Dubai: 10 Rules Expats Should Be Aware Of

Dubai: 10 Rules Expats Should Be Aware Of – that will be the topic of today’s article.

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Dubai is no doubt a true city where everyone would love to have a nice time. In fact, a new life in this city could well be one of the most exciting experiences you’ll ever enjoy. However, living in Dubai, like any new country, can be daunting, especially if you lack practical knowledge of how things work here.

As of 2020, the United Arab Emirates, and Dubai in particular, introduced exciting changes aimed at helping expat to relocate to the country with ease. With our expat tips, you’ll know what to expect, so you can plan beforehand and make the very most of everything that the Dubai lifestyle has to offer.

Dubai: 10 Rules Expats Should Be Aware Of

There’s more to recommend about life in a land where the skies are almost always blue. As we’ve highlighted in our previous post about living in Dubai as an expat, you’d love to see why this city remains expat destination in this 21st century.  Below are the five best reasons to start living in the United Arab Emirates.

  • The weather and beaches are fantastic. And if you love following a day of work by working on your tan, the United Arab Emirate is the right place for you
  • Dubai has a minister of state for happiness and wellbeing. In this case, the country aims to become one of the five happiest countries in the world by 2021. So, what are you waiting for?
  • Everything about Dubai is gorgeous, from the man-made islands off the coast of Dubai to the world’s tallest tower; the benefits of visiting this wonderful city cannot be overemphasized. Also, there are plenty of natural beauties too, including the wonderfully named Empty Quarter (Rub’al Khali), which is the largest continuous sand desert in the world. So, if you’ve ever wanted to see the sweeping sands of Disney’s Aladdin in real life, this is your chance.
  • You’ll opportune to be in good company as an expat. While the United Arab Emirates population is around 10 million, more than 88% of residents come from abroad, according to the United Nations (UN). This means you’ll enjoy a huge variety of exciting cultures and food, and better still, you won’t be alone – data from embassies shows that nearly 120,000 people from the United Kingdom and 50,000 from the United States live in the UAE.
  • As research disclosed, there are almost no taxes in the United Arab Emirates. In fact, according to history, the government introduced VAT in 2018 for the first time on most goods and services, at the low rate of 5 percent. And this means there’s no income tax, and it makes everything yours to keep.

10 Outdoor Activities to Explore in Dubai

As of today’s digital world, we can tell you in no doubt that the United Arab Emirates is one of the most prosperous nations in the world, and a holiday to any one of its seven emirates warrants awe and wonder. Without further ado, below are the top ten outdoor activities to explore in Dubai as an expat.

1.    Sightseeing Burj Khalifa in Dubai

Dubai: 10 Rules Expats Should Be Aware Of

Admittedly, one of the most attractive sights in Dubai, if not the whole of the United Arab Emirates. Not only that, but this Burj Khalifa currently holds the title of the world’s tallest building. Aside from the fact mentioned, it is a sight to behold as it rises skyward, and the tower has 160 floors with two observation decks offering unparalleled views of the Persian Gulf.

Moreover, you can take the elevator up to either one of the public decks or the restaurant on the 122nd floor. Oh, an architectural marvel, the tower is brilliantly lit up at night and makes for amazing pictures if you can manage to capture all of it within one frame.

2.    Exploring the Palm Jumeirah in Dubai

Dubai: 10 Rules Expats Should Be Aware Of

Laid out in the clear blue waters of Dubai and shaped like a palm tree are the artificial city islands of Palm Jumeirah. Here, you’ll see high-end hotels, restaurants, and residences connected to the mainland via a modern tram system. This island is often best viewed during skydiving or on a boat tour around it. So, if you want to explore Dubai after your long overwork days, this is the right place to visit.

3.    Visiting the Dubai Aquarium

Dubai: 10 Rules Expats Should Be Aware Of

Housed within the upscale Dubai mall is a splendid attraction known as the Dubai Aquarium. This is one of the largest aquariums of its kind, and it has hundreds of species of fish, sharks, and stingrays in an underwater living environment.

Also, the design replicates an ocean bed and has some truly unique creatures that are undoubtedly well preserved in an aquatic setting. Well, while you’re planning to visit this place, you should be prepared to pay a cost ticket of at least AED 120 to AED 375 if you want to have a VIP experience.

4.    Exploring Dubai Fountain

Dubai: 10 Rules Expats Should Be Aware Of

At the base of the Burj Khalifa, within the Dubai Mall, is the spectacular Dubai Fountain. This incredible place comes with dancing spurts of water, dazzling lights, and melodic music. The attraction keeps visitors enthralled every evening in an outdoor setting for almost half an hour and is regarded today as the tallest performing fountain in the world.

Moreover, if you want a close-up view of this place, you can hop on a boat that puts you in the eye of the spectacle or stroll along the newly added boardwalk.

5.    Visiting River Cruise in Dubai and Abu Dhabi

This is another place to take into consideration while moving to Dubai as an expat. As you bob along with the Dubai or Abu Dhabi river on a beautifully lit-up cruise ship, you can set your sights on some of the city’s architectural landmarks and historic structures.

Meanwhile, the dinner, or Dhow Cruise as it’s locally referred to, is a relaxing 3-hour nighttime ride that weaves in and out of the city. Nonetheless, you’ll have access to a lavish buffet dinner, along with living music and a great ambiance to see. The cost to visit this place is AED 150 per person to 170.

6.    Iconic Jumeirah Mosque in Dubai

Again, one of the most iconic landmarks, the Jumeirah Mosque, looks straight out of a tale from Arabian nights. This Islamic landmark is quite built simple and delicately designed without overpowering its surroundings, especially the Dubai skyline in the distance.

As of today, culture lovers and history buffs find this attraction extremely interesting, as it offers a good understanding of Islamic culture and the country’s local tradition. The place has no cost of visitation, but its tours could start from AED 25 and above.

7.    Louvre Brilliant Architecture in Dubai

Louvre is another new location that catches the attention of expats around the world. Merely a few years old, this museum is a sight to behold, not just for its structure but also the array of exhibitions head inside. The work of art in this place is truly exquisite, and whether you’re an art lover or not, you’ll find yourself falling in love and enthralled by the display.

8.    Desert Safari in Dubai and Abu Dhabi

This is one of the best places that entice foreigners in Dubai. As at the time of writing this article, research made it known that nearly 60 percent expatriate visits this place on a weekly basis. In fact, a trip to the desert land is incomplete without a safari through the never-ending stretches of sand.

Furthermore, there are many brilliant activities you can do either in the day or night. And this is because; the ride usually culminates with a lavish Arabic dinner and belly dance performance within a desert setup. Besides, have it in mind that the costs of visiting this place range between AED 300-500.

9.    Skydiving in Dubai

Your visitation is not complete without having a good time and experiencing skydiving in Dubai. And for the fact that skydiving in the United Arab Emirates has become extremely popular over the last decade, it has owing to the spellbinding views of Palm Jumeirah as well as the vast stretches of desert.

This thrilling activity is what you can experience once in a lifetime opportunity to experience a free-fall through the sky as you float in the air with the city laid out beneath you. Please don’t be scared; it’s one of the places that you’d enjoy in Dubai. But, have in mind that the cost prices range between AED 1699 to 2199.

10. Exploring the Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi

Roller coasters that whiz past you, street performance shows, incredible 4D experiences, high-end automobile displays, and Ferrari-inspired souvenirs, and the adventure park in this place is what many people would dream of.

Whether you’re a car aficionado or not, this amusement park will top your thrill list for its humongous red structure and fantastic rides. Not only that, but it’s also home to Formula Rossa, the fastest roller coaster in the world. On the flip side, a single-day ticket for adult here cost at least AED 295.

Understanding Dubai’s Rules, Culture and Etiquettes

Of course, Dubai is called an Islamic nation because the culture, rules and regulations, and etiquettes you’ll see even in the United Arab Emirates are quite different from the western world. For many visitors in this country, they’d likely experience a cultural shock when they arrive here.

However, there are nationalities from all over the world in Dubai. People walk in traditional clothes, and you can even find mosques from which prayer sounds while also smelling the shisha’s sweet smell, and you’ll see the Arabic language all around you. And that’s why there are lots of cultural differences!

If you still find it difficult to know why this country is unique, well, worry less. The United Arab Emirates is a democratic country, and they strictly adhere to Islamic rules and Sharia laws, just like Saudi Arabia. In this case, there are many things to keep in mind when visiting the city for the first time. In this section, we will tell you the ten rules expats should be aware of in Dubai. Without further ado, check it out now!

1.    Revealing Clothes Are Prohibited

Unlike the western world, where you’re free to dress anyhow, Dubai is quite different in its ways. Here, you’ll likely see the locals often wearing hijab or abaya, especially in the mosques. Although expats can wear their regular clothes, but revealing clothes are prohibited in the city, and it’s even illegal in some cases. However, if you’re visiting this place, it could be a source of stress for you, so do your research.

In Dubai mosques, it is obvious that expats would definitely need to dress according to culture. In that case, pant and skirt that cover the ankles, long sleeves, and a headscarf is suitable for women. Aside from that, shoes are forbidden in mosques, and it might be easy to wear traditional hijab or abaya.

2.    Homosexuality is forbidden in Dubai

Another rule expats should be aware of in the United Arab Emirates is that homosexuality is forbidden, and there are severe punishments attached to breaking these rules. This means, when you’re gay, it might sometimes be better to find another location or destination.

Besides, it’s also not done to show affection in public when you live here. In fact, kissing in public in Dubai is strictly forbidden and can cause you imprisonment. Moreover, holding hands and hugging is considered unlawful. So, if you’re coming to this city, ensure you have this in mind.

3.    Ramadan Plays a Major Role

Of course, since you’re in a Muslim nation, you may need to adhere to the culture and tradition of the Ramadan celebration and its holy month uniqueness. During this period, almost all eateries and bars are closed during day time, and it’s almost impossible to buy food somewhere.

Additionally, it’s also forbidden to eat, drink or smoke in public during the holy month of Ramadan. Essentially, everything that’s consumed by mouth isn’t allowed, so you have to obey these rules. Meanwhile, in a western nation, you’re free to practice your religion without adhering to any rules.

4.    Alcohol is forbidden in Dubai

If you don’t know, you need to get this fact today that alcohol is officially forbidden in the United Arab Emirates. Although it’s only allowed in areas approved by the sheik but mainly the Emirates were much stricter when it comes to alcohol consumption.

Besides, you need to have a license to get alcohol in your own home, while in various restaurants, bars, and hotels, they are allowed to give you alcohol but only when they have a permit. So, do you see how difficult it is to live in Dubai? So, keep in mind that alcohol is strictly prohibited, and driving under the influence is seen as a severe violation.

5.    Sex Outside Of Marriage

While the alcohol and clothing rules are less rigid for expats in Dubai, you must know that extra-marital sex is strictly prohibited in Dubai. And this doesn’t matter if you’re an ex-pat or visiting the United Arab Emirates on vacation.

Also, it’s a severe offense, so you have to be careful where you stay and who you stay with. This way, if you’re not married, consider carrying a copy of your marriage certificate to avoid any form of embarrassment or complications.

6.    Prescription Drugs and Narcotics

Generally, drugs are strictly forbidden in Dubai, even some prescription medications. However, carrying, consuming, buying, or selling narcotics is a serious crime that can face life imprisonment. In terms of prescription drugs, anything containing codeine is forbidden for personal use.

Meanwhile, it can be used with a specific doctor’s prescription detailing the period of use. Nonetheless, it is best to check the banned substances list from your embassy. For expats looking to use prescription drugs whilst visiting Dubai, it is best to carry a doctor’s note. The letter should mention the period of travel, the illness, and the specific dosage.

7.    Feet and Hand Etiquette

In Dubai, you should accept refreshments and food whenever anyone is offering it. But, it is best to use your right hand for drinking and eating as the left hand is regarded unclean by Muslims as it is used for hygiene purposes.

So, even if you’re using your left hand, you need to practice using the right when you get to Dubai. Aside from this fact, visitors should also refrain from showing the soles of shoes or their feet; this would indicate to an Emirati that you think they are dirt. Therefore, keeping feet flat on the ground and not crossing legs is a great way to avoid offending anybody.

In addition, Emiratis are fully aware that expats and visitors may slip up from time to time and will not take any offense. Mostly it is the traditional areas where etiquette should be followed more closely.

8.    Working illegally is an Offense

This one may sound a bit obvious, but you would be surprised to know that many people fall prey to scams or simply don’t know the laws in the United Arab Emirates. And during your visit to the country, always know that working illegally is a serious offense.

Also, the government has laid out clear rules for businesses that every organization must follow. Even if you get a job offer, ensure that the company is registered and do your research before starting out. Not only that but some specific procedures and regulations have to be followed if you’re hiring a freelancer or even working as one in the country.

9.    Photography without Permission

Taking photography without someone’s permission is an offense in Dubai. When living in Dubai, you should never take local photography without asking for their permission, as this is especially important with women. Not only that, but it is also illegal to take photographs of many government buildings because you might find yourself in hot water if you’re caught doing so.

10. Abusing in Public

You may need to be extremely careful with your language when living in Dubai as an expat. In spite of that, you need to control the use of vulgar language, and keep all the slang, cuss words, and profanity to yourself during your visit to this land.

Also, ensure you refrain from passing any comment that may be deemed insulting towards Islam or Muslims. This is because; it’s considered a punishable offense in Dubai and might land you behind bars or spend your vacation in prison.

Frequently Asked Questions about Dubai

What is so special about Dubai?

It’s no doubt that Dubai is notable for many things. It is famous for sightseeing many attractions such as the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, fantastic shopping malls, and many other things, to mention a few. However, this city has many cultural highlights and things to do, as well as glamorous modern add-ons.

Why is Dubai or UAE so rich?

Of course, one main thing that could ensure we answer your question correctly is the oil industry. The city of Dubai is the wealthy trading hub for the Gulf and Africa. Even though it has little oil, the black gold has made the city wealthy. And in less than 50 years, its robust economy has made Dubai an affluent state admired worldwide.

Is there poverty in Dubai?

The United Arab Emirates is one of the top ten wealthiest countries in the world, and yet a large percentage of the population lives in poverty. Well, poverty in the United Arab Emirates can be seen in the labor conditions of the working class.

Can foreigners own a house in Dubai?

In Dubai, foreign ownership is permitted in areas designated as freehold. Also, ex-pats and foreigners residents may acquire freehold ownership rights over property without restriction, usufruct rights, or leasehold rights for up to 99 years.


Dubai residents are always so busy, but that doesn’t stop your visitation. The lifestyle is non-stop, and the word hustle is frequently used when talking to friends. While planning your next vacation, you need to understand the rules to avoid imprisonment or jail terms. Everyone has a long list of things to enjoy in Dubai, but be wary of the rules. Nonetheless, refer to this guide for more information about UAE.

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