Understanding Dubai’s Social Etiquette

While the modern city of Dubai welcomes visitors from all over the world, visitors should respect that Dubai is a Muslim city and take into consideration how they dress and the way they conduct themselves while there. Before making a visit, it’s important to become knowledgeable in the social etiquette and culture in Dubai.

Modest Dress
Visitors to Dubai, especially women, should dress modestly while in conservative areas and in public places where they’ll be seen by other people. Although swimwear is acceptable, it should only be worn around the swimming pool and the beach, taking care to be covered up elsewhere. Shorts and T-Shirts are also acceptable attire when visiting Dubai, however if you intend on visiting a mosque or another religious site, you should dress a bit more formally in loose-fitting clothes that cover the shoulders, arms, and legs. That applies to both men and women, with women also being required to wear a headscarf before being allowed into a mosque.

Courteous Behavior
In terms of behavior, courtesy and hospitality are important virtues in the Arab community and visitors will be treated with friendliness and given a warm welcome. When in the presence of new guests, it’s important to stand, as men are also expected to stand when a woman enters the room. When a visitor is greeting a member of the opposite sex who’s Muslim, you shouldn’t be the one to initiate a handshake as both Muslim men and women (mostly women) may not wish to shake hands without someone of the opposite sex because of religious reasons; you should only participate in a handshake if they extend their hand first.

Body Gestures
If someone offers you food, you should accept it with your right hand, which is also the hand you should eat with. You should also never point or beckon with your finger and if you must make a hand gesture, use your whole hand to make the gesture. Also, while in public, you should make sure the soles of your feet are hidden and that you’re not pointing your toes at anyone.

If you find yourself sitting in front of an important guest, you shouldn’t cross your legs as doing so is considered rude. And if you happen to be hosting Muslim guests, it’s important to keep in mind that you should never offer them an alcoholic beverage or any pork.