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I'd wish to visit Dubai with my girlfriend, but after reading this travel advice and this question on sex and couples in Dubai I started to get a little worried about it.
How should I book an hotel? Must I book two singles?
Could it be a problem if we walk together in the city and go together to restaurants and malls without being married?

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Could you please separate your questions? It's a very good topic to ask about, and the two about booking a hotel/being together is probably a good one to keep in here, but I'd ask about the beer separately, as it's a different question. –  Mark Mayo Apr 30 at 13:21
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@MarkMayo Following your suggestion I removed the drinking part of the question. Unfortunately external links on the answers travel.stackexchange.com/questions/3410/… are dead. Hotel's restaurants don't directly serve beer but on some it's possible to have one in private. I'll consider adding an answer there when I get more sources on this topic. –  Alessandro Da Rugna Apr 30 at 14:16
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This would also be a great question on the Etiquette proposed site. People interested in questions like this should seriously consider committing to that proposal and spreading the word. –  starsplusplus May 1 at 12:05

2 Answers 2

Let me first state that I've lived in Dubai for a solid 19 years (years 0 to 19). In these 19 years, I have done almost everything there is to do in Dubai and been almost every place there is to go (including going to night clubs even though I was under age).

At the outset, let me clarify this:

I'd wish to visit Dubai with my girlfriend, but after reading this travel advices and this question on sex and couples in Dubai I started to get a little worried about it.

I truly believe that this is one of those cases of Western media sensationalizing news from the East. Dubai is a city in a Muslim country. You should take the same precautions in Dubai as you would in ANY Muslim country.

I now live in Ottawa, Canada. Legally, I am not allowed to smoke a joint in public. I can still do it though (without consequences) as people often do if I don't see any cops around me. The same applies to jaywalking. Now, let's say I do do it in front of a cop- there is a good chance I will get prosecuted and to many people this would seem like a very tiny thing to get prosecuted for...but it happens.

So, public intimacy in Dubai: if there are cops around you, avoid it!

How should I book an hotel? Must I book two singles?

Not at all necessary. Even though I've lived in Dubai, I've booked hotels in Dubai and in neighbouring cities for parties and there have been no issues.

Could it be a problem if we walk together in the city and go together at restaurants and malls without being married?

No. There are unmarried couples walking around everywhere without prosecution.


Tourism in Dubai

It is important to understand that with the globalization of the population in Dubai, there has a been (for the better) an injection of common sense in the way laws are applied. Dubai, as an economy, relies on oil and tourism. The oil won't last forever.

As a tourist, I'd urge you to have the same precautions in Dubai as you would in any MUSLIM country. Apart from that, there is a growing party scene, great restaurants and insanely large shopping malls that await you.

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Various online sources (Lonely Planet, Tripadvisor, USA Today, Dubai FAQ) seem to agree that as long as you don't start making out in public and telling people that you're not married, or attract the attention of the police in other ways, you'll be breaking the law but are very unlikely to get into trouble.

People in general, and hotel staff especially will just assume that you're married and not ask for evidence. You might want to practice referring to each other as "my husband" and "my wife" though :)

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