Dubai Cultural and Legal Matters Expatriates Should Be Aware of

Dubai is certainly a lot more different than your home country, especially if you come from Europe or the USA. There are some cultural, religious and legal issues that you should be aware of even before deciding to move to and work in the emirate. You have to keep in mind the fact that the Dubai laws are closely linked to the Islamic ones. This is not a reason for concern, but you might have to modify your social conduct to fit into the local social environment.

The most notable matter concerns the dress code, especially when you are at work. You have to wear appropriate clothes at work. This is particularly applicable to women. You should not put on short skirts and tops with thin straps. This should not be a problem since these types of outfits are inappropriate in most offices everywhere in the world. You should avoid wearing any garments, which are too provocative, in public. You might have legal charges pressed against you, even though this hardly ever happens.

Generally, you have to be polite to all people and especially to locals, who sometimes tend to be overly sensitive during arguments. You have to be aware of the fact that you might be imprisoned for swearing, naming somebody with offensive words and showing rude gestures. All these rules are particularly applicable when dealing with law enforcement officers. The policemen in Dubai are extremely helpful and polite to all citizens. They usually work systematically and thoroughly and, in turn, matters take longer to arrange. You have to be respectful at all times, even if you are upset or annoyed. Offending a law enforcement officer usually results in a jail sentence.

You have to respect the religion of the locals at all times. This is essential, if you want to fit into your company’s environment and into the local community. You should know what to do during Ramadan. Throughout this holy month, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. Since this is the norm in Dubai, it is illegal for any person to consume food and drinks in public during this time of the day. This is applicable to smoking and chewing gum as well. The only citizens exempt from this rule are pregnant women and children who have not reached puberty. Hence, you have to modify your lifestyle during Ramadan. You can still eat and drink, but not in front of other people.

As said earlier, religious norms have infiltrated the legal ones in many aspects, including your personal life. You are not allowed to live together with your partner unless you are married. This can result in a sentence with serious time in jail. This is applicable to adultery as well since it is a legal offence in Dubai. Generally, you are not allowed to show gestures of intimacy, such as kissing, in public.

You have to be aware of the fact that the money laws in Dubai are stricter than the ones in your home country. It is illegal to owe money to another person in the emirate. You might get arrested and imprisoned for having your check bounced. So, make sure you arrange all money matters with your landlord and other people amicably in advance.


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