The cultural context

There are many rules, customs, behaviours and values that might be different, or wholly new to a member of the University of Birmingham Dubai, and it is important that all members acquaint themselves with these to ensure they are compliant and fully aware, as well as minimising risk for the duration of their time in Dubai.

two students looking at a laptop

For the initial context, the Dubai Government website provides a host of information which will enable individuals to research and understand what is appropriate and necessary in Dubai, as well as what is prohibited, frowned upon, or outlawed. It is also useful to be familiar with an overview of Dubai culture and etiquette, as well as more specific information on social etiquette.

Information should be read alongside the Dubai Code of Conduct, with necessary reference to the United Arab Emirates Country Profile (PDF - 1.5MB) for further context. There are a variety of resources available online regarding the cultural context in Dubai and the UAE. Some of the other pages available to learn about culture and etiquette are:

Laws and customs

UAE laws and customs are very different to those in the UK. Be aware of your actions to ensure that they don’t offend, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas. There may be serious penalties for doing something that might not be illegal in the UK. You are strongly advised to familiarise yourself with, and respect local laws and customs (, 2023).

To find out more about UAE laws and customs please visit the website.

Stonewall Global Workplace Briefing, United Arab Emirates also provides some guidance on LGBT matters in the United Arab Emirates.

Equality and diversity

Students studying in Dubai do need to be aware that equality law in the UAE is significantly different to the UK, and that the University can only pursue fair treatment within the boundaries of its operation. The Federal Decree Law No. 2 of 2015 On Combating Discrimination and Hatred ( covers all forms of discrimination on the grounds of religion, caste, creed, doctrine, race, colour, or ethnic origin only. The UAE Constitution states that all persons are equal before the law without discrimination between the citizens in regard to race, nationality, religious belief or social status. (UAE Constitution, Article 25).

There are many international organisations and agencies, such as The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), providing different angles on equality and diversity issues in an international context. Students are encouraged to make use of available resources and their own research to learn more about living, studying, and working in Dubai. Of course, in practice, many thousands of diverse individuals live, work, and holiday in Dubai without any issues arising. It is for people to make a balanced judgement of any risks that they feel they may face when considering studying in Dubai.