Planning a trip to UAE??? In addition to all those Visa requirements, there are many other things that you need to keep in mind while travelling in Middle East. Their society is considerably more formal and traditional than modern western societies. In fact, even those unfamiliar with the region know of the different code of etiquette followed in the society. In order to make your trip more comfortable and less troublesome, it is best to know of these differences beforehand and prepare for them ahead of the trip to avoid any future problems. Here are some tips regarding how to conduct yourself in the Middle Eastern society to get the maximum hospitality from your hosts:
Because of its diversely expatriate population, English in addition to Arabic is the most commonly spoken language in UAE. You may even hear snatches of Urdu, Hindi and Pashtu as well as various other dialects of Arabic.
In Middle East, communal eating is considered to be a sign of friendship. Also, it is best not eat with your left hand as it is considered to be unclean. In many places, it is considered polite to leave some food on the plate after eating. Do remember not to ask for any pork or pork products as Islam frowns upon the consumption of the same. Also, instead of asking for alcohol, accept the tea or coffee served to you by your hosts. This is because in UAE alcohol is only served in some restaurants and is not widely available as most observant Muslims do not drink or smoke.
Women travelers to UAE should keep in mind the stringent conditions placed by the Middle Eastern society on the fairer sex. Though they are not required to cover their heads or wear the traditional dresses as the locals do, they are required to dress appropriately and conservatively according to the society rules. Many a time while visiting a mosque, you shall be even asked to wear an abaya that shall be provided to you at the mosque itself in adherence to the Muslim tradition.
Always ask for permission before taking photographs of any religious place or military installation or evn any Middle Eastern person, especially women.
Dress modestly and keep both your feet on the floor as it is considered as an insult to show the bottom of your feet to another person. Also, try not to be intrusive and keep your talks to general topics only rather than asking about the spouse or other family members. Another thing that you need to keep in mind while meeting and greeting locals is not to shake hands. Few men indulge in handshakes while most women refrain from touching men who are not from the family. Instead they show their sincerity and happiness in simply putting their hands on their hearts. Men and women may hold hands but should only do so if they are married or related.
Though Islam is the official religion of UAE, the county recognizes other religions too. You can find quite a few Christian churches as well as Hindu temples in addition to the Islamic mosques in the country.
Middle Easterners are great people who love to meet and greet people and are quite social and personable people. They also love to know their guests and expect their guests to respect their culture too. The place is a treasure trove of various attractions and is a great place to enjoy some sun and sand. So happy travelling!!!