Dos and Don’ts

Greetings: “Dubai is home and host to visitors from around the world and is a melting pot of cultures, but the Arabic greeting ‘al-salaam alaykum’ (peace be with you) (the reply will be ‘wa alaykum e-salaam’/peace upon you) is always welcome and is a great icebreaker. Never offer your hand to an Arab woman unless she offers hers first. Upon entering an Arab home it’s customary to remove your shoes—make sure your socks are clean.”

Clothing: “Dubai’s dress code is liberal, but dress modestly out of respect and save the beachwear for the beach. On the Jumeirah Mosque tour, men should wear trousers with a shirt, and ladies a long skirt or loose trousers, long-sleeved blouse, and head scarf. Slip-on shoes are best as shoes are removed before entering the mosque. If you don’t have appropriate clothes, don’t worry, we provide sheylas (head scarves) and abayas (a long cloak)."

Ceremony: “Emiratis are open-minded, tolerant, and hospitable. Integral to that hospitality is the coffee ceremony. Always accept the tiny cup in your right hand—it’s polite to drink at least three—and after finishing gently shake the cup side to side; this is a signal that you’ve finished."

Manners: “At meal times your Arab hosts will be generous with portions, so forget calorie counting! Be prepared to sit in the traditional manner (on the floor); women should wear a long skirt. Try not to sit so that the soles of your feet are presented to another person; it’s impolite. Food is eaten with the right hand but you may use your left to drink.”

Smoking: “If here during Ramadan, the holy month of fasting, remember not to smoke, eat, or drink in public from sunrise to sunset. Kids are an exception and can discreetly drink and eat as usual. Hotels keep eateries open for non-Muslims, as do some malls; your concierge can advise you.”

Phrase Book

Marhaba: Hello.

Al Salaam alaykum: And peace be with you (alternative to ‘hello’).

Wa alaykum e-salaam: Peace be upon you (response to ‘hello’).

Kay fahlak?: How are you?

Zein, shukran: Well, thanks.

Ma’al salaama: Goodbye.

Na’am: Yes.

La: No.

Insha’Allah: God willing (it will happen).

Min fadhlak: Please (to a man).

Min fadhlich: Please (to a woman).

Shufi mafi?: What’s up?


About Dubai and the United Arab Emirates

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