Travelling to the Middle East is not like travelling to a western country. Respect the city’s Islamic rules and exhibit restraint while in public. Book your visit to the Burj Khalifa online before you travel to Dubai so that you don’t pay double the price. If you wish to eat at the Burj Al Arab, the world’s only 7-star hotel, you must book ahead of time as well. You can also book a mosque tour or cultural meal at the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding in the Fahidi District, to add experience to your trip.
Drinking heavily, laughing and mingling too closely with the opposite sex in public is cause for trouble. Otherwise, Dubai is a welcoming, warm city. You will enjoy your visit very much as long as you understand it’s not the West.
Legal Assistance in Dubai
In Dubai, the law-breakers are not entitled to legal or consular assistance. Therefore, if you happen to break a law out of ignorance, you cannot appeal to your embassy for help. You could be incarcerated for months at a time before anything happens. Be careful not to carry any recreational drugs even in your pockets.
Visa and Immigration in Dubai
Contact your travel agency to find out if you are qualified to obtain a tourist visa upon entry into Dubai. You can obtain a list of countries whose residents are allowed 30 to 90 days visa upon arrival. The visa process is fairly straightforward as per Dubai’s immigration rules. You can download the tourist visa application, fill it up and submit it to the immigration authorities along with listed documents for visa stamping. Unless there are peculiar circumstances that prevent stamping, your visa formalities should go through easily.
Note that your luggage will be checked thoroughly by customs when you arrive! Furthermore, Immigration formalities will not be completed until customs is satisfied that you’re not bringing drugs, alcohol, sex toys, porno magazines or CDs into the country. In addition, Customs may also look through the contents of your laptop, tablet or smartphone for pornographic material.
Alcohol in Dubai
Consuming alcohol is against Islamic law, however, non-Muslims are allowed to drink in licensed bars, restaurants and clubs. Anyone caught drunk or semi-drunk in a public place is imprisoned. Drinking (even tiny amounts) and driving is not permissible and can mean jail time. Also, you cannot buy alcohol outside of licensed restaurants in Dubai. Instead, you can buy fine wine and spirits from duty-free shops at the Dubai airport, a max of 5 bottles.
Drugs in Dubai
Carrying narcotic drugs warrants jail time. You need a doctor’s certificate if you’re carrying prescription drugs. Be especially careful not to bring painkillers, sleeping pills, uppers and downers and psychiatric aids into Dubai without clearance. Even if you have a prescription, please note that customs can seize medication if it’s in the banned list. Lookup a list of medications banned in the UAE and comply accordingly.
Swearing in Dubai
Islamic law does not approve of swearing, whether in private, public or online on social media. You could be fined Dh 250,000 and jailed.