Dubai is a modernized but ancient Arabian port city which offers many tourist delights due to its cosmopolitan environment. However, the façade of modernity that Dubai present can beguile one into unknowingly committing some local faux pas whose severity could either mean the difference between a long jail term and death sentence.
It is therefore incumbent upon anyone traveling to Dubai to be acquainted with the local laws and customs in order to avoid falling afoul of the law thereby ruining one’s holiday.
Despite the evidence of modernity all round in Dubai, it should not be lost to visitors that Dubai still employ Islamic laws. Those can be mildly inconveniencing or painfully exacting as some visitors, expatriates and tourists ignorant of the local laws and customs have found out in the past.
As it is with all areas where Islam is strictly observed alcohol is one of the prohibited products in Dubai. Alcohol is however, readily available in Dubai’s numerous restaurants, bars, leisure spots and hotels such as the Ocean View hotel Dubai.
The supermarkets do not sell alcohol. Visitors are forbidden from publicly partaking alcohol or displaying drunkenness. Drunk driving is an absolute no-no. In some places like Sharjah, alcohol is absolutely forbidden.
Whereas alcohol is partially tolerated, narcotic drugs are completely outlawed and harsh penalties are usually meted on those who flout the ban. Therefore, it is important for visitors or tourist to ensure that they subject their luggage to thorough screening as possession of even the smallest quantity of narcotic drugs can attract the death sentence.
There are some medications which might not pass the test of Dubai’s stringent requirements and prior confirmation must be made in order to avoid unnecessary trouble with the Dubai authorities.
Once in Dubai, visitors need to be circumspect in the type of conversation the hold with their local charges or contact.
Overt criticism of the royal family or well known established business families is frowned upon and could lead to further trouble. Navigating the finer nuances of social etiquette that govern the Dubai citizenry in social conversations needs tactfulness as innocent comments taken out of contest could be the harbinger of some unforeseen trouble.
Therefore, visitors must watch their words carefully.
Visitors are advised to be keen while walking on the streets as Dubai streets are notorious for their speeding and erratic drivers. Observe all the relevant traffic codes and cross streets only in clearly marked pedestrian crossing spots. If driving, avoid the extreme left lanes in as some aggressive drivers could force one over. Note that poor driving and road rages are becoming common and visitors should avoid the temptation to loudly swear at offenders or use obscene hand gestures as the police in such instances will not be obliged to accommodate to one as the aggrieved party.
Visitors must, as a rule, watch over their possession especially in crowded tourist sections of Deira, particularly Naser Square. Do not display nor withdraw large sum of money at cash points. It is advisable to make such withdrawal at bank counters where one can find time and place to conceal his cash holdings. Instances of robberies are not uncommon.
Watch out for questionable characters fronting deals or making requests touching on personal details. For those visiting Dubai for the purpose of making investment on properties the need to safeguard against property scams is paramount. If harassed, it is wise to lodge a complaint with the police.
The rules on nudity are clear and strictly enforced. Skimpy attires must be avoided especially in crowded areas like Deira and Karama. Men should refrain from going shirtless. Public display of affection must be avoided as well as crazy acts like public sex.
Visitors need to be reminded that homosexuality is a criminal offence in Dubai and those who display such orientation can be deported without further ado.
Refrain from taking pictures of individuals without their permission.
Finally, as you visit Dubai, it is important that one understand the local customs and laws in order to enjoy one’s visit without hitches occasioned by ignorance of the same. Remember, ignorance of the law in no defence once you get hauled before a judge wherever the place might be.