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Dubai Gay Travel

wolfyy’s Dubai gay travel guide to hotels, things to do, LGBT safety, bars, & using Grindr in Dubai.

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The Gay Travel Experience: Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Searching for Dubai gay travel information online, it’s easy to understand why so many travelers are unsure about visiting. Some websites talk about massive sweaty gay parties in Dubai, while others mention LGBT tourists going to jail for holding hands in public.

So, what’s gay travel to Dubai really like?

Dubai gay tourists
Dubai gay tourists

In this guide, I’ll help you navigate all the confusing information about gay travel to Dubai, cover essential safety tips, and mention some of the best hotels and local things to do.

Dubai marina

Being Gay in Dubai: What's it Like for Tourists?

Dubai specifically is much less conservative than other cities in the Emirates, like Abu Dhabi. The city wants to further an image of being more socially liberal and doesn’t exactly like being labeled as anti-gay. 

Gay visitor to Dubai
Gay visitor to Dubai
Dubai marina

Dubai even recently eased various laws pertaining to things like alcohol, marriage, and sexual harassment in an effort to be as progressive as other major world cities. They’ve also thankfully stopped policing gender expression, which puts many LGBT+ travelers at ease.

Dubai gay life

I never felt in danger as a gay tourist in Dubai. However, there is always the lingering reality that you must monitor and censor your actions here, especially in a country where being gay is illegal. And this brings us to the next topic: local safety!

Dubai Gay Travel Safety

The week before my first trip to Dubai, I was excited yet nervous. At the time, I was pretty worried about being whether I’d be safe as a gay tourist in Dubai.

gay ally dubai LGBT
gay ally dubai LGBT
Dubai gay life

Knowing the Middle East is generally conservative, gay travelers might not feel completely comfortable with the idea of visiting Dubai.

Many ponder safety precautions like deleting their gay apps or removing personal details from social media. It’s quite understandable and I wondered about these things myself!

is dubai safe for gays

LGBT travelers visit Dubai all the time, though. It’s completely safe as long as you follow some specific guidelines.

It’s best to avoid doing anything that may reveal the fact that you’re LGBTQ, avoid any overt touching displays of affection toward someone of the same sex, and avoid kissing anyone at all.

Dubai travel
Dubai travel
is dubai safe for gays

Is it Safe for Gay Couples to Travel to Dubai?

Dubai is relatively liberal compared to other places in the Middle East, but LGBT people do not have any rights at all. Gay couples can still safely travel to Dubai though, even if married.

Police are not patrolling the streets looking for pairs of gay men, but it bears to mention that the law remains archaic in disallowing any gay rights. If you keep to yourself and do not display any affection, there is absolutely nothing to worry about in my opinion.

dubai gay friendly

Just as in any other country, people have a range of viewpoints and opinions. In a country without granted rights, it’s best to err on the side of caution.

Dubai gay party
dubai gay friendly

With that in mind, gay couples visiting Dubai should book a room with two individual beds.  This avoids any confusion at hotel check-in. 

As an alternative strategy, you can always book a single bed and hope the hotel staff doesn’t mention anything about it. In this situation you would just need to have some sort of response prepared if they do ask!

Jumeriah Dar Al Maysaf Hotel

Gay Dubai: Hotels & Where to Stay

Since Dubai is quite a large city and attractions are spread out, location is important. The city has two main centers, so I recommend staying somewhere between them.

While you won’t find any specifically gay hotels in Dubai, choosing one of the larger international hotel chains will have a big impact on your sense of safety as an LGBT traveler.

one&only the palm Dubai pool
one&only the palm Dubai pool
Dubai Luxury hotel

The Hyatt Place Dubai Jumeirah is a fantastic chain hotel option in a central location. LGBT travelers also can’t go wrong with the Grand Hyatt Dubai near Dubai Creek or the glorious EDITION Dubai.

Dubai Luxury hotel

Both of these hotels are certain to adhere to international standards, so I’d classify them as some of Dubai’s gay-friendly hotels. However you definitely have other beautiful high-end options.

cocktail bar at Dubai hotel

Jumeirah Dar Al Masyaf luxury villas will be perfect for luxury travelers with a decent budget. Or, if you fancy an epic stay on the man-made Palm Jumeriah island, take a look at One & Only The Palm.

Jumeriah Dar Al Maysaf Hotel
Auris Boutique budget hotel with pool
Auris Boutique budget hotel with pool

Al Barsha is a great central neighborhood to book a hotel. The Mall of the Emirates and some grocery stores are conveniently nearby.

Flora Al Barsha and Auris Boutique Hotel are two budget-friendly options in this area of the city

For more options browse these highly-rated Dubai hotels on Booking.

Dubai Vacation Rentals

Good value is easily attainable when renting a vacation apartment in Dubai. You’ll be able to get a slice of local life too, since apartment rentals tend to be available in locations where it’s harder to find a hotel.

Dubai apartment rentals
downtown Dubai
Dubai apartment rentals

Dubai Marina VRBO rentals are stunning. I highly recommend browsing listings in this area. You’ll have convenient access to endless bars, restaurants and shopping.

downtown Dubai

Vacation rentals in downtown Dubai are another option, which are also affordable. Just south of the Burj Khalifa, you’ll find loads of luxurious places to stay with jaw-dropping views of Dubai’s skyline.

More Popular Dubai Hotels

Here are a few more fantastic hotels in Dubai that are highly rated, affordable, and stylish.

Dubai Millennium Hotel

Millennium Place Dubai Marina

Avani Palm View Dubai

Avani Palm View Dubai

Dubai Taj Jumeirah hotel

Taj Jumeirah Lakes Towers

popular Dubai hotel

Zabeel House by Jumeirah

Dubai Gay Travel Experiences

Climb the Burj Khalifa

Views from the Burj Khalifa Observation Deck are breathtaking. Climbing Dubai’s most iconic skyscraper is an absolute must. The sunnier the day, the better.

Purchasing Burj Khalifa tickets in advance is much more convenient. You’ll be able to skip the ticket line and go straight toward the security check.

Burj Khalifa
Burj Khalifa
Ain Dubai ferris wheel

Ain Dubai

Ain Dubai, or the “Dubai Eye,” is the world’s largest observation wheel. It’s located on the manmade Bluewaters Island at the southern end of the Dubai Marina. 

Ain Dubai ferris wheel

Bluewaters Island also showcased a nightly synchronized drone show in 2021 that became incredibly popular. I hope they bring this back again soon!

Dubai Shopping Malls

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.

AURA SkyPool Lounge

AURA SkyPool is the world’s highest 360-degree infinity pool, where you can experience total luxury along with some epic views of Dubai.

day pass AURA skypool
AURA Skypool Dubai views
day pass AURA skypool

Perched above The Palm Jumeirah, you can make reservations to experience the AURA sky pool for the entire day or choose from a morning or afternoon/sunset pass. They also host special evening events!

AURA Skypool Dubai views

Atlantis Aquaventure Waterpark

Beat the afternoon heat with a trip to Atlantis Aquaventure Waterpark—the largest waterpark in the entire world! 

Dubai gay travel

The park is liberal and relaxed, mostly filled with westerners. Women can wear western bathing suits without any issue. Aquaventure tickets also give you access to a private beach with views of Dubai’s skyline.

Aquaventure Atlantis Dubai
Dubai gay travel
Aquaventure Atlantis Dubai

The Dubai Marina

Stroll along the Dubai Marina once the temperatures outside cool down. The vibe is very calm and eating outside is popular, taking in the skyline of the super-tall towers. Locals and tourists wonderfully mix here. After dinner, try some flavored shisha.

Iran Zamin is a fantastic Persian restaurant in the Dubai Marina that I recommend for dinner. If you’re into exploring different types of Middle Eastern cuisine, this is the perfect place.

Visit Old Dubai

Lastly, check out Old Dubai and the Dubai Port. I recommend going in the evening before sunset when temperatures are lower. Here you can learn more about Dubai’s history.

old Dubai port visit
visiting Old Dubai
old Dubai port visit

This area of town is less shiny and new, where relics of the humble city’s past are still around today. You can find tons of spice markets too.

Dragon Mart Flea Market

Dragon Mart is a sort of “flea market” where you can find cheaper goods, It’s a nice change from the typical glamorous shopping, I stopped by here to pick up an extra duffel bag so I could store gifts and food I bought during my trip.

Although things at Dragon Mart are not high-quality, it can be a cheaper and entertaining place to visit. Since it’s not a major tourist destination, you can embrace a little more of the local life.

Popular Activities

Dubai Gay Bars & Nightlife

You probably already know that there are no official gay bars in Dubai. That doesn’t mean that a gay scene doesn’t exist here though!

dubai best hotels LGBT friendly

While you should be incredibly skeptical when browsing misleading lists of Dubai gay bars, you can still have a fantastic time enjoying the city’s nightlife.

dubai best hotels LGBT friendly
dubai bars
marina boat ride Dubai

The gay nightlife scene in Dubai is in fact underground. Ryan Centner’s fantastic exposé on Dubai’s gay expat nightlife tells the story wonderfully. Gay locals in Dubai frequently change nightlife venues and they communicate about the subject extremely privately.

Gay Friendly Bars & Parties in Dubai

Dubai gay locals have been known to frequent a few different parties that attract an open-minded crowd. Here are a few recommendations to try.

A party called Vibes by Madame Om is hosted every other Saturday at the Radisson Blu Dubai. Gay ex-pats and locals both typically attend.

gay life Dubai travel
gay life Dubai travel
marina boat ride Dubai

Barbary Cocktail Club is another awesome spot known as one of the few Dubai gay bars, recommended by a friend of mine who lives in Dubai. Expect a dimly lit interior and chic vibes.

Barcode is a popular gay party spot in Dubai. While Barcode is not officially a Dubai gay club, the space is frequented by many gay men. Check out the Barcode Instagram page.

I recommend taking the phrase “gay-friendly” loosely. Gay men and transexual individuals have been detained and prosecuted in Dubai before over seemingly harmless gestures. All of the same rules should apply in nightlife venues as they would on the street.

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Dubai Gay Life

Long story short…Dubai gay life is not easy. Homosexuality is illegal in the UAE and LGBTQ+ individuals have no rights whatsoever. 

Dubai’s authorities will certainly not tolerate gay public displays of affection, so remember that it would be dangerous to hold your partner’s hand while walking down the street.

dubai dress code for men
Dubai marina
dubai dress code for men

But if you’ve ever met a male flight attendant that works for Emirates, they’ll tell you about all the Dubai gay locals living in this glitzy metropolis.

Dubai marina

In such a large international city, some level of gay life must exist, right? Gay life in Dubai though is well-hidden.

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?

best winter gay travel destinations

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 being overly cautious.

dubai skyline
dubai skyline
best winter gay travel destinations

Using Grindr in Dubai: Are Gay Apps Allowed?

Gay men do interact on dating apps in Dubai, typically via a VPN connection. You must use a VPN connection (like NordVPN) in order to access most gay dating apps in the UAE.

gay dating apps Dubai

This is because the government blocks gay apps from operating with a standard UAE IP address. I use NordVPN myself, which makes it possible to download and use restricted apps and websites. 

Technically, gay apps in the UAE are not legal to use, but many LGBT people still do. Especially for travelers, there are tons of benefits of using a VPN. Make sure to download one before your trip in case it’s not available once you get there.

UAE gay things to do
gay dating apps Dubai
UAE gay things to do

Using gay apps like Scruff or Grindr in Dubai is done at your own risk. It’s not uncommon to use these apps. In fact, there are many profiles. You must be vigilant with your use, however. Be careful about who you give personal information to or who you meet.

Never disclose your address or give specific details about your location until you feel you have fully vetted the individual. You should be able to tell if the other individual is giving off questionable vibes.

Dubai gay party

Also, keep in mind that there are many escorts trolling Grindr in Dubai. Don’t mistake conversations with these profiles as authentic.

If you do decide to meet someone on a gay application, make sure you’ve completely vetted them. Always meet in a public place, too. 

Dubai Gay Travel Tips

Bringing PrEP & Other Medications into Dubai

All travelers entering Dubai or anywhere else in the UAE should have a record of any prescription medication they are currently taking.

Traveling to Dubai with PrEP, PEP, or any other pre or post-exposure prophylaxis medication is not recommended. If you can go without these, it’s best to leave them at home.

dubai gay travel

While the government does not specifically prohibit travelers from bringing these medications into the country, you may be subject to scrutiny or face other unforeseen consequences if they are questioned.

Dubai gay travel tips
dubai gay travel

Prepare for the Heat

Dubai’s heat and humidity will definitely make you sweat. When exploring during the day, I can’t live without these cleansing skin wipes, especially because they have an exfoliating side that helps wipe away dirt. 

Dubai gay travel tips

A few sweat-proof t-shirts are a must. Nobody likes walking around with sweat stains! You’ll also be better off with some breathable underwear.

UAE Cultural Travel Tips

It’s imperative that women always wear clothing that completely covers the body from knees to shoulders while outside of your hotel.

While you technically can get away with showing skin, women who show too much attract harsh stares. It will be a very uncomfortable experience, especially after dark. I have seen it happen to both friends of mine as well as other women walking on the street.

Abu Dhabi gay safety
Dubai gay travel
Abu Dhabi gay safety

A lifeguard in the pool of my hotel shouted for a straight couple to please swim separately. They take this seriously as it’s part of their culture.

Dubai gay travel

Appropriate conduct, especially in relation to consuming alcohol, is important. Appearing intoxicated out on the sidewalk or in other public areas is asking for a lot of trouble, so be responsible!

Local Dubai Men Holding Hands

During my first trip to Dubai, I encountered one of the most interesting 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.

Gay Dubai safety concerns

My initial reaction? “JOEY! LOOK!” Mouth dropping open, Joey responded with his classic wide-eyed gasping face while covering his mouth.

Dubai gay travel safety
Gay Dubai safety concerns

Little did I know, two men holding hands is a symbol of affection/friendship in Arab culture. It’s a quite beautiful way of expressing a bond among the same sex.

gay travel Dubai

This is not to say that westerners should follow suit, but I must say this was remarkable to me. I had no idea at the time.

Don’t be Nervous! Dubai is Awesome.

Aside from these precautions, Dubai is an amazing city that welcomes millions of tourists every year. Some parts of this guide may have you a bit nervous, which is completely understandable.

skyline of Dubai

Relax, follow the cultural and safety guidelines, and you will be fine.

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Also visiting Abu Dhabi? Read wolfyy’s Abu Dhabi gay guide. Or, if you have more time on the road, consider a trip to Kuwait City.

See wolfyy’s complete collection of gay travel guides for more gay destination ideas around the world. 


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