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Welcome to Dubai

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The incredible progress of Dubai since 1969 has created a remarkable history in the rapid development of tourism infrastructure. Dubai is now a major host for tourism, luxury hotels, sumptuous architecture, world-class entertainment, sporting events, and business. Today, Dubai culture is emphasized by UAE nationals, and mosques are found all over the city. Expats from different countries must adhere to the rules of the UAE. Dubai government has invested in promoting world-class tourism with ultra-high infrastructure facilities. It is also a major hub for different verticals of businesses, luxury and lively nightlife, and shopping. Innovative methods to increase and strengthen Dubai’s economy are through delivering excellent tourism services. 

Plan your things in advance if you are visiting Dubai as you need to delve in to understand the heritage and culture. The city is obsessed with style and fashion, subtle traditions, unending contemporary art, and plenty of shopping malls. 

Local Customs and Laws

The Mosque

Non-muslims are generally not allowed to enter mosques, but visitors keen to immerse themselves in the new culture can take a guided tour of Dubai’s Jumeirah Mosque every day during the week – except on Fridays – at 10am (you must arrive at the main entrance to the mosque by 9:45am and entry to the building cost Dhs20).

You will get a chance to walk through the interior with a small group of seighseers, and you’re free to ask about the mosque and Islam. You must wear modest clothing (no shorts) and women will be given an abaya and Shayla (head scarf) to wear during the tour. All visitors will be asked to removed their shoes before entering the mosque. 

Visit www.cultures.ae for further details. 

National Dress

The white full length robe worn by Emiratis is known as a dishdash or dihdasha. It is worn with a headdress called a keffiyeh.

The traditional keffiyeh in the UAE is white and is held in place by a black cord known as an agal, which Bedouins once used to secure camels. Many younger Emiratis prefer a white and red keffiyeh and avoid using the agal.

Women wear a black coloured robe called an abaya with a head scarf known as a Shayla. It is becoming increasingly rare to see plain abaya.

The dress has undergone a fashion revolution; many are embroidered and embellished with beads or even Swarovski crystals.

You will also spot more traditional (and older) Arab women wearing a burka – a long, loose garment covering the body from head to toe.

What To Wear

Sunbathing in swimwear is perfectly acceptable on the beach, but you must put more substantial clothes over your outfit before your step off the sand.

When in places such as streets, shopping malls and restaurants, shorts and skirts must be of appropriate length, so avoid miniskirts and hot pants.

It is also advisable to steer clear of wearing clothing that is low-cut, transparent, or that displays obscene or potentially offensive pictures or slogans on it.

Women

Women making the move to the UAE maybe under the impression they will face tight restrictions on their day-to-day activities.

However, Emirati women are free to drive and pursue studies and hobbies. Generally, unmarried men and women tend to lead separate lives.

At weddings women usually hold separate celebrations to the men. Some areas of life, however, are still off-limits to women. At public events, such as the horse races, it is rare to see Emirati wives accompanying their husbands.

These traditions extend to ladies’ days in parks, female-only beaches and to women being served first or separately in banks or other queues.

If a woman offers her hand to you, a shake is okay. If not a smile and a nod is an appropriate introduction. There are also dedicated areas for women and children on buses and tram and Metro services.

Language

Language barriers are less of an issue for newcomers than in most countries. Dubai is effectively bilingual, with road signs, maps and daily newspapers in English and most Emiratis speaking the language well.

Some public sector staff and other officials don’t have the same language skills and as a result can come across sounding quite brusque, though.

However, this usually has more to do with the imprecise art of translating Arabic into English than a desire to be rude. It is also worthwhile tuning your ear to the mix of Hindi or Urdu and English that you’ll commonly hear being spoken on the city’s streets.

Drugs

The entire UAE operates a zero tolerance policy to drug use.

There is a list of 65 pharmaceutical products the UAE Ministry of Health has also classifieds as narcotics, including brands such as co-codamol and paracodol, which would be readily available over the counter in chemists abroad.

Customs officials say many airline passengers found carrying banned medicines claim ignorance. Customs say the full list can be obtained by contacting the Ministry of Health or pharmacies in Dubai so it is extremely important to make sure you do your research thoroughly.

Virtually all cases of people found with hard drugs end up with the culprit jailed.