Top Tips: Cultural Laws in the United Arab Emirates

If you have clients headed to the United Arab Emirates (including Dubai and Abu Dhabi), they may want to read Emirates 24|7's rules for visitors to help them avoid running afoul of local laws.

No kissing, no touching
Holding hands may be OK, but kissing is not.

No swearing/making indecent gestures
In the past, foreign visitors or residents have been fined or imprisoned for expressing themselves in a way that, the article phrases it, "is not be appreciated in the UAE." This includes "the bird," sticking out tongues and even aggressive hand gestures. Also, the Western hitchhiking gesture—an extended thumb—is considered impolite.

No taking pictures of others without permission
Any person being captured on camera in any public space in the UAE can bring the photographer to court.

Disrespecting any religion
Religious values are widely respected in the UAE, and blasphemy or sacrilege against any religion is considered deeply offensive. As Islam is the official religion of the Emirates, it is a good idea to study up on Muslim values before departure.

No sharing private space with opposite sex
Strictly speaking, sharing a private space with a member of the opposite sex when not related by family ties or marriage is forbidden (including houses, hotel rooms and even cars). However, the article notes, "certain behavior is tolerated." There should be little trouble booking hotels for unmarried couples, though the article does note that "any punishment depends on the situation."

No indecent clothing
In public places, shorts and skirts need to be of "appropriate length" not to expose parts of the body, be transparent, or display obscene or offensive pictures and slogans. On beaches rules are more lenient; swimwear is accepted, but should be appropriate. NB: Top-less sunbathing or the wearing of a thong is not allowed.

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