When you are in love, you can’t help reaching out and grab your lovers hand, a stroke of their back or a cheeky wee kiss. But when you are in Dubai you have to keep those kinds of displays of affection for private times.
There are a number of rules regarding public displays of affection to follow. This being in addition to the dress code which should be adhered too. (Our post on dress code)
There have been dozens of reports of foreigners who have been fined / jailed for kissing in public under the ‘offending public decency’ act. Of course, there is also reports of foreigners fornicating on the beach which lands them in serious trouble (but that is just silly in my eyes anyway and asking for trouble)
Dubai is very liberal compared with the other United Arab Emirates, Islamic law is still observed but with such a huge, powerful tourist industry (and high number of expats) it means that thousands of visitors arrive in Dubai every week, many of whom are unmarried.
Islamic law prohibits un-married couples residing together, and this rule applies to sharing a hotel room with a member of the opposite sex, if you aren’t married or related. However, many hotels are likely to turn a blind eye to this rule, and don’t enforce the ‘only married couples’ rule. At check- in you will be required to show your passport, but don’t worry about having different surnames as in Dubai married women often keep their maiden name.
Just take precautions yourself - refer to each other as ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ to prevent potential problems. In public, just refrain from holding hands and any other displays of public affection, you know you are in love, just don’t show it to everyone. Just be aware of your surroundings, and keep in mind that if you are stopped by the police because you are holding hands and not married, you could run into trouble.
Now if you are a married couple, then holding hands in public is about as far as you should go in regards of showing public display of affection. Even when married, kissing and hugging are not well tolerated and should be refrained from in public.
Just on a side note, also be aware that Emirati women in Dubai may not appreciate you making eye contact or shaking their hand. Also, you will see that is completely normal for two Emirati men to walk around holding hands.
When we have visited Dubai, Pam gets really tetchy if Shannon even rubs their arms together or goes in for a shoulder squeeze. Whilst it can look to yourself like a friendly gesture, this could be perceived by locals or the police as something worse, or is that Pam just taking things to extreme?
Have you visited Dubai and flouted the rules by accident or on purpose and was there any repercussions?