Tipping in Dubai

Should you tip in Dubai? We start the great debate...

The Knowledge
‘Always tip!’

Time Out Dubai restaurant editor Daisy Carrington says you should always tip...
‘Some find tipping an American affliction. I think it’s one of the few things we do right. People don’t stop to think about how difficult it is to do service-sector jobs, and they don’t stop to think about how little the workers get paid.

‘In New York, where I’m from, waiters basically only earn tips, and a negligible hourly wage that’s just enough to cover their taxes. Here, some barely earn that. Add the fact that many taxi drivers and waiters not only earn minimal wages (half of which usually goes to a family in India, Pakistan or the Philippines), but they work extremely long hours, and can sometimes face torrents of abuse. I can’t count the number of times I’ve personally witnessed entitled expats treat these people like their personal (albeit vocal) punching bags. Is it really asking that much to hand over a few extra dirhams? And if you’re willing to drop Dhs60 on a cab ride from club A to club B, what’s an extra Dhs5 for the man who got you there?

‘If you’ve got the cash to spend on a Dhs350 meal, you can afford to drop an extra 10 per cent. Remember, you probably make more money than they do, and here you’re not paying taxes that go to give workers healthcare or social benefits, so you might as well give a tip.’
Daisy Carrington is our Food editor.

Click the next page to hear the other side of the argument.

‘Only tip if you’re impressed!’

Time Out Dubai nightlife editor James Wilkinson says you should tip when necessary...
‘Daisy may be all in favour of tipping, but that’s not her fault – as an American, she’s been conditioned like one of Pavlov’s dogs. But the US practice of expecting the customer, not the employer, to give the service staff a living wage is a venal, greedy and deeply unfair practice for everyone but the money-grabbing restaurant owners. And by participating in that practice, rather than seeking to replace it with something more fair, we only prolong the problem.

‘There are other reasons, too: tipping shouldn’t be a standard part of the dining ritual or something done out of guilt, it should be a way to show your appreciation for a job well done.Exceptional service should be rewarded; if we’re forking out tips for everything, where’s the incentive to put in that effort?

‘Many will bow to societal pressure to cough up the cash for anything short of a fist fight with the waitress. Nobody wants to feel uncomfortable when they pay the bill. But let’s face it: Dubai doesn’t always have the best, most polite or efficient service in the world. Using the tip system in the way that it was originally created will encourage better service, make payment less stressful for punters and improve the entire dining experience.’
James Wilkinson is our Music and Nightlife editor.

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