UAE Etiquette

Although the UAE is a fairly modern place with great facilities and lots to do, it is still a country rich in religion and culture, and it is these aspects of the country which tend to govern what is and isn’t acceptable in public.

Alcohol – The etiquette involved with the consumption of alcohol differs somewhat from the west. Alcohol must strictly only been consumed inside a place that has a license to do so or a club. The legal age for the consumption of alcohol is 21, but due to the strict laws you should always carry ID to enter a club, regardless of your age.

Feet – This is another area that could land you in trouble as feet in the UAE are seen as the lowliest part of a person. For this reason you should avoid pointing your toes at anybody that you are speaking to, and never bare your soles to another person. They should also never be used to move any objects, this is seen as very disrespectful.

The beach – Due to the UAEs strict dress code for local women the beach becomes an area that people tend to become confused about. It is acceptable to wear a bikini at the beach in the UAE; however this should be confined to the beach only. Walking the streets in a bikini is prohibited and could result in fines. Of course for women, swimming topless anywhere is also prohibited.

Signs of affection – Foreigners can also find themselves in trouble when showing their loved one how much they love them in public. Things to avoid in public are kissing, hugging, holding hands and sitting on a person’s lap. This may seem a little extreme to a westerner but in a country governed by a strict religious law these actions can be seen as sexual and should be confined to the privacy of your home.

Women’s fashion – Women should avoid any type of clothing that reveals too much cleavage or any clothing that makes you look too sexual. It is better to err on the side of caution and dress conservative.

Other taboos you should be aware of are dropping litter, touching a Qur’an (unless you are Muslim), take photos of strangers and stare at people.

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