Dubai Warnings and Dangers
Though one of the most westernized cities in the Middle East, Dubai is located in a Muslim country that has its own conservative beliefs. Dress code is important – in many tourist hotspots, visitors wear shorts and short sleeves. However it’s important to remember to dress appropriately outside of these areas. By covering arms and feet, you will get more local respect.
The city has many social rules – including that people, particularly couples, not show any public display of affection (for example, holding hands or kissing). Hotels may require marriage certificates, as another rule is that an unmarried couple not stay in a hotel room together.
Also, don’t enter a bar or club on your own if a woman – men will approach you as most think women are fair game. There is a problem with an influx of prostitutes in Dubai, and usually if a non-tourist woman is solo, she could be mistaken for a prostitute.
Dubai may be a big city, but it is still housed in a Muslim country – alcohol is not consumed by the main population. Keep in mind that when selecting a hotel, many of them are “dry” (don’t sell or serve alcohol). However, don’t hesitate to ask for a corkscrew if you have your own bottle of wine – hotels are accommodating to this request and will likely provide you with one.
If you want to experience night life, remember that bars, lounges, and nightclubs typically close around 1:00 a.m. at the latest. And be forewarned, if you go out in public afterward and are loud or obnoxious, you may be arrested; this kind of conduct is not tolerated.
There is absolutely no tolerance for driving under the influence of alcohol, either. Even if you’re a passenger during an accident, you can get blamed if you are tipsy. They take being under the influence quite seriously.
Dubai’s low season is during summer. It’s not advised you go then as the heat is oppressive, rising to 100 plus degrees in the summer months. The hot and humid combination can have an ill-effect on what you experience.
If you do decide to travel during this time, dress right for summer months (from as early as May to as late as October). Wear cotton clothing and cover your head to protect yourself from the sun.
The metro and train are great ways to maneuver the city, however they come with their share of regulations. Examples of offenses include, a male sitting in female designated areas, littering, sleeping onboard, eating or drinking, and putting feet on seats. The rules are numbered, so be aware of them so you won’t be subjected to paying large fines.
As for using a taxi, many of the drivers are not local. Carry a map with you if you don’t know where you’re going, as many times they won’t either.
If renting a car, remember that drivers have unpredictable driving behaviors – and it doesn’t help that Dubai is a large city with a lot of construction and traffic jams that commonly last more than two hours. Always wear a seatbelt, go the speed limit (roads are monitored by radar), and never take your focus from the road. Drivers will speed, cut you off, use breaks suddenly, and drive very dangerously. If you are female and happen to pass a male while driving, he may pass you afterward just because of your gender.
Dubai is full of tourists, so there are a large number of people who try and take advantage of visitors. In malls, scammers will try and get you to answer questions to win a prize that’s ultimately a scam to sell travel packages.
Fast Car Rentals will have you authorize they charge you for any damages incurred while renting their vehicle. Ultimately, they pile on charges by fabricating speeding tickets and other damages.
Taxi drivers may even ask for additional funds.
Warning to Women
Women traveling alone are subject to harassment in Dubai. For some reason, it seems that Dubai has a few local men who think fair-skinned women are simply desperate for action. Such people are definitely in the minority, and the Dubai police do not look kindly upon them either. There have been a few instances where they approach ladies who are traveling alone and aggressively offer them a lift. For some reason, a “No, Thank you” doesn’t seem to deter them. In such cases, simply yell at them and threaten to call the cops. That’s usually enough to send them packing.
If you are carrying and taking medication, make sure you have a copy of the prescriptions and a doctor’s note when traveling in Dubai. If the authorities decide to do a blood test on you for whatever reason, you can still be charged with having a controlled substance on you if a controlled or banned drug is found in your blood.
Slow moving bumper to bumper traffic is the norm in Dubai. Streets, especially at night and on Thursday before the weekends, are jammed and you should expect to spend about 1-2 hours waiting for a bus or a taxi and then spend another hour on the bus or taxi just to get to your destination a few miles away. There are no subways and trains you can take to get around the traffic problems.
Walking Around Dubai
Dubai has one of the highest rates of deaths per vehicle in the world, and more than half are pedestrians. Dubai roads have pedestrian crossings but do not step into the crossing lane assuming the traffic will stop for you. It won’t. Many traffic signal junctions have pedestrian lights which signal when it is safe to cross. Obey them, but also watch the traffic. Dubai has a combination of US and UK driving systems mixed up together so traffic can come at you from any direction. U-turns can easily catch pedestrians as the vehicle may appear to be going in the opposite direction but will suddenly do a U-turn toward you.
Editor’s note: The information contained on this page was compiled using real traveler reviews about warnings and dangers in Dubai.