Laws and culture – TNT Magazine
The most important thing that one should keep in mind when visiting or living in the United Arab Emirates is that it is a Muslim country. Of course, Dubai is known to be more liberal and tolerant than its neighbors, but this freedom should not be expected or taken for granted. The recent crackdown on foreigners breaking the rules has been reported in the press around the world, and whether people agree or not, these are the rules.
Emiratis make up less than 20% of the total population of Dubai, which comes as a shock to many people. Most of the population comes from the Indian subcontinent (India, Pakistan and Bangladesh), while the rest come from other countries in the Middle East (especially Lebanon and Egypt) and Western countries (mainly the UK , but also South Africa, Australia and Canada). There are also a significant number of Filipinos working in hospitality and retail.
Most nationalities socialize within their cultural circles and you will rarely find Emiratis, especially women, spending their free time with those from other countries. In fact, your interaction with Emiratis will most likely be limited to passport control at the airport and any visits you make to government offices.
The official language of the United Arab Emirates is Arabic, but English is the most widely spoken. You will also hear Hindi, Urdu and Filipino on a regular basis.
Spend his free time
One of the most popular institutions for Western expats is Friday Brunch – an all-you-can-eat festival that starts around noon and officially ends around 4 p.m., but usually begins until the last person drops. Held every Friday in hotel restaurants across the city, brunches range from cheap and cheerful (80 Dhs at Waxy O’Connors) to the height of five-star pleasure (550 Dhs at Fairmont Dubai with unlimited Moet and cocktails).
During the winter, Dubai is a sun worshipers’ paradise. With temperatures mirroring those of an English summer, it is a beautiful place at this time of year. People usually head indoors once summer begins and temperatures approach 50C.
Laws and customs
The laws of the country are based on Islam, which means that there are quite significant differences from the laws of Western countries and the penalties can vary widely from what is expected in the West. The main topics of concern to Western expats relate to alcohol and relationships with the opposite sex.
It is illegal to drink in public, but alcohol is served free in licensed hotels and it is acceptable for expats to drink. Alcohol – heavily taxed, of course – can be purchased at a store if you have a liquor license, but this can only be obtained with the permission of your employer and landlord.
There is zero tolerance for drinking and driving, so if you get caught driving with any level of alcohol in your blood, expect jail time.
Homosexuality is illegal in the UAE, but there is apparently an active underground gay network. Just know that this is illegal and those who engage in homosexual acts are likely to be treated harshly.
Although not nearly as strict as other countries in the Middle East, public displays of affection are frowned upon. Although you can find couples holding hands, it is still an offense and it is also considered criminal to kiss in public or have sex outside of marriage. Needless to say, if you are caught having sex or performing sex acts, you can say goodbye to your freedom in Dubai. Reserve the fun in the privacy of your own home and you shouldn’t find yourself in trouble.