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Social Etiquettes in Dubai

Dos in Dubai


  • Take photos as memories of your trip but not at military sites. Ask permission if you want to photograph a local person (for ladies in particular).
  • One must dress modestly and women should not wear low-cut tops, short skirts and keep bare arms.
  • As per work dress code men are supposed to wear a shirt with a neck tie or even a smart open necked shirt paired with trousers. Women are expected to wear knee length skirts or dresses, or full length trousers. Sleeves must cover the upper arm and they should be dressed conveniently in a moderate fashion.
  • Give tips in restaurants if you wish. A service charge is often added to the total bill but, if it isn’t so then an amount of 15% is the standard norm.
  • There is no compulsion for women to wear the traditional Arabic dress called “abaya” which is worn over normal clothing. But if they want to go for western dresses, the skirts, tops or trouser,  must not be revealing.
  • Certain offices and public places have marked “Muslim” and “Non-Muslim” areas. One must abide to the same at such places.

Dont’s in Dubai

  • Drinking alcohol is prohibited in  Muslim culture.  Non-Muslims are permitted alcohol at hotel bars or at home, but with a license. As drinking and driving or appearing in public drunk is not permitted, non-compliance to such rules can lead to imprisonment.
  • Avoid bringing banned goods into Dubai.
  • While on the public beach, all swimmers should wear conservative swimwear. Topless and bikinis are not proper. Never wear swimwear in streets or other public places.
  • Do not enter a mosque and do not touch the Quran if you are not a Muslim.
  • Men should never visit or go to places that are marked ‘For Ladies Only’.
  • Do not comment or criticize Islam, ruling families, local dress or traditions of the local people.
  • Sexual relations outside of marriage are illegal and carry a prison sentence.
  • One should not compliment females.
  • Remember to remove your shoes when entering an Arab house.
  • Avoid using the elevator if you are a male and a single female is inside.
  •  Men can shake hand while greeting with a male, but never with a female, unless she offers her hand first.
  • Avoid taking photographs of mosques, military installations or other people, especially of  Arab women.
  • When in  markets, villages and souks, short skirts are considered improper for women. Long skirts below the level of the knee are preferred.  Tops with deep neck lines are strictly prohibited. Men can still be dressed less formally here.
  • There is zero tolerance on usage of drugs in Dubai and conviction could lead to four years imprisonment. 
  • Public displays of affection may get you in trouble with the police.
  • Don’t expect taxi drivers to carry change. Have a ready supply of smaller notes if you are taking a cab within the city.
  • Swearing or making rude gestures and all forms of road rage can lead to heavy penalties including imprisonment.
  • Ramadan is the holy month of fasting when Muslims abstain from all food and drink from dawn to dusk. Non-Muslims are not expected to fast, but they should not smoke, drink or even eat in all public places.
  • When entering a Majlis, always remove your footwear. If you are with a female companion, be ready for her to be escorted to another section.
  • Do not offer any alcoholic refreshments or food with pork to your Muslim guest. 
  • Avoid showing the soles of your feet, or pointing your foot at anyone. Crossing your legs and sitting in front of an important guest or official is also deemed rude
  • Do not gesture someone to come to you, with your finger. If you wish to call someone, use your whole palm and fingers. Live-in relationships are forbidden by law.
  • One should refrain from any word/ action that is anti-Islamic, especially so  in the presence of Muslim people.

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