Etiquette in Dubai

General tips:

  • Never shake hands, point, gesture or eat with your left hand.
  • When handed a business card, always take it with two hands and put it carefully in your wallet, portfolio, etc., not in your pocket.
  • Don’t sit so that the soles of your feet are exposed.
  • When it comes to small talk, avoid asking personal questions. Talk about the weather, the meeting, work, etc.
  • Women – when greeting a man, do not shake hands unless initiated by him.
  • Photos of people – and especially photos of women and families – in public places cannot be taken without their permission. Taking photos of people is a sensitive issue in Dubai’s culture.
  • Smoking is not allowed in government facilities, offices, malls and shops. Smoking outside designated areas is subject to fine.
  • In all Emirates, alcohol is allowed only in hotels and is expensive. Consider buying your preferred drink in the airport duty free shops.


  • In the UAE, dressing well is a sign of respect towards the person you’re doing business with. You may not be taken as seriously if you’re dressed too casually. We advise dressing ‘business casual’ if you are going to be interacting with attendees.
  • For women, it is recommended that skirts cover the knees and that long-sleeves be worn to cover bare shoulders/arms.
  • The hotels are very chilly with the air conditioning, so please plan accordingly. Carrying a pashmina or scarf is recommended when you need an extra layer to be comfortable.

More information:

Here’s a helpful guide on local customs presented by the Dubai government.