Your visitors' frequently asked questions answered
We find that our touring visitors (whether octogenarian grannies or backpacking friends-of-friends) always ask the same, and yes sometimes quite ridiculous things. To save you having to answer these queries repeatedly we’ve put them together in an all-in-one easy answer sheet.
How should I dress? Respectfully – there are certain situations when more skin is acceptable (a club, a beach, etc) however at most times men and women should cover themselves from their shoulders to their knees (arms are okay).
Should I tip? In general we like to tip about 10-15 per cent when eating out – however, many restaurants have already added service charges to their bill. It’s also a nice touch to tip people like taxi drivers and petrol pump attendants.
How do I get around? The easiest way is by taxi and most major areas are never short of them. If you’re in a more remote area call a cab on 04 208 0808 – but you will have to be able to describe where you are. Taxis are the most expensive option, but not as expensive as in many countries: to get from DIFC to Dubai Marina, for instance – which is a 20-minute drive without traffic – costs Dhs45. The cheaper, and sometimes just as easy option is the Dubai Metro, which now zig-zags across most of the city. One single journey will cost you from Dh1.8 to Dh6.5. Plan your route at dubaimetro.eu.
Can I eat pork anywhere? Only in premises that have a specific pork license (distinct from an alcohol license). You can also buy pork in specially curtained-off sections of most big supermarkets.
Can you wear a swimming costume on the beach? Yes. At a public beach we’d advise having a cover-up for when you walk around, but sunbathing and swimming in your ‘cossie’ is acceptable.
As a woman, can you drive in Dubai? Absolutely, there are even pink taxis driven by women, for women (and their families).
Why is the driving so bad? Dubai is a melting pot of cultures, and as such, driving styles. Standards are still far better than the rest of the GCC.
Am I expected to bargain at the souk? In an actual souk, yes. In a mall souk, not so much.
Are non-Muslims allowed inside mosques? As a general rule, no, however some mosques welcome visitors.
Can I have hops on the beach? No, unless you’re at a beach bar.
Can you drink the tap water? We don’t unless it’s boiled: it’s technically safe but water engineers have told us to opt for bottled water.
What time do the shops open and close? In malls it’s generally 10am-10pm (midnight on weekends). Souks and many shops are the same, but close from 1pm-4pm.