Do’s and Don’ts in Dubai | Solo Female Travel
Considered to be the most popular travel destination in the United Arab Emirates, Dubai has earned the right to be on every solo traveller’s bucket list. You might be thinking that travelling to Dubai is no different than travelling to Japan, India, Thailand, and other famous countries. Well, it is true to some extent, and you get to taste delicious food, visit the gorgeous beaches, shop from the luxurious malls, and try out new adventures and outdoor activities. But, there is a key difference when it comes to travelling to Dubai. The country follows Islamic law, and there are a few rules and regulations that you must abide by.
It is essential you understand there a few do’s and don’ts in Dubai before you book your tickets to this beautiful country. Although Dubai is the most relaxed country in the United Arab Emirates, it wouldn’t hurt to know the different do’s and don’ts, right?
I have made the task easier for you. Below are some do’s and don’ts in Dubai that you can read and double-check when you go on exploring the country on your next solo trip.
Do’s in Dubai
Dubai is one of the few countries where you are allowed to do almost anything. The country has something for every solo traveller. Whether you are a beach bum, or a foodie, or a shopaholic, or an adventure seeker, or a nature lover, Dubai has something for everyone.
You will come across plenty of websites that will tell you all the restaurants, beaches, malls, and tourist places you can visit. But very few may mention all the cultural rules and implications.
These are some of the dos in Dubai that you must know about before you embark on your solo trip.
Respect the local tradition
I like discovering new traditions and cultures of different countries. Every country I visit for a solo trip, I make sure I learn a thing or two about its culture. If you are someone who loves discovering traditions and cultures, too, Dubai will not be a disappointment for you.
Dubai’s traditions and cultures are influenced by its majority religion, Islam. If you make an effort not to do something offensive, knowingly or unknowingly, Dubai will accept you with open arms. Regardless of what you might have heard or seen about Islam, it is actually a religion of peace and respect. When you meet someone, you give them a warm smile and greet saying “Assalamualaikum,” which translates to “hello.” Or when someone else greets you first with “Assalamualaikum,” you say “Walaikumassalam” in return.
You can check out my blog on Useful words and phrases for solo women travellers in Dubai.
You must have heard the saying that goes like “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Well, the same applies to Dubai as well. It is important that you dress conservatively and wear clothes keeping the places you are visiting in mind. Dressing conservatively does not mean that you should wear dress up as Arab locals. It only means that you can wear whatever you like when you are in hotels, beaches or resorts. However, when you are in other public places such as streets, malls, airports, it is advisable to dress appropriately.
Keep the following tips in mind to ensure you dress appropriately on your solo trip to Dubai.
- Swimwear can only be worn on beaches and pools
- Cross-dressing is strictly prohibited
- Topless sunbathing is considered offensive and is prohibited
- Cover your head with a scarf when visiting religious places
Read my blog on What to wear in Dubai to have a better understanding of dressing conservatively in the country.
Check your drug prescriptions
Dubai has no tolerance for one thing – drugs. This tolerance is not only against recreational drugs but also against certain prescription medications as well. Although it may seem unfair, if you end up carrying certain medications with you that are against the guidelines of the country, you could get into trouble.
I would recommend you go through the rules and regulations of the Dubai government drafted, especially for prescription medications. This will help you avoid getting into unnecessary trouble. If needed, you can check with your doctor if there is a way by which you could get alternate medications, if possible.
Remember, you are going to Dubai, alone to have a fun time, not to spend your days behind bars over something like prescription medications!
Follow the rules of the Holy month Ramadan
So these do’s, and don’ts in Dubai only apply when you visit the country during the month of Ramadan. As Dubai is an Islamic country, the rules are regulations are followed as per this majority religion only. If you end up planning a solo trip to Dubai during Ramadan, it is important you follow the rules and regulations of the country drafted, keeping Ramadan in mind.
Now, here is another thing you should know. Muslims fast from morning to evening for 30 days. So, it is likely that most restaurants and eateries may be closed during this time frame. If you go out to visit touristy places, I would recommend you pack your own food.
However, once people open their fasts, you can go out visiting the famous restaurants for some delicious food items. Not to forget that the variety of food offered by most restaurants is huge. You might also come across certain delicious food items that are only prepared during Ramadan!
Check the timings of places and restaurants before you make plans
Unlike other countries, Dubai does not start its new week from Monday onwards. Instead, it starts on Sunday! Yes, the weekends in Dubai are Friday and Saturday.
Another important thing to note here is the timings of places and restaurants you plan on visiting. Not every place opens early in the morning or stays open until midnight. It would only spoil your mood if you make a plan, get dressed, and head to the location only to find out it’s been closed!
When I had gone on a solo trip to Dubai, I made this mistake. I decided to visit a restaurant for dinner on Sunday night, only to find out it’s been closed. So I had to head to a nearby street food stall to fill my tummy. Well, I did feel bad about not checking the timings, but the street food made it alright!
Don’ts in Dubai
In Dubai, don’ts stand for exactly one thing – do not. There are no exceptions, even for locals. The rules and regulations are to be followed equally by both locals and tourists. I have listed down some of the most important don’ts for your solo trip to Dubai. However, before we dive into the don’ts, remember that Dubai is not a conservative country at all. It’s just that the country follows the Islamic rules and regulations, and one needs to be respectful towards the country’s values and culture.
Drink alcohol in public
If you want to drink alcohol, you can purchase it from licensed stores, bars, and restaurants. However, alcohol consumption in public places and getting drunk is a criminal offense. As a solo traveller, especially a female solo traveller, the last thing you would want happening to you is getting sent to prison for getting drunk in a foreign country!
Even if you do end up getting a bit tipsy or drunk, I would suggest you take a cab and get to your hotel as soon as possible. If you need help, you can even ask the staff at the bar or restaurant to help you out or arrange a taxi for you. The people of Dubai are extremely friendly, and if you communicate with them politely, they will definitely help you out.
Click photographs of people without their consent
Regardless of how beautiful or cool a scenery (with or without people) is, it is offensive to click pictures of people and some buildings in Dubai. Many Arabs (and some other tourists as well) consider it rude to have their pictures clicked without their permission. And you do not want to get into an argument with anyone on your solo trip to Dubai. I would suggest you ask the people politely first. If they agree, go ahead and click the picture! Even better, after their consent, you can even show them the photograph if you want. If they like it, they might even let you click some more of their pictures.
Furthermore, avoid taking photographs of certain places and buildings such as royal palaces, airports, military buildings, and police stations. But, you can click as many selfies as you want!
Insult their religion – Islam, traditions, or culture
Insulting Islam is probably the worst thing you can do in Dubai or any other Islamic country, for that matter. Now you do not have to like their religion, but since you are a visitor (tourist) in their country, it is expected of you to respect their culture, tradition, and religions.
If you have anything negative or even disrespectful opinions, it is necessary you keep them to yourselves. Saying anything insulting out loud can spoil your solo trip, and you may even end up in prison. Not a good way to end a solo trip, right?
Display your homosexuality
Unfortunately, Dubai still does not accept homosexuality. So if you belong to LGBT community and you end up meeting someone, you might have to keep it under wraps. Displaying public display of affection is a big no-no in Dubai.
Also, cross-dressing is illegal too in Dubai. So try avoiding it to have an amazing travel experience in this gorgeous country!
Use swear words
Using cuss or swear words in public in Dubai is a criminal offense. I have seen many people getting into trouble because of using swear words in public places such as restaurants, beaches, malls, or tourist places.
If you think you can get away by saying a few swear words when the police officers are not around, well, think again. There are many undercover police agents in several public areas of Dubai. I would suggest you keep it clean and avoid using any swear or offensive words at all.
Use your left hand
Well, this one may sound a bit weird to many of you. But Dubai follows the Islamic rules and regulations. And in Islam, the left hand is considered unclean since it is used to maintain body hygiene. It is prohibited to use the left hand to greet people or shake hands. Also, you should definitely not get caught while having food with your left hand!
On my solo trip to Dubai, I made a small mistake of greeting a few locals with my left hand. Well, only because I had a small cut on the palm of my right hand, and I did not think it would be appropriate to shake hands with a bandaged hand. Fortunately, the locals did not take any offense and explained to me why I should not use my left hand to greet people or have my meals. Speaking from personal experience, I would suggest you avoid using your left hand for some things in Dubai.
To make things easier for you to remember, I have summarised the do’s and don’ts into a table in Dubai so that you can remember them easily.
|Do’s in Dubai
|Respect the local tradition
|Check your drug prescriptions
|Follow the rules of the holy month Ramadan
|Check the timings of places before making plans
|Don’ts in Dubai
|Drink alcohol in public
|Click photographs of people without their consent
|Display your homosexuality
|Use swear words
|Use your left hand
This brings us to the end of this blog. I hope you found it useful. Do not worry too much about being correct in public. Just keep these things in mind, and don’t forget to have fun!
An introverted blogger who is looking to make unforgettable solo travel memories with one short life.