Culture Tips for Dubai Travelers

There will be a lot of confusing and misleading information when it comes as to the is and what’s not culturally acceptable in Dubai. Dubai is a radiant cosmopolitan city with over 100 nationalities living together in harmony. Countless tourists flock to Dubai every year and the town is actually a cultural crossroads. The local population is fairly small (estimated around 15%), but Emiratis in general are warm, welcoming, and very tolerant of foreign visitors and residents. Inturn, it is greatly appreciated if those who happen to be Dubai take a while to understand about the local customs and culture.

The UAE is a Muslim country. The culture is dependant on a deeply rooted belief in Islam and centers around the family. Mosques are dotted through the landscape of Dubai and five times each day the melodious prayer call or “adhan” will undoubtedly be heard. The official weekend is Friday, although government offices and certain multinational companies will also be closed on Saturday. Arabic is the state language; however English is widely spoken by just about everyone and all the road signs come in both English and Arabic. There is no specific dress code in Dubai, and you will dsicover both ends of the spectrum from women who cover themselves from check out toe to those that choose to barely cover themselves at all. At the beach women are welcome to wear bikinis and men can don swimming shorts. Away from the beach it is more culturally acceptable for men in order to avoid wearing shorts or going shirtless and for women in order to avoid mini-skirts, midriff baring tops, and shorts. T-shirts or blouses and mid-length skirts or Capri pants for women are thought quite appropriate. Muslim women from the Gulf States typically dress in a long black robe known as the “abaya “.The “abaya” itself is not an Islamic requirement, but alternatively a cultural custom. Islam requires ladies to cover their heads and to wear long loose clothes covering their arms and legs. Gulf men wear a loose, typically white robe called a “dishdasha” along with a white or red checkered headdress known as the “gutra “.The gutra is held set up with a dark cord called an “agal “.

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Arabs are one of the very most hospitable people on earth, but visitors still should pay attention to a few cultural musts when interacting with locals. It is best to ask permission of local women before taking their photograph and almost certainly you will undoubtedly be told no. Visitors also needs to remember that some Muslim women and men will avoid shaking hands with members of the contrary gender according to Islamic tradition. This would not be taken being an offense and it is simply best to attend and see if your partner extends their submit greeting first. Local men will typically greet other local men by touching noses or kissing cheeks. Public displays of affection between members of the contrary sex are highly frowned upon, although you will dsicover men (typically Asian expats) holding hands with other men when walking. This is a cultural norm and merely an expression of friendship. If you’re invited to enjoy a coffee, tea or traditional meal with an area family there are a few guidelines to help keep in mind. Before entering a house shoes ought to be removed. When sitting, take time to avoid pointing the soles of your feet in anyone’s direction as this is considered rude in Arab Muslim culture. Food and drink (and there will be a lot of it!) should be taken with one’s right hand. Your host will in all probability keep offering you more and more food and drink. It is acceptable to take a second helping but definitely not a next or fourth! You will need to be persistent and it usually takes a little bit of polite “back and forth” between you and your host before your host acknowledges that you’re actually finished!

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Throughout the Holy Month of Ramadan (when Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset) non-Muslims in Dubai will also be expected (by law) to refrain from eating, drinking or smoking in public places throughout the daytime. A little bit of discretion and respect for the host culture is really all that’s called for. If a visitor accidentally makes a blunder and eats, drinks, or smokes in public places, the worst that will probably happen is that someone will gently remind you of times of year and ask you to stop. Although most restaurants will undoubtedly be closed during the day (or offering take-away only), many malls are in possession of food outlets which can be screened removed from the general public and open during the day in Ramadan for non-Muslims. It is also perfectly suitable for non-Muslims to eat and drink in the privacy of these homes or resort rooms throughout the day. Most hotel restaurants will remain open (with screened-off areas) for hotel guests. It is greatly appreciated during Ramadan if women are a bit more conservative in their dress – simply avoiding short skirts or sleeveless tops. All live musical and dance performances are suspended during Ramadan but pubs will open after sunset. In general visitors do need to be more culturally sensitive throughout the Holy Month, but following the breaking of the fast daily the town comes alive and it is a perfect time to visit if you’re looking to experience cultural flavor.

Ahmed Juma is a local UAE businessman and the owner of Emirates-Ads, a totally free Dubai classifieds site with listings for items on the market, jobs, used cars, and real estate.