Dubai traditions and customs

Dubai traditions and customs


Don't expect to find local handicrafts inherited from the Bedouins. Handicrafts found in the souks of the old town or in tourist hotels are mostly imported from neighboring countries (India, Iran, Oman). From the hookah to the decorated metal trays, through the leather slippers, the objects and products available are nothing exceptional.

In general, visitors bring back from Dubai boxes of dates, gold, pashminas, Indian fabrics, spices, Iranian rugs, Iranian caviar (depending on the price trend!), Or even consumer electronics.

Holidays and public holidays

Since September 1, 2006, weekend days are Friday and Saturday for all government institutions, as well as for some private companies.

The national holiday takes place on December 2 every year. It commemorates the creation of the Federation of the United Arab Emirates.


In the United Arab Emirates, the official religion isIslam. Dubai therefore has a large number of mosques. Prayer rooms are even set up in shopping malls to perform one of the five daily prayers between shopping.

The city also has two Christian churches: St Mary's (Roman Catholic) and Holy Trinity (Church of England).

Know-how and customs

Dress code

The men wear a long, loose fitting white cotton garment with long sleeves, which falls to the ankle, known as dishdasha, gandourah or kandoura. It is the most common traditional garment in the United Arab Emirates. It is adapted to the religious beliefs of the region and to the hot weather. In winter, dishdashas can be darker and thicker.

As for Emirati women, they also wear a dishdasha, a long-sleeved dress often embroidered with gold, silver or brightly colored threads.

Generally speaking, Dubai is a cosmopolitan city, and everyone is used to seeing foreigners. All fashions and styles of clothing coexist without problem, in a spirit of tolerance.
However, out of respect for your hosts, it is advisable to wear suitable clothing. Short sleeves and Bermuda shorts are tolerated in very hot weather, as are swimsuits at the beach and at the pool. Women should, however, prefer the one-piece swimsuit to the two-piece.
In mosques, trousers, long sleeves and a head scarf for women are required. Sometimes women are asked to wear an abaya.


The best way to greet a man is to shake his hand upwards. A man shaking hands with a Muslim woman (and vice versa) is considered unacceptable in most circles.


Avoid photographing members of local authorities, Muslim women, military installations, and government buildings.

Sensitive subjects

Do not criticize Islam, the local authorities, nor Palestine (the United Arab Emirates are pro-Palestinian).


Once populated by desert Bedouin, shepherds in the arid mountains and pearl fishermen, Dubai today owes its prosperity to oil. Main port of the Gulf from 1870 to 1940 and a hub for the trade in pearls and other products in the region, Dubai experienced rapid economic development with the discovery of black gold. Dubai's reserves were discovered in 1966, the first exports started in 1969.

It was around this time that Britain announced its withdrawal from the region. In 1971, the emirates of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Umm al-Qaïwain, Ajman, Ras al-Khaima and Fujairah formed the federation of the United Arab Emirates.

Engaged in an unprecedented diversification of its economic activities (international finance, free zones, re-exports, tourism), Dubai anticipates the programmed disappearance of oil.

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