Living in Dubai

Islam and Dubai Culture

Islam is deeply rooted in the fabric of Dubai culture. So, abaya-wearing women’s appearance is more regulated and judged in line with Islamic practices.

Dubai is the UAE’s largest city; you will hardly get in touch with anything in Arabic in Dubai unless there is anything relevant to the religion. Arabic is the language in which Qur’ân al-Karîm has revealed, and Islam has interpretation. Arabic is the official language of all Emirates of the United Arab Emirates, but English is also widely used for businesses. Dubai has an influx of foreign workers and residents, the majority of immigrants are from the Indian subcontinent. They speak Hindi, Urdu, and English in some cases. Due to the impact of the influx of migrant workers, the language they speak is also widely spoken in Dubai.

Arabic is at risk as Arabs are minority in UAE

The actual problem in Dubai is that majority of Muslims are non-Arab – mostly from the Indian subcontinent who speaks Hindi and Urdu – they do not speak Arabic. Also, there are few Arabs in Dubai who are non-Muslim. Emirati Arab population is less than 14% in Dubai; they’re are fearing that Arabic is at risk of becoming the foreign language in its own country – if schools in the UAE will teach Emirati students in English medium rather than Arabic medium. “We have a generation of students from an Arab background who are not fluent in their mother tongue,” said Mazen Al Sheikh, Director of Arabic at the American School of Dubai. “Actually it’s English that’s their mother tongue. Arabic is becoming a second or third language.” adds.

Dubai has around 2 million population, and it continues to rise. The citizens – means UAE nationals – are minority community in Dubai and all other six Emirates of UAE. The majority of people are migrants from all over the world. The majority of migrants are from the Indian subcontinent – mostly from India – they’re non-Arabic speakers and largely unskilled workforce. Migrant unskilled workforce does not even speak English. If Emiratis are bosses of migrant workers, they’re forced to speak Hindi or Urdu to communicate with the migrant labour force. And, the labourer class is the majority of expatriates in the UAE and expats have an enormous impact on the UAE in term of language and lifestyle.

Islam in Dubai, and in the UAE

Islamic law are practicing in Dubai and in the UAE judiciries. Islam is deeply rooted in the fabric of Dubai and the whole UAE societies. Islam has obligated to both men and women to cover themselves modestly. Emiratis people are feeling proud of their national attires, Emiratis are both men and women, they’re seen in traditional Arab attires, they are Muslims and very strict about Islam. Try necking in public or drinking in public and you’ll find out for yourself what this means. Images of women are representing the nation – an example is woman as mother and protector of cultural values, adds. “So as cultural transmitters, abaya-wearing women’s appearance is more regulated and judged in line with Islamic and traditional practices.”

IMAGE CREDIT: Michael Coghlan/Flickr

Signs at Malls to dress modestly

Islam has obligated to both men and women to cover themselves modestly. Therefore, Emiratis, both men, and women are feeling proud of their national attires. You could see at some places the sign at the entrance to dress modestly, also the instructive signs to dress modestly in some organisations if you’re working there. But, there is no requirement to wear hijab or abaya for foreign women where signs are restricting.

Hijab is the traditional headscarf covering your hair and neck. Abaya is the full-length coat which includes the Hijab- mostly worn by the Arab women is the black one.

Ramadan in Dubai

Ramadan, the holy month, is for prayers, fasting, and charity. UAE is an Islamic country where Dubai culture is not much differing than Arab-Islamic culture. In Dubai, many restaurants are not working during daylight in the holy month Ramadan. Non-Muslims are also advised not to eat, drink or to smoke in public; they can eat or drink privately at home or closed hotel restaurants.

Prayer Rooms in Dubai

In UAE, there are Muslim prayer rooms in every building, malls, hypermarkets, in every industrial premise, labour camps, bus stations, public places, airport, or alike. In fact, you have no excuse – if you’re a Muslim – to skip your five times daily prayers in UAE since prayer rooms are available everywhere you intend to visit.

Mosques are everywhere in UAE

Dubai has mosques at every corner of the City, not only in Dubai but everywhere in the Emirates. The most of the mosques are for worshippers. But, Jumeirah Mosque in Dubai and Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi are for all visitors regardless of their faiths.

Hajj Leave for Employees in Dubai

If you’re doing a job in the UAE, then you can see in Labor law that there is a clause which is permitting employees to perform Hajj. According to, “The employer must give the employee once during her employment a special leave without pay to go for Hajj which should not exceed 30 days. This period is not part of the employee’s annual leave or any other leave which she is entitled to.”

Drinking Alcohol in Dubai

Non-Muslim residents in the UAE can acquire a license to drink alcohol at home and in licensed places. It is illegal to drink in public and get intoxicated or to drink alcohol in public. Muslims are not allowed for alcoholic consumption. It is forbidden to drink alcoholic beverages for Muslims, but not forbidden for non-Muslims under Islamic law.

Islamophobia is Illegal in Dubai

According to, “Content contrary to morality, social cohesion: It is an offence to use any IT means for activities which are inconsistent with public morals and good conduct including content that is un-Islamic, blasphemous, lewd, that encourages sinful activity, or that is aimed at corrupting minors, etc.”

The government blocks all websites that are “offensive” to the “religious, moral, and cultural values” of the UAE. Misuse of social media for sectarian criticism, for commenting against Muslims or Islam, for spreading hatred between communities is also punishable under law.

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Arif Mohammad

Independent Blogger, ECommerce Webmaster & Social Media Marketer. Mudawwana UK Director. Previously in Hong Kong, Abu Dhabi & Riyadh.

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