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Gay Travel to Dubai: safety tips, bars, clubs & hotels
Dubai is regarded as the Vegas of the Middle East. Just like Las Vegas, it's a loud, glitzy, super touristic and very modern city, with plenty of things to do. It's also a major transport hub, making it the perfect stopover to break up long trips. We've been to Dubai several times, mainly to visit some of our gay friends living there. Before we went for our first trip, we had serious concerns about our safety because of the harsh anti-gay laws.
Despite this, we've always had a great time in Dubai, albeit taking extra care to avoid all public displays of affection. In this article, we set out our practical tips for gay travellers to Dubai, as well as information about the underground gay scene, best places to stay and things to do. We are by no means promoting the destination as a gay friendly haven!
This is simply an honest account based on our first hand experiences travelling to Dubai. Gay dating apps such as Grindr or Scruff are illegal and blocked in Dubai. We found the best way to get around this is to use a VPN which will give you full access to the dating apps and will allow you to surf the Net anonymously. Homosexuality is illegal across the entire United Arab Emirates, punishable by death!
Like in many Arabic countries, homosexuality is a massive taboo and is not accepted by society. Being openly gay in Dubai is therefore dangerous! Whether you're a local or a foreigner. The reality for gay tourists who wish to visit Dubai is that you are unlikely to encounter any problems as long as you avoid all public displays of affection with the same sex.
Previous arrests of gay tourists in Dubai happened as a result of public occurrences. They were sentenced to 1 month imprisonment and subsequently deported. Therefore, if you are happy to accept going back into the closet, you will be fine in Dubai. More recently, in March , Little Mix performed in Dubai under a giant rainbow flag for one of their songs without any problems. In a country where being gay is illegal, this is a big deal! Compare this to the Mashrou' Leila's concert in Cairo, Egypt where being gay is also very illegal when fans waved rainbow flags, the police ended up arresting 70 people!
You can easily visit on a tour that will also take you to the Dubai Butterfly Garden. Find out more. Despite this, it has a large gay population living here who mainly work in the big airlines like Emirates. As long as you stay in the closet, you'll be safe in Dubai. It has one of the largest malls in the world, the highest building in the world the Burj Khalifa , many excellent beaches, exciting busy traditional souks and even a 7 star hotel.
It's also extremely safe with very low levels of crime. As a major transport hub, it's also a useful stop over for breaking up long trips. Dubai has a reputation in the Arab world for being a liberal urban haven, largely because there is a large international expat population.
For example, out of the total 9. There are however, a few practical safety precautions that gay travellers to Dubai should take into account:. For the most incredible experience why not splurge on a scenic helicopter ride over the city of Dubai? You can book a surprisingly affordable flight over the Persian Gulf Coast for unforgettable views and memories. In Dubai, some hotels may even require two men sharing a room to have an extra mattress added, or they will only allow you to book a room with twin beds.
Yes it's sad that in this day and age there exists places where you can't be yourself and sleep with your partner in the same bed. We've listed our 3 favourite gay friendly places to stay in Dubai. If you're looking for more inspiration, be sure to check out our article about the top gay friendly hotels to stay in Dubai. Our favourite hotel to stay in Dubai. Built in a Polynesian style, the hotel features low rise constructions and villas set amongst lush tropical gardens. The staff treated us with the upmost respect, without questioning our choice of a double bed.
The resort is also home to 6 different restaurants as well as 4 bars and lounges. There's a high-tech fitness centre and 6 swimming pools so you'll be able to work off the calories from all the amazing food! You can also enjoy many relaxing treatments in the So Spa which has 28 treatment rooms, seawater pool, sauna and massage rooms. Unlike on Airbnb, you know your host is gay, avoiding any nasty surprises when you check in.
It is also a great way to meet gay locals and discover the underground gay scene. The Hilton is an international American chain, which is used to hosting gay travellers.
We particularly love the Sky Lounge; one of the best rooftop bars in Dubai and perfect for a romantic sunset cocktail. You'll also be able to relax in the spa and health club if you're tired and sore from all that shopping! When visiting the Burj Khalifa make sure you stop to enjoy the Dubai Lake fountain show featuring water, music and lights. Aloft is an Urban-inspired design hotel, bringing high comfort and high tech at an affordable price, ideal for the Millennial traveller. The rooms are spacious, offering a choice of different pillows and very comfortable beds.
The pool is a great place to relax, with live DJs playing music every Monday and Thursday. The Aloft Me'aisam is the ideal place for gay travellers to Dubai who are looking for a more affordable option without sacrificing comfort. Aloft is a young, chic and gay friendly hotel without the huge price-tag many resorts come with.
You will, however, still be able to enjoy their on-site spa, international restaurant and the cool W XYZ bar. The Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world, and you can enjoy stunning views over Dubai from the observation deck.
Make sure you book ahead to skip the queues and then relax in the lounge at sunset. Whilst homosexuality is a crime in Dubai, there still exists an active underground gay scene thanks to the large ex-pat population. In terms of outright gay bars in Dubai, there are none! This was our favourite rooftop bar in Dubai.
It's a large, trendy, blue-lit rooftop lounge located on the 43rd floor of the Four Points by Sheraton hotel. We love the views from up here — it's m ft in the air. In addition, as the entire floor is the bar, you get a spectacular degree view across the big city below.
In terms of gay friendliness, it's the sort of place we felt comfortable with the odd PDA as most of the clientele and staff were a mix of mainly foreigners and young couples. This is our choice for a romantic cocktail with your lover, especially at sunset.
Dress up in your finest, put on your fierce-est face and head on down to Bar 44 to be seen by the chic and fabulous! That's what it felt like coming here. Yes, it's all attitude, showing off, pose-darling! Bar 44 is one of our favourites because despite the slight air of attitude, it's a gorgeous, super elegant and classy lounge. It's the sort of place you can bring a date or a group of friends you want to impress. It ticks all the boxes — pretty, excellent cocktails and gorgeous sunset views thanks to its location on the top floor of the Grosvenor House 44th floor.
Dubai is all about showing off and lots of bling bling bling! Gold on 27 is another come-here-to-be-seen opulent gem. It's also super unique because of its unique location — in the same building as the Burj Khalifa in the Burj Al Arab Hotel. As the name suggests, it's on the 27th floor — around m ft high, and gold leaf decor is very much the theme here! We actually spotted a lot of cute guys when we came, mostly cabin crew on a night out. What started as a few cocktails to round off our visit to the Burj Khalifa turned into quite a decadent night out!
It's a high-end lounge bar famous for some very tasty tapas. Sunset is the best time to come for the most dramatic Instagrammable images. To reach it, you need to take a short boat ride from the Jetty Lounge. The only downside, it's quite expensive for what it is and the food portions are minuscule…definitely avoid coming here on an empty stomach if like us you're a big eater! One of our favourite bars in Dubai for brunch on weekends. Sunset is, of course, the best time to come but not just for the views — this when they have their daily pm Happy Hour!
The Hilton hotel is famous for being one of the most popular gay places to hang out and also stay, sometimes even hosting their own ad hoc LGBTQ events.
Let's just say that our cabin crew friends always came here as their first choice of bars to go out for pre-drinks on a Saturday evening! We love the quirky vibe of Barbary. It's actually a pretty classy place to come for drinks and a bite to eat. The food is worth a mention — Seby had the sea bass and I tried their poutine Canadian chips with cheese curds and gravy. Best poutine I've had outside of Montreal!
Later in the evening after 9pm, they usually have a live DJ set, which gives the place a more clubby vibe. You can't go to Dubai and not experience a camel ride in the desert, perhaps combined with an incredible Arabian meal and music under the stars.
Get to know the traditional Arabian culture on a desert safari. Gay parties in Dubai are usually only publicised via social media and word of mouth.
Grindr is your best starting point for researching them. The following are the main gay clubs in Dubai to check out, which may either host a gay event during the week or will have a relaxed and liberal atmosphere. Just remember, always avoid public displays of affection to be on the safe side! A side note, these always change, so we strongly recommend getting a VPN and connecting with locals on Grindr to find out where the latest party is happening.
Cabin crew friends have told us this one of the best places to come for a gay old time, especially on the last Friday of each month.
Meet gays in Dubai
I've always wanted to visit Dubai myself but me and my boyfriend travel a lot together. Dubai is one of the cities that I've always wanted to visit but the other half isn't so keen on the idea because of the horror stories he hears about being gay in cities like Dubai. However a colleague of mine had been to Abu Dhabi to visit his boyfriend there and told me that there is nothing to worry as long as you don't exhibit public display of affection. As a tourist I imagine you would be fine to fly under the radar by not showing public affection etc. However, consider the ethics of travelling to such countries.
ON the surface, being gay in Dubai sounds like a dangerous prospect. Indeed, should you be unlucky enough to be caught engaging in homosexual activity in the region, reports claim that punishment can range from 10 years in prison, fines, deportation and even the death penalty. Despite this, Dubai is host to a thriving underground gay scene, with men flocking to unofficial LGBT clubs with little fear of the consequences, according to Detained in Dubai. Here, Australian expat Paul Ewart shares his experience of being a gay man in Dubai. Nothing strange here you might think, I mean, there are gay clubs the world over, right?
Gay cabin crew secrets from the Middle East
Is Dubai safe for gay travelers? Have doubts about visiting? Read on for answers to all your Dubai gay travel questions! I have heard some bad stories. Should we delete our Grindr before going to Dubai? These were questions my roommate and I were pondering before our journey. 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. Locals are used to it.
10 Best Gay Bars in Dubai - Celebrate the Pride Vibe
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We know that cabin crew lead fun lives, but just how fun is it living as gay cabin crew in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, gay cabin crew in Abu Dhabi or gay cabin crew in Qatar? After graduating from university I wanted to travel the world. Fun, intense and hard work.
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