14 Dubai Local Customs Every UAE Traveller Must Know

UAE Traveller

Having a checklist of Dubai local customs is a must for UAE travellers. While traveling to this beautiful region, knowing vital UAE facts is highly essential. This will help you have a memorable trip and help you avoid making any faux pass that is essentially avoidable. Emirati cultures are slightly different as compared to Western sensibilities and you should be mindful of various nuances of everyday life and Dubai Local customs.

Dubai Local Customs: Something that Shouldn’t be Neglected!

Make sure that you are aware of prevailing rules and guidelines for every city in the UAE. For instance, there may be specific Dubai regulations or those for Abu Dhabi. Keep an eye out for the same as well. The below Dubai local customs have sheer importance in the city, where ignorance can lead to awful situations

Dubai local Customs

Rules on Greeting

Hospitality comes first in Emirati culture here. While greeting or meeting friends, locals usually use lengthy sobriquets and sentences with praises bestowed upon them, hugs and invocations to God. Yet, this only takes place between Emirati women. With regard to women, do not shake their hands unless they put them out first and this will help you in avoiding any embarrassment. Avoid close proximity to women and greet them with a customary salutation that is the order of the day.

Visiting Local Homes

Locals in the UAE are immensely friendly. Serving a cup of hot coffee with dates is a tradition here. It is polite to accept coffee and once you have consumed enough, you should shake the cup from one side to another. Refusing food and coffee may be viewed offensive. It is vital to remove your shoes while entering any local home and show appreciation for the meals that you are served. Visitors should shake hands with the host upon arriving at the home and departing from the same as well.

Ramadan Customs

Ramadan holds a sacred place in every Muslim’s heart in UAE. During the time of Ramadan, Muslims usually fast till sunset from sunrise on a daily basis. The dates vary on the basis of the calendar. You should refrain from drinking, eating, smoking and chewing gum publicly at this time. The UAE law is quite strict on this clause and violence can be punishable.

Body Language

An unavoidable etiquette while visiting the UAE. One of the helpful UAE facts is that you should always stand when someone comes into a room, other than staff members. Locals will take it as an offense if you sit with the sole of your feet directly facing them. Food should not be offered with your left hand. Also, public displays of affection are illegal here.


UAE travellers should mindful about apparel or clothing-based guidelines. People should remember that while visiting the United Arab Emirates (UAE), they should refrain from wearing the national Emirati dress (for men). Women should not wear provocative or revealing clothing. It is best to dress modestly while out in public.

Family Relations

Family is one of the most important societal aspects in the UAE. Locals here are close to their immediate and extended families comprising of uncles, grandparents, cousins and other relatives. They often share the same housing compound or live nearby. These ties are vital and as an explorer you should always respect the same.


You should never take a picture of a local Emirati woman. It is offensive to stare at any woman, especially in the national dress. Any physical contact is forbidden and disrespectful. Flirting with women is also considered offensive.

Dubai local Food and Drinks

Food & Drink

Indulging in delicious Emirati cuisine is always recommended. However, most prevailing Dubai regulations and laws in other Emirates mandate that locals do not drink alcohol. You should choose a joint where they do not serve the same, while looking to dine out with a local Emirati friend, colleague or business acquaintance. Do not ever serve pork to any Muslim or local since this is against their religion.

Public Behaviour

Some things are disapproved in public and even illegal at times. These include drinking in public, drinking and driving, drinking and being disorderly, public displays of affection, taking pictures of military and government establishments and women, palaces, buildings, ports, airports, bridges, mosques and so on.

UAE Religion and Culture


This is a vital aspect of culture in the UAE and travellers should be respectful towards the same. Many Dubai local customs in the country are derived from or similar to those in Islam. Visitors should dress suitably while visiting any mosque. They should not eat in public during Ramadan fasting times. They should respect times of prayer and show respect wherever applicable.

Language and Behaviour

Courtesy in general is highly recommended. You should avoid offensive language, swearing, insults and other aggressive behaviour. These offences are stringently punished in the country. The punishments may include everything from deportation to fines. Always take permission from people if you take photographs with them.

Sharing Private Space

Sharing private space like a hotel room, car or flat with an individual of the opposite sex to whom one is not married or closely related, is not allowed. This rule is not stringently implemented for non-Muslims although it is vital that you should be aware of the potential for any offense.

Legal Drinking Age

The legal drinking age is 21 or even 18 for Abu Dhabi. You can buy alcohol and drink later at special stores. Ensure you make use of an opaque bag while carrying the alcohol home. Be careful as being drunk in public is an offense, which is punishable.

Wasta or Networking

This concept is quite common in several societies including Arabian Wasta or Chinese Guanxi. This means connections and indicates authority, power and influence. Hence, if you have Wasta or know anybody with a higher level of the same, this will make your life smoother and enable better business transactions, job searches and other bureaucratic procedures. The concept is deeply ingrained in family or cultural obligations and better management of relationships. This has translated into better networking, favors and leveraging existing networks of contacts, professional and social contacts and so on. These aspects play a vital role in determining Wasta.

Final Word!

Dubai local customs travel checklist

Now that you know quite enough about Dubai and its local culture, it’s time for you to get your bookings done. No doubt, this country is a bit stricter when it comes to following rules. Nevertheless, with this UAE travel checklist, you can understand Dubai local customs, thus, adhering will become easy.

So, why delaying a trip? Get these UAE facts at place and plan a pleasant holiday to a country with plethora of tourist attractions?

Rohit Kumar
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