While the UAE is a progressive, open-minded country, there are a different set of rules to live and abide by to make your stay here a happy one.
Alcohol is tolerated in the UAE, but strictly regulated. You can only buy alcohol from licensed venues (usually found in bars, restaurants and clubs in hotels), or from A&E or MMI, the two alcohol outlets. If you are a resident in Dubai, you’ll need a liquor license which you can apply for at the above stores. There is zero tolerance for drink driving, but taxis are relatively cheap and there are plenty of car services which will take you and your car home.
There is zero drug tolerance in the UAE – you’ll be jailed and deported if you’re found under the influence or have smuggled them into the country.
It is a criminal offence to leave the scene of a crime, no matter how minor, and keep your insurance papers, car registration and driving license handy. It’s also illegal to drive without a valid driver’s license liability insurance, so make sure you’re covered.
It’s best to dress conservatively in the malls and on the streets, especially during Ramadan and other religious holidays. Holding hands and hugging is fine, but kissing and petting in public places is frowned upon and may land you in trouble.
Giving birth out of marriage is illegal in the UAE, but getting married any time before the child is born is OK.
There are several strict rules to obey during Ramadan – don’t eat in public during daylight, no alcohol can be consumed until after sunset, and avoid smoking, chewing gum or playing loud music during daylight in the holy month.
Be very careful not to swear or make any indecent gestures – especially when driving. The standards of driving on the road are improving, but responding by swearing or gesturing could get you in a lot of trouble.