At first, it never crossed my mind that Dubai might be an unsafe place for women. After all, I saw luxurious hotels with fancy pools and women wearing bikinis on a TV. Dubai was portrayed to me as a futuristic and modern metropolis with equal rights for everyone. The question is: are the rights equal for everyone? In the United States and most of the western countries media shows Muslim countries as oppressing women’s freedom. This thought scared me a little but the Dubai trip was booked, and I couldn’t do anything about it.
When I arrived at Dubai airport in the evening hours, I took Uber to my hotel. I took Uber pretty much everywhere in Dubai. Public transportation is pretty limited there, so taxis and Uber are the most convenient options. My first Uber ride in Dubai was pleasant and fast. I was picked up by a black Lexus, and the driver was acting very professional. After that ride, I told myself that a woman traveler in Dubai can be safe. This made me feel better.
Uber and taxis in Dubai
Unfortunately, next Uber ride was much different. The driver looked unhappy and kept looking at me in his mirror. He looked dissatisfied with my outfit even thru I was fully covered (except my head). Just a friendly reminder: there are clothing rules in Dubai! He asked to look at my phone before I left his car. I thought that it was a bizarre request. There were more unfriendly drivers like this during my Dubai trip. They all had one thing in common. Looked annoyed and dissatisfied with a western woman look and clothing. Fortunately, there were also super polite Uber drivers, who smiled, had a small conversation with me and even opened the doors. It just all depends on a person. I have to mention that I didn’t see any women who were Uber or taxi drivers.
Walking by yourself in Dubai
I felt safe walking around Dubai especially the more touristy spots. Walking at night might be a different story especially in certain areas. I walked at night from Dubai Mall to my hotel, which was only a few blocks away and I felt safe. Many tourists were walking down the streets, and that made me feel more at peace. However, I would not walk around Dubai Creek at night by myself or even with someone else. While walking there during a day, I was harassed and started at. Made me feel very uncomfortable.
Public transportation in Dubai is limited but safe. There are special train carts just for women and children. I saw subway “police” escorting male tourist from the female cart. On another occasion, I saw women kicking out a man from the women-only cart. It was a pretty entertaining show.
From my personal experience, Dubai is safe for female travelers as long as they are being smart. This rule applies to any place you travel to. Muslim or not a Muslim country. Don’t let any stereotypes to discourage you from going to some areas. Trust your intuition, and you will be safe.