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Tips on Greeting People in Dubai: Navigating Cultural Etiquette

Dubai's multicultural and cosmopolitan population creates a fascinating tapestry of greetings and interactions. Whether you're a tourist exploring the city or a business traveler engaging with locals, understanding the nuances of greeting people in Dubai is essential. In this comprehensive blog post, we'll provide you with tips to navigate the art of greetings and ensure your interactions are respectful, culturally sensitive, and positive.

Greeting people in Dubai

Embrace the Traditional Greetings:

1. The Traditional Handshake:

A firm and friendly handshake is a common form of greeting in Dubai. It's appropriate for both men and women, but remember to be mindful of the cultural context and adapt accordingly.

2. The Emirati Salam:

The traditional Emirati salam, which involves placing your right hand over your heart, is a polite and respectful way to greet someone. This gesture shows that you're acknowledging their presence with warmth.

Mind the Gender Divide:

3. Gender Considerations:

When greeting someone of the opposite gender, always wait for them to extend their hand first. Some conservative locals might prefer not to engage in physical contact, so respect their personal space and comfort.

Cultural Sensitivities:

4. Use the Right Hand:

In Dubai, as in many cultures, the right hand is considered more respectful for greetings and exchanges. Use your right hand when shaking hands, offering items, or receiving gifts.

5. Dress Modestly:

Dress modestly and respectfully, especially when interacting with locals or in more conservative settings. This demonstrates your awareness and respect for local customs.

Adapt to International Influences:

6. International Handshake:

Dubai's international environment has also brought about the acceptance of the Western-style handshake. However, always be attuned to the situation and the preferences of those you're interacting with.

7. Cultural Diversity:

Dubai's multicultural makeup means that people are accustomed to various forms of greetings. Don't hesitate to adapt based on the cultural background of the person you're greeting.


Q: Is it appropriate to hug or kiss on the cheek when greeting in Dubai?
A: While hugging and kissing on the cheek may be common among friends, it's best to reserve these gestures for people you know well and have an established relationship with.

Q: Can I initiate a conversation with a simple "hello"?
A: Yes, a friendly "hello" is generally well-received in Dubai, especially in informal settings.

Q: Should I use titles when addressing people?
A: Using titles such as "Mr." or "Ms." followed by the last name is a respectful practice, especially in professional contexts.

Q: Can I use my left hand for greetings or exchanges?
A: In many cultures, the left hand is considered less respectful for exchanges. It's best to use your right hand in Dubai to avoid any potential misunderstandings.


Greeting people in Dubai is an opportunity to showcase your cultural awareness, respect, and openness. By embracing traditional greetings, considering gender dynamics, and respecting cultural sensitivities, you can navigate the art of greetings with confidence. Whether you're interacting with locals, fellow travelers, or business associates, your effort to adapt to local customs will be appreciated and contribute to positive interactions in this diverse and welcoming city.

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