Cultural Etiquette 101: A UK Visitor’s Guide to Dubai


As a British visitor to Dubai, it’s important to be aware of the cultural customs and etiquette of this fascinating city. Dubai is a melting pot of cultures, but it still adheres to certain traditions and values that may be different from what you’re used to in the UK. This guide will provide you with essential tips to navigate Dubai’s cultural landscape with respect and sensitivity.

  1. Dress Code:
    Dubai is a Muslim country, and although it is relatively liberal compared to other Middle Eastern nations, it is still important to dress modestly, especially in public places. Both men and women should avoid wearing revealing or tight-fitting clothing. Women should cover their shoulders, knees, and avoid low-cut tops. Men should avoid wearing shorts in public areas outside of beach or sporting activities.
  2. Public Displays of Affection:
    In Dubai, public displays of affection, such as kissing or hugging, should be avoided. It is considered inappropriate and can be offensive to the local culture. Save any romantic gestures for private spaces like your hotel room or designated areas.
  3. Respect for Ramadan:
    Ramadan is a holy month in Islam when Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. It is important to be respectful during this time by not eating, drinking or smoking in public places during daylight hours. If you’re not fasting, make sure to eat and drink in designated areas or within your accommodation.
  4. Cultural Sensitivity:
    Dubai is a multicultural city, but it’s important to respect the local culture and customs. Avoid making negative comments about Islam or the ruling family, as these topics are sensitive. It’s also important to seek permission before taking photographs of people, especially women, to show respect for their privacy.
  5. Friday Prayer:
    Friday is considered a holy day in Islam, and Muslims gather for Friday prayers at the mosque. Many businesses may close for a few hours during this time, so it’s important to plan your activities accordingly. Avoid scheduling important meetings or appointments around midday on Fridays.
  6. Alcohol Consumption:
    Dubai has a thriving nightlife scene, but alcohol consumption is regulated. It is only permitted in licensed establishments such as bars, hotels, and restaurants. Public intoxication and drinking in non-designated areas are strictly prohibited and can lead to legal consequences.

By familiarizing yourself with Dubai’s cultural customs and etiquette, you will be able to navigate the city with respect and sensitivity. Following these guidelines will not only ensure a smoother and more enjoyable trip, but it will also help foster a positive interaction between British visitors and the local community. Embrace the diversity and beauty of Dubai, while being mindful of the cultural traditions that make this city so unique.

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