Like living in Dubai for a European

Dubai Tips - 21 Things to Know!

In preparation for my own trip to Dubai, I have put together important Dubai tips here. In my opinion, before entering a foreign country, one should always deal a little with its customs, culture and idiosyncrasies. I think this is a sign of respect and it's just the way it is. Besides, who likes to be noticed as a “stupid tourist” ?! So the following are my Dubai tips, which I of course updated again after our trip to Dubai.


Where is Dubai located?

Dubai is the second largest city in the United Arab Emirates and is located directly on the Arabian Gulf. The capital of the Asian country is Abu Dhabi. In the immediate vicinity are Saudi Arabia, Oman and, in a broader sense, Iran.

Do you need a visa?

Entrants from Germany need a tourist visa, which can be obtained at the airport upon arrival. It is valid for 90 days and is simply stamped in the passport. The German child ID card is not recognized, and children should also have a passport with them.

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Currency in Dubai

The country's currency is the dirham. The official currency abbreviation is AED, but Dh is also widely used. There are banknotes in the denominations: 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000 dirhams. One dirham is equal to 100 fils. In practical life only 25 and 50 fils coins still play a role. Smaller denominations are often not accepted. Corresponding change is usually not paid out either. 4 dirhams are currently around 1 euro.

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As a rule, however, you can easily pay anywhere with your credit card.

Traditional greeting

Dubai is a very touristic city, where you rarely really come into contact with the Arab culture as a holidaymaker. But if that happens, here are a few pointers.

Basically, the man is greeted first. In larger company, this honor is first given to the host. You reach out your hand and let the other person decide how long this handshake lasts. But be careful, this is only common for man to man or woman to woman. Men and women who are not related usually do not shake hands! Also important for left-handers: Never extend your left hand or give a gift with it, etc. The left hand is considered “unclean” by many Muslims.

When greeting an Arab woman, make sure that enough distance is maintained. A deep look in the eyes or a handshake that is too long, if it is offered first by the other person, should be avoided. A veiled Arab woman is best greeted by nodding and waiting to see how she reacts - diplomatic restraint is never wrong. Often women are not even greeted by a man. However, this is a Expression of respect and not ignorance.

As a European you should be with one"As-salamu alaikum" ("Peace be upon you - good afternoon!") Are greeted, one answers with "Wa alaikum as-salam" ("Peace be with you!"). One becomes with the peace greeting “Salam” welcomes (which is rather unlikely), then the correct answer is “Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah”. On the further question "Kayf al halal?" ("How are you?") Is best answered with "Kwayyis!" ("Well").

You can say thank you very much by placing your hand on your heart and bowing briefly.

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Basically, you should Covered from the shoulders to at least the knees clothing - even more important for women than for men. The fabrics should be opaque and cutouts that are too deep, clothing that is too tight, and clothing that is free from back or belly should be avoided.

With very few exceptions, a headscarf is not necessary in certain mosques, for example. In this culture, too, men only wear shorts as bathing or underpants. However, three-quarter trousers that go well below the knees are absolutely fine as Europeans.

However, we have seen Dubai to be much less conservative. Many tourists can also be seen in very skimpy outfits. Ultimately, everyone has to decide for themselves whether they adapt or simply not. Basically, the dress code in Dubai seemed to us to play a rather disorderly role.

At a official invitation, the man should wear a suit and tie, the woman a suit or trouser suit. Branded clothing definitely plays an important role here - for many locals it is a sign of wealth, a high level of education and respect.

Children can of course also wear short clothing such as shirts and shorts. These strict regulations do not yet apply to them.

At the beach Bikinis are of course allowed and completely normal. However, bikini or thong that are too tight should still be avoided. Topless is of course strictly forbidden. It is also important to show the bikini on the beach. Appropriate clothing must be worn on the way to the beach, for example through the lobby or a hotel.

On public beaches, as a woman showing too much skin, you can quickly become a victim of gaping guest workers who are simply not used to so much femininity from their countries.


Tipping is very common in Dubai. When in doubt, the amount should be around 10%. When taking a taxi, it's best to round up to the next 5. In the hotel you give porters about 3-5 dirhams. Of course, you shouldn't skimp on the cleaning staff and that ideally on day 1, because then you can be sure of a clean room for the next few days. It should be 5 dirhams per person. You put this on the bed before room service comes (not just on day 2 as a thank you for day 1 or something similar). At the end of your stay you leave 5-10 dirhams per room as a tip.

In general, you should always have a few dirhams ready to hand in your pockets, because tips are also expected for various other small services, especially from hospitality employees.

In restaurants, like in Germany, you also round up. If there is already a “service charge” on the bill, you can do without another tip. However, there are probably restaurants that do not pass this tip on to their employees. So I would always round up anyway. In fast food restaurants you can of course do without tips.

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Women traveling alone

Dubai is a very safe travel destination. As long as you are respectful and wearing appropriate clothing, you have nothing to fear even as a woman traveling alone. The metro even has extra compartments for women with children. Many cameras and police presence also ensure security. In no second in Dubai - even away from the tourist hotspots - did we have the feeling of not being safe.

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Behavior as a couple

As a couple you should note that Public caresses not appropriate are, in some cases even punishable. A quick kiss on the cheek as a greeting should be enough in public. You should also avoid holding hands as a couple. As an unmarried couple, it can even be seen reluctantly to share a room. So in this case you should simply stay in a hotel pass as a married couple. Different names in the passport are no problem and no one will ask for a marriage certificate.

However, you shouldn't worry too much about it either. Dubai is a city that is very much shaped by tourists, which we have come to know as very cosmopolitan.

Notes on photography

Basically, the rules are similar to ours. Before photographing other people, you should obtain their consent. Photographing veiled women is prohibited. Official government buildings, consulates, embassies, military installations and the palaces and estates of the sheikh family are also not permitted. Particular caution should be exercised at the port and at the airport, even though the official ban on photography has been lifted here. If in doubt, you should simply ask a security guard for permission beforehand.

You can find my detailed photography guide for Dubai here.

Means of transport in Dubai

The most popular modes of transport in Dubai are taxis, the metro and buses. For this I have a separate articlecomposed.


Weather & climate in Dubai

In Dubai it is Dry all year round with warm to hot temperatures. Especially the summer months are not recommended for Europeans used to the Mediterranean weather due to temperatures sometimes over 40 degrees and high humidity. The best travel months are therefore October, November, March and April with pleasant temperatures on average around 25-30 degrees Celsius. However, it can get significantly hotter as early as April.

Dubai is one of the 10 driest countries on earth, with an average of only 5-8 rainy days per year, but that doesn't mean that you can't catch one of them. We speak from experience.


A clean environment plays an important role in Dubai. A 35-person inspection team is out and about in the city all day to punish violations accordingly. The following are punishable:

  • Stealing and damaging plants (including picking flowers!).
  • Spitting in public.
  • Not properly disposing of garbage and garbage.
  • Urinating in public.

We got to know Dubai as an extremely clean and very beautiful city - very different from what you know from many major European cities.


Post offices can be found almost everywhere. There are often queues in which women are often let in. A Postcard to Europe AED 2.50, an airmail letter AED 4.25. As a rule, you can also hand in letters and postcards at the hotel receptions. Where you can buy postcards, you can usually buy stamps as well.

Time zone

At Central European Time (CET) are 3 hours add 2 hours during summer time.

Telephone, cell phone & internet

The area code to UAE from Europe is 00971. The telephone and cell phone networks are very well developed. The network operators of the cell phone network are the telephone companiesEtisalatandyou. However, it is cheaper to use local prepaid cards. Many hotels and malls offer free WiFi or internet. We managed very well without a prepaid card and simply used public WLANs wherever possible.

I have good information on this here on neverseenbefore.defound.

Alcohol & smoking

Alcohol is not readily available in supermarkets. You need a state alcohol license, which tourists usually cannot acquire. There is of course a bar in the hotel's bars. Striking out in public while drunk is a heavy penalty. There is a zero alcohol limit when driving a car. Even in restaurants you often don't get any alcohol.

Getting into a taxi while drunk is not a good idea. Depending on the taxi driver, the journey can end at the police station instead of at the destination.

Smoking is generally not allowed in closed rooms. It is mostly not permitted in public places. There are specially separated areas for smokers in restaurants and bars.

The minimum age for alcohol and cigarette consumption is 21 years.


Ramadan is the month of fasting for Muslims and corresponds to the 9th month of the Islamic calendar. Stricter rules apply during Ramadan. Regardless of whether you are a Muslim or not - the following rules must be observed:

  • Do not smoke, drink (also applies to water), eat (including chewing gum), swear or exchange tenderness in public from sunrise to sunset.
  • Dress conservatively.
  • Working hours in the UAE are usually shortened by at least two hours a day.

The end of Ramadan is celebrated with the festival Eid al Fitr and celebrated lavishly and lively.

When is Ramadan from 2019 to 2022:

  • Ramadan 2019: May 6th to June 5th, 2019
  • Ramadan 2020: April 24th to May 24th, 2020
  • Ramadan 2021: April 13th to May 13th, 2021
  • Ramadan 2022: April 2nd to May 2nd, 2022

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There is of course a lot of haggling in Arab markets. Therefore, never accept the first offer, but try to achieve a price that is satisfactory for both parties. In malls, on the other hand, people do not trade, but buy at fixed prices.


The voltage of the power grid corresponds to the 220-240 volt standard known from Europe. For sockets, however, you usually need a 3-pin adapter plug, which you can often get free of charge at the hotel.


The official language is Arabic. But English is also very widespread. Especially in Dubai there are also many English-language signs, menu cards, etc.

German Consulate General in Dubai

German Consulate General Dubai
Jumeirah I, Street 14 A.
United Arab Emirates
Passport and Visa Section
Jumeirah I, 8A Street
Tel: +971 4 349 8888
Mail: [email protected]

Further link recommendations with Dubai tips

Recommendation travel guide Dubai

The best hotels in Dubai

Do you have any more important Dubai tips in store? Do you have experiences that contradict my research? Then please leave me a comment. I like to include these in my overview!