Dubai is one of those cities that must be seen to be believed. It is one of the most exhilarating and unique cities in the world. Dubai offers a diverse range of culinary experiences, attractions, and cultural identity that is sure to please every taste and preference.
But if this is your first time visiting Dubai, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Dubai is a highly culturally diverse city. Many expatriates from across the globe are proud to call Dubai home. But much like the rest of the country, Dubai is steeped in Muslim traditions. Indeed, the United Arab Emirates follows the rules of Sharia Law. But since Dubai is a hub of tourism for the country, the city tolerates many different religions and cultures.
With that being said, for first-time visitors to Dubai, welcome. Here are the five important tips to know before your visit to ensure you have a safe and fun time.
Like any other travel destination, it’s important to be respectful of local culture. As a Muslim city that lives under Islamic law, Dubai strongly frowns upon anything that could be considered unlawful in the Islamic faith.
For first time visitors, this should mean adopting a certain level of cultural and religious sensitivity.
- Visitors should dress modestly
To a certain extent, revealing clothing is unlawful. Garments should reach just above the
knee and shoulders should be covered. These rules are far more relaxed in private
resorts, beach clubs, and pool areas where swimwear is acceptable.
- Public displays of affection should be restricted to the bare minimum. Kissing and cuddling in public is seen as committing indecent acts and are considered unlawful. This can result in fines, visa revocations, and potential jail time.
During the Islamic festival of Ramadan, the city, much like the rest of the country, transforms. Dubai’s fast-paced lifestyle slows down dramatically. With Muslims required to fast (no eating or drinking) during the holy month of Ramadan, many restaurants are closed during the day. Those that do still operate will do so behind curtains to be respectful of fasting Muslims.
Malls and many attractions will be toned down, as will much of the nightlife.
Visitors to the city are requested to be respectful of Ramadan’s traditions. This means dressing more conservatively during the holy month and abiding by Ramadan’s traditions in public areas. For non-Muslim visitors, this means no eating, drinking, and smoking in public areas from sunrise to sunset.
Dubai is home to a culinary landscape unlike any other. The city is a gastronomy haven, with Michelin-starred chefs, intriguing cuisines, and authentic Emirati restaurants calling this city home.
For first-time visitors, Dubai’s culinary scene is the perfect opportunity to expand their palate.
Likewise, many restaurants and bars throughout the city feature expert mixologists that craft exceptional, exotic cocktails unique to the city. While all venues in the city require a licence to serve alcohol (in addition to imbibers requiring a Dubai liquor licence as well), many are found in hotels, meaning visitors are spoiled for choice.
If the preference is to sip a drink in the comfort of an accommodation, tourists can safely and legally purchase alcohol from retail stores as well. By showing the original passport, a purchase permission document will be provided for free and on spot at the store. Many retail stores are located around teh city and can be found in this Dubai liquor store locator.
Consider going up to At.mosphere, located in Dubai’s tallest skyscraper, the Burj Khalifa for some fine dining in the clouds. Or pop into Level 43 Sky Lounge for a magical 360-degree view of Dubai’s skyline while sipping on the perfect refreshment.
For non-Muslim visitors looking to dip their toes in Dubai’s expansive nightlife scene, many venues will cater to just about any taste, budget, and age group.
Dubai is famous for its indefatigable nightlife. From nightclubs to speakeasies and bars that offer a range of cocktail and beer options, from Stella Artois to something more exotic, your entertainment options are limitless. For a great night out though, ensure you are over 21 years of age as many venues will not allow minors.
Dubai also hosts a plethora of wholesome diversions, such as shisha lounges, a world-class Opera, live-music venues, and art galleries. Just note that Dubai’s weekend starts from Thursday evening to Saturday and not the traditional Friday to Sunday.
As one of the top 10 visited cities in the world, Dubai had over 14 million visitors last year. This makes it all the more important to plan and book experiences ahead of time.
This can mean booking hotel months in advance, especially during the Eid al-Fitr festival, an important religious holiday that makes the end of Ramadan. Looking and comparing flight prices six months in advance. And checking Dubai’s social calendar to visit during major events.
For those hoping to see Dubai at unprecedented heights, book early. The Burj Khalifa Observation Deck is a true tourist destination, so it’s recommended you book fast track tickets ahead. Pre-booked slots often sell out and fast track tickets sell in limited quantities on the day. Often at double its normal price.