Coronavirus explained: How to greet someone at a Dubai wedding without touching

Dubai lifted restrictions on wedding receptions - but all forms of physical contact are banned

Wedding receptions will again be allowed in Dubai for the first time in seven months.

A ban on wedding receptions and social events at homes, hotels, halls and tents will be lifted on Thursday, October 22.

Under coronavirus rules, each hall will be able to host a maximum of 200 people, while wedding parties at homes and tents should not exceed 30 people, with a rule of one person per four square metres.

Guests attending a celebration must follow specific rules, which include a ban on physical contact.

So what greetings are not allowed and what can wedding guests do instead?

Not allowed

Nose kisses

This is a traditional Emirati greeting, where men rub their noses together when they meet or leave each other. This is extremely high risk, given that Covid-19 is a respiratory virus that replicates in the nose.


A recent study found that coronavirus can survive on human skin for up to nine hours, which is four times longer than the influenza virus. This means handshakes should also be avoided at all costs.


High concentrations of coronavirus can be found in saliva.

Studies show that Covid-19 tests that use saliva are as accurate as PCR tests, which require a nasal swab to obtain samples.

Even kissing another person's cheek could leave behind virus fragments that could infect others.

A hug 

Hugging an infected person would put people at high risk of contacting the virus.

The World Health Organisation advises people to maintain a distance of at least one metre from others.

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 12: Santa Claus greets Jaythan Corbacho with an elbow bump during the Selfridges 2020 Christmas Shop "Once upon a Christmas" photocall at Selfridges, Oxford Street on October 12, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images)

What you could try instead? 

Placing a hand on the heart

A polite and warm way to meet someone is the traditional Gulf greeting of smiling with a hand on your heart. The gesture means you appreciate the other person’s presence.

The Wuhan shake

Named after the city where the virus was first reported, this routine allows you to greet friends using your feet. To do the Wuhan shake, quickly tap your feet against the other person's in succession, right to right and left to left, or vice versa.

Elbow bump

It is believed this derived from a fist bump. But rather than bumping fists, people bump elbows.

Anyone who uses this greeting is in good company because it appears to be the go-to greeting for many world leaders during the pandemic.

However, it has been in use for many years, including during the swine flu pandemic in 2009 and the 2014 outbreak of Ebola in Liberia. In 2006, elbow bump was even in the running to be the New Oxford American Dictionary's word of the year.

Other hand gestures

They include air high fives, where people look like they are going to perform the gesture, but do not allow their hands to touch.

There is also the namaste, which is performed by clasping your hands close to your chest and bowing gently. It has been used by the UK's Prince Charles, among others.

Music fans may also perform the heavy metal salute, in which you hold your two middle fingers down and stick the pinkie and forefinger up, or the Wu Tang hand sign, which involves crossing your thumbs with your palms facing out.