I’m going to tell you about a few Dubai laws to know before you go! I was excited to visit Dubai, but had no idea what to expect in the United Arab Emirates. I had a vague idea that I shouldn’t wear my jean shorts. Other than that, I had no idea how to stay out of trouble and I was a little intimidated by its reputation.
It turned out to be a lot more open and relaxed than I expected. (The jean shorts would’ve been fine.) But, they are extremely dedicated to their ideas of law, order and respect. It is possible to find yourself in trouble for something you wouldn’t usually expect. So, here are a few laws to be aware of before you visit Dubai!
(By the way, go here to find out what it’s like to visit Dubai as a woman.)
|Dubai, United Arab Emirates|
|Cost of Living Relative to the US (Rent)||11% More Expensive Than US|
|Cost of Living Relative to the US (Restaurants)||9% More Expensive Than US|
|Free Workspace With Fastest Wi-Fi||Leopold’s of London, JBR, 55 MBPS|
|Cost of AirBnB / Night (Cheapest Private Room)||$10 / Night|
|Cost of AirBnB (Average for Entire Place)||$38 / Night|
|Cost of AirBnB / Month||$750 / Month|
|Cost of Hotel / Night||$25 / Night|
|Cost of Hotel / Month||$750 / Month|
|Co-Working Space / Month||$285 / Month|
|Domestic Beer (Restaurant)||$9.55|
|Domestic Beer (Market)||Not Sold In Markets (Airport Only)|
|Bottle of Wine||Not Sold In Markets (Airport Only)|
|Cup of Coffee||$4.02|
|Meal for One Person (Restaurant)||$7.89|
|Pack of Cigarettes||$5.45|
A few special metro cars are reserved just for women and children. Women can sit anywhere on the metro, but men are only allowed in the mixed cars.
In addition to some dirty looks, men can receive a fine for being in those cars. But, don’t worry. You will clearly see which is the women’s car from the marked signs and the looks you’ll get if you’re a man sitting there. (Which is how we figured it out when we got off the plane, stepped on the metro and promptly sat down together in the women’s car with my head resting on Jon’s shoulder.) Which leads me to my next point…
PDA is a no go
This habit can be hard to break, especially for those of us from wanton Western countries. But, in a place where holding hands or sharing a hotel room is technically only allowed for married couples, you’ll just go ahead and dial back the smooching.
How strict is it? From what we learned from locals it seems like although there are some harsh laws, in practice it is pretty reasonable and relaxed. However, they value respect and propriety here and you need to keep that in mind.
Here’s an example: If you’re showing PDA with your partner it’s unlikely a cop will pop out of nowhere and arrest you. But, if someone sees you all over each other in public they can report you. They say you offended them, that complaint is taken seriously and you could get in trouble.
In general, you don’t have to worry if you forget for a quick second and hold hands while you’re walking down the street. Just be discreet, respectful and keep the rest behind closed doors.
Don’t curse at people or loudly in general
This is obviously a good rule for general behavior. But, in Dubai, If you get into a heated argument with someone or are joking around with your friends you could find yourself in trouble.
I wasn’t sure exactly how you could get in trouble for that so I asked our friend who lives there. Guess what the answer was? Yep, someone can report you for offending them with bad language. This was a tough one for me because I love a good goddamn curse word.
The laws don’t stop at just curse words, either. People will tattle on you for making rude gestures as well. Recently, police arrested a man in Dubai for giving someone the finger in traffic. So, just reign in the road rage during your visit and you should be fine.
Don’t diss religion.
You’re entitled to your own beliefs. But, if you’re going to visit Dubai and your beliefs are not complimentary, you’ll want to keep them to yourself. You can be jailed for anything someone deems to be disrespectful to religion or religious practices.
This one sounds kind of scary because it seems like something you might accidentally do, but I think it’s pretty easy to comply. Just be aware of your surroundings and don’t loudly talk shit.
Driving after drinking ANY amount of alcohol is illegal
This is another good general rule. But, unlike most places, there is no legal limit for driving under the influence in Dubai. No, that doesn’t mean it is limitless! It means ANY alcohol in your system will get you in trouble, fined or jailed and then deported.
This really shouldn’t be a problem as the metro can get you anywhere you need to go! (Or the abovementioned chopper.)
Something to keep in mind while you’re strolling through this fancy oasis in the desert is that this city’s surveillance is second to none. Just like John Hammond, they spared no expense. (Jurassic Park reference, ya fools.)
When you visit Dubai there will be few times you are not on CCTV. This information will mean more to some of you depending on how rascally you are, but it’s good to know! If someone brings a charge against you for something you did (like give someone the finger) they will probably be able to prove that you did it.
You may be able to see a pattern here. Most of the rules aren’t that obscure. It all has to do with behaving respectfully and not offending people. Just consider the culture and their values and act accordingly. You can still have plenty of fun and I promise you won’t feel uptight or worried while you’re there.
Alright, you’ve learned a few Dubai laws to know before you go. Don’t be nervous. Just put your wild, messy hedonism on pause for a minute and you’ll be fine. I highly recommend you visit Dubai. The place is cool!! If you’d like to know more, read my specific recommendations of fun things to do in Dubai. As always, have fun out there, guys!