Although the UAE is a Muslim country and Dubai a Muslim Emirate, it is probably one of the most liberal in all the Middle East. Having said that, there are some faux-pas that need to be avoided in order not to offend the local populace!
It is permitted to wear bikinis and normal swim wear on the beach, however, it is highly recommended that one restrict the wearing of such garments to the beach and not openly in public. In addition, topless bathing is not permitted, and thongs may also cause offense to the local populace. Whilst it is common for men to walk bare-chested on the promenades of Europe, it is frowned upon here so please respect the local customs and culture and ensure you comply with the local dress code. Short skirts and revealing tops will also attract attention, and are not considered appropriate attire for public forums, such as area shopping malls.
Alcohol is permitted in Dubai and can be purchased at the Duty Free Shop on the way into the country. The limit for this is four bottles each per person. Alcohol cannot be purchased in supermarkets or liquor stores here unless you are a resident with an alcohol license. However, alcohol is readily available in most hotels, bars, nightclubs and restaurants affiliated with hotels.
Alcohol is not permitted to be consumed on the streets and there is a zero tolerance on drinking and driving. There are also some public holidays or periods of mourning where alcohol will not be served in public places. If this is important to you please check before booking your holiday if your dates are affected by these restrictions.
Dubai also has a zero tolerance on drug offenses, either taking drugs or trafficking, with very strict consequences if caught. Please consider Dubai to be as stringent as other Asian countries (i.e. Thailand) and remember the ‘Bangkok Hilton’ Dubai equivalent is not the place to be spending your holiday and a lot longer, if caught.
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