Everyone knows that the United Arab Emirates is one of, if not the most conservative country out there. For centuries, the country has abided by certain rules and traditions, despite becoming quite a major player in the world. Though yes, through the years, the UAE has opened its borders to welcome people from other countries to visit or even live here. But even despite that, the customs remain the same. And if you have plans of going here, you have to know how to act and behave. Else, you won't just offend people, you might even start quite the commotion!
Never Criticize The Culture and Religion Here
Yes, there's an argument to be made that many of the customs and traditions in the UAE are quite outdated. Not just old-school, but rather far from the more liberated and progressive societies in the rest of the world. And while this may make many people uncomfortable, that's simply the way it is here. The UAE is not a democracy, you can't just vote to change the way of life here. You have to be ready to adhere to the centuries-old painstakingly conservative rules in this country. And you can't criticize and complain (at least, not too vocally) about it either.
Respecting Women In Public
Part of the ultra-conservative customs of the UAE is how men treat women. Men are not allowed to freely shake the hands or even touch women that are not their wives or daughters. When greeting them, men have to wait until women give them some sort of go-signal to shake their hands. Many times, members of the opposite sex may decline to shake each others' hands. And while this may seem offensive and rude, it's not! It's simply a religious custom here in the UAE. Don't take offense when someone does not extend their hand for a handshake. A simple smile for a greeting will do.
Never Show The Soles Of Your Feet
Whether you're in a district in Dubai
or a corner in Abu Dhabi, you will never see the soles of people's feet. Though yes, it's common for people to eat on cushions on the floor here. It's part of the culture that has fascinated many people beyond the country. However, despite this, people never show their soles while seated down. Feet are considered dirty and showing the soles—the part of feet that touches the ground—is considered rude and offensive. Since most people wear floor-length traditional Islamic attire here, very rarely do their feet show at all.
Always Eat With Your Right Hand
Cleanliness is very important for the Arabs. As feet are considered the dirtiest part of their bodies, their hands are often required to be clean. Especially since they commonly eat food without utensils. So don't get offended when you see people eating with their hands. And if you want to do the same, only use your right hand. The left hand is actually also considered dirty, so eating with it is quite taboo in the UAE. Whether you're in someone's home or in a nice restaurant in Dubai
, you won't see people eating with their left hands. Unless, of course, if they're left-handed. They're the exception to this rule!
Do Not Decline Any Food Offered To You
Speaking of eating, never decline any food offered to you. That is, perhaps, one of the rudest things you'll do to someone in the UAE. Most especially if you're invited over to eat at someone's place. It's highly likely that your host/ess cooked and prepared the food him/herself. So for you not to accept any food he/she offers is an insult in his/her own home. Even if you're already full, it's offensive for the Arabs when you decline the food they offer. If you can no longer eat, make sure you notify your host before they offer you any more food.
It's no secret that the UAE, despite the very modern cities here like Dubai and Abu Dhabi, remains one of, if not the most conservative country out there. If you have plans of going here, it's best that you know and follow their many customs!
More than just not offending anyone, you'll best live your life here in the UAE if you rented a luxury home
! That's the only way to go!