Do remember that Abu Dhabi is an Islamic country, and follows a tolerant version of Sharia law.
Be respectful of this, and you’ll have a much better stay, and be more likely to meet locals and explore the heart of Abu Dhabi. Insulting Emiratis, even indirectly, with your behaviour could have serious consequences, from fines to imprisonment
Do dress sensibly and respectfully.
Women are advised to wear loose-fitting clothes and skirts that drop to the knee. Men should wear jeans or trousers, and tops with long sleeves. You will see foreigners wearing tight, revealing clothes, and while it’s rarely punished, it does alienate Emiratis
Do take taxis directly from hotels to nightclubs.
Drinking and being intoxicated in public is an offence than can get you fined, or land you in jail. Be careful of how you act: it only takes one local person to report you for being overtly drunk to get you in a lot of trouble
Do take your shoes off if visiting someone’s home.
If you enter someone’s home, leave your shoes at the door, and avoid showing the soles of your feet. Similarly, avoid eating with your left hand
Do be aware of opening and closing times.
The weekend in Abu Dhabi is Friday and Saturday, and Friday is the equivalent of Sunday in the West. Many shops and entertainment venues will close for at least part of the day, so remember to check times in advance
Do drink tap water.
It’s free and safe! Many luxury hotels important bottles of European water, such as Volvic and Evian, at a great cost financially and environmentally, so remember to ask for local bottled water, if you’d rather avoid tap water
Do be careful when crossing roads.
Speeding is a common occurrence, so jaywalking and crossing roads without a pedestrian crossing area can result in you being knocked down. Always be extra careful when crossing, and always do so at a designated area
Do be respectful of Emirati women.
Only shake hands with a woman if she offers her hand first, and do not take photographs without her permission.
Don’t wear swimwear away from the pool or beach.
Swimwear is perfectly acceptable to wear when lounging by the pool or on the beach, but away from these areas, it’s deeply disrespectful and could get you in trouble
Don’t display affection in public.
Hand-holding is fine, but anything more than this is an offence, and will offend Emiratis. Similarly, staying in the same hotel room as someone of the opposite sex that you aren’t married to (unless a parent or child), can result in arrest
Don’t lose your temper.
Swearing or making rude hand gestures in public will get you in trouble, so refrain from cussing out the person who nearly knocked you down or cut you up!
Don’t take photographs of government buildings.
Normal tourist photography is fine, but avoid photographing Sheikh’s palaces, ports, airports, police stations, and military buildings
This is strictly prohibited, and if you’re involved in an accident and there’s the slightest trace of alcohol in your blood, you will most likely go to jail
Don’t take drugs.
Taking drugs, bringing them into the country, or even being in the company of those taking illegal substances has dire consequences, with many states in the UAE regarding the death penalty as suitable. Steer clear of anyone offering illegal narcotics
Don’t eat or drink in public during Ramadan.
The holy month of Ramadan bans eating or drinking in public before sundown, so either eat in your accommodation, or opt for one of the cafes or restaurants that stay open during this time – they pull shutters down over the windows, and will know the correct etiquette
Don’t forget to bargain!
If you’re browsing items in the souks, don’t pay face value – vendors will expect you to haggle, and will enjoy your attempts to lower the price.