Dubai conjures images of luxury, skyscrapers, and upmarket shopping malls. Glamor and fun are synonymous with this city. I have visited many places on my own.
As a woman, my first concern is how safe will I be? I scour travel columns before each trip; aside from hilarious anecdotes and general info, there are often horror stories.
Dubai is really safe, provided you are mindful of local laws and adhere to them.
Petty theft and pickpocketing are a menace, particularly in crowded tourist areas, so keep your personal belongings safe. Fortunately, women are also safe in Dubai alone.
This city isn’t only a frequent holiday destination but a short stopover offering the best leisure and luxury goods for shopaholics. But there’s a catch, rules are strict and must be obeyed.
Getting to grips with this and knowing what to look out for makes all the difference to safety.
Dubai Is Considered Safe For Travelers
In general, Dubai is on the list of safer travel destinations. It certainly is the safest in the United Arab Emirates. Travelers flock to Dubai all year round, so safety is a priority.
The country’s strict laws also make it a safe destination. Some more stringent rules are slightly relaxed for visitors, such as wearing less restrictive clothing and swimsuits.
Still, it is advisable to not bare too much skin, particularly when you are out and about.
Crime statistics in Dubai are impressively low and average around 0.6 per 100 000 population compared to the global rate of 6 per 100 000 people.
The United States State Department says that in the United Arab Emirates, crime is generally not a problem for travelers.
Westerners who fall short of the law can expect the same consequences as locals. Still, with some extreme complications in resolving the situation, it’s best to stay on the right side of the law.
The long and the short of it is to err on the side of caution.
Dubai Is Safe For Female Travelers
It is good to know that females are generally safe in Dubai when traveling alone or in a group. However, you’ll be best off if you follow these safety guidelines:
- Stay within tourist areas and don’t move outside these zones, particularly after dark.
- Suppose you need to take a cab; it’s best to look for cabs with pink rooves. These have female drivers and are safe.
- Never accept drinks from men in bars, and keep an eye on your cocktail. I’ve read about incidents where drinks were spiked with distressing endings.
- Dress comfortably but also as demurely. Topless sunbathing and wearing a thong are a no-no. You can wear bikinis at hotel pools and beaches but not the skimpy type. Cover up before leaving.
- Take a modest wardrobe with you; it’s preferable to keep your shoulders covered and wear flowing dresses, long shorts, or skirts that reach below your knee.
- If you intend to visit a mosque, you must cover your head. Buy a pashmina or scarf at the local market; this will do the trick.
- Avoid making direct eye contact with men as this could be seen as an invitation to get to know one another and for unsolicited attention.
- Very importantly, if you are a victim of sexual assault, do not contact the local police but your embassy. Women, in general, woman are blamed for sex crimes even though they are not at fault.
- Many hotels and beach clubs offer ladies’ nights which are perfectly safe to attend; so it is ok to have a night out on your own or with a group of friends.
Dubai Has Petty Crime
Violent crime isn’t prevalent primarily because of its severe consequences. Petty crime, on the other hand, is directed at visitors, so take the necessary precautions.
Pickpocketing is most common; keep your belongings safe, particularly your credit cards, mobile phones, and travel documents.
Always keep some form of identity with you just in case you need it, but don’t take your passport or essential travel documents. You could be stuck in Dubai if these go astray.
Jumeirah public beach is high on the petty theft radar, so be vigilant here. Your best bet is don’t take a beach bag filled to the brim.
Never leave your bags unattended, especially on the beach. If you are prepared to be less than fashionable, wear a dry bag in the water.
Certain areas are crime hotspots. Petty criminals frequent busy tourist attractions, such as theme parks, public beaches, and water parks. These are safe to visit but be on the alert.
Local police are very responsive; they will be there in a flash if you contact them. It’s best not to call the police if you experience any crime due to alcohol abuse or have had too many drinks when reporting the crime.
Unlike in western countries, women take the blame for sex-related incidents. Under no circumstances should you divulge this to the authorities; instead, get alternate assistance.
Follow Local Laws To Stay Out Of Trouble
Being a visitor does not mean the law will not frown on you. It is best to abide by local rules to keep yourself out of trouble:
- No public displays of affection are acceptable; holding hands is about as good as it gets.
- LGBTQIA+ relationships aren’t acceptable, so be discrete.
- Avoid using rude hand gestures at all costs.
- Swearing in public is prohibited; if you must, whisper.
- Drinking alcohol and drunkenness in public isn’t allowed.
- Never greet someone with your left hand; it is considered filthy because you use it for ablutions.
- As inconvenient as it may seem, don’t share a room with your partner if you aren’t married.
- Be careful when happily snapping away; this is unacceptable, as you cannot take pictures of anyone without their permission.
- Don’t disrespect any religion.
- Eating in public during Ramadan is frowned upon. Take cognizance of Ramadan restrictions.
- Dubai is on high alert for drugs, including medication. Take only the essential medicines with you and never carry them in public; even painkillers can lead to more than a headache.
- Be aware of prohibited items, and never take them into Dubai. These include adult materials, goods made in Israel, and forbidden food such as pork.
This is a long list of demands, some of which can be easily forgotten in a moment of weakness but following them are a must for your safety.
There Are Some Other Safety Concerns In Dubai
Terrorism is a concern. Although common targets are government buildings, oil mines, and airports, attacks on westerners are understandably a worry.
Dubai is rated a medium risk in this regard. If you feel uneasy about any situation or sense tension in the air, be on the safe side and leave the area.
Traveling into the desert, as enchanting as it may seem, can leave you isolated and exposed to crime. If you cannot resist a sandy excursion, go with a group of people and a respected tour guide.
Avoid driving unless you really must. Be careful at pedestrian crossings, as drivers may not automatically stop here. I have heard that drivers in Dubai are a law unto themselves.
As appealing as fun in the sun may be, the extreme weather conditions in the area can be a health hazard. Temperatures soar well over 40 degrees Fahrenheit, so adequate sun protection, sun hats, sun shades, and hydration are essential.