Dubai is quite safe at night, especially for residents and visitors. However, first-time guests will need to learn more about the city’s inner workings and nuances.
This is especially true when it comes to security in order to avoid any problems with law enforcement and residents.
With the country receiving millions of tourists every year, both for travel and for business, there is an incentive in keeping the streets clean and safe at night.
Nonetheless, it is still essential for prospective visitors to know about these few safety tips when exploring the many different establishments, restaurants, and nightclubs in Dubai.
Violent Crime and Petty Crime in Dubai
Visitors will probably be concerned if Dubai has high rates of violent crime such as assault, wilful murder, or any other act that might cause direct harm.
Fortunately, this isn’t a big problem to be concerned about. Violent crime in Dubai is quite low, even when compared to highly industrialised nations (at least based on publicly available statistics).
The Global Peace Index ranks Dubai at 52, based on factors like the overall level of societal safety and security, militarisation, and the presence of active or ongoing conflicts in the region.
It is generally a safe place to live without worrying too much about suddenly ending up in one of the many medical centres in Dubai.
On the other hand, this doesn’t mean that visitors should be complacent when it comes to protecting themselves and their belongings. While violent crime is low, petty crime is still a problem that affects people living in the region.
When walking around, especially at night, people are still encouraged to keep an eye out for pickpockets, scams, and of course, sexual harrassment. While weapons may not immediately be involved in the encounter, it can still be a scary experience.
Trouble with the Law
Aside from just petty crimes, the strict laws and regulations of Dubai can land you into trouble for failing to adhere to it. After all, security services in Dubai can be quite strict when it comes to implementing their laws for public safety.
Most of the time, foreign visitors fail to take into account the local customs and find themselves on the wrong side of the law for something that was probably mundane from where they came from.
As such, it is important to really learn about some of the rules you need to follow in the region.
Public displays of affection or PDA, is actually a big deal in Dubai. Sometimes, visitors may be arrested just for being caught kissing while in public.
To stay on the safe side, it is generally recommended to reserve physical activities with your partner back at the hotel room or somewhere private.
Remember that even the simple act of holding hands is usually only reserved for married couples in the region so it’s best to be cautious while in public.
Most establishments in Dubai will advise visitors to ‘dress modestly’ before entering the business. As a quick rule, this usually means covering the knees and shoulders both for men and women alike.
Also, remember that the rules tend to be more closely observed once you enter rural areas or important cultural landmarks like mosques and traditional markets. In this instance, it might be best to leave anything revealing or sleeveless at the hotel.
Women may also want to carry a thin head scarf while travelling, just to be on the safe side and to ensure a smooth passage when visiting places that require hair to be covered.
For mosques that receive a lot of international, non-Muslim visitors, appropriate clothing may be provided but of course, it’s easier to just bring your own.
As alcohol consumption is typically seen as illegal for most Muslims, it is a very bad idea to be drunk in public.
Although, uou can buy alcohol from establishments like restaurants, hotels, and bars in Dubai, be careful not to drink too many lest you end up being unruly in public.
Aside from that, swearing and other foul language is generally considered an offence in the region. Dubai has a lot of police officers operating undercover and you never know who might be watching.
Lastly, insulting Islam is a major offence and one that shouldn’t be done in public. Dubai has serious punishments for blasphemy so keep any opinions about the religion and culture to yourself.
Homesexuality is still illegal in many parts of the UAE, including Dubai. It is highly advised not to engage in any open displays PDA or even cross-dressing when visiting the region since it is punishable by law.
Travelling during Ramadan
During this holy season, you should keep in mind that the rules are implemented much more strictly than normal. In general, avoid activities such as eating, drinking, or even chewing gum in public as it can be punishable by a fine or jail time regardless of your personal faith.
Many restaurants hold iftar get-togethers, which is typically taken after the evening Maghrib prayer marking the end of a day of fasting. You can expect most restaurants to be a bit full since many of them run great deals and offers during this time.
In Islamic culture, the left hand is typically seen as an ‘unclean hand’ used for body hygiene.
As such, you should avoid greeting someone or shaking hands with someone using the left hand lest your seemingly benign action is misunderstood to be a direct offence.
Other than that, you should always avoid taking pictures of people without their consent. The Dubai nightlife can be quite beautiful with their modern skyscrapers and fixtures but you should always ask for permission when it comes to taking photos of others.
Staying Safe at Night in Dubai
If you follow the local rules and conduct yourself with decency, then Dubai can be a particularly safe place, even at night. Still, here are some important tips:
Keep Your Belongings Close
Keep an eye on your belongings at all times and avoid leaving them unattended. Be vigilant for any opportunistic pickpocket or scammer looking to prey on those that look unaware of their surroundings.
Watch Out For Scams and Fake Products
There’s plenty of fake goods sold that are passed off as authentic items at local markets. Always check the actual quality of the goods before purchasing and try to stick to reputable shopping malls in Dubai to avoid getting scammed.
Use Only Registered Public Transportation
Taxis in Dubai usually have coloured roofs to denote which service they belong to. We highly recommend using these when travelling.
Sometimes, you might encounter unlicensed taxis who don’t use metres and charge higher than normal which can be really inconvenient.
Women who wish to travel safely at night may want to keep an eye out for taxis with a pink roof. This usually means, it is driven by a female driver.
When it comes to riding public transportation like buses, it is recommended that women sit in spaces that are designated for them. Sitting beside a person of the opposite sex have been misinterpreted as flirting or PDA, so be wary of this.
Avoid Driving on the Hard Shoulder
Remember not to drive or overtake on the hard shoulder in Dubai as it carries a fine of around AED 1,000. In case you suffer an issue such as a flat tyre, remember to pull up on the hard shoulder and get behind the safety barrier.
Remember to call the relevant emergency numbers afterwards so you can get help with car repair in Dubai.
Know Your Emergency Numbers:
Operators of emergency numbers are quite fluent in many different languages so don’t be afraid to call them when you need to. Take note that 999 is the number for police, 998 is used for calling an ambulance, 997 is for the Fire Department, and if applicable, 996 for the Coast Guard.
Dubai is a thriving, modern city that receives multiple international tourists every year. That said, the energy in the city can be quite fun and lively.
Staying vigilant and taking care to observe the local customs and rules will only ensure that your trip remains a pleasant one. It can give you very fond memories that you will gladly look back to as you explore the best things to do in Dubai.