Dubai really is quite a cosmopolitan city and by Muslim standards is remarkably liberal and easy going. That said, I remember before my first trip to Dubai reading all about the city’s policies on hand-holding in public (I read you couldn’t) and Metro travel (I read that men and women must travel separately). Happily both of those “rules” are myths. Here’s the Scoop!
- COUPLES CANNOT HOLD HANDS IN PUBLIC: I’ve seen lots of couples, including Muslims in fairly conservative and traditional Muslim garb, holding hands in Dubai shopping malls. But, that’s as much affection as I’ve seen between a man and a woman in public. No smooching, snogging, fondling or any other PG13 or above signs of affection are allowed in busy public areas.
- WOMEN AND MEN MUST RIDE IN SEPARATE METRO TRAIN CARS: Again, completely untrue. There is a single “Women and Children only” carriage on every Dubai Metro train. However, women and children don’t have to use it. They can travel anywhere on the train. But, men must STRICTLY not enter the Women and Children only carriage. So, if you’re a Western woman and would like a break from wandering male eyes, simply travel in the Women and Kids only carriage.
Yes, there are a few things you can do in Western society that are not acceptable in Dubai such as soft drug use, wearing over-revealing clothes in public, obscene gestures to other drivers etc. but overall the feeling you get while in Dubai is much more of freedom than not. And, how nice to see the streets are trash-free!
One more debunked myth….Vaping is Illegal in Dubai. Actually, it isn’t and you can vape to your heart’s content as long as you’re not vaping near families with children or directly in the face of anyone else. You can’t vape in public enclosed spaces. Same rules apply for cigarette smoking.