Female Travelling to Dubai

Female Travelling to Dubai
Stylish Dubai or Dubes as it is known by those who know.

'Everything a woman needs to know about visiting Dubai - in one place'

So where to start. The endless questions about what to expect, the culture, the dress codes and respect rules, the temperature or the cost of eating and drinking…?

As with any trip of this scale, research is key. Not only to tick all the boxes for planning etc. like where to stay and what to wear, but also to be sure you arrive fully understanding the basic level expected of you as a visitor to another country. I was lucky enough to know people who had lived recently in Dubai as ex-pats and also frequent visitors, so of course my first port of call was to bombard them with endless questions.

As a woman, I knew from bits of information online and by word of mouth that the UAE is pretty strict about it's Islamic culture. Dubai is widely known to be the most liberal of the UA Emirates with it's approach to enforcing the beliefs, but even so it is not a matter to be undertaken lightly when travelling with your partner. For instance, it is illegal to co-habit as an unmarried couple, and that means sharing a hotel room. However, as is pointed out on a lot of forums offering endless streams of advice (though some just plain scaremongering), the major hotel players are unlikely to question any couple staying in their establishment and will assume you are married anyway. What they won't do is ask you outright of your marital status, try and trick you into 'revealing' your marital status or generally care either way about your marital status. That is assuming you use common sense and respect the basic boundaries in place like no big PDA's or kissing in public. It really is a sensible mix of common sense and respect for the beliefs and values of others and it goes a long way to explaining why the UAE have such low crime and public disorder rates, compared to the rest of the world….

The biggest issue would be drinking too much outside your hotel resort and then being seen to be 'under the influence' when in public and/or returning to your base. This is extremely frowned upon and has been know to end with jail time for those caught, so just be sensible, respectful and never confrontational to figures of authority, should you ever find yourself being questioned.

When we arrived at the airport, my Partner and I put on our 'wedding' rings, to act as a reminder that we now refer to each other as 'husband' and 'wife'. It was actually not really called upon, as I said before you rarely find yourself in a situation where your marital status is questioned. In fact during the whole stay, the only times it was mentioned was by fellow travellers who asked how long we had been together and were generally interested in relationship trivia. The Passport control part was painless – again no questions – and the same was true of the check-in at our hotel.

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To help to alleviate future female travellers worries, I have listed below some FAQ's about what is and is not tolerated, so that you can book your trip of a lifetime and then simply relax as you count down the days until you depart (unlike me who stressed from the moment my Partner suggested Dubai, till our 2nd day in residence); 

Can we hold hands? 
Yes, with the assumption you are married – though remember, no one ever asks you outright (or ever would), as long as you do not draw negative attention to yourselves. The only exception for me was in the Old Town, where I really didn't feel comfortable holding hands with my partner as no-one else was doing it and all the people we encountered were in full Islamic dress. So basically be aware of your surroundings. 

Can we kiss on the lips? 
This one needs a little more 'restraint', from what I have experienced personally. In your hotel resort, on the beach or in a bar/club, then yes - it is not frowned upon. But keep it chaste people - no–one wants to see tongues regardless of the location or cultural beliefs….just saying! 

Can I show any affection? 
Again, use common sense and an awareness of your surroundings for this. My partner and I are pretty tactile, so on occasion would put a hand on an arm/lower back and in the sea and the pool we did the couples embrace frequently, when others were not too close and we felt it would not draw attention (legs wrapped around the waist of the man). 

Do I have to be covered from head to toe in public? 
Absolutely not. There are guidelines for the Malls requesting knees are covered (both for men and women) and that shoulders are covered (again for both). However, I adhered to this fully at The Dubai Mall yet wore a skirt just above the knee with a vest top at The Mall of the Emirates and had no issues at all. In the Old Town, out of respect, I wore a maxi dress and covered my shoulders and I felt it was the right decision – mainly because women there are so covered in their dress that you would attract a lot of unwanted attention and that could make you uncomfortable. You will not get arrested for a skirt sitting mid thigh or bare shoulders, but it is considered disrespectful, so for everyones benefit it is best to err on the side of caution here and do the right thing for the place you are in. Again, common sense IMO. 

Can I wear a bikini on the beach? 
Yes. Though apparently thongs are not appreciated, I've seen around 60% of the younger ladies wearing them with abandon and never saw any negative reactions. 

Can I wear a bikini at the waterpark? 
Yes you can. I chose to wear a swimsuit purely for practical reasons and I'm glad I did, as the lazy river rapids & torrents at AquaVenture (Atlantis Hotel) would have exposed me in no time at all! 



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Can I drink alcohol outside the hotel? 

Yes, though not on the streets and you cannot purchase alcohol from supermarkets and shops without a licence, which is only granted for residents with an Employers written authority/reference. One Pro Tip I got was to buy your required alcohol (for consumption during your stay in your room) from the Duty Free on arrival in Dubai. It's decently priced and will save you a fortune on bar bills if you enjoy a little aperitif or night cap once alone in the lap of luxury ;-) 

To summarise, I was a real nervous nelly about the trip and honestly got myself worked up about every imaginable possibility about what could go wrong. None of it happened. I'm really not that interesting to the average UAE resident or worker, which was exactly what I hoped would be the case. 

My feelings of vulnerability started to lessen as the first day progressed and I realised that everyone else was getting on with their business and I should do the same, instead of watching for every little response ("are people looking at me because I am in a bikini?" Etc). You could send yourself mad second guessing every little look from strangers, so I would like to say right here and now, it's a total and unnecessary waste of your precious holiday time. You're on holiday – ENJOY IT!​

One thing it may help to know, is what kind of thing you can wear and to where.  So I have out together an idea below, with links to retailers that may be able to satisfy what you need with out breaking the bank!


Malls - Shorts to just above the knee with a t-shirt

Skirt and a top

Dresses to around knee length or longer if preferred

Capri trousers with a vest top 

Whatever combination you choose, I would recommend taking along in your handbag a short sleeve cardigan or wrap, as the air-conditioning can be quite harsh (more so at the Mall of the Emirates).


The Old Town

Maxi dress and a cardigan or blouse that covers your shoulders

Trousers and a t-shirt

Maxi skirt and a blouse with sleeves or a vest with a short sleeved cardigan, again to cover the shoulders


Waterpark

Swimsuit or bikini with shorts and a vest top or skirt/t-shirt combo

(To be honest, pretty much anything is okay here..)



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Comments

editor on Monday, 05 September 2016 20:51

One of the best things about Dubai is the competitive airfares that are mostly DIRECT ! Love that and the timezone change from the UK is not too bad so it offers a perfect 5-7 night stay for anyone wanting to escape the bleaker climate back home. The shopping is sublime with a ski resort in one of the malls - and a massive impressive aquarium in the other. Prices are fair and similar to London. So what now are you waiting for ?

One of the best things about Dubai is the competitive airfares that are mostly DIRECT ! Love that and the timezone change from the UK is not too bad so it offers a perfect 5-7 night stay for anyone wanting to escape the bleaker climate back home. The shopping is sublime with a ski resort in one of the malls - and a massive impressive aquarium in the other. Prices are fair and similar to London. So what now are you waiting for ?
dealstoall on Sunday, 16 October 2016 11:37

Great job for publishing such a beneficial article. Your blog information isn’t only useful but it is additionally creative with high content too.

Great job for publishing such a beneficial article. Your blog information isn’t only useful but it is additionally creative with high content too.
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