10 Things a European Must Know Before Planning a Trip to Dubai

A post for In My Suitcase by Neha Singh

dubai
Dubai is very westernized; going by that, it’s easy to fool ourselves into thinking that Dubai is like any other European city. Only it’s not. Dubai is special in the sense that while being in the Middle East, it is modernistic, and futuristic at the same time. However, if you’re planning to travel to Dubai from Europe, there are a few things you’ll want to know about the city, its religion and its laws. Here are 10 things we felt that all Europeans traveling to Dubai should know. dubai

1 – About Visas For European Citizen

Dubai - visa -what europeans must know
Credits Adam le Sommer – unsplash

If you’re a citizen of any European country, holding the passport of your country of birth, you don’t need to make advance visa arrangements to visit the UAE. You can obtain a visa on arrival. Simply land at Dubai International Airport and proceed to Immigration. Your passport will be stamped with a 30 or 90 days visit visa free of charge, depending on the country of origin. dubai

2 – What To Wear And What Not To Wear In Dubai

The UAE is an Islamic nation and Muslim laws based on the Sharia hold. Here are some things you should know before traveling to Dubai, with regard to public dress codes:

  • Men: Be sure that your knees and shoulders are covered. Don’t wear body-hugging clothing. Beach clothing is for beaches and not to be worn in other places.
  • Women: Wear modest clothing; nothing body hugging or revealing. Keep your shoulders and knees covered at all times.

In private and international zones such as hotels, a more liberal attire is perfectly acceptable. You can wear bikinis and tiny shorts at the pool and beach areas. If you want to lounge in the sun, best to stay at one of the many day beach clubs and resorts. One healthy tip for women is to keep a cotton wrap or kaftan of some sort to cover themselves when in public areas.

Dubai - do and don't wear
credits – Ana Maria Sofronia – unsplash

3 – How to Behave While in Public dubai

  • When you want to eat out, pick a restaurant and make a booking in advance. It’ll be hard to just walk in and get a table at any upmarket restaurant in Dubai.
  • Remember to drink sparingly and not to create any sort of scene within the bar or outside. Too much enthusiasm at a bar can be cause for arrest in Dubai.
  • Men and women should keep a distance from each other while in public and this includes married couples. There can be no affectionate touching, kissing or hugging in public. Such public displays of affection are prohibited.

4 – What To Know About Dubai Transport

transports in dubai
Credits Neha Singh
  • The MRT is the cheapest and the best way to get around Dubai. Purchase a Nol card at any MRT station and use it to travel on buses, trains and taxis.
  • The bus service is also very good and there are trains and buses to Abu Dhabi and other emirates as well.
  • Cabs are also fairly cheap in Dubai. Flagging a cab down is quite easy, as there are hundreds of taxis on the roads. The meter starts at 5 dirhams. Be sure that the driver puts the meter on when you get in and that the driver knows the place where you’re heading. dubai

5 – Tipping Customs In Dubai

While tipping is customary in Dubai, it’s not mandatory as it is in America. Use your discretion and tip only if you feel that the quality of service warrants it. Here’s a rough guideline for tipping:

  • Waiters: 10-15% of the total bill for good service.
  • Taxi Drivers: Round off to the nearest note for acceptable driving or 5% for exceptional service
  • Food Delivery: Round off to the nearest note, or include AED 5 to 10.
  • Valet Services: AED 5 to 10
  • Bellboy: AED 5 to 10
  • Beauty or Spa Therapist: AED 5-20, based on the overall bill
dubai
credits Neha Singh

6 – Alcohol Consumption While In Dubai

Only those restaurants that are located within hotel complexes are authorized to serve alcohol. All the swanky bars are located within hotel complexes. Happy hours are the best, as you can get discounted drinks and offers. The legal drinking age is 21 and Dubai is very strict about ID so do take your Driver’s License or Passport with you. Fridays at restaurants are fun with the all-you-can-eat-and-drink Friday brunches. Tuesdays are Ladies Nights at most bars when ladies can get free drinks.

7 – Study In Cultural History

Those who see Dubai from the outside may not perceive its deep and ancient culture. There’s much more to Dubai than just shopping, skyscrapers and incredible attractions.  Take a look beyond the glitz and you’ll discover a heritage that beautifully blends old Arab, Bedouin and Islamic traditions.dubai

Don’t miss a visit to the Etihad Museum, Dubai Museum and the Sheikh Mohammed Centre of Cultural Understanding for a detailed understanding of Emirati culture. Attend a traditional dance performance at the dhow-shaped Dubai Opera and take a look at the contemporary art scene at Alserkal Avenue. Sign up for a Desert Safari tour to experience a slice of Bedouin life. dubai

8 – Dubai’s An International Foodie Destination

food in dubai
credits Neha Singh

Europeans need not worry that they’ll have to adapt to Arabian food and strange tastes. Dubai is the foodie hub of the modern world, with an annual Food Festival that draws crowds from all over the world. There are a number of Michelin-starred chefs managing their own restaurants. From traditional Emirati cuisine to fine French dining, Dubai is the seat of molecular gastronomy. Try eating at The Sum of Us and Salt, two eateries that are independent of any international chain influence.

9 – Forward-looking Economy

If you’re thinking that Dubai is fuelled only by black gold, think again. This Emirate has successfully diversified its economy into various other avenues. Today Dubai is a thriving hub for finance, tourism, trade and transport. The government is constantly working to develop the next level of technology, be it self-driving cars, 3D organ printing or flying drone taxis. A recent exciting technology partnership is with Hyperloop One which is planning to link Dubai with Abu Dhabi in twelve minutes via a supersonic transport system.

 10  – The Middle East Week Systemdubai

The weekend in Arabian countries begins on Thursday evening and ends on Saturday evening. Sunday stands for Monday in Arab nations. It takes a bit of getting used to. Friday is the holy day when Muslims gather for congregational prayers. Businesses close for a few hours on Friday afternoons as per tradition. Even the Dubai Metro services begins only at 10am on Fridays.

When in Dubai, read up on the rules and regulations and stay within bounds. Explore Dubai with a keen respect for the Emirate’s culture and traditions and you will have an extraordinary travel experience.

About the author:

A postgraduate in Mass Communications, Neha loves everything about life. Traveling is extremely close to her heart and writing came to her naturally.
An avid trekker & explorer, who often takes off some time from her busy life for mountaineering, she loves meeting new people & gets attached to their culture very easily. Her ambition is to explore as many places as she can in her life. She strongly believes in Gandhian principle – “simple living high thinking”.dubai
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