What are the rules for public behavior in Dubai?

The case of a British couple sentenced to one month in jail for kissing in Dubai highlights the challenges of proper public behavior in the emirate.

Kamran Jebreili/AP
Families enjoy a public beach in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Sunday. A Dubai appeals court today upheld a one-month prison sentence for a British couple convicted of kissing in a restaurant.

If you're a Westerner visiting Dubai, an Arab city-state with traditional Islamic mores and laws, you may need to watch your public behavior.

Here are a few do's and don'ts (mostly don'ts):

Dress code: You can wear a bikini/swimming suit (or swimming trunks for men) on the beach, but it is an arrestable offense to go topless or wear a thong. Wearing swimsuits away from the beach can also get you arrested under public decency laws.

Non-Muslim women are not required to cover their heads in public, but if you enter a mosque it will be required.

Women are usually advised not to wear short skirts and to keep their shoulders covered. There are signs about this in some malls.

RELATED: In Dubai, public kissing can land you in jail

Alcohol - Consumption is only allowed in licensed restaurants, pubs, clubs, private venues, and at home (for residents who have acquired an alcohol license). It is an offense to carry alcohol in your car if you do not hold the special alcohol license, according to the British Embassy. There's also a zero tolerance policy on drinking and driving.

Drugs - Consuming or carrying narcotics can result in a standard four-year imprisonment sentence and deportation. Buying or selling narcotics can result in a sentence of life-imprisonment.

Dancing - Only allowed in your home, hotel, or a licensed nightclub. Public dancing is considered indecent.

Public affection - Holding hands is OK, but hugging and kissing may violate the public decency laws (see case of British couple jailed).

Sexual relationships - Sex outside of marriage is illegal, irrespective of any relationship you may have with your partner at home, advises the British Embassy.

RELATED: In Dubai, public kissing can land you in jail

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