over the years has picked up some pretty negative stereotypes and backlash from tourism and media, not to mention the horrifying travel stories that will have you automatically believe Dubai is incredibly strict and that if you step one foot out of line, you will be thrown into prison. Not the case at all – Dubai isn’t nearly as strict as what media and harsh stereotypes would have you believe. But while there are some unusual laws that you need to be aware of before you go, if anything, it is just polite and respectful to abide by the laws and for first time travellers to the UAE, be made aware of them.
Dubai is a Muslim country and follow Muslim laws. They have very different laws and culture to the western world and it is important to bear this in mind before and while visiting.
Drinking alcohol: The legal drinking age is 21 in Dubai, however drinking or being drunk in public is not tolerated and is frowned upon. If you want to drink, you can in any hotel establishment (where alcohol is served). Also, drink driving is taken very seriously, and you cannot drive with even the slightest alcohol in your bloodstream and if you are caught, this can warrant jail time.
Swearing: Swearing, cursing and making rude gestures, such as the middle finger, are actually seen as criminal acts in Dubai. Just don’t do it.
Public display of affection: Kissing and displaying over the top forms of affection in public, crowded areas can lead to imprisonment.
Sex outside of marriage: Sex between those who are not married is illegal.
Ramadan: During Ramadan (which happens one month every year), it is illegal for non-Muslims to eat, drink or smoke in public in front of Muslims between sunrise and sunset.
Drugs: Drugs are illegal in Dubai and if caught, can include very serious consequences.
Clothing: Woman’s clothing should be conservative and nothing excessively tight, see through, short, or no showing cleaverage, stomach or bare back. Men should cover their chest and underwear should be never seen. Not only can what you wear attract the wrong kind of (unwanted) attention and stares, but its incredibly rude and disrespectful.
Beach: You can wear swimmers at the beach and swimming pool areas in Dubai, however topless sunbathing is not permitted in any location.
Prohibited items: Drugs, any form of dangerous weapon, pornographic material is prohibited in Dubai.
These are typical laws of a Middle Eastern country that should be expected anywhere you travel within Dubai and the UAE, so it should come as no surprise.
Dubai is a fascinating place, and if you strip back the glistening skyscrapers, extravagant cars, shopping malls and love for everything luxurious, Dubai is very cultural and has quite a intriguing side underneath the surface. Come here with an open mind, embrace the culture and heritage and enjoy what this magnificent desert city has to offer!
And most importantly, just remember to be culturally aware and sensitive, and you will have a much better experience.