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Gay Travel to Dubai: safety tips, bars, clubs & hotels

Stefan Arestis
Gay Travel to Dubai: safety tips, bars, clubs & hotels

In this guide, we set out our practical tips for gay travelers to Dubai, as well as information about the (underground) gay scene, the best places to stay, things to do, and more.

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.

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We've been to Dubai several times, mainly to visit some of our gay friends living there. Before we went on 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 travelers to Dubai, as well as information about the (underground) gay scene, the 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 traveling to Dubai.

Gay dating apps in 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.

Gay rights in Dubai

Homosexuality is illegal across the entire United Arab Emirates, can lead to capital punishment! However, each Emirate has its own legal system, with Dubai the least severe, whereby homosexuality is punishable by imprisonment and/or a fine. 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 your partner.

Previous arrests of gay tourists in Dubai happened as a result of public occurrences. For example, in 2008, a Lebanese/Bulgarian lesbian couple were arrested for kissing on a public beach. 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 2019, 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 2017 concert in Cairo, Egypt (where being gay is also very illegal) when fans waved rainbow flags, the police ended up arresting 70 people!

See the incredible floral displays at Dubai Miracle Garden

Must do in Dubai: visit the Miracle Garden

150 million flowers are arranged to form incredible displays including a castle, giant teddy bear and an Emirates A380 aeroplane at the Dubai Miracle Garden. You can easily visit on a tour that will also take you to the Dubai Butterfly Garden.

Find out more

Is Dubai safe for gay travellers?

If you do choose to visit a place like Dubai, you have to be aware that homosexuality there is a crime, punishable by imprisonment and/or a fine. 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.

Despite the harsh LGBTQ laws, you will find Dubai is a fascinating place. 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 9.5 million population, almost 8 million are expats mainly from South Asia, North America and Europe.

There are however, a few practical safety precautions that gay travellers to Dubai should take into account:

  • avoid all public displays of affection with people of the same gender
  • unless staying in a hotel you know welcomes gay travellers, book a room with 2 single beds (whether it is 2 queen beds or one king bed and a twin)
  • be careful with who you hang out with, especially when meeting people on Grindr
  • take care with what you post online before and during your trip, perhaps consider setting your social media channels to private if posting anything obviously gay
An experience not to be missed in Dubai is the chance to fly over the city in a helicopter.

See Dubai from above in a helicopter!

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.

Find out more

Where to stay in Dubai?

Due to the harsh anti-gay laws of the UAE, you will not find any outright gay hotels in Dubai as you would in Fort Lauderdale or Key West for example! 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. However, the large international brands are more likely to allow gay couples to share a double bed, in particular the following:

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.


The Sofitel Dubai Palm Resort & Spa

Sofitel the Palm is a beautiful and gay-friendly accommodation option in Dubai.

Why we love it

  • Romantic and gay friendly
  • Lagoon style swimming pool
  • Friendly staff
  • Luxurious spa

Our favourite hotel to stay in Dubai. Overlooking the Persian Gulf, the Sofitel Palm Resort and Spa is ideal hotel for couples looking for a romantic hideaway 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.


Misterb&b is the Airbnb equivalent for the LGBTQ community. Unlike on Airbnb, you know your host is gay, voiding any nasty surprises when you check-in. It is also a great way to meet gay locals and discover the underground gay scene. Click below to get 10 € (or $10) off our first booking.


The Hilton Dubai Jumeirah

The Hilton's sky lounge is the perfect place for gay travellers to Dubai to enjoy a romantic cocktail.

Why we love it

  • Private beach
  • Direct access to “The Walk”
  • Sky Lounge with stunning views
  • Affordable luxury

The Hilton is an international American chain, which is used to hosting gay travellers.

The Hilton Jumeirah is a convenient and sophisticated hotel, located in the heart of “The Walk” shopping street, alongside Jumeirah Beach. The complex offers a private beach area, 15 on-site restaurants and bars, including the award winning Italian restaurant, “BiCE”.

We particularly love the Sky Lounge; one of the best rooftop bars in Dubai and perfect for a romantic sunset cocktail. The Hilton Jumeirah is in an ideal location if you are looking to “shop 'til you drop” as it's right in the heart of Dubai's main shopping street; The Walk. You'll also be able to relax in the spa and health club if you're tired and sore from all that shopping!

You can experience the Dubai lake fountain show from a boat with stunning views of the Burj Khalifa.

Don't miss the Dubai Lake fountain show

When visiting the Burj Khalifa make sure you stop to enjoy the Dubai Lake fountain show featuring water, music and lights. For a truly breathtaking experience, you can even see it from the deck of a traditional “abra” water taxi.

Find out more


Aloft Me'aisam

Aloft Me'aisam in Dubai is a trendy and gay friendly hotel.

Why we love it

  • Trendy and affordable
  • Excellent location
  • Live music with DJ by the pool
  • Airport shuttle service

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.

When in Dubai you shouldn't miss the chance to see the city from the top of the tallest building in the world: the Burj Khalifa!

Must do in Dubai: the Burj Khalifa

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.

Find out more

Gay friendly bars in Dubai

Whilst homosexuality is a crime in Dubai, there still exists an active underground gay scene thanks to the large ex-pat population. Remember, this is where over 20,000 flight attendants call home, so you know there's going to be a few raucous gay parties taking place somewhere…our advice is to use Grindr or Scruff to connect with locals/ex-pats to find out exactly where!

In terms of outright gay bars in Dubai, there are none! There are however a handful of places which are liberal-minded, attract an international crowd and can, therefore, be regarded as being “gay friendly”:

Level 43 Sky Lounge

Level 43 Sky Lounge is our favourite rooftop bar in Dubai

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 155m (510ft) in the air. In addition, as the entire floor is the bar, you get a spectacular 360-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.

Bar 44

Bar 44 is one of our favourite spots in Dubai because it's a gorgeous, super elegant and classy lounge

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! etc, but let's be honest, this is Dubai! 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).

Gold on 27

Gold on 27 is a bar in the Burj Khalifa building that serves great cocktails

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 200m (656ft) 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!

101 Lounge and Bar

101 Lounge and Bar is more of a restobar which you reach by taking a short boat ride from the Jetty Lounge

101 Lounge and Bar is more of a restobar. It's a high-end lounge bar famous for some very tasty tapas. It has a unique location close to the One & Only Palm Hotel with magnificent views of the Dubai Marina. 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!

Pure Sky Lounge

Pure Sky Lounge is located on the 35th floor of the Hilton Dubai The Walk Hotel, with incredible views over the Arabian Gulf

One of our favourite bars in Dubai for brunch on weekends. It is located on the 35th floor of the Hilton Dubai The Walk Hotel, with incredible views over the Palm Jumeirah and the Arabian Gulf. Sunset is, of course, the best time to come but not just for the views – this when they have their daily 6-8pm 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!

Barbary Deli & Cocktail Club

Barbary Deli and Cocktail Club is classy place to come for drinks and a bite to eat in Dubai

We love the quirky vibe of Barbary. Their slogan pretty much sums it up – “the room is a decorous blend of clandestine bar naughtiness with an illicit parlour feel” – ooh er! 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.

Dune-bashing and camel rides in the desert are a must-do when visiting Dubai.

Experience a romantic desert safari

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.

Find out more

Gay friendly clubs in Dubai

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. As of February 2020, we've heard that “Rush Desco” in Ras Al Khaima is the latest queer underground hangout in Dubai.

House of Queens

Officially marketed as a ladies night, House of Queens is still one of the best places to come for a gay old time in Dubai

Officially this is marketed as a “ladies night”, but we'll let you appreciate the subtle queer undertone of this place. 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. Connect with them on their Instagram to find out more up-to-date info. They have a London theme with nights called “The Shoreditch”. House of Queens is very much like a speakeasy joint, unassuming, inoffensive, tucked away in a corner on Industrial Avenue.

AHS Events

AHS is a famous club promoter, famous amongst the LGBTQ community of Dubai

AHS is a famous club promoter, famous amongst the LGBTQ community of Dubai. Whilst their events are not “officially” gay, it's well known and accepted locally for being one of the best gay clubs nights in Dubai. They usually have a party to coincide with big festivals and holidays like Halloween or Valentine's Day. Every event includes a famous international DJ – previous DJ guests of honour include Jhonny Daniels, Dani Toro, Alex Lo and Enrico Meloni. We recommend checking their Facebook page for details of the next event.

Barcode Dubai

Barcode Dubai is one of the most famous unofficial gay clubs in Dubai

One of the most famous unofficial gay clubs in Dubai. Every other Friday or Saturday it has a Mykonos or Ibiza themed night which attracts the bulk of Dubai's LGBTQ crowd. The location changes every week, usually at safe space, such as one of the large international hotels. The theme here is chilled and soulful, usually house music. For the latest information, check out their Instagram – but obviously the marketing is heavily heterosexual for obvious reasons! You need to read in between the lines and connect with locals to find out the specifics of the next event.

Fantasia Dubai

Fantasia is an unofficial gay club in Dubai which takes place at different locations in the city

Fantasia is another popular unofficial gay party in Dubai, taking place at different locations, usually on Fridays. As with all underground gay parties in Dubai, the location is always in a safe space, like at one of the International chain hotels. Put it this way, when Britney and Beyonce came to perform in Dubai, it was at Fantasia – so you know the type of crowd that's gonna come here! Check out their Facebook page for more information, but for the most up-to-date advice, we highly recommend using the gay dating apps to connect with locals and ex-pats.

White Dubai

White Dubai is one of the most famous clubs in the world which is popular with queer patrons

White Dubai is one of the most famous clubs in the world and certainly one of the best nights out in Dubai. It's super popular with the clubbing kids of the city – trendy, hip – the type of place you want to be seen! It's also unique because it's set on an outdoor rooftop unlike the other clubs, so you're dancing away with a pretty impressive evening view of the big city below. Whilst this is not a gay club, it usually attracts a diverse queer crowd. Check out the events calendar on their website for the latest information.

Gay dating apps in Dubai are illegal and blocked. You can get around this by getting a VPN which allows you to use the apps anonymously. Note that using a VPN in Dubai for “immoral purposes” is also illegal. However, if you decide to get one, we recommend ExpressVPN, a reliable and inexpensive service, very easy to set up.

Is Dubai safe for gay travellers underground gay scene
Discovering the underground gay scene of Dubai

Travelling with PrEP and HIV medication to Dubai

Note that prescribed or over the counter medicines, you need to declare it. If you don't they may stop you at customs and detain you! The most useful information we've come across about this online is the UK Government's official advice for Dubai travel.

Based on what other LGBTQ travellers have told us as well as online forums discussing this issue, it appears that all is required is to complete the UAE's online form and limit what you bring to up to 3 month's supply. However, please do NOT take our word for this, read your government's advice and reach out to the UAE Ministry of Health for a more specific answer by emailing [email protected] or calling them on: +971 800 11111.

Our favourite restaurants in Dubai

There is no lack of options when it comes to fine dining in Dubai. Unfortunately, you will not find any restaurants in Dubai proudly hanging a rainbow flag. However, the huge expat population means there are many different types of cuisine to be found, from French patisseries to modern fusion, and everything in between.

We have enjoyed trying out some traditional Arabian cuisine during our time in Dubai, as well as experiencing romance in decadent restaurants with stunning views. Here are our five favourite restaurants in Dubai.

Al Hadheerah (traditional with a show)

Experience traditional Arabic food and entertainment at Al Hadheerah in Dubai.

For the ultimate experience in Arabian dining and entertainment, you have to go to one of Dubai's desert restaurants, of which there are quite a few to choose from. We loved Al Hadheerah, where you will enjoy a traditional feast of Arabic mezzah foods while watching belly dancers and listening to traditional instruments. They also have horse, camel and falconry shows as well as fireworks displays on Thursday and Friday nights.

TOMO (rooftop, modern Japanese)

Amazing views at TOMO, an authentic Japanese restaurant in Dubai.

If you're looking for something more modern, check out TOMO. Serving up authentic Japanese dishes with stunning views over Dubai creek, this is a great spot to go for a delicious dinner or even just sunset cocktails. Try the wagyu sukiyaki and watch it cooked beside your table. Don't forget to try a sweet dessert like their matcha green tea cake! TOMO is the perfect way to escape the hustle and bustle while still enjoying the twinkling lights from all those skyscrapers.

Pierchic (really fine dining, views, seafood)

For the pinnacle of romance and fine dining in Dubai, go to Pierchic!

Located at the end of the pier at Al Qasr Hotel, Pierchic is a Mediterranean seafood restaurant with captivating views across the Arabian Gulf. This is the epitome of romantic fine dining. The high-end seafood dishes include such delicacies as seared king scallops with foie gras or gin-and-tonic cured salmon! Of course, with this level of decadence, you can expect an equally impressive bill, but you can also feel good knowing that all the seafood is sustainably sourced and delivered fresh daily.

Arabian Tea House (traditional Emirati cuisine, Martha Stewart has been!)

Try some traditional Emirati cuisine at the Arabian Tea House in Dubai.

Another one of our favorite places to have authentic Emirati cuisine is the Arabian Tea House, a cafe and restaurant that strives to showcase traditional Arabic hospitality. The building used to be home to a pearl merchant but now gives off a secret garden vibe with cute wicker furniture in the leafy courtyard. They are open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner but don't serve alcohol. Instead, sample some of their many loose-leaf teas or a refreshing smoothie along with the Emirati meal platters.

Seva Experience (vegan food and wellness combined)

Life'n One is a vegan cafe and wellness centre in busy Dubai.

Technically a cafe, not a restaurant, we love Seva Experience because it is such an eclectic mix of wellness center/garden oasis/vegan cafe. This urban retreat located on Jumeirah Beach Road offers classes for yoga and meditation, naturopathic wellness treatments, reiki, or even aura and chakra readings. This is truly the place to come to find balance, peace, and healing. While you're there you can also relax in the rustic garden and eat some delicious vegan food! Come here to feel well, inside and out.

Best things to do in Dubai for gay travelers

There are so many amazing things to do in Dubai that you could easily spend weeks having the time of your life. These are our top ten favorite most romantic, exciting, and can't miss experiences for gay travelers in Dubai.

Helicopter Tour in Dubai

A helicopter tour over the city is an amazing experience for gay travellers to Dubai.

Can you think of anything more exciting and romantic than taking a helicopter ride over an amazing city like Dubai? There are so many stunning things to see in Dubai anyway, but seeing it from the sky on your own private helicopter ride is even better! It’s also surprisingly affordable to book your own short ride along the Persian Gulf Coast, taking in views of the Burj Al Arab, the Palm Islands and more. This is definitely an unforgettable experience that will make you feel like a rockstar!

Desert Safari

Gay travel to Dubai - Spend the night in the sand dunes with camels or 4WDs!

You can’t visit Dubai without experiencing a desert safari, especially if you go at night! Experience ‘dune-bashing’ in 4WD vehicles and/or camel-riding and even sandboarding depending on which company you use. This is also a great way to become acquainted with Arabian culture through food and dance. We recommend this safari since it includes everything mentioned above as well as pick-up and drop-off from your accommodation, a makeover and photo with a falcon, and possibly even quad-biking!

Burj Khalifa

Gay Dubai - Make sure you check out the views over Dubai from the Burj Khalifa during your visit.

The Burj Khalifa is one of the most amazing and famous skyscrapers in the world, and a must-visit when exploring Dubai. It’s the tallest building in the world so of course, the views are incredible. We think it's a good idea to book a tour which skips the lines so you can enjoy your time on the observation deck and learning about the history of the Burj Khalifa.

Dubai Fountain Show

Gay travellers to Dubai shouldn't miss the stunning fountain show.

When visiting the Burj Khalifa make sure to stop and experience the breathtaking fountain show that is located in the Dubai Lake. This is the largest choreographed fountain show in the world, with lights and water reaching up to 500 feet into the air. The show is accompanied by a mix of classical, contemporary and Arabian music. There are performances at 1:00 and 1:30 p.m. during the day, and every 30 minutes at night. You can even watch the fountain show from a boat on the lake!

Dubai Mall

Gay travellers will enjoy shopping up a storm at the huge Dubai mall.

Next to the Burj Khalifa and surrounding park (as well as the fountain) is the massive Dubai mall complex. This is the second-largest shopping mall in the world and definitely a must-visit if only to marvel at the shops and attractions. Of course, with over 1,200 shops you could also do some serious retail therapy. The Dubai Mall is also home to cinemas, an indoor theme park, a haunted house, aquarium and lots of cafés and restaurants.

Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo

Gay travel to Dubai - Make sure you marvel at the ocean life during a visit to the Dubai aquarium.

If you do visit the Dubai Mall you definitely need to explore the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo. There are over 300 marine animals on display, including sharks, a massive Australian crocodile and manta rays. As well as being able to walk through tunnels and see shark and ray feedings, you can even go diving with the sharks! Or perhaps you might prefer to simply feed them and have a behind-the-scenes tour with this day-pass.

Dubai Miracle Garden

Gay Dubai - Explore the stunning designs at the Dubai Miracle Garden.

If you are visiting Dubai between November and May then the amazing floral creations of Dubai Miracle Garden are another not-to-be-missed attraction. You may have seen photos on Instagram of this stunning garden, but nothing can prepare you for seeing (and smelling!) its 150 million flowers arranged in fantastic displays. Highlights include a floral castle, an Emirates A380 aeroplane and lots of figures such as Mickey Mouse and a giant teddy bear; all made from flowers!

Palm Jumeirah

Gay travelers to Dubai will have a ball exploring the Palm Jumeirah man-made island.

You could easily spend a whole day exploring the Palm Jumeirah; the artificial archipelago built in the shape of a palm tree. This island is home to many hotels and resorts such as the famous Atlantis the Palm, and also houses a boardwalk, mall, clubs and lots of restaurants. Even if you’re not staying there, you can visit Atlantis the Palm to swim with dolphins, eat at Nobu restaurant or just enjoy the huge Aquaventure Waterpark!

Aquaventure Waterpark

If you enjoy waterparks then the huge Aquaventure Waterpark Dubai is a must-visit for gay travellers.

Aquaventure Waterpark is one of the most popular attractions in Dubai, and it’s easy to see why. This massive waterpark has some thrilling water-slides and activities for adults. One of the slides even goes through a shark tank, but you can just relax on the beach if you’re not a thrill-seeker! You can also purchase combined tickets to explore the Lost Chambers adventure, which is based on the story of the city of Atlantis.

Day Trip to Abu Dhabi

If you have time during your Dubai visit then a day-trip to Abu Dhabi is a must. Both cities are safe for gay travellers who are careful to avoid PDAs!

Since it’s less than two hours away, you should also visit Abu Dhabi for a day while you’re staying in Dubai. This beautiful city is the capital of the United Arab Emirates and home to some stunning sights; such as the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the Emirates Palace and the Etihad Towers.  If you’d like to visit the capital city without worrying about public transport, book this day-trip and learn about the history of the UAE as you explore! Check out our travel guide to Abu Dhabi for more inspiration.

Before you go

We've put together our best travel tips to help you plan your vacation in Dubai. This is everything the gay traveller should know before going to Dubai:

Travel insurance: we recommend you always take out travel insurance before your next vacation. What happens if you suffer from illness, injury, theft or a cancellation? With travel insurance, you can have peace of mind and not worry. We love Heymondo travel insurance and have been using it for years. Their comprehensive coverage is second to none and their online claims process is very user friendly.

How to get there: Most visitors fly to Dubai and land at Dubai International Airport, the world's busiest aiport by passenger traffic. From the airport, you can reach downtown Dubai on public transport (the metro or bus) or by private shuttle, taxi or Uber. The most convenient way to reach the city is to organise a private transfer with Welcome Pickups. They are reliable, on time and you get a big car all to yourself with an English speaking local driver who points out the most important points of the city.

Visa requirements: Passport holders from parts of Europe, North America and Australia can get a 30-day visa upon arrival at the airport in Dubai. Citizens from some other countries can get a 90-day multiple entry visa. Go here for more information about visa requirements for travel to Dubai.

Currency: The United Arab Emirates Dirham, or just dirham, is the official currency and is abbreviated to AED. €1 converts to around 4.14 AED and $1 is about 3.67 AED.

Tipping culture: The level of service in Dubai is well-known, however, you don't have to tip unless you want to. Restaurants usually include taxes and service charges in the bill but you can tip if you enjoyed the service. For things such as taxis (which are quite cheap), it's always appreciated if you give a little tip, such as rounding up to the nearest note.

Internet access: Dubai is very modern and this is reflected by the fact that there is now free Wifi throughout much of the city, including on public transport. You will get enough kilobytes to access social media or use WhatsApp for free, but not enough for watching videos etc. Most cafés and restaurants will also have Wifi available, you may need to ask for the password. You might also like to pre-order a local SIM card when you arrive, or a portable Wifi device if you know you will be requiring a lot of bandwidth.

Online privacy: remember that you will not be able to use gay dating apps like Grindr or Scruff unless you are using a VPN to ensure your privacy. We like to use ExpressVPN when travelling, it's reliable, affordable and protects your privacy.

Accommodation: Dubai has a vast range of accommodation options. We love using because not only do they have a comprehensive listing of accommodation options, they also offer the best prices. Added bonus: they provide 24/7 support and free cancellation for most listings.

Sightseeing and adventure: Dubai has something to offer for everyone. Our favorite place to look for cool activities to do in Dubai is GetYourGuide because they provide a ery user-friendly booking process with free cancellation and a 24 hour customer support.

Should you boycott Dubai?

Let's call a spade a spade…it's illegal to be gay in Dubai, so any public displays of affection between gay couples, even accidental ones, are likely to get you into trouble. As a general rule, we don't avoid visiting a destination just because it has anti-gay laws as we believe boycotting such places is counter-productive. We wrote about this at length in our article about gay travel in Iran.

Having said that, thousands of LGBTQ travellers visit Dubai every day, whilst others reside here without any problems at all. Obviously this is not in any way like San Francisco or Madrid, but if you stay in the closet in public and take care with who you hang out with, and where, you'll be absolutely fine. It goes without saying you should be astute and aware at all times, and stay in the closet when in public for your own safety!

Gay map of Dubai

This is our gay map to Dubai to show you where everything we've mentioned in this article is located. Use it to find out where all the best gay friendly hotels, bars and activities are for your own visit to Dubai!

Our map of the best gay friendly accommodation, bars and activities in Dubai.

For more inspiration:

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We explore whether Gay Dubai is safe for gay travellers
Stefan Arestis

Hey everyone, I'm Stefan, the curly-haired Greek flavor behind the gay travel blog Nomadic Boys. Together with my other half, I have explored more than 90 countries across 5 continents. What I love most about traveling is discovering the local gay scene, making new friends, learning new cultures. I've written about LGBTQ travel in numerous online publications such as Gaycation Magazine, Gaycities, Gay Times and Pink News as well as for other non-gay-specific publications including Lonely Planet, The New York Times, The Guardian, and The Huffington Post. Check my full bio here.


Tuesday 20th of June 2023

How can I find a serious young friend in Dubei who likes to be pampered and pampered ??

Stefan Arestis

Sunday 25th of June 2023

Don't think you'll struggle much.

Glenn M

Sunday 28th of March 2021

I love the UAE! I traveled to Dubai and Abu Dhabi during COVID19 in Nov. 2020 and stayed a month. I felt so safe from the virus and felt so sage as a single gay guy. Many of the hotel and restaurant workers were overseas Filipino or South Asian workers. No one really cares. In fact, since I’m Filipino-American it was nice to connect. PDA is frowned upon in general – you won’t find the straight folks kissing in public either. I would suggest staying at a Western Brand Hotel, I stayed at The Hilton Jumeirah in the Marina on the water and folks take good care of you and are highly respectful and friendly. The most problems I got was when I came back to America, told people I went and got ignorant push back.

Stefan Arestis

Monday 29th of March 2021

Really pleased to hear :)


Monday 18th of May 2020

If you're a rich white person from the west, the authorities will turn a blind eye once you're not to obvious with your sexuality eg waving a rainbow flag and screaming love is love :P. In Dubai, money matters most. Once you're a tourist, stay in the closet and keep it on the down low you'll be 100% fine. Once you don't show PDA the authorities will not really care. Oh and Scruff is 100% Ok, used it without a vpn. Grindr and the others are banned, so is video calling on what's app.

The local lgbt emiratis and the poorer working class expats from developing nations are the ones that need to be very careful about shariah law. But even with them once it's all down low it's pretty ok.

Stefan Arestis

Monday 18th of May 2020

Good to know! Thanks for this Alec :)


Wednesday 29th of April 2020

I'm also gay and I love to travel. I don't have any idea that they have a very strict law when it comes to homosexuality. Thank you so much for sharing this. You save my life!

Stefan Arestis

Wednesday 29th of April 2020

I'm super pleased :)


Sunday 26th of April 2020

Nice article πŸ‘ŒπŸ˜

Stefan Arestis

Sunday 26th of April 2020

Thanks :)