UAE Do’s and Don’ts: Tips for Newcomers

Every year, many people arrive in the UAE for work and business, while even more come to travel and see the sights. Though the country welcomes visitors with open arms, it does so with a set of policies and guidelines. Just like any other culture, it has its own set of DOs and DON’Ts.

If you are a newcomer or expecting some first-time visitors to the UAE, it helps to know certain rules of etiquette and behavior. This article presents some of the most important guidelines related to dress code, gestures and interactions, public behavior, relationships, and other matters.

DOs and DON’Ts in the UAE

Dress Code:

Dress modestly when visiting mosques and other public places

  • DO… dress modestly, especially when going out in public. When visiting mosques, men should wear long pants or trousers, while women should cover their hair with scarves.
  • DO… use swimwear in private pools and beaches, but “cover up” when swimming elsewhere.
  • DON’T… engage in cross-dressing. This is frowned upon by the country’s authorities.
  • DON’T… wear shirts that contain text or images that are offensive to religion and culture.

Gestures and Interactions:Do not point with your finger

  • DO… stand up when meeting new people, older or high-ranking guests. When a woman enters the room, men are also expected to stand up.
  • DO… accept food and drinks using your right hand. You should also use this hand when eating.
  • DON’T… offer pork or alcoholic drinks to Muslim guests.
  • DON’T… offer to shake hands when greeting a member of the opposite sex who is Muslim. It is customary to wait for them to offer their hands first before shaking them.
  • DON’T… point or beckon with your finger; gesture using your whole hand instead.
  • DON’T… point your foot at anyone. Avoid showing the soles of your feet or crossing your legs, especially when you are with an important guest.
  • DON’T… display any obscene hand gestures in public.

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