The official language of Dubai and the United Arab Emirates is Golf Arabic, a variant of traditional Arabic that is spoken in the countries around the Persian Gulf. Golf Arabic distinguishes itself from traditional Arabic through the presence of various Persian words. Golf Arabic also has a difference in the pronunciation of vowels and consonants. So the “k” is pronounced “ch”, the “j” as “y” and the q as a “g”.
Due to the large number of Western and Asian expats and labor migrants, over 80% of the population speaks in Dubai English. The remaining 20% of the population consists of the traditional population that speaks Gulf-Arabic. Due to the large number of immigrants, the official language in Dubai has become English. As a result, all signs in public transport, traffic, shops and restaurants have been performed in both English and Arabic. The younger inhabitants of Dubai speak almost all English, with the older inhabitants it is possible that these people speak little or no English. In many hotels, people speak French, German, Urdu and Hindi. Urdu is the official language of India and Urdu is spoken by the Pakistanis.
Islam is the official religion of Dubai and the United Arab Emirates and because of this you can find mosques throughout the city. More than 56% of Dubai residents are Muslims, 25% of the population is Christian and 16% is Hindu. 2% of the population of Dubai has a different religion.
Over the years, more and more religions have come together in Dubai for different reasons. The large number of Christians is due to the fact that many expats in Dubai have this religion. The high number of Hindus is due to the many of labor migrants from India and Pakistan.
Because Dubai is very tolerant with regard to religions, besides the many mosques there are also a number of Hindu temples for the Indians in Dubai and two Christian churches, the St. Mary’s (Roman Catholic) and the Holy Trinity (Inter-denominational).
Those on holiday in Dubai should take into account the Islamic norms and values that apply in the emirate. As a tourist you are a guest and you have to show respect for the country when you are visiting. You clean up your waste neatly in the waste bins. You do not stare at other people or point people out. You speak softly and do not use swear / curse words but that actually speaks for itself. You don’t drink alcohol in Dubai on the streets. In Dubai, your clothes should neatly covered your body, you are not going sunbathing topless and show no public affection.
If you are going to visit a mosque go neatly dressed with shoulders covered with an over the knee length skirt. The woman must cover her hair when entering the mosque. Clothing rules also apply in shopping centers and those who dress too short (short skirts or transparent and short tops) can be refused entry to a shopping center.
Unsolicited photographing of people on the street can be considered undesirable, especially Arab women often do not appreciate it when they are photographed.
Holidays in Dubai
Dubai has a number of Islamic holidays which are celebrated on different dates every year because of the position of the moon. For the exact dates of the holidays and parties such as the Sugar Festival, Ramadan and the Feast of Sacrifice, we refer you to the World Festivals Almanac.
January 1 – New Year’s Day
August 6 – Troonbestijging
December 2 – National Day (celebration of the 7 emirates in 1971)
December 25 – Christmas
Ramadan (different each year)
Sugar festival (after Ramadan)
Eid al-Adha – pilgrimage to Mecca (variable)
Hejra – Islamic New Year’s Day (variable)
Please note that during the Islamic New Year there will be no entertainment and no alcohol will be served in the locations where this is normally allowed. The dates of Hejra, or the Islamic New Year differ each year and are dependent on the state of the moon.