The United Arab Emirates, also known as the UAE, has long been a hot travel destination. Cities like Ras Al Khaimah, Abu Dhabi, and Dubai are perfectly suited to luxury tourism due to their booming industry and beautiful location on the coast of the Arabian Gulf.

If you’re planning a trip to one of the seven emirates, it’s best to familiarize yourself with the culture beforehand. 

The emirates’ industry and popularity as travel destinations means that visitors will meet people from cultures all over the world, but it’s always a good idea to fully understand the local culture in order to be as respectful as possible.

What kinds of things can I do in the UAE?

The possibilities for tourism and entertainment in the UAE are virtually limitless.

Ras Al-Khaimah is a perfect beach town with plenty of fun and adventurous activities for visitors, like ziplining and mountain sledding at Jebel Jais Adventure Peak. Ras Al Khaimah is an ideal year-round destination with 7,000 years of history. Ras Al Khaimah offers travel adventures in the desert, mountain and sea. Many refer to it as a “nature” Emirate that is perfect for visitors to engage in various outdoor activities.

Abu Dhabi boasts awe-inspiring destinations like the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque – a popular attraction for visitors because of the sheer beauty of the mosque, which is the largest in the entire UAE. 

Abu Dhabi visitors can also visit the Louvre Abu Dhabi or relax on the white sands of the Saadiyat Beach.

Visitors to Dubai have a wealth of places to see and things to do, including the Dubai Fountain, the spectacular Dubai Mall, or checking out the view from the observation deck of the Dubai Frame.

What are restaurants like in the UAE?

UAE’s major cities have plenty of excellent restaurants. You can (and should) enjoy local Emirati cuisine, but with some searching you’ll be able to find whatever kind of restaurant you’re in the mood for.

There’s no shortage of delicious places to eat, especially in Ras Al Khaimah, Abu Dhabi, and Dubai!

The region is also world-renowned for its incredible service, so you can prepare yourself for an experience no matter where you go out to eat.

How does tipping work in the UAE?

If you’ve just enjoyed a great meal made even more special by dedicated and attentive waitstaff, you’re probably wondering about the tipping customs in the UAE.

Although tipping for service is expected in the United States, the same doesn’t hold true worldwide. In fact, there are some parts of the world where tipping is frowned-upon or even considered offensive. 

The last thing you want to do is insult the waiter who just made your meal an experience to remember, so read on to learn how to proceed!

Do I have to tip in the UAE?

Just like in the United States, you aren’t required to tip. If you’ve had particularly bad service, or the person helping you has done something inexcusably rude or harmful, you’d probably be justified in not leaving a tip at all.

However, it’s generally good practice to tip anyone who’s provided a service for you. It shows your appreciation and provides crucial supplemental income for servers. 

One difference between the United States and the UAE: service workers won’t be insulted or offended if you don’t leave a tip. In the US, not tipping is technically acceptable but can be a social faux pas; the same does not hold true for the UAE.

How much do I tip in the UAE?

The amount you tip depends on the service you’ve received. For example, the tipping customs for a waiter are slightly different than those for other services like manicures and taxis.

While the standard percentage for a tip in the United States is a minimum of 20%, it’s slightly less in the UAE. The average acceptable tip for good service amounts to roughly 10-15% of the bill for most services.

How much should I tip at a UAE restaurant?

10-15% of the total check is a good ballpark figure for tipping a waiter or waitress. However, you’re always free to tip more.

You should also take a few other things into consideration. At a very upscale place, you might want to give a higher tip. The same holds true if you were part of a large group or if your meal was particularly complicated. 

How does tipping work at bars in the UAE?

At bars and coffee shops, the size of the tip depends on different factors.

First, you should evaluate the quality of the service you received. If it was fantastic, a bigger tip is definitely warranted.

Second, consider the context. Are you at a specialized, artisanal craft cocktail bar? If so, your mixologist or bartender is highly trained and should receive a higher tip. The same holds true for fancy coffee shops.

Your starting point for a tip should be roughly 10-15% of your total check, but it’s never a bad idea to show appreciation by shelling out just a little more for your service workers.

Another point to note: some bars and restaurants will include a service charge on the bill. However, this service charge goes directly to the restaurant itself, not to the worker. Make sure you don’t forego a tip because of that!

Do I tip a taxi driver in the UAE?

You’ll probably rely on taxi or other rideshare services during your time in the UAE. It’s no small feat to get you from one place to another in a reasonable amount of time, especially in a city like Dubai where traffic can be a real challenge.

If your driver did a great job and got you to your destination on time or early, a larger tip might be warranted (and would certainly be appreciated).

Even if your experience was just so-so, a 10-15% tip will usually suffice. It’s also a common practice for people to round up the fare total to the next dirham, or to the next 5 dirhams, allowing the driver to simplify things by keeping the change.

What are the tipping customs for other services in the UAE?

For delivery drivers, valets, spa and beauty professionals, and just about every other type of service you can imagine, a 10-15% tip is considered standard. If you choose not to leave a tip, it’s not considered rude or insulting to the service worker, so it’s totally up to you. For restaurants, bars and clubs that are located in hotels, tip is often included and stated in the bill as a 10% service charge. 

Final Thoughts

Now that you have a better idea of how the tipping customs work in the UAE, you’re all set to enjoy a visit without worrying about offending the folks who help you during your stay – and free to enjoy the many beautiful sights and activities that the UAE has to offer.

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