An Emirati welcome: helping visitors understand local rules

A nuanced guide to the dos and don’ts of life in the UAE can only be a good thing

Tourists such as these ones at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque stand to benefit from better understanding of the UAE's laws and cultural values. Photo: Silvia Razgova / The National
Powered by automated translation

The way Mohammed Al Qubaisi sees it, visiting the UAE is like visiting someone’s home – everything will be fine if one approaches the experience respectfully. Most local rules are common sense and most visitors know that for all the modernity and tolerance, this is still a Muslim country with conservative attitudes.

Even so, there are some less-intuitive aspects of local culture that bear explanation. For instance, the insult implicit in allowing the soles of one's shoes to point towards someone. This is why Mr Al Qubaisi has created a website listing the main dos and don'ts. The initiative is to be commended as an exercise in cross-cultural communication. Knowing local customs is surely as important as knowing the laws of the land.

Ought this to go further, with relevant information on video screens on flights bound for the UAE? Should friendly tips on Emirati culture be handed out with visas? It’s important to ensure that the millions of visitors who arrive in the UAE enjoy the experience fully and nothing whatsoever is lost in translation.