Life in Dubai: Is it so strict as we imagine?

The opportunity to go on a trip or for work in Dubai seems appealing to many people worldwide. The city is renowned for its vibrant life, breathtaking architecture, and economic booming.

However, citizens of the Western world, Australians included, might be hesitant when it comes to living in a Muslim state since it is associated with rules too strict for us.

Frankly speaking, there’s no single opinion on the matter. Many people find Dubai a great and safe place to live. Meanwhile, others can’t adapt to the local laws and consider them to be constraining. In this article, we collected all the restrictions you will face in Dubai and you can decide on your own whether they’re acceptable to you.

Documents in Dubai:

Before entering the country

If you have an Australian passport, you can obtain a travel visa upon entering UAE. However, if you intend to work there, you’ll need a work permit from the UAE Ministry of Labour.

Citizens of Australia can use their domestic driving license (as well as the citizens of GCC, US and EU) and don’t need an international driving licence.

Inside the country

You must keep your ID with you at all times in the UAE. You also must have your driving license with you while driving.

Dubai city life
Dubai Marina is an artificial canal city and a district in Dubai in UAE

For job

Work contract must cover all aspects of labor. So before signing them, make sure you’ve read all the suggestions.

Special permissions

  • As a foreigner, you have the right to drink alcohol but only if you have a special drinking license. However, you won’t obtain one if you’re under 21.
  • You must obtain permits from the government if you want to conduct any type of charity (including online).
  • Some technical equipment (radio transmitters, satellite phones, binoculars, listening or recording devices), any weapon, ammunition or armor also require licensing. So it’s highly suggested to contact the embassy before taking any of these with you.

What’s strictly prohibited by the UAE laws?


Apart from the prohibition of recreational drugs, the UAE laws also bans some prescribed medications. That’s why we suggest counseling with the embassy and your doctor before going to Dubai.

Keep in mind that the presence of prohibited drugs in your blood is qualified possession in the UAE.

Being drunk

As we mentioned above, you can freely purchase alcohol in hotels/bars (provided you have a license). You can also drink in the privacy of your apartment or hotel room. In some cases, the hotel staff won’t even ask for your license. However, acting drunk can cause you much trouble, i.e. you can get arrested.

Driving drunk

Driving drunk is a much more severe crime, so we highly suggest against it. Chances are you’ll get to jail or be deported.

Certain types of relations and manifests of affection

  • Homosexual relations
  • Showing affection to your partner in public
  • Sex or children out of wedlock
  • Doctors require marriage certificate if they find you’re pregnant so if you’re not, it’s best to look for a medical help outside the country

Of course, what you do in your room is a private matter. However, if someone reports your forbidden love to local authorities you can get arrested.

Rude behavior

  • Obscene language and hand gesture
  • Staring at women, trying to flirt with them

Clothes dubai


  • Don’t put on too open clothes. Cover your shoulders and legs. Never demonstrate underwear.
  • You can wear swimsuits at pools or on beaches (but you must get dressed when you leave these places).
  • Girls can put on short dresses and skirts to some nightclubs. Men who put on women’s clothes can have serious problems.

Driving in the UAE

Driving is a popular tourist attraction in Dubai. There are many rental companies here. The city is renowned worldwide for luxurious cars. It is also great for driving with many major roads and exceptional infrastructure.


  • You are permitted to drive if you’re 18+ years old. However, you can rent a car only if you’re 21+.
  • As we said before you need to have a driving license with you and you mustn’t be drunk.
  • You must at all times fasten your seatbelts.
  • No phone-talking while driving unless you have a hands free.
  • Check if your car is registered and has insurance.
dubai driving desert
Driving on the desert is one of the exciting experiences for travelers


If you want to drive off-road, ask the rental company if it is permitted for the type of car you rented.


Children between 4 and 8 years old must sit in a booster seat. Children under 13 years old aren’t permitted to sit in the front seat of a car. You can’t smoke in a car with a child under 12.


  • Drinking and driving – up to 7,300 AUD.
  • Exceeding the speed limit:
    • by 10 to 15 km/h – 116 AUD.
    • by 80 km/h – 1315 AUD.
  • Ignoring the red light – 440 AUD.
  • Talking over the phone without hands-free – 365 AUD.

Driving in Dubai

Driving in Dubai

Despite large fines, many foreigners consider driving in Dubai hard and unsafe, as few people here are disciplined drivers. For example, they can change lanes without turning indicators on or cut in front of your car.

If you’re hesitant about driving in Dubai, but still want to get this awesome experience, we suggest ordering a car with a local chauffeur. Some firms provide these types of services, for example, car rental company in the UAE Renty.

Other things to remember

Islam Religion Dubai
Jumeirah Mosque is a main mosque in Dubai city in UAE


Islam isn’t imposed on foreigners or citizens. The UAE respects the freedom of religion and expects reciprocity. Keep in mind that some people will pray five times a day here. Don’t disturb them. During Ramadan, it’s best not to eat in public because it’s hard for fasting people to see others eating.


Don’t take pictures of government buildings and locals.


Shisha and hookah bars are basically a lifestyle here. There are also many smoking areas.

Keep in mind that vape and electronic cigarettes are banned.

Smoking is prohibited:

  • to people under 18 years old
  • during Ramadan
  • in closed public spaces (malls, sports, educational and health facilities, residential areas, houses of worship)
  • in parks and beaches
  • Smoking shisha outside licensed facilities.

Social posting

Sharing criticism on the UAE government and life on social networking websites is prohibited. Don’t post photos of accidents (e.g. fire).

We hoped this article helped you to understand Dubai and local restrictions better. Remember, it’s a great and safe place if you comply with the law.

Samantha Rigby
Samantha Rigby
Samantha is the head of content, lifestyle and entrepreneurial columnist for Best in Australia. She is also a contributor to Forbes and SH. Prior to joining the Best in Au, she was a reporter and business journalist for local newspapers.
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