What You Need To Be Aware Of As A Tourist Visiting Dubai

Travelers looking to explore a destination in the Middle East packed with breathtaking architecture, a rapidly changing skyline, and endless flavor will find it waiting for them in Dubai. Here, it's just as easy to spend an afternoon in the sand dunes as it is to travel up to the top of glittering skyscrapers or check out man-made shorelines. Whether you're here to set your sights on Burj Khalifa or experience the wonder of Palm Jumeirah for yourself, Dubai is a destination that has a way of inspiring just about everyone who travels through.

The unique appeal isn't lost on travelers from across the map. The Government of Dubai reported over 14 million international visitors in 2022. The vast majority of visitors hailed from Western Europe, South Asia, and the Americas.

While Dubai beckons to explorers from near and far for a variety of reasons, it's important to note that it's a city where cultural and religious regulations are woven intricately into the fabric of everyday life. Understanding how to be a considerate tourist begins with acknowledging that a trip here is inevitably linked to cultural standards, norms, and practices that are taken exceptionally seriously. Taking time to be aware of these expectations and nuances makes for a more enjoyable stay and can ensure you won't run into any unintentional consequences too during your travels.

Pack with purpose and don't overlook prescription rules

Visitors to Dubai aren't obligated to dress exactly like locals, however, cultural sensitivity towards modesty is always best. Dress codes here fluctuate between public and private locations. Misunderstandings could potentially lead to an arrest so it's well worth making sure you're clear on the rules and expectations.

In general, you're free to dress as you like when you're in your hotel or at your chosen resort. When your plans have you venturing out into crowded city spaces, modesty is key as cultural expectations are very much set within the parameters of Islam and Emirati etiquette. It's advisable for men and women alike to wear loose-fitting clothing that covers the knees and shoulders.

Women will want to have a shawl or scarf handy for visits to Mosques and other local landmarks where covering their head is required. When meeting someone in Dubai, using an Arabic greeting (even if it's the extent of your Arabic knowledge) is seen as extremely hospitable. It's also important to avoid shaking hands with someone of the opposite gender unless it's a gesture that's initiated toward you first.

If you happen to be traveling to Dubai with prescription medications, you'll want to verify through the Ministry of Health that they aren't a banned substance. Dubai has a zero-tolerance approach to drug use and violating those rules, even innocently, can lead to jail time. Prescription medications brought into the country must be pre-approved and always in their original packaging.

Avoid public affection, aggression, and certain photos

Visiting beautiful locations in Dubai can inspire affection, but it's best to refrain. Public displays of affection can result in fines or arrest. Holding hands is allowed, but kissing in public is firmly off-limits.

The same goes for public displays of aggression. Traveling anywhere comes with moments of frustration, but it's advisable to wait until you return to your Dubai hotel to hash things out with your companions. Public officials can make arrests when shouting or public fighting is observed.

When it comes to alcohol consumption in Dubai, always practice caution. Alcohol is sold exclusively in licensed restaurants and bars which is also the only place it can be consumed by visitors. Public inebriation is yet another criminal offense in Dubai to be avoided at all costs.

As a point of cultural awareness, it's also good to note that in Dubai, taking pictures of people or government buildings without permission is considered disrespectful. It's easy to get caught up in the beauty the city showcases, but snapping a photo of strangers in front of a royal palace or military building is a big no. Always take time to ask if you want to take a photo and others are around to keep things peaceful and respectful as you enjoy sightseeing.

Dubai is an exciting destination equally rich in cultural values. Understanding the regulations around tourism is important. From apparel to sightseeing etiquette, having a grip on expectations is key to an amazing stay.