When I first journeyed to the United Arab Emirates solo, I have to admit, I was a little bit nervous. Would I be stared at? Would I be safe? Should I cover my hair? Is there really no alcohol anywhere? What I found was a country full of friendly people and dynamic attractions that I now consider to be one of the safest places I’ve ever be to, and one that’s great for women traveling solo.
The United Arab Emirates is a country officially under Sharia law. That means punishments for crimes are severe here. Petty theft isn’t really much of a concern, though you shouldn’t make a habit of leaving your valuables alone on the beach. Harassment of women on the street is also illegal, which makes traveling alone here safe and enjoyable, as no one pays you any attention.
Public displays of affection are no-no’s, as is, officially, sex as an unmarried woman. Though the likelihood of the police banging down your hotel room door in the middle of the night is pretty low, it’s best to keep a low profile if you happen to meet someone special on your trip. LGBT travelers should especially avoid displays of affection in public.
The dress code here is conservative. While women traveling solo don’t have to cover their hair, they should take care to cover their shoulders, chest, and upper legs to feel more comfortable and blend in a bit better. When visiting certain religious sites, like the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, women are sometimes given full-length robes to cover up -- be sure to find out before you go, otherwise you might be denied entry for improper attire.
It isn’t everywhere, but it is available in most larger Western hotels. There are also several bars in Dubai that attract international travelers, most notably Barasti Beach Bar, right on the water.
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