Now guys, we’ve all sinned in the news and read reports about tourists that got arrested for fairly innocuous things. Unfortunately, they’re all true, so here are ten things that you definitely don’t do when you’re here in Dubai, In the UAE or anywhere in the Middle East.
1. Drinks and Drugs
Yes, there’s plenty of alcohol here in the Middle East, even though it’s a Muslim country and they generally aren’t supposed to drink it. You won’t find any problem finding it in a supermarket, in a bar, or in a hotel, but keep it in a bar or a hotel because, quite frankly, if you are caught with alcohol in the middle of the street or if you’re drunk in public, this can get you arrested and fined. What’s less tolerable than alcohol is drugs. If they find drugs on you, if they find drugs stuck to you, if they even suspect that you’re doing some kind of drug, this is a surefire way of landing them in prison. If you are into drugs, don’t bother doing them here, and if you do enjoy drinking, make sure you enjoy it in a licensed bar and enjoy it sensibly. What about tobacco? Well, generally, tobacco is allowed, but only in designated areas. There are specific signs that will point you out to these designated areas where you could smoke. failure to contain yourself within these areas will obviously land you a fine.
2. Don’t eat and drink during Ramadan
This means that you can’t eat or drink between the hours of sunrise and sunset here in Dubai. Some restaurants close up completely there’s nothing you can do about that but the ones that stay open will black out their windows pop like curtains up and put up signs saying that they are open to Non-Muslims and children so you could still go in and consume food and beverage but you can’t leave the premises with it so it’s better than nothing. I guess what’s even more inconvenient is if you do this in a shopping mall there are food outlets that will serve you the food but they’ll put it in a plastic bag and they’ll tell you to consume it in the food court now these shopping malls are palatial and you might be walking 500 meters or more just to reach the nearest food court to take a sip of water so even though it’s inconvenient it’s not the end of the world remember you’re in a foreign country with a following religion and you have to be respectful of the local laws Religions and customs.
3. Don’t stay in a hotel room with somebody that you’re not married or closely related
If you’re a young couple and you want to come to Dubai and you want to sleep in the same room together bear in mind that this is actually illegal and they will check at reception there are ways of getting around this like wearing fake wedding rings, photos of you photoshopped in wedding dresses and suits etc and just argue that you do not have time to change your names etc that’s usually enough to kind of alleviate any suspicion from the hotel staff but this is a law that they enforce strictly so if you do find yourself foul of this law you could be facing a quite a lengthy prison sentence.
4. Kissing in public
In the West peoples are happy to hug each other kiss each other or grope each other I guess in the middle of the street. This is not tolerated in Dubai or the Middle East. This can get you arrested in the worst case scenario but more often than not this gets you a tongue lashing from the locals and people who get offended by that.
5. Dress code
you’ve got to dress modestly when you’re here in Dubai now I know it’s hot it’s always hot it’s a desert country but you still have to cover up skin so for men short-sleeved shirts and shorts that go over the knees and for women something that covers and shoulders and a long flowing dress that hides the legs if you stick to that you generally won’t suffer here and yes there are tourists that walk around generally half-naked and yes people don’t bat an eyelid and sometimes they get away with it but do you want to take that chance they enforce this rule strictly in places like mosques and government buildings they won’t let you near the place if you’re dressed inappropriately so bear this in mind when you’re packing your suitcase
6. Don’t use obscenities or hand gestures
swearing can get you arrested and fined so people understand English they know all the English swear words if they hear you saying it they will dob you in or at least give you a good telling off aggressive hand gestures are also not tolerated so even doing something like this is an insult doing this is an insult and obviously that and that will get you arrested so if in doubt don’t use any hand gestures at all
7. Don’t take people’s photos without their consent
Obviously there’s a lot of cool things to photograph in Dubai but you’ve got to watch out because if you take your photograph of someone and they don’t give consent this could land you in some serious trouble especially if you take pictures of women children or Emiratis they hate that and if you are caught taking photos and they’ve not agreed to it you’re going to land yourself in jail that’s not a joke in general you can go around and take as many pictures as you like with your cell phone so long as it’s for personal use if you’re a professional like me and you’re wielding around a giant DSLR security will shut you down pretty much immediately and ask you if you have permission or a permit slip most of which I don’t have and they’re very protective about their property and professional photographers generally have to pay to take commercial snaps so if you are wielding a professional-looking DSLR don’t be surprised if security or police come and ask you for permits if they do tell you to leave pack your camera away and leave without question Don’t argue; arguing with them is a surefire way of getting yourself into some serious trouble, you know, man.
8. Don’t act like a complete tourist
Yeah, you should be able to enjoy yourself, and so long as you’re respectful of the local laws and traditions, you can enjoy yourself. What’s not tolerated is if you act like a complete tourist, if you’re loud and aggressive, if you dance in the street, if you’re being a general nuisance, people are going to notice you. You will stand out like a sore thumb, and it won’t be too long before security takes notice and decides to find you, or you can call the police. So bear this in mind: the more loutish your behavior, the more you stand out, the more likely you’re going to be caught doing something.
9. Don’t post on social media
Social media can get you into some serious trouble. The rules are don’t criticize the government, don’t criticize the royal family, don’t criticize the country, and don’t criticize the religion of Islam. We’ve all heard of the guy who got arrested for posting on Facebook here in Dubai, and this happens quite a lot. Dubai cybersecurity is second to none, so if you have criticized them at some point, they will find you, they will arrest you, and they will throw you into jail. The same goes for if you’ve been distributing or downloading porn; they don’t tolerate that either, so if you are thinking about doing anything like that for the love of God, don’t.
10. Pay your bills
It seems rudimentary to pay your bills. If there’s a dispute between you and a restaurateur or you and a taxi cab driver and they believe that you owe more money than you think, you do ask politely if there has been some kind of mistake, but if they insist that they are in the right and you were in the wrong, even though you know your rights for the love of God, just pay the money I know that goes against our Western Way of thinking, not paying your bills is a serious crime here, so if they do dispute that you’ve not paid anything, they can literally call the police. The police will come, and who are they going to believe, the locals or the tourists? Of course they’re going to believe the locals, and you’re going to land yourself in some serious troubles. If you’re in a dispute, just pay the money it’s not worth your freedom.
And bonus tip don’t steal. If you’re not sure whether to take something that you might think is free, always ask because stealing is a capital crime here. They really don’t tolerate stealing. So if you are thinking about shoplifting, don’t because the penalties are actually really severe. Dubai is relatively crime-free because they enforce their laws strictly and without mercy, so bear this in mind before you actually come here. If you’re respectful of the local laws, customs, and traditions, you’ll have an amazing time here.