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Although Dubai is a developed and modern city, it is also an Islamic state, meaning that visitors are expected to respect and follow local customs to an extent. If you want to fully enjoy your time in the beautifully exotic city, there are a few rules that you need to keep in mind. OROGOLD examines the most important ones here.

Man praying during ramadan.

Many of Dubai’s rules come from its religion, and during the time of Ramadan, there are certain things that aren’t allowed. Since locals will be fasting from sunrise to sunset, eating and drinking in public is not allowed. There are designated places for non-Muslims to eat and drink in public during this time, so make sure to find out where these are.

Middle eastern couple in a car, close to their home.

The rules regarding clothing relate more to women than men. Swimwear is acceptable at the beach and by swimming pools, but other than that, women need to dress modestly. If you are visiting religious sites, such as mosques, women will be required to cover up their arms and legs, and will also usually need to wear a headscarf. Keep this in mind when packing for your trip, and bring along loose fitting, comfortable clothes, so that the heat does not bother you.

Many Middle Eastern countries have absolutely no tolerance for alcohol, again due to the fact that they are Islamic countries. In Dubai, alcohol is available at restaurants and bars, as they are the only places that can acquire a license to serve it. You are also allowed to buy alcohol from the duty free shops at the airport and bring it into the country.

Couple clicking a selfie with the Dubai skyline in the background.

If you want to photograph the locals, especially the women, it is crucial that you ask their permission first, as many Muslim women aren’t allowed to be photographed. Never take photos of government buildings, or any other buildings that you see are heavily armed. Other than that, Dubai is a photographer’s dream with its stunning skyscrapers and desert landscapes.

You will find that, in Dubai, there is plenty of internet censorship, with some things being completely banned. Online gambling is strictly forbidden, as is engaging in any adult content online.

Couple holding hands during sunset in a Dubai beach.

Behavior in Public
Since Dubai is a Muslim city, all public behavior also needs to be toned down, especially in comparison to Western cities around the world. Being drunk and disorderly in public is not just frowned upon, but is completely unacceptable, and will likely result in a fine or worse. Any public displays of affection should be kept to a minimum. Although it is fine for a couple to hold hands in public, kissing and hugging is not allowed, and needs to be saved for when you are alone. Bad language and obscene gestures, as well as disrespecting Dubai’s leaders or religion in public will also result in legal trouble. Keep in mind that homosexuality is also considered illegal in Dubai.

Although these rules may seem overwhelming, it is vital to keep the local etiquette in mind when visiting Dubai. As long as you are respectful of local customs and are modest in your behavior and dress code, you will be able to make the most of your visit and enjoy all of the life-changing experiences that Dubai has to offer.

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