Visitors to Dubai may be in for a bit of a culture shock. As well as meeting residents from every corner of the earth, you will mingle with traditionally dressed Gulf Arabs in their dishdashas and abayas. There is also the sound of the mosques at prayer time, Arabic chatter in coffee shops, the sweet smell of Arabian shisha (hubbly bubbly pipes), the beautiful intricate writing… it is all part of everyday Dubai culture.
Hospitality in Dubai culture
Emirati life is very much geared around families, with marriage and children being the bedrock of society. Hospitality plays a key role in Dubai culture, especially to strangers or newcomers, although older and more traditional Dubai citizens may be more reserved. Do not be surprised if you are invited to join an Emirati family for refreshment, and when carpet or jewellery shopping in particular, your tea will arrive almost before you do. It is polite to accept Dubai tradition like this graciously.
Islam and Dubai culture
Islam is inextricably intertwined with the very fabric of UAE society. Muslims see the Qur’an literally as the word of God, and it issues very specific moral guidelines, dealing with all issues of daily living. For this reason, the book itself is strongly revered, and must be respectfully treated. Although the most open of Arab societies in its culture, the Muslim tradition in Dubai is no different.
Ramadan, the holy month for Muslims, is marked by prayer, fasting and charity. As an Islamic country, Dubai culture is no different and many restaurants and cafes close during daylight hours. Non-Muslims should not eat, drink or smoke in public, but do so only in private or at specially closed off hotel restaurants.