Essential Tips and Warnings you should follow in Dubai for a hassle-free visit

January 23, 2018

There is a saying - “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” which literally should be your main mantra while travelling to Dubai. Every country has different laws and customs which are expected to be obliged by visitors. UAE being an Islamic nation has a list of stringent laws and staunch customs that are mandatory to be accepted by anyone staying here.

Dubai being a cosmopolitan megacity has a higher ratio of expats over citizens residing in the emirate. It is also a favorite among globetrotter. Hence it is slightly lenient regarding certain rules and regulations. However, breaking the law or offending the local customs can leave you chugging out heavy penalties or even getting jail time. As with any country, Dubai visitors should be vigilant to warnings regarding travelling with strangers and stay away from scams. Check out these Tips for Dubai warning and safety to keep in mind when you plan to visit Dubai.

1. Dress code
Though Dubai is one of the world’s prominent modern cities, the outlook of the locals is deeply cultured. This Islamic emirate also practices Sharia law. Hence, while exploring Dubai, it is essential to follow a proper dress code. Women have to dress modestly. Western clothing is allowed, but if you are visiting a mall or any public places, make sure shoulders and knees are covered. Swimming apparels are acceptable at beaches and swimming pools. While visiting a religious site, women need to be completely covered, their head as well. Men too need to watch their attire as sleeveless shirts and singlets are not entertained. Cross-dressing is prohibited.

2. Relationships outside marriage
Physical relationships out of wedlock are not permitted in UAE and can lead to imprisonments, prosecution, punishments or deportation. It is against the law for unmarried couples to live together or share a common hotel room. Hence unmarried couples travelling together or those travelling with a companion of the opposite sex who is not a family member need to look for separate accommodations during their stay in Dubai. Homosexuality is illegal in Dubai.

3. Social etiquette
Though Dubai is a much tolerant emirate compared to other emirates of UAE, you will get in trouble if you offend the locals and their customs. Maintaining and respecting other’s personal space is very necessary in Dubai. There are cases of arrests and prosecutions just for reasons as simple as bumping into a local person accidentally. So it is best to be aware of keeping a distance from locals to avoid offending them.

If you are taking photographs at local areas, make sure you do not click any pictures of locals as it makes them very uncomfortable. If you are taking photos, it is best to ask them if this is fine with them, especially if women are around. If you are meeting Arabs, you can shake hands with the men, but refrain from doing so with women. Publicly playing loud music or dancing is also not tolerated in public except on account of special events.

4. Talking offensively, Swearing and Public Display of Affection
Swearing, making rude gestures, renting or offending on online sites, talking inappropriately about the Royal Emiratis, government system or the police can land you in a soup. These are considered as offending acts and offenders can earn jail time or deportation. Public display of affection is considered as an obscene act and is frowned upon by the locals, even with married couples. It is best to avoid kissing and cuddling in public or crowded areas. It is acceptable for married couples to hold hands in public.

5. Ramadan customs
The holy month of Ramadan is sacred to Muslims and they undertake fasting from dawn till dusk. This ritual is expected to be followed by every person staying in Dubai during the Ramadan period irrespective of religion. Eating, drinking, even chewing is prohibited in public during this month. The Ramadan period starts from mid-May till mid-June in 2018. If you are visiting Dubai during this period, ensure you adhere to the customs of the Ramadan month.

6. Social Media Laws
It is usual for everyone to take snaps on travel journeys and upload them on social media sites. However, bear in mind that in Dubai, there are strict laws for social media and privacy abuse. If you have uploaded a picture of your visit to a site and there is a complaint against it for violating someone else’s privacy, you will have to cough up a hefty penalty or go to jail. If you are taking photos of locals then ask their permission before you click. Taking photos of government buildings and military areas are prohibited. Criticizing the government authorities or Arabic royals could result in punishment. Pornography is considered a crime and banned in UAE.

7. Extreme weather safety
Dubai has an arid desert weather which gets scorching hot during summer months. It is best to check the weather before making your Dubai holiday plans. Though most of Dubai’s malls, buildings and indoor areas, bus stops and transportation's are fully air-conditioned, you can get a severe heat stroke if you are walking on the pedestrian paths. November to March is the ideal time to visit Dubai. Summers are stifling and are low season period for Dubai tourism as the temperature can rise harshly. Even in the milder months of November to March, make sure you carry light, airy clothes, hat, scarves, sunglasses and loads of sunblock to protect yourself from the sun.

8. Medications
If you are on certain medications, check with your doctor if the specific medication can be used in Dubai or do research beforehand if the medicines are legal in Dubai. You will need to show the prescription of medications you are carrying if officials ask for it. Certain medications are banned in Dubai even if they are legally available in other countries. So even if you have the prescription for medications which are not allowed in Dubai, you may still land up in trouble with customs authorities.

9. Scams and Frauds
Dubai is always bustling with tourists which let fraudsters take advantage of them as easy targets. In malls, strangers may coax you into entering into deals that may be of loss to you. Always be alert, trust your instincts and be aware while talking to strangers as you would normally do while you are in any new country. Familiarize yourself with routes of places you are visiting in Dubai so that taxis will not take you for a long ride routes to charge more.

Though Dubai has a strict immigration policy, there are groups who have managed to slip through the laws and entered the country illegally, These groups usually end up as street hawkers selling fake products and expired goods. The Dubai police have time and again issued warnings to tourists not to get lured into these scams and avoid purchasing from street hawkers. It is best to shop at renowned shopping areas and Souks of Dubai rather than falling victims to illegal hawkers. Moreover, Dubai police have issued warnings for safety and asked tourists to alert them in case they find such fraudulent activities.

10. Alcohol, smoking, and drugs
Dubai has a vibrant nightlife, but always bear in mind that it is also an Islamic Emirate. Compared to other Emirates in UAE, Dubai allows alcohol consumption in moderation. You can consume alcohol if you are above 21 years of age. Non-Muslim residents need to get a liquor license and permit to consume alcohol at home and in licensed venues. Licensed hotels and clubs serve alcoholic beverages where you can enjoy a drink. But if you are found drunk in a public area, then you will be punished for the offense. Any person who has a stopover in Dubai or in transit via Dubai gotten caught under the influence of alcohol may also face charges or arrests.

Smoking is banned in public areas, electronic cigarettes are illegal in Dubai. Dedicated smoking zones can be found all around Dubai. Dubai has zero tolerance regarding drugs and narcotic substances and uses stringent rules and severe consequences for defaulters. Even a minute residue of simple substance like poppy seeds can land you in jail. It is advisable to go through Dubai’s list of controlled substances so that you don’t get into trouble for carrying any herbs or spices which otherwise is legal in other countries.

We hope that our tips and suggestions are useful and will make your next Dubai Visit more enjoyable and less strenuous. Do you also want to share your tips and advice? Or got further questions? Simply post a comment below to add to the conversation.

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