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In Dubai, ignorance is no excuse

Do not wrap anything in newspaper if it has the Prophet’s name in it (and other United Arab Emirates public decency laws tourists must know to stay out of trouble).
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In Dubai on the beach, more is more. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

If you're going to Dubai and have heard it described as “Las Vegas of the Gulf,” it‘s best you ask for a second opinion.

For starters, you won’t get into trouble for “sharing private space with a person of the opposite sex” in Vegas.

Unless, of course, you are sharing it with someone else’s person of the opposite sex.

At that point, may the Lord have mercy on you in either town.

The United Arab Emirates’ Ministry of Interior recently published research that claimed 72 percent of expats living in the UAE lack knowledge of local customs, moral boundaries and traditions, Emirates magazine reports.

According to Emirates magazine, this kind of complacency results in “many expats enduring court trials, facing social embarrassment and suffering a long list of inconveniences – simply due to not knowing the rules.”

What are the rules, you ask?

Here is a sampling of the magazine's helpful summary:

"No disrespecting any religion: For example, when a newspaper contains the name of the Prophet, do not use it as wrapping paper. (Probably best not to use any newspaper as wrapping paper unless your Arabic is flawless and you can read super fast). When you hear the call for prayer, do not disrupt its sound in an obvious way.  And do not forget that during Ramadan rules are different altogether."

"No indecent clothing: In public places, guidelines say shorts and skirts need to be of appropriate length not to indecently expose parts of the body. Nor should they be transparent, or display obscene or offensive pictures and slogans. On beaches rules are more lenient. Swimwear is accepted but should be appropriate. Topless sunbathing or the wearing of a thong is not allowed."

"No sharing private space with opposite sex: Strictly speaking, sharing a private space with a member of the opposite sex when not related by family ties or marriage is forbidden. Private space would be a house, room, hotel room and even a car. However, certain behavior is tolerated. Hotel reservations are easily made for unmarried couples wanting to share a room and there are many cases of single men and women sharing a villa, apartment and even a room. Any punishment depends on the situation."

Don’t let the giant resorts, shopping malls and beautiful desert vistas fool you.

Dubai is no Vegas.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/wanderlust/dubai-ignorance-no-excuse

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