Abu Dhabi, Destinations, Dubai, Travel Tips, United Arab Emirates
July 26, 2017
Are you a female, considering a solo trip to the United Arab Emirates? The country with a beautiful mix of cosmopolitanism and Islam-influenced tradition can offer an unforgettable experience to courageous ladies. My decision to move to Abu Dhabi at the age of 19 was one of the best ever made, as the UAE is a wonderful destination for both tourism and living. All you need is sincere curiosity, respect, and willingness to go against the stereotype-enforced fears.
Dress Code for women
Since the UAE opened itself up to the foreigners in the 1970s, many more cultures and religions became present alongside Islamic tradition. Local population developed tolerance to different immigrants’ lifestyles, allowing harmonic co-existence of multiple traditions, religions, and modernity. Thus, tourists can count on a pretty relaxed attitude when it comes to dress code.
In response to the most frequent question, women in the Emirates do not have to wear “burqa” or “nikab”, the fully covering veil. In fact, women are not expected to cover their hair at all. You’ll see that some local ladies do not hide their hair, as this is not enforced by law.
That being said, out of respect and for your own comfort you should avoid wearing overly tight or translucent clothes, mini-skirts, and shorts. In order to prevent unnecessary attention from men, keep your breast, shoulders and upper legs covered. At the same time, on the beach you can surely wear your bikini, and in the hotel areas beach-style clothes are fine.
Usually, signs in the malls and other public places indicate the expected dress code. Keep in mind that some places in the Emirates are more conservative than others. While in cosmopolitan Dubai or Abu Dhabi slight violations of dress code will be ok, in Sharjah or Ras Al Khaimah you may get disapproving looks.
When attending mosques, women must always wear a loose dress called “abaya” and cover their heads. Such clothing is usually provided at the mosque.
Are the Emirates safe at all?
It may surprise you, but the UAE is one of the safest places on Earth. Thankfully, I never felt any danger at night time or during the day, either alone or with friends. Dubai and Abu Dhabi police can often be seen around, and are quick at response. Besides, people are aware of the harsh punishments for unlawful deeds, which keeps the crime rate low.
When it comes to stealing, in contrast to other countries in the region, you do not need to worry about your belongings too much. There are very few stealing in the UAE, though an adequate amount of attention won’t hurt.
In regard to moving around, the best option is to rent a car. For those without driving licenses, public transportation is a safe and cheap option.
In Dubai you can enjoy a ride in the modern air-conditioned metro, sit back in the marked “women only” space, avoiding the crowd.
However, as public transport in the Emirates does not go everywhere, at times you will need to use a taxi. Always make sure you get into the car with the national taxi logo. If necessary, you can book a family taxi with a female driver.
If you plan to travel to other emirates, why not contact MeetnGreeters to find out the best way to commute? Our MeetnGreeter in the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah will ensure you get to explore the mysterious ghost town and other hidden jewels of the emirate, where local traditions are flourishing.
Shopping: malls and souks
The Emirates claim to offer the finest shopping experience with numerous shopping malls and authentic souks (markets). You will surely feel comfortable in stunning malls, full of high fashion boutiques, exclusive designer stores, massive supermarkets, and tons of entertainment.
At souks, full of noise and chaos, the situation is drastically different. When wandering around Dubai’s Deira and Gold souks, as a solo female be ready to counter lots of attention. Southeast Asian sellers will call you “Shakira” or “Angelina” and even say something in your language (80% they’ll get your nationality right). They’ll put their products on you, inviting you to their shops to see much more. Feel free to try all the stuff out and bargain, but be ready for a negative reaction if you leave without buying anything.
Although the souks are full of tourists and are generally safe, try to pay more attention the surroundings and don’t go there during dark time. Also, this is the place where you should dress most appropriately for your own comfort.
Dealing with attention
Even though you won’t be constantly harassed, you will get some attention from males. For instance, when walking along the road, there is a chance of a car stopping by and offering a ride. Although the driver’s intention might not be bad at all, it is better to ignore or politely decline the offer.
Apart from dressing modestly in crowded places, you can also wear sunglasses to avoid eye contact. While eating alone at small local restaurants, ask to be seated in the section for families.
If someone follows you, go to any public place or take out a phone pretending to call the police. The latter act will surely make them go away.
Overall, be confident and look confident. This is the best way to cope with unwanted attention, as well as reduce anxiety.
Safety tips for partying animals
If vacation is not a vacation without nightlife, don’t rush to postpone your trip to the Emirates. Dubai nightlife has a lot to offer, in terms of venues, music, and dance. In bars, clubs, pubs and hotels alcohol consumption is allowed as long as you’re above 21. However, you must not drink or appear drunk in public, as this may cause criminal responsibility.
In any case, avoid excessive drinking on your own, which is an essential tip for solo travelers at any destination. Also, forget about drugs – in the UAE there is absolutely zero tolerance for that, with serious penalties including 2-year jail sentence.
So, whether you are looking for a beautiful high-class rest, acquaintance with an unfamiliar culture, or new adventures, the Emirates will exceed your expectations. Just keep a curious and friendly approach, respect the culture, and remain sensible in all your acts.
Don’t forget to make the use of MeetnGreetMe, where you can find a trustworthy local, who will give specific recommendations, make necessary arrangements or accompany you during the whole stay.
Hi, I am Michelle Dela Cerna currently based in Dubai, I am your avid reader of your blog since then and somehow you give me an interesting idea about Abu Dhabi.
I would like to commend you for a very good job in every blog that you’ve made. Thank you for inspiring us!
Hope you will make more blog! ♥
Thank you, Michelle! Sure we’ll do! ;)
The total population of United Arab Emirates is 9 157 000 people. People in United Arab Emirates speak Arabic language. The linguistic diversity of United Arab Emirates is diverse according to a fractionalization scale which for United Arab Emirates is 0.4874. The median age is approximately 30.3 years. Life expectancy in United Arab Emirates is 76. The female fertility rate in United Arab Emirates is 1.8. Around 33% of the population of United Arab Emirates are obese. The ethnic diversity is divided according to a fractionalization scale which for United Arab Emirates is 0.6252.
Very nice blog! Thanks for sharing this helpful info
Thanks for the very nice info! Love it.
This is really an impressive blog indeed, you have mentioned all tips that one must know while travelling to UAE. I am a solo traveler and have visited UAE this year and it was an amazing experience. Thanks to the author for sharing this blog.
I also lived in Dubai and never wore the traditional clothing because it would have been confusing to others; as a woman but neither Arab nor Muslim, I do not act in the ways expected for those ladies and would have been inadvertently sending very mixed messages. In fact, I would most likely have been interpreted as a poorly behaved Muslim rather than a polite American for the same behaviors! I wore T-shirts and jeans and that worked well for me. You do look very beautiful, and the effort you made is commendable.
It makes me really genuinely sad that women in our so-called equal society need to be seen as other mens’ property in order to not be harassed or made to feel uncomfortable. I have experienced this as well in the U.S. and it’s really not something we should just accept. We have a long way to go.
Great blog and advice for a solo female. Dubai has been my ultimate and top destination for many years, but was skeptical about traveling alone, and no one I know shares my enthusiasm to travel to the UAE. However, after reading responses here, I have no doubt about travelling alone, I AM GOING! I just with that I with I could share this once in a lifetime experience with someone else.
Hi Katya, You have provided very good information. I am based in Dubai and a female entrepreneur providing tours and travel services. Few things you might consider to add in your blog :
1) Illegal for unmarried couples to stay in hotel
2) Showing affection in public is big no
3) Avoid party or eating in public during Ramadan
But overall, you have provided in-depth information :)
Great post! Thanks for sharing. I think a lot of travelers are looking for more ops to make those cultural connections and see more. The best time to explore Dubai is in Winter. Dubai is known for its luxury homes, though this guide is more than that. Thank you for sharing your experience.
Hurrah! I found what I was looking for!
It’s hard to come by well-informed people on this subject, but you seem like you know what you’re talking about!
it’s a great post! keep sharing this stuff!
You have beautifully penned down your solo travel experience. Also, very helpful for women who are traveling solo to UAE. Great blog and also would like to mention that Dubai is a safe place to travel and the culture is even more amazing.
Great post. Glad to visit it. Thanks and keep sharing!
Nothing is better early in the morning than a walk in the park. The phrase itself means something very calming and easy. Even if you are on a trip in the UAE, parks serve you the best opportunity in this regard. The Zabeel Park in Dubai is rich in greenery and with tracks for a calming walk. Moreover, if you are in Abu Dhabi, set your alarm for an early morning visit to the Umm Al Emarat Park which has tracks surrounded by tall trees. But these parks do not cover the whole of the cities at all. Dozens of parks have extraordinary views all waiting for you to pay a visit.