Top 10 Dubai travel tips
You know the saying, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”? The same goes for the glistening metropolis of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Despite its enormous shopping centres and flashy high-rises, this city of bright lights is ultra conservative. Hefty penalties apply for anyone who breaks the rules, so you’re best to play it safe and blend in with the locals. Here are 10 tips for safe travel in Dubai.
1. Dress modestly
Dubai is in a Muslim emirate, so opt for conservative attire over anything revealing. Revealing clothing, like short skirts or spaghetti strap tops are big no-no’s. Women can wear bikinis and bathing suits while on the beach, but should not wear them in public (even on the way to and from the beach). And boys, keep those shirts on at all times.
2. Use proper money exchanges
Never have your money exchanged for the local currency on the street. Not only could you get short-changed, you might end up in a dangerous situation. Your best bet for exchanging money is a bank, a hotel or an ATM at the local shopping centre.
3. Avoid public displays of affection
PDAs are considered offensive in the UAE, as are displays of homosexuality. Because Dubai falls under Sharia Law, some travel sites even go as far as recommending that unwedded couples book separate hotel rooms.
4. Electricity adapters
Electrical sockets for three-pinned plugs of 13 amps each are the standard throughout the UAE. But we recommend buying an electrical adapter just in case you run into a problem.
5. Avoid drugs and check your prescriptions
It goes without saying, but the consumption of illegal drugs and trafficking drugs is strictly prohibited. If you are caught with illegal drugs, you’ll spend quite a bit of time behind bars. Double check with your embassy to make sure your prescription drugs are permitted. In some cases, you may need to carry a note from your doctor.
6. Avoid public alcohol consumption
Alcohol itself is not banned in Dubai, but it can only be purchased at a few duty-free stores on your way into the city. As a tourist, you won’t be able to purchase alcohol from a bottle shop. You can purchase drinks in restaurants and bars, but keep in mind that public drunkenness is strictly prohibited, as is drinking and driving.
7. Think before you click
Never take a photo with a stranger without asking for permission first. Unless you are in a tourist area where photography is expressly permitted, avoid taking pictures of government buildings, airports, docks, military installations etc. And never, ever, take a picture of a Muslim woman without permission.
8. Driving in Dubai
There’s no shortage of public transport options in Dubai, but if you plan on getting behind the wheel, you’ll need an international driver’s license. If you plan on taking up residence in Dubai, you’ll eventually need to get a permanent Dubai driver’s license. Don’t panic if you are in a car accident; simply remain with your vehicle, without moving it from the place where the accident happened, and wait for the police.
9. Check your visa
Will you need to have a visa on hand before visiting Dubai? Citizens from some countries are allowed to enter the UAE by purchasing a tourist visa upon arrival. Others must have a visa in hand at the time of arrival. Check with your country’s embassy before leaving home to ensure you have the right documents in hand.
10. Buy health insurance
Most health insurance companies won’t pay your expenses when travelling out of country. Check with your own carrier before you leave to make sure you have coverage. If not, purchase some travel insurance. While in Dubai, it is generally easy to get medications from pharmacies, but if you end up hospitalised, the costs of treatments or getting home can add up very quickly.