Understanding the Culture of Dubai
When it comes to visiting a country in the Arabian Peninsula, there are misleading and confusing information, about what’s and what’s not acceptable. One of the cities in the region is Dubai, which attract millions of tourists each year. It’s a cultural crossroad, although the local population is actually quite small, about 15 percent of the residents. In general, Emiratis are welcoming, warm and very tolerant to immigrants and foreign visitors. However, before going to Dubai, it’s good idea to learn more about the local culture and customs. The United Arab Emirates is a Muslim nation with culture that’s rooted deeply in the belief of Islam. Friday is the official weekend and many government offices also close at Saturday. The official language is Arabic, but you will find that English is spoken widely in Dubai.
In Dubai, there’s no rigidly enforced dress code and you can see people who wear both ends of the spectrums. You will find people who cover themselves completely, while others wear barely anything at all. At the beach, it’s common to see foreign tourists to wear bikinis or swimming shorts. Away from the beaches, it’s not common to see people who wear only swimming outfits. When going to city centers, shopping areas and restaurants, it is a good to avoid going shirtless or wearing shorts. Women should avoid wearing shorts, midriff baring tops and miniskirts. In the Gulf region, it’s common to wear abaya, which is a rather cultural thing, instead of an Islamic requirement. However, Islam requires women to cover their heads and the rest of their body with long, loose clothes.
Arabs are very hospitable people and there are various cultural considerations that you should know about, when you interact with locals. When taking photographs of women, you should ask for their permission first, however, most of the time, they will decline. As per Islamic tradition, it’s discouraged for men and women to even shake hands, so you should be aware not to touch a person of the opposing gender. It’s simply better to wait and see whether people will extend their hands. Even among husbands and wives, public display of affection is frowned upon, however it’s still acceptable for them to walk while holding hands. Before you enter a home, you should remember to remove your shoes. In Arab culture, it is also considered impolite to point the soles of your foot towards others.
In Dubai, you will eat and drink a lot. When eating, you should only use your right hand. Your host will often offer you more and more food. So, you should accept only with your right hands. During the holy month of Ramadan, it will be somewhat tricky to find a place to eat. There are still many restaurants that are open during the day to serve foreigners, but it would be difficult to find street foods. However, the local culinary experience will be vibrant during the dusk and night. It would be a good time for you to join the local in the festive situation and sample the available culinary delights.