Introduction to living and working in Dubai for anyone considering expatriation to the United Arab Emirates
Dubai has hit the headlines repeatedly over the past few years for a number of high-profile stories relating to the illegal activities of expats in the emirate. There have been stories of Britons being jailed for having extra marital affairs, for having intercourse al fresco, for drink driving, bouncing cheques, smuggling drugs and so on for example. Dubai’s legal system is exceptionally harsh, some of its laws are draconian, and if you move to live in Dubai you need to make yourself aware of what is and what is not legally and morally acceptable behaviour.
For example, as mentioned above, drink driving in Dubai is not tolerated. Living together as an unmarried couple is illegal. Public displays of affection are illegal, this includes kissing or holding hands in public – although, some do do it and get away with it. Public nudity is not acceptable, this extends to men not being allowed to go topless no matter how hot it gets! 2 unmarried members of the opposite sex should not be alone in private together – whether sharing a car or a hotel room!
If you’re caught and accused of doing something immoral and unacceptable your best method of approach is to apologise immediately and say how much you love Dubai! Do not argue, claim you’re in the right or compare the moral and decency laws of the UAE to those of your home nation!
Make yourself aware of what is allowed, what is acceptable and what is absolutely a no no if you want to have an untroubled life living in Dubai.
And finally, a word about Ramadan. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar during which Muslims are expected to fast to purify the soul and refocus their attention on God. The fasting extends beyond eating and drinking, it’s all about exercising restraint.
For expats living in Dubai it is illegal to eat, drink or smoke in public during Ramadan – note, this includes in your car! Some restaurants (usually within hotels) remain open, but you will eat out of sight. Of course you can eat and drink within the confines of your own home. It’s respectful to keep noise levels down during Ramadan and you’ll notice that during daylight hours Dubai seems a much quieter place.
Dress respectfully as well, and enjoy the feasting and celebrations that take place after sundown, and following the month of Ramadan.
Expats moving to live in Dubai need a residency visa via employment or family sponsorship, we detail the process
How to find employment and secure a job in Dubai, and how the work permit and residency visa process works
Expats can earn their salary tax-free in Dubai and open a local bank account, but finance in Dubai is complex
A guide to the property rental process in Dubai and an introduction to favourite expat places to live in Dubai