Weather, food, drink and more UAE questions answered
Time Out staff
You’ll likely hear many misconceptions about living in Dubai. Here, we separate the fact from fiction.
The myth: Washing your hair in the desalinated water will make it fall out. The truth: Visit any hair salon in Dubai and hairdressers will tell you it’s a common problem. Most are quick to blame the local water for the issue, but it can also be down to your health. Hair loss can take up to three months to show, so if you’ve just moved to the UAE it’s unlikely to be related to conditions here. Stress is also a huge factor, or the problem could be hormonal, so if you’re suffering from serious hair loss, see a doctor just in case. The weather is also an aggravating factor. Sun, chlorine and air conditioning are all drying, and heat and humidity can quickly make hair turn frizzy.
The Arabian Gulf
The myth: For snorkelling or diving fans, the waters here are devoid of marine life. The truth: There is some truth in this, particularly in areas where channels have been man-made. The water can be murky due to the never-settling silt and there are no natural reefs to harbour large numbers of fish. But visit the fish market in Deira and you’ll see huge quantities of fish from local waters. Offshore, there are wrecks and reefs that are bustling with life, and snorkellers won’t be too disappointed. However, you will invariably find more sea life on the UAE’s Indian Ocean coast.
The myth: We live in a Muslim country, therefore haram (forbidden) meat is banned. The truth: The UAE is a forward-thinking country that has found a way to successfully cater for its expat population while respecting the laws and traditions of its own people. Most supermarkets have specific non-Muslim sections selling otherwise forbidden meat products, and numerous restaurants also have licences.
The myth: You need to have a liquor licence in order to buy alcoholic beverages from liquor shops, you do not need one to consume drinks in hotels. The truth: It’s not easy to get a definite answer here. The government and police portals unfortunately don’t offer much information, and the various informative websites sometimes contain out of date and often conflicting information. Our advice is to err on the side of caution and get yourself a liquor licence (see page 35 for details). Also note that keeping alcohol at home without a permit is an offence under UAE law and you can be fined up to Dhs5,000 and serve up to six months in prison. So, if you want to drink alcohol at home, make sure you have the appropriate paperwork.
Public displays of affection
The myth: All public displays of affection are banned. The truth: This is false but there’s one thing you must remember: displays of affection with someone to whom you are not married are illegal under the UAE penal law of 1987. You will see plenty of married couples holding hands in the malls and our advice would be, if you’re married, to be respectful of local customs and not go any further than that.