Dubai is one of the most visited cities in the world, but it can be overwhelming to travel to. The Middle East has very different customs than what you would find at home, and there are a lot of things that people might not know about before they arrive. If you want some tips on how to make your trip go smoothly and enjoy Dubai more, read this Blog!
Dubai has remained an alluring travel destination for both singles and families since its conception. The city prides itself with many luxurious resorts, state-of-the art shopping malls, beaches and some of the best-maintained public parks and gardens.
I would like to share a few tips on how you can navigate your way around Dubai while at the same time enjoying your stay amidst this beautiful setting.
Getting Around: There are several options for getting around Dubai such as taxis, buses, trains and metro rail. I recommend you do not rent a car unless you plan to drive outside the city. Driving in Dubai requires a good understanding of the local rules and can be quite stressful. I recommend you hail a taxi from one of the official taxi stands located in front of most hotels and malls. A 25-minute ride from one side of the city to another would cost anywhere from 15-30 dirhams.
In Dubai, every single person takes his shoes off when entering somebody’s house or any place where people usually gather such as malls, restaurants, etc. It is customary that when someone invites you over to their home for dinner; they will provide you with some type of shoe cover before allowing you inside their house. If someone invites you back to their hotel room coffee or tea, it is always customary to bring them a box of chocolates or some other type of gift.
If you are invited over to your Arab friends’ home, do not go empty-handed. You can take flowers, sweets or anything that comes in a nice package with ribbons on it. It is also custom to refuse the first offer at least 3 times before accepting it. This usually applies when somebody offers you food or drinks. For example, if your friend asks you “Would you like something to drink?” I recommend you say “No thank you” at least three times before finally accepting their offer.
Overtime: Most Arabs are very hospitable people who love the traditional way of living. They usually prepare meals for family and friends by letting them know in advance that they will be hosting a dinner party for them, because if you drop by their house unannounced and at the wrong time, chances are you will find yourself eating alone. Arabs usually eat meals with family and friends, so it is best to check your schedule in order to avoid any conflicts in the future.
Tipping: If you go out to eat or drink tea at someone’s house then there is no need to tip unless they really go out of their way to serve you then 5-10% is customary. This custom applies when somebody invites you over for food or drinks ,then tipping applies after the meal . At restaurants and hotels 10% service is usually added on top of your bill. But if you feel like you received excellent service, then an additional 5-10% tip is fine. However, tipping is not considered customary for taxi drivers or anyone else who provides a service.
Money Exchange: It’s best to trade your money with UAE dirhams (AED) before arriving. The exchange rate will be better than what you would get at the airport when exchanging money on site. An average meal would cost anywhere between 20-40 dirhams depending on where you dine and what kind of cuisine , starting from the more popular fast food chains like McDonald’s, Burger King, Pizza Hut, etc… all the way up to high class dining experiences . Drinks are rather reasonable as well depending on where you drink, but usually prices are 10-20 dirhams for a regular size.
Business Etiquette: When visiting someone’s office you should always dress conservatively. For men this means long pants and closed shoes, no shorts. For women wear either pants or knee length skirts along with high heel shoes, but never sneakers. Arabs love handshakes both as a form of greeting and as well as parting ways, however when entering somebody’s home it is customary to greet everyone by placing your right hand on your chest then leaning forward while saying “Salaam”.
Dubai is an amazing destination for the experienced traveller, but it’s not always easy to know what you should expect. To help you get started on your journey in the region, here are some of our favourite travel tips and tricks that will make navigating this vibrant city a breeze! We hope these titbits come in handy while exploring all there is to see and do in Dubai. If you want more advice about travelling, check out our FREE Guide on 25 Tips to make your vacation fun. And don’t forget to contact us if we can offer any assistance with planning—we’re happy to share information about various offers on our website!