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What comes to your mind when you hear the word “Dubai”? Is it a country or a city? Does it have towers and skyscrapers, or is it simply desert everywhere? Many people have heard about this place, but not everybody knows what they’ll really find here.

Like other places around the world, Dubai has its own unique destinations, practices, and culture. If you are planning to visit, there are certain things first-time tourists should know about Dubai and the UAE. Moreover, you should also be aware of the following misconceptions about Dubai.

12 Common Misconceptions about Dubai

#1 – Like other places in the Middle East, Dubai is filled with deserts.
Yes, there are deserts in the Middle East, including Dubai. But that is not all there is! Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you may have heard that there beaches, resorts, and malls in Dubai… not to mention the world’s tallest building, biggest mall, largest fountain, and other record-breaking attractions. In fact there are so many things to do in Dubai!

#2 – The climate in Dubai is hot all the time.
Indeed, the summer months can get unbearably hot in Dubai. However, the dry spell doesn’t last all year! From December to March, the weather becomes pleasantly cooler, with occasional rain showers and lower temperatures. These would be the best times to come for a visit.

#3 – Dubai is a country… Right?
Surprisingly, a lot of people actually think that Dubai is a country. This couldn’t be more wrong! Dubai is just one among seven “emirates” of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Another emirate, Abu Dhabi, is the capital of the country.

#4 – Dubai follows a strict dress code.
Unlike other Muslim countries, the UAE is more open when it comes to clothing. It is advisable to dress modestly when going to mosques and public places. Other than that, you can pretty much wear whatever you want. The dress code in Dubai is not that strict at all.

#5 – You can’t buy or eat pork in Dubai.
This couldn’t be further from the truth! Although Islamic law forbids Muslims from eating pork, non-Muslims are free to do so. That being said, there are shops that sell pork in Dubai. Aside from these, some restaurants are also licensed to serve pork in their menus.

#6 – You can’t purchase or drink alcohol in Dubai.
Similar to pork, alcohol is also forbidden to Muslims by Islamic law. Nonetheless, you can purchase alcohol from licensed restaurants in Dubai. You can also apply for an alcohol license to buy liquor legally and drink alcohol in Dubai.

#7 – All the food in Dubai is imported.
Given that there are deserts in Dubai, you might think that all the food is imported. Indeed, most of the food in Dubai is imported from other countries. Still, lately there has been an increase in locally grown crops and produce, as well as dairy and poultry products in the emirate.

#8 – You have to speak Arabic in Dubai.
Although learning basic arabic greetings and phrases would certainly be a good idea, you don’t really have to speak the language. English is commonly used in Dubai and around the UAE, so you don’t have to worry about communicating with citizens and expatriates.

#9 – The locals in Dubai are not hospitable.
Not true at all! The Emiratis are friendly, sociable, and respectful people. You don’t have to feel shy or hesitant about greeting or making small talk with them.

#10 – The people in Dubai are all rich.
Dubai may be filled with luxury hotels, extravagant restaurants, and expensive-looking cars, but not everyone is rich. In fact, most of the people here are simply working hard to make a living, just like you and me!

#11 – Dubai is not a safe place to live in.
This couldn’t be more wrong! Dubai police are quick to respond, and the crime rate here is very low. There are emergency numbers that you can dial in case of emergencies, and the place is generally peaceful and safe.

#12 – Dubai forbids the practice of other beliefs/religions.
Despite being a Muslim country, the UAE is open to other beliefs and religions. You will find Catholic churches, Hindu temples, and other places of worship around the country. So you don’t have to worry about practicing your religious beliefs in Dubai.

Now that we have dispelled some common misconceptions about Dubai, you can see that it is actually a fantastic place to visit or work in. To know more about living in Dubai or other emirates, check out these helpful tips for newcomers to the UAE.

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