Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, is a city that embraces its cultural heritage while also being a global hub of business and tourism. To fully enjoy your time in Abu Dhabi and show respect for its local customs, it’s important to be mindful of cultural sensitivities and practice respectful interactions. Here’s a guide to help you navigate Abu Dhabi with cultural awareness.

Dress Modestly: Appropriate Attire

Dressing modestly is highly appreciated in Abu Dhabi, particularly in public spaces and religious sites.

For Women: Choose clothing that covers your shoulders, upper arms, and knees. Long skirts or pants and loose-fitting tops are good choices. You may also want to carry a scarf to cover your head when entering religious places.

For Men: Men can wear short-sleeved shirts and long pants or jeans. While shorts are acceptable, it’s advisable to wear them in more casual settings.

Greeting Etiquette: Politeness Matters

Greet others with a polite nod or smile when meeting them for the first time. Handshakes are common between people of the same sex. If you’re greeted with “As-salamu alaykum,” reply with “Wa alaykum as-salam,” which means “peace be upon you too.”

Public Displays of Affection: Keep it Minimal

Public displays of affection, such as kissing and hugging, are not considered appropriate in Abu Dhabi. Respect local customs by keeping physical contact modest, even between couples.

Ramadan Observance: Be Respectful

During the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. It’s important to show respect by refraining from eating, drinking, or smoking in public during daylight hours. Many hotels and restaurants have designated areas for non-Muslims to eat.

Respect for Religion: Mindful Behavior

Abu Dhabi is home to numerous mosques, and it’s important to show respect for religious customs.

Mosque Visits: When visiting a mosque, dress conservatively and remove your shoes before entering. Women should cover their heads and shoulders. Follow the guidance of the staff and avoid visiting during prayer times.

Ramadan Practices: If you’re not fasting during Ramadan, eat and drink in designated areas to avoid offending those who are fasting.

Photography: Ask for Permission

Always ask for permission before taking photos of individuals, especially locals. Avoid taking photos of government buildings, military installations, and religious sites without proper permission.

Tipping: Appreciated Gesture

Tipping is customary in Abu Dhabi, especially in the service industry. While not mandatory, leaving a tip for good service is appreciated. Some restaurants may include a service charge in the bill.

Alcohol Consumption: Licensed Venues

Alcohol consumption is permitted in licensed venues, such as hotels and certain restaurants. Public intoxication is frowned upon, and it’s important to follow the laws and regulations related to alcohol consumption.

Friday: A Holy Day

Friday is a holy day for Muslims and the first day of the weekend in Abu Dhabi. Many businesses and government offices may open later on Fridays, so plan your activities accordingly.

By practicing respectful interactions and cultural sensitivity, you’ll be able to fully enjoy the cultural richness and warm hospitality that Abu Dhabi has to offer. Embrace the local customs and traditions, and your experience in this dynamic city will be both enriching and memorable.