Being Respectful In Dubai

Bring an expat and living in a country that is not your own means that you accept that things are done differently.  That different things matter.  And not only do you accept this but you respect it.

Which is why it drives me crazy when I walk round the malls in Dubai and see people milling round with bare shoulders and skirts or shorts that are basically up their bum.

Dubai is a Muslim country.  True it’s not strict with those that visit or live here, there is no need for you to wear an abaya or a hijab but Dubai does demand some respect.  It requests for you to be dressed appropriately when in public places.  Which means shoulders and knees covered.


I have been guilty of not realising before and going out with bare shoulders, so to combat that I now ensure I always carry a cardigan (malls are freezing anyway so a cardigan is appreciated) or a pashmina.  Or if worst case scenario a sick covered muslin.

It doesn’t take much and it’s not like there’s nowhere you can go and wear your bikini or your latest LBD it’s just there is a time and place.  Beaches and pools are no problem.  The hotels generally are also no problem, but I still prefer a pashmina when walking to and from licensed premises.  Brunches again, a wonderful chance to show off whatever strappy number you have just bought.

Wandering round the mall?

Just no.  It’s blatant disrespect and disregards the number of signs that are up at every entrance.

And it’s really not that hard to cover up, is it?  We choose to come here, to live, to visit.  We are aware of the culture.  Therefore we should respect that.  Please remember where you are and what lessons to teach our children about respect, and just cover up.

Life with Baby Kicks


  1. September 4, 2015 / 10:30 am

    Great post! And so interesting for those of us who haven’t been to Dubai. I think it’s so important to respect others culture just as we expect others to respect ours. #effitfriday

    • Laura
      September 17, 2015 / 11:54 pm

      Thanks Kaye – that’s completely it!

  2. September 4, 2015 / 11:33 am

    I have always been nervous about visiting Dubai (even though I’d love to go!) because I thought it was very strict about these things – and with every right to be. Like you say, it is about respecting another culture. People moan about people being disrespectful of British cultures when they come to live here but it works both ways – if a country is welcoming you, either as a resident or a visitor, you owe it respect. #effitfriday

    • Laura
      September 17, 2015 / 11:55 pm

      It’s not strict as such it’s just about knowing what’s acceptable and what isn’t. As long as you’re respectful then you’ve no problem! Come visit. In the winter though…. It’s too hot in summer x

  3. September 4, 2015 / 1:34 pm

    And we’ve all got a sick/spit/dried Weetabix covered muslin stuffed in the change bag. There really is no excuse! 😀 #effitfriday

    • Laura
      September 17, 2015 / 11:55 pm


  4. September 4, 2015 / 5:35 pm

    Well said Laura! I have lived in 2 other countries as well and respected how things are done in those countries. Besides it’s a great way to learn about the culture when you open up to the fact that the rest of the world is different. #effitfriday

    • Laura
      September 17, 2015 / 11:57 pm

      Thanks Rod! Exactly you need to respect and learn from it. The world is made of many people we need to appreciate and understand and CELEBRATE those differences!

  5. September 4, 2015 / 6:45 pm

    I have to agree with you, when in Rome and all that. Be good if the same values stood in the UK also. #effitfriday

    • Laura
      September 17, 2015 / 11:57 pm

      Very true. I think it’s true of everywhere you need to be mindful.

  6. Nige
    September 4, 2015 / 8:25 pm

    Really interesting post and rightly so we should behave in a proper way when somebody’s else country 🙂

    • Laura
      September 17, 2015 / 11:58 pm

      Thanks Nige – it’s not difficult to show a little bit of respect and it’s not like you don’t know what’s respectful! 🙂

  7. September 5, 2015 / 12:15 am

    I learned something new today about another country. Thank you for that! I feel the same about my country, the U.S. Thanks for sharing! Visiting from #effitfriday

    • Laura
      September 17, 2015 / 11:59 pm

      Thanks Michelle glad to introduce you to something new 🙂

  8. September 5, 2015 / 3:53 am

    I couldn’t agree more! I am a big believer in when you are in someone else’s country, you do it their way. You don’t have to like it, you don’t have to agree with it, but you still should do it. It’s basic respect for other people’s beliefs and customs, and if you really can’t bring yourself to do it, then I would suggest not visiting the country! Thanks for hosting #effitfriday

    • Laura
      September 18, 2015 / 12:08 am

      Totally agree Debbie, but I also think why bother going abroad if you’re going to treat it like little Britain but that’s another post entirely! X

  9. September 5, 2015 / 2:49 pm

    Well said! We moved countries when I was a child and even though it was Europe, customs and traditions were still different and you have to respect them. My dad is currently living in Abu Dhabi so I get where you’re coming from! #effitfriday

    • Laura
      September 18, 2015 / 12:09 am

      Thanks Emma! Abu Dhabi is stricter from what I’ve been told!

  10. September 6, 2015 / 12:19 am

    Excellent post. Respecting another country’s culture when you’re visiting / living there is just good manners. (And a matter of self preservation if the law is involved).

    When we went to Rome on holiday just before the Tubblet was born, a few of the churches had signs about not entering wearing shorts / vests etc. This was mentioned in all the guidebooks so we made sure we were dressed accordingly. We saw a few people arguing on the doors with the Priests because they’d been refused entry and thought they should be the exception.

    • Laura
      September 18, 2015 / 12:12 am

      Completely! I remember not being able to visit a temple when I was in Sri Lanka because I had a vest on (I left my cardigan in the car) and I was mortified.

      I love when the churches and temples realise that people often don’t realise and provide the cover up clothing because you then learn to be respectful and still get to see what you went to see!

  11. September 13, 2015 / 12:06 pm

    This is really interesting! I’d love to visit Dubai but would be sure to respect their culture.

  12. September 26, 2015 / 2:27 pm

    I agree that we should respect the country we are living in / visiting customs for sure. But for me, covered shoulders and knees seems a bit far. As westerners it’s normal for us to bare these (and I don’t mean in a provacative, everything hanging out way) so maybe it is ok to question it – if it’s ok in some places – brunches like you say, why not in the mall? Just curious, have never been to Dubai, but I would certainly be respectful and careful I think.

    • Laura
      September 26, 2015 / 7:55 pm

      I think it’s because in a brunch there is alcohol and pork (both of which require licences) and it’s not really a place where you would find Emiratis but a mall is a big social meet up venue where you would find Emiratis?

      By covering up shoulders and knees I’m talking t-shirts and 3/4 trousers long shorts not your full cover up just stuff you generally have in your wardrobe?

      Though it’s an interesting thought and I hadn’t thought of it from that angle but I guess living here I accept the “rules” as they were!

  13. June 1, 2017 / 11:31 am

    Great post! I’ve done both a long layover as well as a week long tour around the Emirates. Dubai has its pros (weather, ease of getting around, and beaches), but also has its cons (expense and lack of authenticity). I think you did a great job highlighting them all. If you are able to getting outside of Dubai is totally worth it. Driving while crazy at times is totally doable. We produced a guide to the Emirates on our blog!

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