As an expat who as has been living in Dubai for almost 2 years, I have gained some information that I think would be useful for Dubai newbies and tourists. I have helpful friends who have taught me the do’s and dont’s in Dubai, so here I am, being helpful to you too.
1. Do not forget to pack your sunglasses, especially if you are coming during the months of April to September. In Dubai, your shades is your numero-uno friend and sunblock is a very close second.
2. Since you are new in Dubai, you’ll probably have someone waiting to pick you up from the airport but if you don’t, you will find money exchange stores inside the airport to get some Dirhams (AED). If possible, just exchange for a hundred AED. The rate you’ll get from money changers outside the airport is a lot better.
3. Get a photocopy of your passport and visa and do not leave the house without it. If you want to buy a sim card for your phone, bring two copies. One for you and the other, you will have to submit to the shop you are buying the sim from. This is one of the reasons why Dubai is such a secure place. Phone numbers are connected to passports so people can’t keep a secret identity.
4. Buy a Nol card — To use public transportation, like buses, trains, and boats, you will have to swipe a preloaded Nol card. For the modes of transportation mentioned, money is not accepted. Nol cards can be purchased from train stations and some grocery stores like Spinneys or you can visit the Road Transportation Authority website for more information.
5. No jaywalking! I know all countries have this rule but I still see a lot of people getting caught for not crossing the street properly here in Dubai. The fine for not using the crosswalk or footbridge is 200 AED (almost 10 times of the penalty for the same offense in my country)
6. Know your emergency numbers:
• Ambulance/Police: 999
• Fire Department: 997
• Water/Electricity: 991
7. Always wear decent clothing. Dubai is a Muslim country which only means that people are very conservative when it comes to clothing. While locals or Emiratis mostly wear kondura (white male clothing) and abaya (black robe-like dress for women), we expats are allowed to wear whatever we want as long as we keep our privates fully hidden.
8. Limit the public display of affection. This is serious. No French kissing in public or else, you may end up in jail.
9. You can only buy alcohol from bars and hotels that have liquor licences. If you want some alcoholic beverages at home, I suggest you get some from Duty Free before you go out of the airtport.
There are plenty of beautiful beaches in Dubai but don’t even think of bringing a bottle there. Drinking outside will automatically buy you some jail time.
10. 50% of the UAE’s population are Indians. When they shake their head sideways that means ‘yes’ (When I first came here, I thought it was a ‘no.’ Just imagine how confused I was)