cultural differences. Subsequently, a number of behaviours that are widely regarded as acceptable in the majority of European countries might well be frowned upon in the United Arab Emirates. Having said that, the United Arab Emirates is for the most part a very tolerant country with regards to differences in culture and daily habits.
The following is a little summary of the major do’s and don’ts to be respected when living in the Emirates .
The Emiraties wear their traditional clothing which consists of a dishdash or gandoura for men and of an abaya for the women. To know more about the traditional wear in the Emirates, please read the article on Traditional Wear in the Emirates.
For the Expats, they can dress as they wish with, however, certain limits.
For men, just about anything goes; one can walk around in shorts and flip-flops just about anywhere. Do not however walk around without your top off even on your way to the beach. Only get undressed once on the beach.
For women, refrain from wearing clothes which are too revealing. People have been refused entrance to malls and restaurants in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, although this is very rare. What will bother you the most is the looks you might receive from the men, in particular the Indian and Pakistani men. They will make no attempt at disguising their starring habits should a young lady come into their site. In any case, expatriate women are in no way, shape or form obliged to wear the abaya or the veil if they do not wish to. On the other hand, revealing clothing worn in the evening or at night at the restaurants and night clubs is very common and very widely accepted especially in Dubai.
Due to a large number of cliches affiliated to the country, women are often unsure as to whether or not it is a good idea to travel alone in the United Arab Emirates.
The answer is yes. It is possible for a lone women to travel or live alone in Dubai, Abu Dhabi or the Northern Emirates.
With regards to safety, the UAE is a very safe country where aggressions on women are very rare (more rare than in a European country for example), however the county's usual safety precautions should none-the-less be respected.
Expatriate women are of equal standing to the men when it comes to the law, and even though women will undoubtedly be exposed to sexist cliches and sometimes the insistent staring of laborers, life is totally livable for a women in the United Arab Emirates.
Although there is a limited amount of tolerance with regards to the above rules in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, it should be borne in mind that expatriates are regularly sentenced to time (short spells) in prison. The Emirate of Sharjah is somewhat less tolerant and the rules listed above are strictly enforced.
During the Ramadan month, it is also forbidden to:
The standard penalty for severely/blatantly abusing the above conditions is usually time in prison util the end of the Ramandan Period. For more informations, read our article on Ramadan in the United Arab Emirates.
Note that it is strictly forbidden, in the UAE, to criticize:
Even as a joke or under the form of humour, these criticisms can earn one a stay in prison. Read our more detailed article on internet and censorship in the United Arab Emirates and on religions in the United Arab Emirates.
Read our detailed article on: Travelling as a couple in the United Arab Emirates.
Read our detailed article on: Sex, drugs, alcohol and pork in the United Arab Emirates.