UAE Do’s and Don’ts: Tips for Newcomers

Every year, many people arrive in the UAE for work and business, while even more come to travel and see the sights. Though the country welcomes visitors with open arms, it does so with a set of policies and guidelines. Just like any other culture, it has its own set of DOs and DON’Ts.

If you are a newcomer or expecting some first-time visitors to the UAE, it helps to know certain rules of etiquette and behavior. This article presents some of the most important guidelines related to dress code, gestures and interactions, public behavior, social media behavior, relationships, and other matters.

how to behave uae dos and donts

DOs and DON’Ts in the UAE

Dress Code:

Dress modestly when visiting mosques and other public places

  • DO… dress modestly, especially when going out in public. When visiting mosques, men should wear long pants or trousers, while women should cover their hair with scarves.
  • DO… use swimwear in private pools and beaches, but “cover up” when swimming elsewhere.
  • DON’T… engage in cross-dressing. This is frowned upon by the country’s authorities.
  • DON’T… wear shirts that contain text or images that are offensive to religion and culture.

Do not point with your finger at anyone

Gestures and Interactions:

  • Do not point with your finger
  • DO… stand up when meeting new people, older or high-ranking guests. When a woman enters the room, men are also expected to stand up.
  • DO… accept food and drinks using your right hand. You should also use this hand when eating.
  • DON’T… offer pork or alcoholic drinks to Muslim guests.
  • DON’T… offer to shake hands when greeting a member of the opposite sex who is Muslim. It is customary to wait for them to offer their hands first before shaking them.
  • DON’T… point or beckon with your finger; gesture using your whole hand instead.
  • DON’T… point your foot at anyone. Avoid showing the soles of your feet or crossing your legs, especially when you are with an important guest.

    Ask for permission before taking pictures
  • DON’T… display any obscene hand gestures in public.

Going Out and About:

  • DO… buy and drink alcohol only in licensed hotels, restaurants, and bars.
  • DO… ask for permission before you take pictures of a UAE national or resident.
  • DO… be careful with public displays of affection. Holding hands is okay, but kissing and hugging in public should be avoided.
  • DON’T… drink, get drunk, or behave in a disorderly manner in public.

    Buy alcohol only in licensed hotels and restaurants
  • DON’T… drink while driving. This is simply not acceptable in the UAE!
  • DON’T… use illegal drugs or substances; these are strictly prohibited.
  • DON’T… use bad language, make offensive gestures, or show disrespect to the country’s leaders, culture, and religion.

Other Important Guidelines:Buy alcohol only in licensed hotels and restaurants

These are some of the most important rules when visiting the UAE. They may seem rather strict, but let us remember that they are based on the country’s culture and religion. To avoid getting into trouble, it is best to follow these guidelines as well as to be respectful at all times.

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