Dubai Gay Travel
Is Dubai safe for gay travelers? Have doubts about visiting? Read on for answers to all your Dubai gay travel questions! Discover Dubai gay parties, LGBT safety and how gay tourists should behave.
Is Dubai Safe for Gay Tourists? The Gay Travel Experience
Do an internet search for Dubai gay travel and you’ll certainly understand why many gay travelers are unsure if they should go to Dubai.
On one hand you learn about prostitution and “underground” gay party scenes, while on the other hand you hear about gay tourists getting arrested for holding hands in public. It’s easy to see why everyone is so confused!
Dubai Gay Safety: Common Worries
Knowing the Middle East generally is very conservative, my natural first thoughts were “I wonder if everything is going to go smoothly. I don’t exactly feel 100% comfortable being a gay guy in a conservative country in the Middle East. I have heard some bad stories.”
Should we hide our “Interested in” Facebook sexual preferences? Should we delete our Grindr before going to Dubai? These were questions my roommate and I were pondering before our journey.
The precautions I’ll mention in this guide may seem to be a bit over the top. However, in an area of the world without any gay rights, it is best to refrain from engaging in behaviors that may get you in trouble. Dubai is completely safe for gay tourists, as long as you follow some specific guidelines.
What’s it Like for Gay Tourists in Dubai?
Dubai specifically, is less conservative than the rest of the UAE and Middle East. There is a large international presence and it’s not uncommon to see westerners walking about. Locals are used to it. I never felt in danger as a gay tourist in Dubai. Of course, there were always looming thoughts about potential dangers, but I stuck to the rules and respected the local culture.
A Shocking Cultural Lesson
During this first trip to Dubai (when I was 20), I encountered one of the most shocking cultural phenomenons of my life up to that date. In the Mall of the Emirates, two traditionally dressed Arab men passed by while holding hands. My initial reaction? JOEY! LOOK! Mouth dropping open, Joey responded with his classic wide-eyed gasping face while covering his mouth.
I want to visit Dubai with my boyfriend. Is this an issue?
Using Grindr in Dubai: Are Gay Apps Allowed?
Gay men do interact on dating apps in Dubai. They do this via a VPN connection. You must use a VPN connection in order to access gay dating apps in the UAE because the government blocks them. Technically, gay apps in the UAE are not legal to use. You can find VPN apps on any App Store. Download before your trip.
You should be able to tell if the other individual is an ex-pat, or is giving off sketchy vibes. There are hundreds of international gay expats living in Dubai. Also, keep in mind that there are many escorts trolling Grindr in Dubai. Don’t mistake conversations with these profiles as authentic.
Gay Dubai: Where to Stay
I stayed at the CityMax hotel near the Mall of the Emirates on Al Barsha Road. It’s conveniently located near the Mall of the Emirates which has a nearby food court for quick meals.
Dubai Experiences for the Gay Traveler
Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates are beautifully enormous. Take note of how spotless they keep these buildings as you peruse designer brands. There is a ski slope in the Mall of the Emirates called Ski Dubai. It’s a great way to get a leg workout in! They rent everything you’ll need.
Once the temperatures outside cool down, take a stroll along the Dubai Marina. The vibe is very calm and eating outside is popular, taking in the skyline of the supertall towers. Locals and tourists mix here. After dinner try some flavored shisha. Locals love it!
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Dubai Gay Bars & Parties
You probably could have guessed there are no official Dubai gay bars. Although many western expats live in this city, there are no gay-specific establishments. Gay locals do frequent some monthly or bi-weekly parties.
Another popular gay party in Dubai happens at Barcode. Barcode is not officially a Dubai gay club, but the space is frequented by may gay men. Check out the Barcode Instagram page.
More Dubai Nightlife
The most beautiful bar I’ve ever visited was in Dubai. It was a custom cocktail bar called Ruya Dubai, which I visited during my second visit to the city. I went with my best friend Taylor and we had a blast.
Dubai Gay Travel Tips
Respect for the culture and locals is also of utmost importance. Dubai is much more relaxed than other Middle Eastern cities or other areas of the UAE. You still must respect certain customs in public areas, especially outside of western establishments.
So what do you make of the contradictory information online? How are these “pulsing gay nightclubs” in existence while a couple of gay tourists face arrest for holding hands?
The answer really comes down to two things. There is always the case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. If you upset the wrong person, perhaps someone who has a connection to the authorities, you may just end up in an unfortunate situation. This is the reason why everyone recommends to be overly cautious.
UAE Cultural Tips
Don’t be Nervous!
Aside from these precautions, Dubai is an amazing city that very much welcomes millions of tourists every year. Some parts of this guide may have you a bit nervous. It is understandable. Relax, follow the cultural guidelines and you will be fine. Always of course check with your local government’s travel guidelines.
Many flights connect in Dubai, so a one-day stopover is doable. If you’ve enjoyed this Dubai gay travel guide, share with a friend!