A Guide to Emirati Etiquette for International Students

A Guide to Emirati Etiquette for International Students

A Guide to Emirati Etiquette for International Students
As an international student, you will experience most of your host country’s norms and traditions. As such, it is crucial that you learn all you can about the culture and customs while studying in your host country. You don’t want to embarrass yourself by committing a cultural faux pas with the locals.

Culture in the UAE is very different from those of Western nations. There are manners, big and small, that you must be mindful of when you’re in the UAE. Below are some of them:


Emirati culture will show you how its people are hospitable to guests. Emiratis are friendly and accommodating. You can expect to be welcomed by a long greeting, with special praises to God. A hug and kiss can also be expected.

However, for Emirati women, you should not try to shake their hands not until they first initiate a handshake. Avoid hugs and kisses for the women.

Body language

In the UAE, you can simply make a friend or enemy through body language, whether big or small. A local can get offended when you sit with the soles of your feet facing them, while it is considered polite when you stand upon someone entering the room.

Also, you should offer food only with your right hand, never the left. If you are affectionate in public, remember that public displays of affection are not only rude but also illegal.


If you will be visiting the desert or a cultural location, it is fine to wear the Emirati national dress. But if you’re just on a regular stroll, it can be seen as disrespectful. Some Emiratis are strict when it comes to their dress code while others are more relaxed. Keep in mind that it is always safe not to dress provocatively.


The holy month of the Muslim people, Ramadan is a very important tradition for all the Emirati and the neighboring countries. Muslims fast every day during this month. As such, it is rude to eat, drink, and smoke in public. It is offensive for the people who are fasting and it is also not allowed by the country’s law.

Public behavior

Be mindful of your behavior in public when in the UAE, as you may unintentionally do something illegal. It is a big no-no when you get drunk and disorderly in public. You can get arrested when you do this. Also, never take photos of women and military and government facilities. This is also considered illegal.

Visiting an Emirati home

Locals in the UAE are very welcoming but you should remember to be polite at all times. Emiratis always offer their visitors a cup of coffee, and it is polite to accept it. When you have had enough of it, just shake your cup from side to side. Also, remove your shoes when you enter their home. Handshakes are also a good idea when you enter and exit their house.

Discover more about life in the UAE as an international student by reading more articles here at MSM Unify.


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