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Life in Dubai

Strategically located at the crossroads between Europe and Asia, Dubai is a global tourism destination and hospitality hub. The city of Dubai offers extensive hospitality networks, which makes it an ideal gateway for hoteliers all around the world. Dubai has implemented an ambitious tourism strategy to attract 25 million visitors a year by 2025, and it’s already almost there.
Discover the warm hospitality, rich culinary heritage and proud traditions that make up Dubai's vibrant culture.

The inside (condensed!) scoop on Dubai – how to get around the city, UAE culture, Ramadan, what to wear and when, planning evening and weekend activities, receiving mail, student discounts and more...

Typical Emirati clothing


With around 200 nationalities represented in Dubai, how people dress is incredibly varied - yet the traditional attire of the UAE is bold and distinctive. You can see it all across the city.

Emirati national dress is a symbol of pride and identity that has been designed with the dual intent of providing comfort and adhering to religious beliefs. In Dubai, men wear an ankle-length, loose-fitting garment made of white cotton, known as a kandora or dishdasha. A ghutrah covers the head and is held in place by the agal, a type of black cord. This garment was originally used to protect the face from the harsh desert environment.

Traditionally, women in Dubai wear an abaya-a long, black flowing light coat over their clothing. This is worn over their Western clothes or a traditional long-sleeved full-length dress known as a jalabeya. A black scarf called a shayla is often draped over the head.


Typical Emirati food


Do you know your karak from your chebab? Can you tell your luqaimat from your labneh? While Dubai is renowned for incredible dining options, local Emirati cuisine stands apart. Make your way to some of the many Emirati restaurants and sample the delicious dishes on offer. Here are some to get you started.

Camel: served in a variety of ways - often dished up with rice or made into burgers.

Dates: delicious, sweet fruit often stuffed with other goodies, such as nuts.

Fouga deyay: a rice dish with grilled chicken marinated in Emirati spices.

Gahwa: traditional Arabic coffee, often served from a 'dallah' pot.


Hospitality and etiquette


Hospitality and etiquette'Hasan al-diyafa' (what we know as 'hospitality') is an intrinsic part of Bedouin lifestyle that can be traced back to the traditions of life in the desert. Many also consider that religious beliefs and honouring one's guests go hand in hand - and these customs are very much alive in Dubai today. We explain the basics.

Marhaba: The Arabic word for welcome, used when entering someone's home.

Salaam alaykum: "Peace upon you" - to which you reply "walaykum salaam".

Gahwa: Guests will often be served Arabic coffee before a meal. Remember to hand over your empty cup with your right hand.

Modesty: Visiting a local home? Consider loose, long clothing that covers your body. You would typically leave your shoes at the door.

Nose to nose: In the UAE, many Emirati men will touch noses or peck on the cheek when they first meet. Visitors are not expected to follow the tradition.

The majlis: Many homes have a reception room reserved for special occasions or entertaining guests. It would typically involve low seating and cushions, dating back to life in tents.

Hands and feet: Men would shake hands with everyone present, but be aware that some ladies may not wish to do so. When you sit, pointing your feet towards someone can be considered offensive.

Dinner: Evening meals would typically be served on a huge, round platter - be prepared to use your hands!


Business hours


Unlike many places in the world, the working week in the UAE is from Sunday to Thursday and the weekend is on Friday and Saturday. Most government offices are open Monday to Friday from 7:30am – 2:30pm.

Image by Medienstürmer

Taxi service


Taxis within Dubai are easy to use. Fares vary depending on the length of the ride and the time of the day. The starting fee during daytime between 6:00am -10:00pm is around AED 5 and roughly AED 6 in the evening. It might be a bit difficult to flag a taxi from EAHM, however you can order a taxi by dialing 04 208 0808 or you can flag a taxi from outside Wild Wadi Waterpark, which is a five-minute walk from campus.


To plan your trip, check out this page www.rta.ae


Shift Changes:

Between 4:00pm – 6:00pm, you will notice that flagging or booking a taxi is more difficult than usual. This is because during this time of the day the taxi drivers are switching shifts. The same applies from 5:00pm – 7:00pm on Thursday rush hour andfrom 11:30am – 12:30pm during Friday prayers. Plan your trip in advance. In case you are not able to book a taxi, you can still book your driver with Uber or Careem (via their apps) that offer a more reliable service.

Image by Mourad Saadi

Bus service


You can also take buses to move around the city. To use them, you must have an NOL card on-hand since buses do not accept cash. The closest bus stop to campus is opposite to the Mina A’ Salam Hotel on Jumeirah Beach Road (approximately a five-minute walk from campus). Not all bus stops have NOL card machines, so we suggest you purchase one at the nearest metro station.


To view the bus schedule and plan your trip, please visit www.rta.ae

Image by Ant Rozetsky



Another transport option is the Dubai Metro. The Dubai Metro network has two lines, a tram and 47 stations that can connect you with important landmarks across the city. You can purchase a ticket at the station or obtain a NOL card that you can use. Students under 23 years old can apply for a NOL Student Card, which gives you a discounted rate.


To apply for one, you must collect the application form from the station, complete and submit it to the Student Services Centre for approval. When using the metro, you will notice that there is a section only for Women and Children and a Gold Class cabin, so be sure to sit in the right cabin to avoid fines. Eating and drinking (even chewing gum) is not allowed! The closest metro station to campus is at Mall of the Emirates so you still need to take a taxi to get there, or a connecting bus.

Image by Tom Smith



The UAE is a home to many nationalities and religions. All are practiced within this metropolitan city with respect and tolerance towards each other. The official religion in Dubai is Islam and if you are unfamiliar with its practices and set of beliefs, Dubai will be the best place for you to experience them first-hand.


In addition to the national UAE holidays, you will experience how different communities in the UAE celebrate their own religious and national events and you will even see decorations in stores and restaurants to share the joy: Christmas, Diwali, New Year’s Eve, the Holy Month of Ramadan, Chinese New Year, and more.

Image by Jojo Yuen (sharemyfoodd)

Alcohol consumption in the UAE


If you are 21 years old, you can purchase and consume alcohol in bars, clubs, lounges and licensed restaurants. You will not be able to purchase alcohol for your own private consumption from the licensed liquor stores without an alcohol license, which has a charge. Please note that there is zero tolerance for driving under the influence of alcohol.

Image by Adam Wilson
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