Am I expected to tip in Dubai?
The short answer is both yes and no. It’s certainly not mandatory. Many people tip in Dubai, but many also don’t. It largely depends on personal preference and the quality of service. The following guidelines can help you figure out if you should tip and how much you should tip.
How do People Tip?
Tipping in Dubai is largely up to the person receiving the service. You’ll see people tipping in a lot of different ways, and it’s largely based on the culture of the country they are from.
For British (who largely influence the culture in Dubai), tipping is generally 12.5 to 15% of the restaurant bill in their home country (as long as there is no service charge). It’s customary to tip cabs at 10% of the ride cost and, for tour guides, generally about 10-15% of the total cost of the tour, depending on the quality of the service.
For Americans, tipping is heavily ingrained in the culture. They’re known for leaving good tips to tour guides and giving 10-20% at restaurants in Dubai.
For Australians, tipping is more open-ended. In Australia, you don’t have to tip, but you can if you want. For this reason, Australians in Dubai may tip for services that go above and beyond the call of duty or when people just do an especially good job.
As you can see, westerners travelling and living in Dubai truly do bring their own tipping cultures with them. There are no hard and fast rules. Tip if you feel the service deserves it—the extra money will certainly be appreciated.
What services deserve a tip?
Here’s a quick overview of services in Dubai and how tipping usually works:
- Wait staff: Service charges are included in the bill, but it’s still common for diners in Dubai to tip. Service industry salaries aren’t particularly high, so tipping 10-15% is very much appreciated.
- Taxi drivers: Ride services in Dubai are plentiful and low-priced. Tipping a few AED is more common with this service.
- Bellhops and valets: A service charge isn’t included. We recommend tipping AED 5 to 10, especially if the staff did more than the norm like carrying heavy bags.
- Delivery drivers: At the very least, don’t ask for change if it’s minimal. Tip more if you feel the service is worth it.
- Tour guides: It’s not necessary but certainly welcome, especially if the tour was good. Americans have been known to tip AED 100 or more for day tours, especially if the guide is especially helpful.
- Spa/beauty specialists: Feel free to leave 10 to 20 AED if the service is good or if it took a long time (like a massage). Like with other services, tipping is not mandatory, though.
Again, these are just guidelines to follow. In Dubai, you don’t have to tip, as a service charge is built into the prices (especially with restaurants). It won’t be considered rude if you don’t leave the staff any dirhams.
With that said, remember that the service charge goes to the business—not directly to the staff that served you. If you feel the wait staff, driver, or tour guide did a good job, then maybe you should tip. After all, you may find it necessary to reward those who are working hard to make your experience in Dubai unforgettable.
Enjoy you trip to Dubai!