Two weeks ago I mentioned about being more careful when taking photos in the UAE and I think that I’m being too careful that I did forego my opportunity to visit the International Defense Exhibit the other day (showcasing all sorts of weapons and intimidating security tools), fearing that I won’t be able to control myself and take a photo of something which will probably be detrimental to me. (Yes, I underestimated my risk appetite.) It’s most challenging when we do things which we never thought (or tried to ignore) will harm us. In the UAE, there were a number of cases when the person who filed for rape case gets punished, too, i.e. because of illegal sex (outside marriage) if the person raped is single and illegal drinking (outside licensed premises) if that was a contributory reason that a person was raped.
This post does not intend to demean anyone, but most of the expats who were caught in the I-should-not-be-punished-if-I-did-it-in-my home-country situations in the UAE are British nationals (or the others are more careful?). Hence, it’s not surprising that the British Embassy has recently issued a booklet titled “UAE Advice for British Nationals” to spread the advice to the British travelers. That’s a commendable initiative and its circulation, even to non-British, will be helpful. In a nutshell, here are the dos and don’ts:
- Alcohol consumption is allowed only by non-Muslims in licensed restaurants, pubs, clubs, private venues and at home (for residents who have acquired an alcohol license).
- Drugs are strictly forbidden, even a residual amount.
- Sexual relationships outside of marriage are illegal, irrespective of any relationship you may have with your partner in the UK [I’d like to add: any nationality]. Cohabiting, including in hotels, is also illegal.
- The UAE has a zero-tolerance policy towards drinking and driving.
- Bouncing a cheque is illegal in the UAE.
- Dancing is allowed in the privacy of your home or at licensed clubs.
- Sexual harassment or randomly addressing women in public or taking their photos without permission is strictly frowned upon.
- Offensive language, spitting (remember Tiger Woods’ spitting controversy in Dubai?) and aggressive behaviour (including hand gestures) are viewed very seriously and can result in imprisonment and deportation.
- Holding hands for married couples is tolerated but kissing and hugging are considered offences against public decency.
- Smoking is forbidden in government areas, offices and shopping malls.
- Working without the proper visa is illegal. You cannot partake in any kind of paid employment without first obtaining a work visa.
Most of the pointers are actually generic facts and must be observed even in other countries. Hence, it should not be an excuse if the other embassies do not issue a booklet like this for their nationals. However, for the grey areas and/or extremely surprising disallowed acts in the UAE, that’s where the information campaign must be strengthened. I opine that the awareness must start from one’s self and should not solely depend on the embassy. When I first came here three years ago, I initially felt that there were so many restrictions. But soon enough I realized that there are laws which are there for the longest time, so no one should be extremely surprised and as we stand by the respect for one’s culture (the best strategy is to put ourselves in the shoes of UAE nationals), to abide became a natural thing just like a habit. When one’s back to his home country, he may want to party all he wants or stay as the “new” him.
Discouraged to come here? Don’t be. I can vouch that it’s indeed nice being here. 🙂
0 thoughts on “UAE’s dos and don’ts”
you know, i think i will have a hard time living in UAE. not because i offend those on your list but because i just do everything wrong sometimes even when i do not mean to! lol
hmmm tama lang yung mga do’s and dont’s dapat nga dito implemented yan. For me i don’t mind those things i can manage them.
hala, ganyan pala katindi ang mga bawal dyan pero at least may disiplina. Meron akong online friend na nagbakasyon dyan last December kasama niya partner niya, they are gays. hindi pa siya nagkwento about their vacation pero nagustuhan naman nila ang UAE.
discouraged to go there? naaah! andyan youngest brother ko, pinsan ko at asawa nya, minsan my mom will visit them from doha to uae… i wish i can bring my family there to someday for a tour and definitely, i’ll swing back to this post to remind me of dos and donts.
I think it’s a matter of respecting the culture and the existing rules and regulations.
I would love to visit. It’s always nice to see different places, especially you’ve been a fab ambassador for the city with your delicious posts and postcard like images.
i am not discouraged! not at all! i want to visit UAE still! libre mo ako wits? 🙂
“Dancing is allowed in the privacy of your home or at licensed clubs.”– patay ako dyan. just yesterday i danced in public! hehe!
i also wanna visit YOU there! hahaha. =) seriously, siguro it would be really difficult for free-spirited persons to adjust there at first. but we really have to respect their culture, and i commend them for giving high regard, and imposing strict observance even on others, of their culture.
great post as always.. =)…i love, love the UAE culture..kahit ano pa sabihin nila. it is among the safest city in the world.
alam mo nung nasa Italy kami, medyo shock ako to see plenty of alcoholic beverage sa supermarket and train station. when we got to visit a traditional wine shop in Venice, we chose to consume our purchase inside the hotel room. we felt more comfortable kase siguro nasanay na din kami not to drink in public hahahaaaa
that’s great info… as for bouncing cheques being illegal – that very interesting. What if it was untintentional, like the person did not forsee the debits coming into his account ? This is a great rule for the banks ! But hey, then they won’t be making money on the NSF ( No Sufficient Funds) penalty charges !
I like the zero tolerance to drinking and driving 😉