The Emiratis are like you and I, in as much as they are living their lives, raising their families and living their day to day life by a certain moral code.
The main religion in UAE is of course Islam, and Emiratis in general are living by their religious belief and follow the Islamic way of living. Despite the massive modern advancements that Dubai embodies, Emiratis are very traditional people. They take their culture and heritage seriously and they expect visitors and expatriates to respect their values. If you respect Emiratis they will respect you, and you will find them warm and welcoming. They are in general very tolerant of the expatriates and our often very different ways, – but there are limits to the behaviour that they will accept.
Anything that is an offence against Islam will not be tolerated on any level and will result in fines and/or imprisonment. There is no gray area. Muslims are called to pray five times a day and if you’re on the open road or in a public area away from a Mosque, Muslims will pray wherever they are. Do not disturb them and do not openly stare. During the holy month of Ramadan Muslims fast from sunrise to sundown and so it is unacceptable for you to be seen eating, drinking or smoking in public during the month as well. If you want to live and work in UAE you need to follow the laws of the land and accept the rules and standards by which Emiratis live.
The Emiratis that we would normally come across in our everyday lives, are very often working in Government Departments, the road traffic office, hospitals, visa and immigrations service for example. They are usually very well educated and most likely speak very good English, it is however, always a good idea for us expatriates to be able to speak a few words of Arabic, even if it is to say ‘thank you’, and you will find that the local people appreciate our effort to at least try a few words of Arabic.
The Emiratis are a friendly, if reserved people, their country is rapidly changing and becoming a place where other nationalities come to live and work, and it is understandable if we find them to be sometimes overwhelmed by us all, but with a little respect and understanding on your part, you will find them to be really hospitable and open to our often ‘strange’ ways.