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18 Things You Can Or Cannot Do in Dubai

dubai rules

The UAE, specifically Dubai, is one of the most fascinating places we've ever been to, simply because it's so different to anywhere else we've been - even including other Middle Eastern countries like Jordan. We were a bit worried that we would do things that weren't allowed. With a little research beforehand (something we don't usually do), we were fine. Here are some that we found surprising that you can or cannot do in Dubai:

YES, YOU CAN

Go out and about with your hair out ladies (and gents) no hijab required for you - unless you are visiting a Mosque!

dubai rules

NO, YOU CANNOT

Go out and about with your dainty shoulders and knees showing, ladies, which is a nightmare when it's 40 degrees out. But it's only for outside. Once you're inside (with the air-con on) you can show your knees and shoulders off until your heart's content. (Again, not true for mosques, but fine for malls, subways and hotel lobbies).

what's allowed in dubai

YES, YOU CAN

Find someone from every nation in the world in Dubai (probably). Dubai is extremely multiculti, with two-thirds of people living in Dubai just for work. We met people from the Philippines, India, Italy, Hong Kong, Russia, Germany, Australia, Africa, Britain and the US. Sure that's not every nation of course, but at least we have representatives from five continents.

NO, YOU CANNOT

Eat or drink during the daytime when it's Ramadan. Or swear. Or have sex (sex in private that is - in public it is of course never allowed). But no to drinking includes even water - eating and drinking is a no-no during the sunlight hours - this means every cafe and restaurant in Dubai is closed during the daytime (during Ramadan).

YES, YOU CAN

Despite this, there are still a few places you can eat during Ramadan:

1) You can eat breakfast in your hotel during the daytime when it's Ramadan, or at least you can at the places we stayed: the Shangri-La and Grosvenor House

what's allowed in dubai

2) You can (and I found this super crazy), go to the cinema in the daytime and order popcorn from behind an opaque screen. You can then take your popcorn into the cinema (after buying a ticket) and eat once the film starts. Such a random loophole but great if you're at the mall and dying for food.

3) Order a takeaway from places like Starbucks and Tim Hortons and eat it at home... speaking of Tim Hortons:

YES, YOU CAN

Order a vegan meal from Tim Hortons! Tim Hortons is one of Canada's national treasures (similar to Starbucks but for Canadians). We were excited to visit a Tim Hortons when we went to Canada but sad to discover we couldn't eat anything from there. So it was awesome to see that Tim Hortons in Dubai does do a vegan meal (yey for Falafel).

NO, YOU CANNOT

Hold hands in the mall:

what are you allowed to do in dubai

NO, YOU CANNOT

Make out in public.

NO, YOU CANNOT

Use a pink taxi or stand in the pink section on the train if you are a grown-up male.

rules in dubai

YES, YOU CAN

Use a non-pink taxi or stand in the non-pink section on the train if you are not a grown-up male (i.e. a female or a child).

NO, YOU CANNOT

Hear the word God at the cinema - they blank that out. The audience will also clap when there is a kissing scene or a particular dramatic death.

what are the rules in dubai

NO, YOU CANNOT

Commit adultery, or even have sex with someone when you are not married. Women who have babies out of wedlock in Dubai go to prison.

YES, YOU CAN

Keep your out-of-wedlock baby in prison with you.

YES, YOU CAN

Find every mainstream shop you've ever wanted to visit: Topshop, H&M, Toms, Apple, Tim Hortons, Waitrose, Debenhams. If you've been away from home for a while and are looking for the shops you've missed from home - head to Dubai.

YES, YOU CAN

Ski in Dubai. In the malls. Duh.

YES, YOU CAN

Use it as an ideal stopping point between continents. Stopping off in Dubai for a few days is an excellent way to combat jet-lag.

YES YOU CAN

Eat some of the most delicious food on the planet. We highly recommend Indego By Vineet.

dubai etiquette

YES, YOU CAN

dubai customs

Couchsurf in Dubai! After over 20 weird messages on Couchsurfing, we nearly gave up. Then we had a message from Harry - a priest(!) Who despite being born in Hong Kong, and living in Dubai, went to school around the corner from where I did :O (how normal is the world?) He had the poshest British accent ever and was super kind. It was really great to meet him, we'd never have learned half the stuff we learnt about Dubai if it wasn't for him. Thanks, Harry!

what cant you do in dubai

Dubai wasn't what we were expecting - in some ways it was 100 times worse and in other ways, it was 100 times better. We'll give it this: it's fascinating. And for a quick stop between continents, it's ideal. And very clean.


P.S.: Another way of travelling and getting accommodation cheaply is housesitting. Trustedhousesitters.com was kind enough to provide us and our readers with a 10% discount, feel free to click on the link to use it :)

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