The United Arab Emirates (UAE), a federation of seven sheikhdoms or states in the Middle East, is a wondrous travel destination known for its modern skyscrapers, hot climate, inviting beaches, and exciting shopping. But just like when you’re visiting other countries, you have to observe certain customs and practice proper travel etiquette. Here are some tips straight from Lisa Dudzik, an expat who handles large-scale construction projects and lists the UAE as a favorite travel destination:
Drink alcohol moderately
The vast majority of the population is Muslim, and many Muslims don’t drink alcohol. However, alcoholic beverages are available in almost all hotels, restaurants and nightclubs in the UAE. If you do enjoy a glass of wine or a spirit while visiting Dubai, ensure you do not drive as there is a zero tolerance and avoid any displays of drunken behavior in public.
Greet others properly
When greeting in a business setting it is important to acknowledge the most senior man in the room first. Men will shake hands when meeting and greeting, and as in many cultures there is eye contact and a smile. Only offer your hand in response to a woman’s offering. Among some women, there is often a short kiss on the cheek in more casual situations. Shake hands using only your right hand, as the left hand is for bodily hygiene. You will often see men holding hands, and rarely shall you observe a men and women touching or holding hands in public.
Dress and act modestly in public
Wear modest clothing especially if in a public location or at the beach, where conservative swimwear remains the norm. Research the proper dress code for the different areas you’re visiting. Public display of affection may be cute and appreciated in other countries, but not in the local culture: even married couples can hold hands but it’s not something met with enthusiasm here. Remember that Islam is a religion of cleanliness and courtesy.
Ask before taking that photo
Always ask for permission before taking photos of people in this country, particularly with women, children, and their mosques. Photographing people can be a touchy subject so you should exercise caution when doing it. Signage is posted in most restricted areas and cctv monitors not only capture speed infractions but other such inappropriate behaviors accordingly.
Lisa Dudzik is a contracts and claims manager from Western Australia. For almost two decades, she has overseen large-scale construction projects such as high-capacity subways and stations, roads, and highways. She is an avid traveler to Middle Eastern destinations such as the UAE. Learn more on this page.