Dubai: The Do’s and Don’ts of Social Etiquette
Dubai is an amazing and very modern city; it has plenty to offer, whether as a holiday destination or as a stopover to Europe or Africa. With four flights departing daily from New Zealand to Dubai, it is not surprising that the number of Kiwis visiting the United Arab Emirates has soared.
However, many Kiwis travelling to the UAE are not aware of just how different social etiquette is in that part of the world. Because Dubai is a Muslim city, there are certain factors and practices that need to be taken into consideration while visiting. Will Ashcroft, Head of Sales at Allianz Global Assistance, says “we have noticed that more Kiwis are getting themselves into a bit of hot water, with some ‘interesting’ travel insurance claims, largely because they are not familiar with the etiquette [in Dubai].”
To help out our fellow Kiwis travelling to the UAE, we thought we would offer some tips on the do’s and don’ts.
Public displays of affection – Holding hands with your partner is acceptable, but definitely no kissing or other physical contact – even hugging is a no-no.
Dress – It’s best to dress modestly. Women should cover their shoulders; skirts/shorts should be below the knee; headscarves are considerate in religious situations and minimal bare skin should be showing when entering religious buildings.
Gestures – Hand gestures in Dubai can cause you to be fined, put in prison or deported. So no matter how crazy the driving do not be tempted to use a rude hand gesture.
Shaking hands – It is important that you do not offer to shake hands unless they extend their hand first!
Alcohol – It is illegal to be drunk in a public place in Dubai. Most bars and casinos are in hotels for this reason. Punishment could be imprisonment or deportation. Remember, there is a ZERO tolerance for drinking and driving.
Drugs – Narcotics are of course illegal, but so are prescription drugs like Valium, so be aware.
Swearing – Yes, that is illegal too. Keep your cool, even if you’ve just had your wallet pick-pocketed.
Understanding the local etiquette of any country you’re travelling to can help you enjoy your experience and reduce the likelihood of mishaps. Safe travels everyone!