A first-timers guide to understanding Dubai
In this section, we cover everything you need to know about how to legally enter Dubai as a tourist, along with religion, dress code, and customs all visitors should be aware of when planning a trip to Dubai.
You can jump straight to:
- Tourist visas for Dubai
- Religion in Dubai
- Dress code in Dubai
- The do’s and don’ts every first-time visitor to Dubai should be aware of
Please note the information on this page was published pre-Covid-19. There are changes in eligibility for tourist and residency visas. You should contact the appropriate UAE authorities for the most up to date information.Visit our post-Covid information page for latest information on Dubai tourism
Tourist visas for Dubai
To enter the UAE as a tourist, everyone except GCC nationals needs a Tourist Visa.
For many nationalities, however, the tourist visa is free on arrival for either 30 days or 90 days.
If you are not from one of these countries, then you can apply through your airline or a travel agent for a transit visa (free for 48 hours if arranged in advance, or 50AED for 96 hours), or a 30-day single entry Tourist Visa which costs 350AED.
If you have overstayed your UAE tourist visa, or wish to renew a 30-day visa, click over to this article where we detail how to do a “visa run” from Dubai.
If you have any uncertainty about the process of applying for your Dubai Visa or what category you should be applying for then it’s always best to seek an immigration consultant in Dubai.
(Note we are not a tour agency registered in the UAE. We cannot help you with this step!)
Religion in Dubai
Dubai is a Muslim country with a Sunni Muslim majority of approximately 76%. The country’s laws are based on a Civil Law System and Sharia Law, which may have some key differences from the legal systems tourists are used to.
- You can learn more about “the Call to Prayer” and Islamic practices in Dubai here
- See a full guide to Dubai Religious and Public Holidays to be aware of here
- You can find a full tourists guide to the Holy Month of Ramadan here
- Learn more about non-Muslims visiting Mosques here
Dresscode in Dubai
As a Muslim country, there may be a stricter standard of dress expected of you than you normally experience in your home country. Whilst there is no need for non-muslim tourists to be fully covered, tourists are expected to be respectful of the culture and dress in a conservative manner in public places.
The difference between public and private places, and what’s considered appropriate can be tricky in some situations, so we have a detailed guide here to help you navigate your way around the Dubai dress code.
You can also check out:
- 10 Best dresses to pack for your trip to Dubai
- Ultimate Dubai packing list for men & women
- What to wear when visiting a Mosque in the UAE
The Do’s and Don’t every first-time visitor to Dubai should be aware of
Particularly if you’ve never visited a more conservative Muslim country before, there may be a few social rules, and strict laws you are unaware of that could land you in trouble with the law.
You can read our full guide to the do’s and don’t for first-time visitors here.
We also have these detailed guides which may help you understand local laws and customs to be aware of: