10 Golden Rules for Traveling Solo in the UAE

Blog written on 19-07-2022

Traveling solo in the UAE can be an unforgettable experience. There are some things you need to know before traveling to the country. Here are ten golden rules to follow:

Can female solo travellers visit the UAE?

This is a question that gets asked a lot by first-time solo travellers. I even had a friend who told me to be careful when traveling alone in the UAE. Some people think that, due to the culture, women shouldn’t travel to the country alone. 

After traveling and living here myself, I can assure you there is nothing to worry about. Solo female travelers traveling to Dubai or any other part of the UAE are more than welcome! In fact, the UAE is one of the most popular destinations for solo female travelers. It’s a safe and welcoming country, and you'll encounter no problems if you respect the rules and norms.

Not sure what cultural norms to follow in the UAE? Here are seven simple rules that solo travelers visiting the country should live follow:

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Don’t use your left hand when you travel solo in the UAE

This may seem like an odd rule, but the Emirati view the left hand as ‘unclean.’ Traditionally, this hand is used for hygienic purposes. When shaking hands with people, don’t ever use your left hand – and definitely don’t get caught eating with it.

Don’t eat food on public transport

You can bring food while taking public transport, but you can’t eat it. Food should be kept in travel-safe containers, like thermoses or Tupperware.

Drink moderately

You can have fun and experience the UAE’s nightlife as a solo traveler. However, you should drink moderately, if at all. The UAE is very strict about public indecency, and getting drunk in public is punishable by law. As a solo traveler, you have to be aware of this. You likely won’t have someone immediately available to help you should this happen when traveling solo.

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Speak respectfully

The Emirati value respect. You should be courteous to others when traveling solo, but this is especially true in the UAE. If someone is noticeably your elder, you must speak to them respectfully. You also have to make sure not to audibly swear in public, as this may land you in jail.

Be mindful of physical contact

Public displays of affection are generally looked down upon in the UAE due to the country’s conservative culture. Hugging is not something you’ll want to attempt in public in the UAE. Even handholding is seen as something reserved only for married couples. Additionally, people of the same sex should not be seen holding hands.

Male travelers will also have to be more mindful as well. Even initiating a handshake with Emirati women is frowned upon, as the woman should be the one to initiate. Additionally, any unwelcome physical contact can land male travelers in trouble with the law.

Dress appropriately

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Travellers are expected to cover up in the UAE, especially in certain places. Malls, high-end establishments, government buildings, and mosques require visitors to dress modestly. This means avoiding wearing tight-fitting or revealing clothing. Travelers will mainly be asked to cover their shoulders and knees.

There are places in the UAE where you can be a little more relaxed with your clothing choices. Travelers can wear whatever they want at beaches and bars as dress codes aren’t as strict in these places.

Dress for the weather

Even though you’ll be expected to cover up, you shouldn’t travel the UAE wearing a sweater and winter boots! Being near the Equator, the Emirates can get hot, especially from May to August. You’ll want to wear lightweight clothing pieces and protect your skin from the scorching sun.

Solo travel tips to make the most of your UAE trip

While there are many rules to follow in the UAE, that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun! Here are three tips you should know if you want to make the most out of your visit to the country:

Talk to the locals when you travel solo in the UAE

As long as you follow all the customs, you won’t encounter trouble with most Emirati people. In fact, they’re some of the friendliest people on the planet! Many locals are more than willing to answer questions and talk about their country. Making friends with the locals is one of the best ways to get the most out of traveling solo. After all, who else will help you take your travel photos?

Have some funds set aside for emergencies

Solo travel in the UAE can get expensive, especially if you’re visiting multiple emirates and going on side trips and out for nice meals. You’ve likely already budgeted money for the trip, but it helps to set aside a bit more in case of unexpected expenses. It’s better to be safe than sorry since you won’t have anyone to help you split the bills.

Do your research for activities when you travel solo in the UAE

Traveling solo for the first time can be scary. This is especially true if it's in a country with such unique cultural norms as the UAE. Getting more information, such as by reading this article, will make your first solo trip much less intimidating. Once you leave your comfort zone and travel solo to the UAE, you’ll do nothing but thank yourself!

Reading one article about traveling solo to the UAE isn’t nearly enough research, though. There’s much more to learn, so you should check out our blog for more helpful information. Once you’ve done that, book an adventure with us and give yourself an unforgettable experience! There are some things you can only find on our Instagram page, so be sure to follow us there, too!

Ashleigh (Tingu Travel Founder)

I’m a travel curator who has visited over 30 countries and is currently based in Dubai. For more of Tingu Travel’s experiences, you can follow us on Instagram and Tik Tok @tingutravel