The UAE is a modern country that welcomes visitors from around the world. Courtesy and hospitality are important virtues in the UAE; visitors will enjoy the friendliness and warm welcome provided by locals.
However, visitors are obliged to abide by their social responsibility while in the UAE. It is important to consider certain factors in terms of behaviour and etiquette respectful of the local culture. Some of the things to which they are expected to be socially aware and responsible are mentioned below. Following the below practices would be polite and appreciated:
Public displays of affection should be minimal; holding hands is acceptable but kissing and hugging in the public is not.
Noise disruptions, bad language, making obscene gestures and showing disrespect in any way to the UAE, its leaders or religion are all forbidden and may land you in legal trouble and deportation.
It is a punishable offence to drink alcohol without a licence or to be under the influence of alcohol in public.
In the emirate of Sharjah, drinking alcohol is illegal.
Passengers in transit through the UAE under the influence of alcohol may also be arrested.
If you are sharing a meal with your host, accept food and refreshments before moving on to matters of business.
If you are about to eat, it is considered polite to offer food. The offer might be politely declined, but it is important to extend the offer.
It is customary to accept food and drink with your right hand; this is also the hand you should eat with. The act of food sharing is a considered as an expression of friendship in the Arab countries.
If you are invited to a majlis, remove your shoes at the entrance. Males and females will probably be escorted to different sections.
It is important to stand up for new guests and older or higher-ranking people.
When greeting a member of the opposite gender who is Muslim, do not offer to shake hands unless they extend their hand first. Both men and women (more commonly women) may prefer not to shake hands with the opposite gender due to religious reasons.
If you are sitting in front of an important guest, it is considered rude to cross your legs. Do not point with your finger. If you need to use a hand gesture, use the whole hand.
Visitors to the UAE should dress modestly, particularly in conservative areas and public places like shopping malls.
Clothing should not be transparent, indecently exposing parts of the body or displaying offensive pictures or slogans.
Both men and women might feel more comfortable wearing loose-fitting clothes that cover shoulders, arms and legs.
Women traveling in the UAE are not expected to cover their heads or wear the traditional Muslim attire.
When visiting a mosque, women will be asked to respect the Muslim tradition and wear an abaya and cover their heads. Often, these would be provided at the mosque.
Any form of nudity is strictly forbidden; including topless sunbathing. Swimwear should not be worn in any other area outside the beach, water parks or swimming pools.
Emiratis dress conservatively in traditional dress and can be offended when people dress inappropriately or not in accordance with Islamic values.
Updated on 11 Sep 2019