Dubai is a city that is talked about quite often, but unless you’ve visited before it’s hard to know what to expect. The day-to-day life is not totally unexpected, but there are a few cultural norms that should be addressed. These are some things to take into consideration before traveling to Dubai.
How to Dress
Dubai is nestled in a Muslim country, therefore it is wildly important to consider bringing some clothes that will allow you to dress modestly in specific areas. In public areas such as malls, airports, cafes, and public transportation, it is expected of men and women to dress in a modest manner. Shoulders covered and not too much leg, butt, or boob should be out. While you will not get arrested for showing too much skin, it’s much better to let people see you respecting the local culture.
Hotels are known as “international zones” where beach, holiday, and hot weather dress is appropriate. The lobby of the hotel wouldn’t be the best place for this, but it is absolutely okay by the pool and beach. A great travel tip is for women to keep a kaftan or cover up with them for the hotel, and a pashmina for public areas.
It is not easy to be spontaneous in Dubai, so when thinking about grabbing a bite to eat out for dinner, make a reservation. It is also not easy to walk into an eating place and get seated without a reservation, especially in the more upscale restaurants. The restaurants are the hottest places to visit in Dubai, so it is likely that reservations are made weeks in advance.
None of the restaurants in Dubai have a license to serve alcohol, but almost all of the hotels with restaurants do. Alcohol is permitted in these international zones, and many of the well-known restaurants inside of hotels are serving alcohol. You don’t even need to be staying at one of the hotels to be able to eat at the restaurants located within. It is not uncommon for visitors to walk into a hotel and ask for directions to a club, bar, or restaurant—so go for it!
Similarly to London, taxi rides are very affordable. This makes it easy to use a taxi to get around the city. The city is full of taxis that are waiting for passengers, so it will not take more than a few minutes to track one down. The meter starts at 5 dirhams ($1.36), and always make sure that your driver restarts the meter and knows exactly where you are headed.
The Call to Prayer
The Call to Prayer can be heard from almost anywhere in the city of Dubai, and all of the mosques in the city are hooked up to a public speaker system. It is heard from the minaret a total of 5 times per day.
Depending on your proximity to a mosque, it is possible to hear the call through the night as well.
This is custom in Dubai, but it is not expected and is not near as obligatory as the United States. Do think about the quality of the service that was provided, and do not feel obligated to tip if it was bad. Approach tipping as a case-by-case basis.
There are so many trendy bars and clubs in Dubai that it would be impossible to visit them all. They are all located inside of hotels, making them feel like sort of a secret hideaway. There is no main area of the city for nightclubs, so when planning a night out, you’ll need to know where you are going and where it is located. More than likely it will be either at the top of a skyscraper or hidden through the lobby of a hotel.