5 Things to avoid when visiting Dubai

Last updated on July 5th, 2012 at 05:45 pm

The other day I was talking to a friend of mine who is intending to go on holiday with his girlfriend to Dubai and, since I have lived in this city, he asked me for places to visit and the usual stuff that a tourist is interested in knowing. I told him everything about Dubai and quite recommended him to visit this city but I also warned him about a few things that one must know before visiting Dubai.

You see, Dubai is a good city to visit, not so sure on living long-term there, but certainly the city has quite some good attractions to entertain you for a while and the architecture is sublime. One of the things you don’t get to hear much, however, is what NOT to do while visiting in Dubai. Dubai is a small emirate belonging to the United Arab Emirates and the religion is Islam. Dubai’s Sheikh, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is a kind ruler who has tried to bring harmony between foreign investment and the local cultural heritage. Unlike other emirates, alcohol is allowed in Dubai and the societal rules are a bit more lax so as to lure foreign investment and people to the emirate.


The things you should avoid and not do while visiting Dubai with Burj Khalifa in the Background

Burj Khalifa is the flagship of Dubai and one of its attractions

Source: Capelle79 – Flickr


As a bare minimum, respecting the locals and culture is utmost wherever you go, so always keep this in mind when you are in Dubai (or anywhere else in the world, for that matter). I was lucky to have lived with an actual local emirati and he taught me everything about the country, the culture and of course what NOT to do. Thus I bring you the 5 things to avoid while visiting Dubai:

1) Do not rent or drive a car

One of the things I immediately noticed in Dubai was that the driving is absolutely chaotic. I have driven in some bad countries but never have I encountered what I have seen in Dubai. People driving their car on two lanes, tailgating mothers with their children on the back seat without a seat belt on while driving at 100 miles per hour, total avoidance of indicating lights… really, it is a nightmare. Of course, if you are there for over a month, you soon get used to it and learn to anticipate many things but if this is your first time in Dubai and you are only visiting, I encourage you to instead use a taxi or use the metro line they are building.

2) Do not get into a confrontation with a local

Chances are, you will not even encounter a local when you visit Dubai (or even live there). They are friendly people and are the minority in the emirate (about 15% of the population). Whatever you do, however, do not get into a confrontation with one of them, because you will lose. You will not run into any problems with them if you heed my advice of always respecting the locals but I must warn you about this for I know a few guys who got into some problems with locals and the consequences were devastating, even though in other countries it would not have had any repercusions whatsoever. Guys, I am talking about a mere insult or even showing your middle finger, that sort of stuff will get you in jail. Even if you are right, take a few deep breaths and just walk away and get on with your day.

3) Do not drink alcohol outside of the designated areas

You can only drink alcohol in places with a licence such as hotels or nightclubs or in someone’s house if they have a licence. Outside of those areas, you will get into a lot of trouble and a visit to the police station is in due order. Likewise, being drunk in public is frowned upon and depending on how you behave, you can also expect to visit jail if you are reported. Stick to drinking in the designated areas, do not make a fool of yourself, always take a taxi back home and you will have no problems.

4) Do not even think about consuming drugs or bringing drugs

Even minuscule amounts of illegal drugs will land you in jail for a minimum of 4 years. What is more, is that there are certain medications which, while legal elsewhere in the world, are also banned in Dubai and are considered as illegal as heroin or cocaine. Most notably, any opiate-type medication such as codeine is banned as are medical amphetamines such as Dexedrine or Adderall. I know one guy who brought in his scripted Dexedrine and was sent to jail after he was routinely searched while going through customs, despite the bottle had his name on it and he was legally scripted the medication in the USA.

I cannot emphasize this point enough, do NOT consume, bring or try to buy any drugs in Dubai. The consequences will be absolutely devastating if you are caught. If you are travelling with medications, ask your consulate or foreign office for advice, you can also find some good information on the drugs banned and considered illegal in Dubai below:



5) Do not make any public displays of lewd conduct

People have been sent to jail for having sex in the beach, whatever you do, keep it to your hotel room. No kissing in public or even holding hands (unless the female is your wife or a family member) because if a local sees you and feels insulted, you can get in trouble. Moreover, be aware that technically only wedded couples are allowed to share a room although sometimes this is overlooked. Tread at your own risk if you are planning to visit Dubai with your girlfriend or fuckbuddy and I recommend you to get separate rooms to avoid potential problems. Do also note that homosexuality is illegal so do not even think about publicly displaying any homosexual behaviour if you are gay because you will get into a lot of trouble.

If you abide by these 5 points you will have a great time in Dubai. Thousands of people visit the emirate every year and don’t run into problems but the unlucky few who do, are in for a lot of trouble and can have their lives ruined. Be respectful, memorize these points and you will enjoy your stay!

All the best.


P.S For more information on travelling to Dubai, go here, and if you have enjoyed this article or found it useful, feel free to Like/Tweet or share it below!

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5 comments for “5 Things to avoid when visiting Dubai

  1. Meeta Parker
    October 16, 2013 at 3:09 am

    Hi Rogelio, Do the people of Dubai have any problems with guys with long hair? We are thinking of visiting Dubai and my husband has long hair.
    Thank you so much for allowing questions.

    • October 18, 2013 at 6:56 pm

      Hi Meeta,

      Your husband will be OK. Chances are that you will not meet any locals (i.e. Emiratis) as they tend to only hang out with their own. Many Emirati men have long hair as in a length of 6 inches although no longer than that (e.g. shoulder length). From the Emirati friends I had, they said that very long hair in men (like shoulder length) is not seen appropriate by Muslim scholars but most young Emiratis are cool with long hair since they are very keen in Western culture.

      Hope that helped.


  2. Nikki M
    January 7, 2015 at 6:21 pm

    What is you are prescribed the above medication? If even with name and dr given prescription? You just cannot have your medication while there?

    • January 13, 2015 at 8:56 pm


      The listed medications cannot be brought in to the United Arab Emirates. You need to obtain a special medical certificate from the UAE embassy whereby they authorize you to bring the medication into the country. Please bear in mind that this includes a simple stopover at any of UAE’s airport (such as Dubai’s aiport).


  3. david
    May 6, 2015 at 11:35 am

    I am black african by race. can i have my full beard on in dubai?

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