the pavements. 


Be careful to look where you are walking, or you will find your foot down a pothole!


5. DO GO TO DUBAI MALL
   


Still visit Dubai Mall, even if shopping doesn’t interest you. There will be plenty to pique your interest, believe me!


Make sure you check out the range of entertainment, including ice rink, cinema, aquarium/underwater zoo and the iconic Burj Khalifa.


6. DO TRY THE WEALTH OF DIFFERENT FOOD CHOICES
   


Dubai has a fabulous and versatile food scene, from luxury restaurants, to budget friendly street dishes and food tours.


The city’s multicultural mix, leads to an array of different flavours to try such as Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Iranian, and Yemeni.


7. DO TAKE CARE IF DRIVING
   


If you are staying within the city itself, there is no need to rent a vehicle to get around. Using the bus, metro, taxi or walking, will get you to most sights.


However, if you want to explore further afield and don’t want to take a tour, you will want to rent a vehicle.


Vehicles drive on the right hand side of the road with overtaking on the left. The UAE’s speed limit is very high compared to other countries. On highways, the maximum speed limit can vary from 100-140 km/hr.


We drove from Dubai to Abu Dhabi and beyond with no issue. It pays to be aware of other drivers though. Some drive at speeds exceeding 140 km/hr and you can be tailgated by impatient drivers, wanting you to speed up.


Just stay in the slower lane, drive confidently, and you will be fine.


It is worth mentioning that the UAE’s has a ZERO tolerance for drink driving.


If you are driving from Dubai to Abu Dhabi, four road tolls have been introduced on the bridges into the city.

8. DO BOOK THINGS IN ADVANCE
   


For the best flight prices, track and compare prices as soon as airlines release their cheapest seats. This tends to be about 6 months prior to the departure date.


October to March, and especially December to March, are very popular times for visitors to Dubai. To avoid disappointment, ensure you book your favourite hotels at least 2-3 months in advance.


The same goes for dinner reservations. Don’t try and get a booking at the last minute, or you will be disappointed.


9. DO DRESS MODESTLY
   


Dubai is a reasonably conservative city with a Muslim culture that should be respected. For women, you should wear clothes that are not too tight or revealing, and dress modestly.


Shoulders and knees should be covered, and nothing should be see through or too tight.


In Public Spaces
, including cafes, public transport and malls, you should dress modestly. Men must have a shirt on and women should cover shoulders and knees.


There is usually a dress code displayed at the entrance of the shopping malls. We saw women in tiny shorts and crop tops however, although a security guard did say something to them.


It is very easy to wear some loose linen trousers or a maxi skirt, together with a blouse or t-shirt. Plus, it is freezing with the air conditioning!


In Hotels
, you can wear your normal summer shorts and top and a bikini on the beach and in the pool area. These areas are considered “international” areas, so rules are relaxed.


10. DO EXPERIENCE A DUBAI BRUNCH
   


Something of an institution, the Dubai Friday brunch, signifies the start of the weekend and its activities.


If three to four hours of unlimited food and drinks sounds good to you, then step right up. You will be about to tackle an all-inclusive indulgence of food, alcohol and lively atmoshere. 


Expect to pay anything from Dhs100 all the way up to Dhs400+.


11. DO VENTURE OUTSIDE THE CITY
   


Many visitors visit Dubai as a stopover destination, on the way to places such as Australia and New Zealand. However, you could actually be entertained in Dubai for a week and not get bored. 


But not far outside the city are at least two great activities, not to be missed.


First, an hour outside Dubai in Abu Dhabi, is the stunningly beautiful, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.

This really is a sight to behold, and should be on every visitor’s list.

Second, is a trip into the desert. There are several desert tour options available, depending on how you want to experience the desert.Whichever tour you decide to take, you will be mesmerised by the beautiful desert scenery and its sheer vastness.



1. DON’T KISS AND CUDDLE IN PUBLIC
   


Be aware that public displays of affection are not allowed in Dubai, and deemed offensive. 


Keep your hands to yourself, especially when squeezing past people in crowded places.


It may seem ridiculous to others, but this is the culture in Dubai, so make sure to respect it.


2. DON’T SWEAR IN PUBLIC
   


Swearing, cursing, arguments and fighting are all offenses that could have you arrested.





3. DON’T BRING DRUGS INTO THE COUNTRY
   


There is a zero tolerance on all kinds of narcotic drugs in the United Arab Emirates. They are prohibited. Do not have traces of drugs in your luggage, clothes, shoes or on your person. You are headed for jail if you do!


4. DON’T EAT OR DRINK ON PUBLIC TRANSPORT
   


Eating, drinking and chewing gum is not permitted on all public transport. This probably explains why they are so clean!

 

5. DON’T ASSUME A TAXI DRIVER KNOWS EVERY ADDRESS
   


It is best to follow up your intended address, with a landmark or tourist site. That way, they will have a better idea of where you want to go.


Only use a metered taxi that is actually turned on. Otherwise you could end up with a totally inflated bill on arrival at your destination. On the plus side, taxi fares are cheaper than most worldwide cities.


6. DON’T FORGET TO BRING A THROW/PASHMINA
   


Be sure to pack some sort of throw, scarf or pashmina in your day bag. Public spaces including hotels, attractions, restaurants and malls, are air-conditioned and freezing! 


They are also useful to have with you if visiting a mosque, when you are required to cover your head and shoulders.


7. DON’T DRINK ALCOHOL IN PUBLIC SPACES
   


Most hotels will have bars, clubs and restaurants serving alcohol to international visitors. It is illegal to drink in public or indeed to be intoxicated in public.

Be sure not to be found staggering around in public spaces in a drunken state. This is frowned upon and can lead to you being stopped by the police.


Be sure to take a taxi straight back to your hotel.


8. DON’T VISIT DURING RAMADAN
   


Unless you are Muslim and want to respect the holy month of Ramadan, do not visit during this time.


You cannot eat, drink or smoke in public, or hotel lobbies, between sunrise and sunset. Restaurants will be closed during the day, and you will be expected to eat in your hotel room.


There will be no partying, clubbing or loud music, and you will have to dress conservatively.


9. DON’T TAKE A WOMAN’S PHOTO
   


Unless she offers her hand first, never shake the hand of an Emirati woman, or take her photo without permission.


THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE GOING TO DUBAI
   


WHERE IS DUBAI?
   


Dubai is actually a CITY and emirate, in the United Arab Emirates. It is the largest of seven emirates, although not the capital.


Other emirates include, Abu Dhabi(capital), Sharjah, Ajman, Fujairah, Ras al Khaimah, and Umm al Qaiwain.


IS DUBAI SAFE FOR TOURISTS?
   


Yes! Maybe on account of it’s strict laws, Dubai has a very low crime rate and is considered one of the safest Middle Eastern countries.


There is no need to be concerned about your safety here, even as a woman. As in any city in the world, you should be sensible, use your common sense and be aware of your surroundings.


IS DUBAI SAFE FOR WOMEN?
   


Yes, Dubai is very safe for women travelers. Dress conservatively out of respect for the Muslim culture and behave appropriately. Dubai laws are stringent and enforced, so you will feel very safe walking around.


IS DUBAI EXPENSIVE TO VISIT?
   


Dubai is widely known as an expensive city to visit. However, if you are on a tight budget, there are numerous ways to cut down on costs. 


It is important to plan ahead, so you know what your main costs will be, such as accommodation.


WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT DUBAI?
   


Dubai enjoys a desert climate, with warm weather year-round. It can get extremely hot and humid between May and September. Daily maximum temperatures can reach up to 41⁰C with extreme humidity.


This will not feel pleasant, to those unused to handling such heat levels. An upside of the heat however, is savings on accommodation and flights.


The best time to visit the city is December to March, when the weather is warm and pleasant. You can enjoy blue skies, warm sea temperatures and low rainfall.


CAN YOU EXPERIENCE CULTURE IN DUBAI?
   


Dubai may have a reputation as a glitzy, showy city, with skyscrapers, theme parks and endless shopping. However, you have many opportunities to also explore its cultural side.


Wander around Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood in Bur Dubai, with its winding alleyways and wind towers. Get a taste of Old Dubai during the mid-19th century.



Old City Wall


Or take an abra ride across the Creek, the heart of the city, and explore the maze of traditional souks. Haggle from traders flogging such wares as spices, gold and textiles.


A visit to Dubai Museum will highlight the city’s rich cultural history of pearl diving and fishing. Meanwhile, why not discuss Emirati culture at the Sheikh Mohammed Centre For Cultural Understanding, over lunch.

 
IS TIPPING REQUIRED IN DUBAI?   


Tipping is not required, however it does tend to be customary. Don’t worry though, you won’t be made to feel obliged to leave a tip. If you have experienced good service, a tip of 5-15% will be most welcome.


Give the staff the tip in cash, so it goes directly to them, and not the restaurant/hotel owner.




CAN YOU WEAR A BIKINI IN DUBAI?
   


Dubai is a modern, cosmopolitan city and whilst having a Muslim culture, it is not as conservative as other emirates. Rules are reasonably relaxed when it comes to what you can and cannot wear.


Most hotels have their own stretch of private beachfront, and you can wear whatever you want, including bikinis.


However, when out in public spaces such as parks, malls, public beaches and tourist sites, you should dress conservatively.


Dubai is very family orientated, so revealing too much flesh in public, is not considered appropriate.


Just be respectful of the city’s culture and traditions, and use your common sense.


WILL I HEAR THE CALL TO PRAYER?
   


Mosques traditionally hold five group prayers in a day – at dawn, midday, afternoon, sunset and night.


The adhan announces the call to prayer over loudspeakers, from minarets at mosques. Plus, there is a special group prayer at midday on Fridays.


You will hear the call to prayer throughout the city as you wander around. 


WHEN IS THE WEEKEND IN DUBAI?
   


In Dubai, the weekend is actually Friday and Saturday. Friday is a day of prayer and most people are off work, or work part of the day. Metro services start at 10 am on Fridays, so bear that in mind.


Thursday and Friday are the busiest nights of the week, when people shop and party until late.


DUBAI KNOW BEFORE YOU GO ESSENTIALS 
  


Some other essential information :
  • Dubai has around 90% expats from all over the world, including many different nationalities.
  • Nearly everyone speaks English
  • You can find Dubai Tourism kiosks in all the large shopping malls.
  • Currency is the Dirham(Dh or AED)
  • Dubai International Airport which is the closest airport to the city, is located in the Deira district.
  • Download The Entertainer Dubai app to access two-for-one vouchers for some of Dubai’s top restaurants, attractions and experiences.

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