Sunday, May 28, 2023

9 Common Dubai Culture Shock Experiences From Newcomers

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When visiting a country in the Middle East like Dubai, tourists should be prepared for several culture shocks. As an Arab nation, the United Arab Emirates has traditions and rituals that have been done for thousands of years.

People should be sensitive to these practices to avoid offending residents or breaking the law. Here are several shocking activities and exercises to know about.

Dubai in the month of Ramadan

Ramadan is a month-long holiday where Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. For Filipinos or other nationalities who do not practice Islam faith, this can be a new or culturally shocking experience. People are prohibited from drinking liquor, eating, or swallowing saliva during fasting hours. You might be surprised to find restaurants not serving alcohol, even tourists. Muslims also pray at least five times a day during Ramadan. Be respectful to worshipping Muslims, or authorities might apprehend you.

Dubai is still home to conservative people.

Although Dubai is more liberated compared to its Arab neighbors, you should also be mindful of what you’re wearing. Many mosques in the city do not allow non-Christians to enter. You might also be required to remove your shoes or slippers before entering. Do not talk while inside the mosque.

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Women should be careful about what they wear and avoid skimpy clothes like skirts, halters, and shorts. Avoid cursing or using profane gestures while in the city.

Dubai is home to ultra-rich people.

Dubai is one of the wealthiest cities in the world, so many tourists will be shocked to find police officers driving Ferraris and Lamborghinis. They say these are for chasing wealthy traffic violators driving fast sports cars.

You will also find many unique decorations and embellishments placed by auto or homeowners on their property. There are diamond-studded racing cars, gold doorknobs, and Swarovski crystal chandeliers in many places around the city.

Dubai’s tap water is safe to drink but…

The main water source in Dubai is desalinated seawater, which undergoes a treatment process that includes filtration, disinfection, and adding fluoride to improve dental health. Additionally, the water is regularly tested for harmful substances, such as bacteria and chemicals, to ensure it meets the required standards.

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According to the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), the water quality in Dubai is comparable to that of other developed cities worldwide, and it is safe to drink from the tap.

However, some people may prefer bottled water for drinking and cooking due to personal preferences or concerns about the taste of treated water. Bottled water is widely available in supermarkets and convenience stores throughout the city.

Overall, the tap water quality in Dubai is considered safe and meets international standards. The Dubai Municipality and DEWA take extensive measures to ensure that the water supply is clean and safe for consumption. The public can access information about water quality through their websites.

Dubai folks rely a lot on home deliveries.

Many companies, like restaurants, grocery stores, and even auto shops, have delivery services. Many Dubai residents prefer having the things they buy delivered straight to their doorstep.

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You will easily find vans from various establishments sending goods with bold and big telephone numbers on the side. And why not? If it’s too hot outdoors during summer or colder months offer discomfort, delivery services are a welcome alternative, even if you have to shell out a fee.

A pause of business during Friday prayer

It is essential to remember that many businesses and attractions may be closed on Friday because it is a religious holiday for Muslims.

Friday prayer is an essential religious observance in Dubai and throughout the Islamic world. A congregational prayer occurs weekly on Fridays, the holy day for Muslims. Friday prayers are mandatory for all Muslim men, and women are encouraged to attend.

In Dubai, Friday prayer is typically around midday, lasting 30 to 45 minutes. Many businesses and attractions may be closed during this time to allow for Friday prayer, and visitors should plan accordingly.

The prayer is usually held in mosques, which are located throughout the city. Many mosques in Dubai have designated areas for women, and visitors should respect the local customs and dress appropriately when visiting mosques.

During Friday prayers, the imam, a religious leader, gives a sermon. The sermon typically focuses on a specific topic or theme and provides guidance and advice for the congregation. The sermon is in Arabic, but some mosques may offer translations in other languages.

After the sermon, the congregants pray in unison, led by the imam. The prayer consists of several physical movements, including standing, bowing, and prostrating, and it is performed facing the direction of Mecca.

Overall, Friday prayers are an important part of Islamic culture in Dubai, and visitors should respect the local customs and traditions when attending.

Alcohol availability

Alcohol is only available in licensed establishments in Dubai, and drinking or being drunk in public is illegal.

In Dubai, alcohol consumption is allowed, but the government regulates it. Alcohol is only served in licensed establishments such as hotels, bars, and clubs. These establishments require a permit to serve alcohol and are generally located within hotels, restaurants, or clubs that cater to non-Muslim tourists.

Non-Muslim residents and tourists can buy alcohol from licensed shops and stores, mostly in hotels and shopping malls. It is illegal to consume alcohol in public places like parks, beaches, or on the streets, and penalties for doing so can result in fines or even jail time.

The legal age for drinking in Dubai is 21 years old, and individuals must show a valid ID to purchase alcohol or enter licensed establishments. Additionally, there is a limit on how much alcohol an individual can purchase and consume in a day, and it is illegal to drink and drive.

It is also worth noting that during the month of Ramadan, the sale and consumption of alcohol are strictly regulated. Many licensed establishments do not serve alcohol during this time, and drinking in public during daylight hours is illegal.

Overall, while alcohol consumption is allowed in Dubai, visitors should be aware of its regulations and laws and always drink responsibly.

Tipping is a common practice.

Tipping is expected in Dubai, especially in the service industry. The customary tip is around 10% of the total bill.

Tipping in Dubai is a common practice expected in many service industries. Here are some things to keep in mind about tipping in Dubai:

  1. Tipping culture: Tipping is customary in Dubai and is considered a way to show appreciation for good service. It is usually done in cash, and the amount can vary depending on the level of service provided.
  2. Restaurants: It is expected to tip around 10% of the total bill in restaurants, although some higher-end establishments may add a service charge. In these cases, tipping is still appreciated but not expected.
  3. Taxis: Tipping taxi drivers is not expected, but it is common to round up the fare to the nearest whole amount as a courtesy.
  4. Hotels: Tipping hotel staff, such as porters and housekeeping, is customary. The amount can vary depending on the level of service provided, but it is usually around 10 to 20 AED per day.
  5. Salons and spas: It is customary to tip around 10% of the total bill in salons and spas.
  6. Delivery services: Tipping for food delivery services is unnecessary, but it is appreciated if the service is exceptional.
  7. Service charge: Some establishments may add a service charge to the bill, especially in higher-end restaurants or hotels. In these cases, tipping is still appreciated but not necessary.

Dress code

Dubai is a modern and cosmopolitan city, but it still follows Islamic traditions and customs, so visitors are expected to dress modestly and respectfully in public areas. Here are some general guidelines for the dress code in Dubai:

  1. Clothing for men: Men should wear long pants or trousers and shirts with sleeves. Shorts are generally unacceptable in public areas, except at the beach or pool.
  2. Clothing for women: Women should dress conservatively and avoid tight or revealing clothing. It is recommended that women cover their shoulders, arms, and legs and wear clothing that is not transparent. Bikinis or revealing swimwear are only acceptable at the beach or by the pool.
  3. Dress code in public places: Visitors should dress appropriately when visiting public places, such as malls, markets, and government buildings. Revealing clothing, such as shorts, tank tops, and miniskirts should be avoided.
  4. Dress code in religious places: Visitors should dress conservatively when visiting mosques or other religious sites. Women should cover their heads and wear clothing that covers their arms and legs. Men should wear long pants or trousers and shirts with sleeves.
  5. Dress code in hotels and resorts: The dress code in hotels and resorts is generally more relaxed, and visitors can wear casual clothing such as shorts and t-shirts.
  6. Traditional dress: Wearing traditional Emirati dress, such as the abaya for women and the kandura for men, is also acceptable and can be a great way to experience the local culture.

These are just some of the many culture shocks you will witness in Dubai. Talk to locals to find more surprises.

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  1. “Tap water, even if boiled, is not supposed to be drinkable in Dubai. ”

    Lived there for 17 years, from 1993 – 2010. Boiling the tap water and drinking it is safe (y)


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