What Social Etiquette Means in the UAE





If you are currently residing and working in the UAE, there are rules in terms of how you should behave in the country. Although the majority of the population here is expats, we can’t just ignore that the social etiquette here is still based on the culture and tradition of the UAE.

Also Read: 17 Tips When Visiting UAE For The First Time

This means that as an expat, you have to observe what’s the standard here in the country. You have to learn social etiquette, public behavior, and dress code based on its Muslim culture. And for those who are looking for a complete guide on what social etiquette means in the UAE, continue reading this blog to discover more.

Are you a first-time visitor in the UAE?

If you are a first-time visitor in the UAE, there is nothing to worry about. Just like your home country, you can be as confident as you are when you are in the UAE. However, since this is a Muslim country, it might be a little different from your non-Muslim country.

It’s essential that you are aware of the possible adjustments you have to make. By knowing the social etiquette in the country, you can easily adjust and get used to changes.

Social Etiquette in the UAE

The social standards in the UAE come in different forms. For instance, there are basic rules in terms of wearing clothes, dining, consuming alcohol, and so on. Here’s a complete guide to inform you of the basic standards.

Dress Code in the UAE

In the UAE, it’s fine to wear clothes you are comfortable with. The country is not really strict in terms of dress code. You can wear anything you want as long you are dressing modestly. If you are going to Mosques and public places, it’s recommended that you wear decent clothing so that you can avoid the attention of other visitors. To be specific, wear clothes that don’t expose too much of your skin such as your arms, shoulders, and legs. Also, make sure to cover your head with an abaya if you are planning to visit mosques. You should also check what’s printed on your shirt and ensure that offensive images and words are not displayed. If you are going to the beaches and swimming pools, it’s okay to be in your swimsuits.

Consumption of Alcohol in the UAE

By now, you should be aware that the UAE has strict guidelines when it comes to consuming, producing, and selling alcohol. Muslims are not allowed to drink alcohol. Subsequently, it is illegal to consume alcohol in Sharjah.

If you are not a Muslim, the restrictions are lenient. You can still consume alcohol in hotels, restaurants, and bars as long as these establishments have their license to serve and sell alcoholic drinks. You should also avoid getting drunk in public places if you want to avoid getting penalized. If you are planning to purchase alcohol for consumption, you should have your license to buy.

Eating in the UAE

You don’t have to pretend to be someone else when you are dining in different restaurants in the UAE. However, there are some standards in terms of eating with people in the country, especially with business partners.

Basically, you are encouraged to accept food and drinks before you discuss matters related to business and other things. When eating, you need to use your right hand as the basic practice in the country. It’s also polite to offer food regardless if the person will accept or reject it.

Social Meetings in the UAE

When gathering together with your relatives, friends, and other people, there are also social standards that you have to observe. For example, if you are invited to someone else’s place, make sure to take off your shoes at the entrance of the place. Men and women usually have separate spots in the place of gathering.

When greeting a new visitor, especially if the person has a high-rank or older, you are encouraged to stand up as a sign of respect. Also, when greeting Muslims, never offer shake hands unless they want to do it first. Pointing fingers are discouraged as well. You might want to use your whole hand to point something. Everything that you do against those rules is considered as rude to locals and other expats in the country.

Public Behavior in the UAE

Since we are talking about social etiquette here, public behavior is included. If you are a couple in the UAE, it’s acceptable to hold hands but kissing and hugging publicly are not allowed. It’s also discouraged to use bad language, curses, and obscene gestures. As long as you behave in a good manner, you will be able to live well in the UAE.

Photography in the UAE

Photography in the UAE is also included as part of the social etiquette. When taking a picture of a place, a thing, or a person, you need to seek consent first. Permission is always required. Do not make a move you have the permission. The exceptions here include taking pictures of government buildings and military places as the basic rule is not to take pictures of these places.

Final Thoughts

Social etiquette in the UAE simply means following the norm. Don’t try to go against the basic guideline because you will definitely face charges and penalties. Expats should learn how to adjust to the culture and traditions of the locals in the UAE. If you want to be a better resident of the country, make sure that you are willing to embrace the changes that you might be welcomed of.

Disclaimer: UAELabour.org is an informational site only and should serve as a guide. For updated details and policies, always contact proper authorities for assistance. If you are facing challenges at your work, please contact the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) or previously known as UAE Ministry of Labour for guidance. You may also seek help from a lawyer regarding your case.

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