Dubai Travel Advice: Dos and Don’ts for Tourists

Dubai, with its gleaming skyscrapers, luxurious resorts, and rich cultural tapestry, is a dream destination for many travelers. However, navigating this vibrant city requires a blend of preparedness, cultural awareness, and respect for local customs.

To ensure a smooth and memorable trip, it’s essential to heed some dos and don’ts. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, these tips from Al-Inara will help you make the most of your Dubai experience.

Introduction to Dubai

Before delving into the dos and don’ts, let’s take a moment to appreciate the allure of Dubai. Situated on the southeastern coast of the Persian Gulf, Dubai is the largest and most populous city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Renowned for its futuristic architecture, bustling souks, and pristine beaches, Dubai offers a fascinating blend of tradition and modernity.

Dos Before Your Trip

Research Visa Requirements

Before embarking on your journey, ensure you have the necessary visa to enter Dubai. Depending on your nationality, you may be eligible for a visa on arrival or require prior arrangements. Researching and securing the appropriate visa will prevent any last-minute hassles at immigration.

Pack Appropriate Clothing

While Dubai is known for its cosmopolitan vibe, it’s essential to dress modestly, especially when visiting religious sites or public areas. Pack lightweight, breathable clothing to stay comfortable in the desert climate. Additionally, consider carrying a scarf or shawl for covering shoulders and knees when necessary.

Plan Your Itinerary

With a plethora of attractions and activities, planning your itinerary can help you make the most of your time in Dubai. Whether you’re interested in exploring iconic landmarks, indulging in culinary delights, or embarking on desert adventures, having a rough plan in place ensures you don’t miss out on must-see experiences.

Dos During Your Trip

Respect Local Customs and Traditions

Dubai is a melting pot of cultures, and it’s important to respect local customs and traditions. Be mindful of cultural sensitivities, such as refraining from public displays of affection and dressing modestly in conservative areas. Embracing and appreciating the local culture enriches your travel experience and fosters mutual respect.

Stay Hydrated

Given Dubai’s desert climate, staying hydrated is paramount, especially during the scorching summer months. Carry a reusable water bottle and drink plenty of fluids throughout the day to prevent dehydration. Opt for bottled water from reputable brands to ensure quality and safety.

Be Mindful of the Weather

Dubai experiences extreme temperatures, with summers being exceptionally hot and winters relatively mild. Plan outdoor activities during the cooler parts of the day and seek shade when the sun is at its peak. Additionally, pack sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat to protect yourself from the sun’s rays.

Don’ts Before Your Trip

Overlook Travel Insurance

While no one likes to think about worst-case scenarios, having travel insurance provides peace of mind and financial protection in case of emergencies. From medical expenses to trip cancellations, travel insurance safeguards your investment and ensures you’re covered throughout your journey.

Forget to Check Travel Advisories

Before traveling to Dubai, check for any travel advisories or safety alerts issued by your government. Stay informed about current events, potential risks, and safety precautions to make informed decisions during your trip. It’s better to be prepared than caught off guard in unfamiliar surroundings.

Pack Restricted Items

Dubai has strict laws regarding the importation of certain items, including medications, electronic devices, and recreational drugs. Familiarize yourself with the list of prohibited items and ensure your luggage complies with customs regulations to avoid any legal complications upon arrival.

Don’ts During Your Trip

Engage in Public Displays of Affection

While Dubai is a cosmopolitan city, public displays of affection, such as kissing or hugging, are considered inappropriate and may offend local sensibilities. Exercise discretion and save intimate gestures for private settings to avoid drawing unwanted attention or causing discomfort to others.

Drink Alcohol in Public During Ramadan

During the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn to sunset, and the consumption of food and beverages in public is prohibited during fasting hours. Refrain from drinking alcohol or eating in public spaces during daylight hours out of respect for the local customs and traditions.

Disrespect of Local Laws and Regulations

Dubai has strict laws governing behavior, and ignorance is not an excuse. Familiarize yourself with local laws regarding dress codes, public behavior, and alcohol consumption to avoid any run-ins with authorities. Respect the local customs and adhere to regulations to ensure a hassle-free experience.

Safety Tips

Stay Vigilant Against Pickpocketing

While Dubai is generally safe for tourists, petty crimes like pickpocketing can occur, especially in crowded areas. Keep your belongings secure and be cautious in busy tourist spots, markets, and public transportation. Use a money belt or anti-theft bag to deter thieves and safeguard your valuables.

Use Licensed Taxis

When navigating Dubai’s extensive transportation network, opt for licensed taxis or reputable ride-hailing services like Uber or Careem. Avoid soliciting rides from unlicensed drivers to ensure your safety and prevent scams. Confirm that the taxi meter is running or negotiate the fare before starting your journey.

Avoid Deserted Areas at Night

While Dubai is known for its vibrant nightlife, exercise caution when venturing into deserted or poorly lit areas after dark. Stick to well-populated areas and reputable establishments, especially if you’re traveling alone. Use common sense and trust your instincts to stay safe and secure.

Cultural Etiquette

Dress Modestly

Dubai follows conservative dress codes, especially in religious and cultural sites. Avoid revealing clothing and dress modestly to show respect for local customs and traditions. Women should cover their shoulders and knees, while men should refrain from wearing sleeveless tops in public areas.

Avoid Public Swearing or Rude Gestures

Dubai prides itself on its hospitality and politeness, and public displays of aggression or rudeness are frowned upon. Refrain from using foul language, making obscene gestures, or engaging in confrontational behavior in public. Maintain a polite and respectful demeanor at all times.

Respect Ramadan Customs

During Ramadan, the holy month of fasting, adhere to local customs and etiquette. Refrain from eating, drinking, or smoking in public spaces during daylight hours out of respect for those observing the fast. Embrace the spirit of Ramadan by participating in charitable activities and attending cultural events.

Navigating Transportation

Utilize Public Transport

Dubai boasts an efficient public transportation system, including the metro, buses, and water taxis. Purchase a Nol Card for hassle-free travel on the metro and buses, and explore the city’s landmarks at your own pace. Public transport is not only economical but also offers a glimpse into the local way of life.

Consider Renting a Car

For greater flexibility and convenience, consider renting a car to explore Dubai and its surrounding areas. Rental companies offer a wide range of vehicles to suit your preferences and budget, from compact cars to luxury SUVs. Familiarize yourself with local traffic rules and driving etiquette before hitting the road.

Use Ride-Hailing Apps

Alternatively, opt for ride-hailing apps like Uber, Careem, or Lyft for convenient door-to-door transportation. Simply download the app, request a ride, and track your driver’s arrival in real-time. Ride-hailing services offer a safe and reliable way to navigate Dubai, especially for late-night outings or airport transfers.

Exploring Attractions

Visit the Burj Khalifa

No visit to Dubai is complete without ascending the iconic Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. Marvel at breathtaking views of the city skyline from the observation decks on the 124th and 148th floors, and snap Instagram-worthy photos against the backdrop of Dubai’s glittering skyscrapers.

Explore the Dubai Mall

Indulge in retail therapy at the Dubai Mall, one of the largest shopping destinations in the world. With over 1,200 retail outlets, including high-end fashion brands and eclectic boutiques, the mall offers a diverse shopping experience for every taste and budget. Don’t miss the mesmerizing Dubai Fountain show outside the mall, which dazzles spectators with choreographed water, music, and light displays.

Experience Desert Safaris

Escape the urban bustle and embark on a thrilling desert safari adventure in the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve. Ride a camel across the golden dunes, try sandboarding or dune bashing, and witness a mesmerizing desert sunset. Complete your desert experience with a traditional Bedouin-style dinner under the starlit sky, accompanied by live music and belly dancing.

Dining and Cuisine

Try Local Delicacies

Dubai’s culinary scene is a melting pot of flavors, with influences from Middle Eastern, Asian, and international cuisines. Sample traditional Emirati dishes like shawarma, falafel, and hummus, or indulge in gourmet dining at Michelin-starred restaurants. Don’t forget to savor local specialties like camel meat and Arabian sweets for an authentic gastronomic experience.

Be Aware of Dining Etiquette

When dining out in Dubai, observe local customs and etiquette to show respect for the culture. In traditional restaurants, it’s customary to remove your shoes before entering and eat with your right hand. Refrain from consuming pork or alcohol in establishments that do not serve them, and always thank your hosts for their hospitality.

Tip Appropriately

While tipping is not mandatory in Dubai, it is appreciated for good service. In restaurants, a service charge may be included in the bill, but an additional tip of 10-15% is customary for exceptional service. For other services like taxi rides, hotel porters, or tour guides, a small tip is a gesture of gratitude for their assistance.

Shopping Tips

Explore Traditional Souks

Immerse yourself in Dubai’s vibrant market culture by exploring traditional souks scattered across the city. Wander through the narrow alleys of the Gold Souk and admire glittering displays of jewelry, watches, and gemstones. Bargain for souvenirs and handicrafts at the Spice Souk and Perfume Souk, where aromatic spices and fragrant oils tantalize the senses.

Bargain Politely

Haggling is a common practice in Dubai’s souks and markets, so don’t hesitate to negotiate prices with vendors. Start with a friendly greeting and a smile, and be prepared to walk away if the price is not right. Remember to remain respectful and courteous during negotiations, as building rapport can lead to better deals and memorable shopping experiences.

Check for Authenticity

When purchasing luxury goods or branded items in Dubai, exercise caution and verify the authenticity of the products. Stick to reputable stores and authorized dealers to ensure you’re getting genuine merchandise. Beware of counterfeit goods being sold at bargain prices, as they may be of inferior quality or even illegal.

Language Considerations

Learn Common Phrases

While English is widely spoken and understood in Dubai, learning a few basic Arabic phrases can enhance your travel experience and foster meaningful interactions with locals. Practice greetings like “Marhaba” (hello) and “Shukran” (thank you), as well as essential phrases for asking directions, ordering food, and bargaining in markets.

Use English as a Common Language

In cosmopolitan Dubai, English serves as a lingua franca for communication among residents and tourists from diverse cultural backgrounds. Whether you’re interacting with hotel staff, taxi drivers, or shopkeepers, English proficiency is key to overcoming language barriers and navigating daily interactions with ease.

Show Appreciation for Local Culture

Demonstrate respect for Emirati culture and traditions by showing genuine interest and appreciation for local customs. Take the time to learn about the UAE’s rich heritage, from traditional dances and festivals to the significance of Islamic holidays. Engage with locals respectfully and embrace cultural exchanges as opportunities for mutual learning and understanding.

Health and Wellness

Stay Hydrated

In Dubai’s arid climate, staying hydrated is essential for your health and well-being. Carry a refillable water bottle and drink plenty of fluids throughout the day, especially when outdoors or engaging in physical activities. Avoid excessive caffeine and alcohol consumption, as they can contribute to dehydration.

Apply Sunscreen

Protect your skin from the harsh sun by applying sunscreen with a high SPF rating, especially during peak hours between 10 am and 4 pm. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen that offers protection against both UVA and UVB rays, and reapply it every few hours, particularly after swimming or sweating.

Seek Medical Assistance if Needed

In the event of illness or injury during your trip to Dubai, seek prompt medical attention from reputable healthcare providers. Dubai boasts modern medical facilities and well-trained healthcare professionals, ensuring you receive quality care and treatment. Carry a copy of your travel insurance policy and important medical documents for peace of mind.

Money Matters

Exchange Currency Wisely

When exchanging currency in Dubai, compare rates offered by banks, exchange offices, and hotels to get the best deal. Avoid exchanging money at airports or tourist areas, as they often charge higher fees and offer less favorable rates. Use ATMs to withdraw cash in local currency for convenience and security.

Use Credit Cards Securely

Credit cards are widely accepted in Dubai, making cashless transactions convenient for travelers. However, exercise caution when using your credit card to prevent fraud or unauthorized charges. Only use secure and reputable payment terminals, and monitor your account statements regularly for any suspicious activity.

Budget for Expenses

To avoid overspending during your trip, create a budget and allocate funds for accommodation, transportation, meals, activities, and souvenirs. Factor in additional expenses like tips, entrance fees, and unexpected costs to ensure you have enough money to cover your entire trip.

Track your spending and adjust your budget as needed to stay within your financial means.


In conclusion, visiting Dubai offers a myriad of opportunities for adventure, relaxation, and cultural immersion. By following these dos and don’ts, you can ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip while respecting local customs and traditions.

Whether you’re marveling at futuristic skyscrapers, exploring traditional souks, or savoring Arabian delicacies, Dubai promises an unforgettable experience for every traveler.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Is Dubai safe for tourists?

Yes, Dubai is generally safe for tourists, with low crime rates and strict law enforcement. However, it’s essential to exercise caution and be mindful of your surroundings, especially in crowded areas and tourist hotspots.

What is the best time to visit Dubai?

The best time to visit Dubai is during the winter months, from November to March when the weather is pleasant and outdoor activities are enjoyable. Avoid visiting during the scorching summer months, when temperatures soar and humidity levels are high.

Can I drink alcohol in Dubai?

While alcohol is available in licensed venues such as hotels, bars, and restaurants, it’s important to consume alcohol responsibly and adhere to local regulations. Drinking in public places or during Ramadan fasting hours is strictly prohibited.

What should I wear in Dubai?

When visiting Dubai, it’s advisable to dress modestly, especially in conservative areas and religious sites. Women should cover their shoulders and knees, while men should avoid wearing sleeveless tops in public places. Additionally, carry a scarf or shawl for covering up when necessary.

Do I need to tip in Dubai?

While tipping is not mandatory in Dubai, it is appreciated for good service. In restaurants, a service charge may be included in the bill, but an additional tip of 10-15% is customary for exceptional service. For other services like taxi rides or hotel porters, a small tip is a gesture of gratitude for their assistance.

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