Dubai: Useful Information
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Friday is the Islamic Holy Day, Dubai has adopted the 5 day working week, either Thursday Friday or Friday Saturday. Shopping Malls usually open all day and close between 10 and midnight. Prayer time is observed for Muslims between 11.30 and 1.30. Embassies and Consulates hours are usually from 7.30 to 2.30.
During the holy month of Ramadan, which begins with the sighting of the new moon and arrives 11 days earlier each year (2009 is expected to begin mid to end August), shorter hours by 2 hours are worked starting early and finishing early.
Dubai has a liberal attitude to dress. It is courteous to dress with modest consideration for local custom. Bikinis are acceptable at beaches and hotel pools although topless sunbathing is not, shorts for men and women are acceptable in public places. During the cooler months wear warm clothes especially at night.
Only served in licenced outlets attached to hotels, ie bars and restaurants and nightclubs. During Ramadan, outlets close during the hours of fasting.
During Ramadan drinking of any description, eating and smoking in public places is prohibited. Restaurants, cafes and bars are closed during the fasting hours. Clubs are closed and there is no entertainment. Ramadan tents are set up all over Dubai where all nationalities and religions can enjoy breaking the fast with traditional Arabic mezze and sweets and perhaps smoke a shisha.
Social and Miscellaneous
Do not stare at Muslims praying and do not walk over a prayer mat
It is impolite to show the soles of the feet with or without shoes and socks to anyone in the Muslim religion or Arabic culture
When invited to dine with a Muslim family or at a Muslim ceremony and if cutlery is not provided, eat with your right hand as the left is used for ablutions
When offered Arabic tea or coffee and when you have emptied your cup and do not want a refill, shake the cup and it will be taken from you.
Do not offer to shake hands with a Muslim woman
Pork is taboo in Islam. Shops selling pork products must have a separate area to do so as it is all imported it is very expensive.
Language and Religion
Arabic is the official business language, English is the lingua franca of the city and Hindi Malayalam and Urdu are also common languages. Road signs, shop signs and restaurant menus are in both Arabic and English. TV , news papers and magazines are either dual language or there are separate Arabic and English issues. Cinemas show Arabic, English and Indian language movies.
List of Useful Arabic Phrases
Marhaba, hello, response marhabtay OR
Asalumwalaikum, hello (I greet you with peace), response walaikum asalam
Sabah il khayr, good morning, response sabah in nuwr
Masa il khayr, good evening, response masa in nuwr
Ma is salaama, goodbye
Kayf haalak (m), how are you
Kayf haalik (f), how are you
Zayn, shukran (m), fine thank you
Zayna, shukran (f), fine thank you
Ismiy, my name is
Min fadlak (m), please
Min fadlik (f), please
Anaa min, I am from----Braitani Britain, Oropi Europe, Ameriki America, Al Hindi India
Kam, how many, how much
Mahattat betrol, petrol station
Il bahar, sea/beach
Al sahraa, desert
Numbers (1-10), waahad, ithnayn, thalatha, arb’a, khamsa, sitta, saba’a, thamaanya, tiss’a, ashara
Islam is the official religion, Hindu, Christian, Buddhist and Sikh communities freely practice their religion in Dubai. There are Christian churches for Anglicans and Catholics and Hindu temples
The Islamic holy day is Friday. Muslims are required to pray 5 times a day not necessarily in a mosque. It is not unusual to see worshippers praying on their prayer mats beside the road if they have not had time to reach a mosque. Prayers must face Mecca in Saudi Arabia. Mosques are built with their orientation towards Mecca. Muslims are expected at least once in their lifetime to make a pilgrimage (haj) to Mecca. You may see men with hair dyed a coppery colour, this denotes that he has been on the Haj.
The government plans to build enough mosques so that worshippers do not have to walk more than 500m. Ramadan is the Muslims holy month, a time of fasting, reflection and good deeds. The end of the daily fasting (Iftar) is commonly announced by the firing of a canon located in a prominent place such as Safa Park.