Most countries in the United Arab Emirates adhere to the religion and traditions of Islam and Arab and Bedouin culture. While Dubai is no different, its cosmopolitan nature sees a vibrant and more diverse range of cultures come into play. However, some traditional Dubai customs still remain including the five times daily prayer sessions that Muslims observe when calls come from the towers of Mosques throughout the country.
Although the Dubai culture is more liberal than most Arab/Islamic and UAE nations, Islamic laws are still strictly adhered to and must be respected by all visitors. As the official religion of Dubai, travellers are strongly advised against criticising any aspects of it and should also avoid conversations regarding world affairs, politics or negativity toward the current government. Keep conversation light and simple and you will avoid any issues.
During Ramadan, the holy month, eating in public is forbidden from sunrise to sunset so visitors should consume any meals in the privacy of their accommodation. Public displays of affection are also discouraged and any public sexual acts can result in jail time and deportation. Sexual relations between the unmarried is a criminal offense as is homosexuality, so visitors should exercise respect and restraint or risk facing jail time and deportation.
Although swimsuits and bikinis are acceptable on Dubai beaches, women should dress conservatively in any other busy areas, particularly in districts such as Bur-Dubai, Deira and Karama where the streets are full of men. Despite the acceptance of bikinis, women should never sunbake topless or wear swimsuits that are too revealing, even in the privacy of the hotel pool.
Profanity or obscene hand gestures such as 'the finger' can attract a fine or even jail time so should be avoided at all times. Staying calm and using common sense at all times will allow you to enjoy your holiday trouble-free.