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Updated by Joanna James on Nov 18, 2022
Headline for 5 Things you probably shouldn't do in Abu Dhabi – Keep it smart and classy
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5 Things you probably shouldn't do in Abu Dhabi – Keep it smart and classy

There are several behaviours that are frowned upon in the capital city of the United Arab Emirates because it is a Muslim state, despite the fact that it is a modern, sparkling, glamorous portion of the world. If you find yourself in this section of the Gulf, please don't do these five things!


Be a bit more self-conscious

To avoid offending others, please wear modestly in public. Exposing too much skin in public is also not a smart option; if your outfit is deemed offensive, you may be requested to leave a store or attraction. While this is certainly not a difficult rule to follow, be sure to ask those whom you meet, perhaps even in a nice resort such as the Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara to give you some feedback on how you can dress when going swimming or simply being out on desert adventures.


Get mushy in public

Careful if you're into public displays of affection; they're not really a thing in Abu Dhabi. It is considered inappropriate for men and women to touch each other physically. In the case of a handshake, there is also an unspoken code of conduct that states men should not extend their hands to women until they are extended to them first.
Couples showing affection in pubs or clubs, especially during events when alcohol is present, are typically left to their devices. Yet, public displays of affection should be avoided at all costs because being discovered in a clinch could lead to a visit to the local police station. It's more likely that a jail term will be handed down if the authorities suspect that alcohol was present.


Take pictures of the locals

It's not against the law to take photographs in public, but it's also not a good idea, especially around Muslim ladies. If you want to take photos of the staff or other visitors at a government-run "attraction" or historical monument, you should ask for permission first.


Act crudely in public or on the internet

Whether you prefer it or not, the web is a public forum where your controversial or anti-government comments will be evaluated. Act normally and try to keep things under control. Keep in mind that you will have to answer for the things you say.
Abu Dhabi is a Sharia law state, hence any public displays of hostility toward the government or its citizens, such as arguments, swearing, or lewd gestures, will not be tolerated.


Speak ill of Islam

The United Arab Emirates is a country where religious values are highly esteemed, making blasphemy and sacrilege against any faith a serious crime. If you're an atheist or strongly opposed to religion, you shouldn't try to convert others to your point of view.
The name of Allah is sacrosanct; do not write it down, and do not use any newspaper that mentions the Prophet for wrapping paper, for example.
While you're not required to fast throughout Ramadan, you should be mindful of the fact that Muslims observe this month as a sacred one by adhering to a few basic customs. While driving, remember loud music & dancing are prohibited during Ramadan and refrain from eating or smoking in public while doing so.