Etiquette in United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates, sometimes simply called the Emirates or the UAE, is an Arab country in the southeast of the Arabian Peninsula on the Persian Gulf, with a population of over 8.2 million people.

The official language is Arabic. Persian, English, Hindi-Urdu, and Punjabi are also spoken.

The United Arab Emirates is a federation of absolute hereditary monarchies. The president and prime minister are elected by the Supreme Council, but are essentially hereditary. 

Islam is the official state religion and constitutes about 76% of the population. There is a tolerance of other religions, but restrictions on the spread of religion through media or other proselytizing. It is estimated that about 15% of the population is Christian, 5% Hindu, and 5% Atheist.

The dirham (sign: د.إ) is the currency of the United Arab Emirates.

Dress Etiquette

In general, dressing conservatively for a business meeting is the norm – business suits being the obvious solution. As a tourist, you should make an effort to dress moderately.  Men and women should wear very non-revealing clothes (covering shoulders, arms and legs, and closed-toe shoes) to avoid offending locals.

Men should avoid walking around topless, and wearing sleeveless t-shirts and shorts. Men should keep shoulders and backs covered up, and consider wearing long cotton trousers even though the climate is generally hot and dry. Loose-fitting T-shirts and short or long sleeve shirts are also generally acceptable.

For women, the proper etiquette is to cover up as much as you can.  It is best to at least cover your shoulders and the tops of your arms. Women should avoid skirts or low-cut tops. In public places loose-fitting trousers or a long skirt are also acceptable.

If you intend on visiting a mosque in the United Arab Emirates, women should dress very modestly, taking care to cover their heads, arms and legs. Men wearing shorts will likely not be permitted to enter a mosque, so be sure to wear trousers. You should also remove your shoes before you enter the mosque – not doing so would be regarded as extremely rude. When visiting religious sites, women must also cover their hair.