When you arrive in Dubai, the possibilities for exploration are limitless. When you’re planning a trip, however, or looking for essential information, it’s helpful to have everything you need in one place. Do I need a visa? What are the most important things to know about Dubai’s culture? How can the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) help? Get answers to all these questions and more.
Helpful facts and tips
- The Dubai time zone is GMT + 4.
- The monetary unit is the Dirham (Dhs or AED), which is divided into 100 fils. The Dirham has been pegged to the US dollar since the end of 1997 at a mid rate of AED 3.67. Use our currency converter
- Electricity supply is 220/240 volts at 50 cycles. Plug points are the same as in the UK. To operate US-made appliances and equipment, you’ll need a transformer to convert the 220V to 110V and an adaptor for the plugs.
Culture and customs
Dubai is a cosmopolitan and liberal city, but there are a number of things to keep in mind with regard to dress code and behaviour:
- Dress: People dress conservatively in most public areas. Swimwear is acceptable at the beach or around the swimming pool, but not in other public places. Shorts and t-shirts are common in many areas, but when visiting mosques, religious sites, or older parts of the city, loose-fitting clothing that covers shoulders, arms, and legs is more appropriate. Women are usually required to wear a headscarf in mosques.
- Etiquette: When greeting members of the opposite sex, it’s important not to offer to shake hands unless they extend their hand first. If you’re invited to a majlis — a private place where guests are received and entertained — remove your shoes at the entrance. It’s customary to accept and eat food and drink with your right hand. Avoid showing the soles of your feet or pointing your foot at anyone. If you’re with an important guest, it’s considered rude to cross your legs. Public displays of affection should be minimal. Holding hands is acceptable, but kissing and hugging in public is not.
- Ramadan: The month of Ramadan is considered the most sacred month in the Islamic calendar. Residents and visitors must refrain from eating or drinking in most public areas during daylight hours. Non-Muslims may eat and drink in designated areas, and many hotels and shopping malls have restaurants that remain open during Ramadan.
- Drinking and drugs: Alcohol is generally only served in establishments that have licences, such as hotel restaurants and bars. Dubai enforces a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to drinking and driving, and the use or possession of drugs is illegal and strictly prohibited.
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