Whenever you are booking a holiday to an overseas destination, it is wise to ensure that you are aware of any local rules and laws before you travel to avoid getting into trouble whilst you are away.

That’s particularly true when visiting a destination like Dubai, given that the laws and customs across the United Arab Emirates are somewhat different to those that you might be used to back home.

As a result, there are some things that you need to be aware of when visiting Dubai to ensure that you adhere to local laws and customs.


When it comes to what to wear in Dubai, you’ll want to ensure that you don’t offend the locals by dressing in a manner that they may deem to be inappropriate, even though Dubai is arguably one of the more relaxed Emirate destinations.

The general rule is to be sensible, so no walking around in hot pants and a crop top, or heading off into town from the beach whilst still wearing a pair of swimming trunks.

Women shouldn’t wear clothes that are too tight or revealing, and shouldn’t show off underwear, whilst your midriff should be covered and any skirts shouldn’t be too short, Wearing your swimsuit anywhere other than the beach is also a no.

Men should also avoid any clothing that is too tight and revealing.

For both men and women, be aware of any slogans on clothing that might not be as funny in Dubai as they are at home, and should you have tattoos that may be considered as offensive, then ensure they are covered by your outfit.

When heading for the beach, if in a public area, women should wear one-piece swimsuits as opposed to revealing bikinis, whilst men should avoid shorts that are white in colour in case they go see-through once wet.


The rules around alcohol in Dubai have always been quite strict but relaxations introduced in 2020 have made it more widely available across the Emirate. Prior to that, foreign visitors could only drink in licenced premises and would not be able to buy alcohol in an off-licence, for example.

You should bear in mind however that drinking alcohol in public - on the beach or in the street for example - is still not permitted, and being drunk and disorderly is also unacceptable.

The legal age for drinking is 21.


Most of us will be guilty of using ‘colourful’ language at some stage, but Dubai certainly isn’t the place, with swearing or making ‘rude gestures’ considered to be obscene acts that can result in legal action being taken against you.

The ‘F’ word is particularly frowned upon for ‘disgracing the honour or the modesty’ of an individual.


As is the case in most destinations, smoking is only permitted in designated areas that are clearly marked with the rules including the use of eCigarettes.

When using eCigarettes, it is important to pay attention to the ingredients in refills that may be illegal within Dubai, including CBD oil.


Following on from the rules around CBD oil, there are some prescription drugs that are not legal in Dubai, including Codeine - meaning you will require permission in order to take it into the Emirate.

Public Affection:

Displays of public affection should be kept to a minimum as you spend time in Dubai. Whilst it won’t be frowned upon to hold hands, you should try to avoid kissing in public.


As is the case in a number of countries around the globe, you need to be careful when taking photos in Dubai and should avoid taking pictures of any government or political sites - where such actions are restricted for security reasons.

You might want to take a photo of your plane at the airport but this too should be avoided for security reasons, whilst Dubai’s laws on privacy state you should avoid taking pictures of any strangers.

Should you be approached and asked to delete a picture you have taken for any reason, then it can be sensible to comply to avoid confrontation.