Culture in Dubai can be very clear-cut. How should you dress? Should you tip waiters? Can you drink alcohol? Here are 10 tips for safe travel and fun times in Dubai.
1. Visit between October and April
Dubai only has two seasons — hot and hotter. The months between October and April, known as the winter season, bring blue skies and perfect beach weather to the city. It’s also the rainy season, but typically rain showers don’t last too long so don’t let this factor affect your travel dates.
2. Look at flights six months ahead
International airlines generally release their cheapest seats about six months prior to departure dates. This doesn’t mean you necessarily need to buy your tickets that far ahead of time, but it’s a good idea to start looking and comparing prices. At the latest, you should buy your tickets at least one month in advance.
3. Book your hotel months in advance
Because Dubai is becoming such a popular vacation spot, and because October through April is the prime time for tourists to visit, you want to be sure you have a nice place to stay before your arrival. In order to do so, make your Dubai hotel reservation a good two to three months in advance.
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4. Show respect during Ramadan
If you visit during the holy month of Ramadan, celebrated during the ninth month of the 12-month Islamic calendar, respect the Muslims and their practice of fasting. This means you can’t eat, drink or smoke in public in front of them between sunrise and sunset.
5. Dress modestly
As you pack your vacation wardrobe, think conservative over revealing and flashy. Women’s clothing is considered indecent if it’s too short, tight or transparent, while men should never walk around without a shirt on. Dress modestly to avoid unwanted attention and respect the Muslim culture.
6. Ask permission before taking pictures
Never take a picture of or with a stranger without their permission, unless you’re taking a scenic shot in a major touristy area. But never take a picture of a Muslim woman without her permission, and don’t take photos of any government buildings, airports, military installations, etc.
7. Should you tip?
Tipping isn’t really expected in Dubai, but it’s a common practice. Most restaurants will add a tip to your bill. Taxi drivers don’t expect to receive a tip, but luggage carriers and supermarket baggers are normally given a small tip for their services.
8. Don’t just give your taxi driver an address
Taxis are great for getting around the city; there are plenty of them and they’re a fairly cheap mode of transportation. But, don’t assume your taxi driver knows every street and restaurant in Dubai. They don’t always know the city as well as you think they should, so to make sure you end up where you want to be, give them references to big city landmarks, as they should know these.
9. Be careful where you consume alcohol
Alcohol is legal in Dubai; however, you can’t drink in public as public drunkenness and drinking and driving are prohibited. Also, you can’t buy alcohol for your own use without a permit, and you have to buy it from an establishment that has a license. Purchasing drinks at a bar or restaurant is no problem, just don’t try and leave drunk.
10. Stay away from PDA
Public displays of affection are very offensive in the UAE. Many Dubai visitors have been arrested and imprisoned for showing PDA. To be on the safe side, refrain from holding hands or kissing your significant other while in public.
Even with some of the strict laws, you shouldn’t hesitate to visit Dubai if you get the chance. It’s a unique destination, and one completely worth seeing by yourself, with your significant other or with your entire family.