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Salt Bae Shows Off Dh90,000 Tip; Here's What To Know About Tipping In The UAE

While many in the Middle East are open to tipping, some people simply do not agree with the philosophy of tipping 20% of the bill.
Cover Image Source: Nusret Goekce aka Salt Bae | Getty Images |  Lars Baron
Cover Image Source: Nusret Goekce aka Salt Bae | Getty Images | Lars Baron

Salt Bae, the popular Turkish butcher and chef, is once again making headlines for flaunting a Dh398630 ($1,08,546.95) bill that a group of diners paid at his Dubai Restaurant, Nusr-Et Steakhouse, last week.  The internet sensation ignited controversy after he took to Instagram to post the image of the Dh90,000 tip, which is approximately $24,000. 

"Money comes, money goes," bragged the restaurateur on Instagram, beside an image of a Dh398,630 bill.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Nusr_et#Saltbae (@nusr_et)


Nusret Gokce, aka Salt Bae, did not second-guess his decision to flash the cash in any way. The diners placed an order for beef carpaccio, golden steak, French fries, golden baklava, fruit platter, as well as Turkish coffee. Their drinks included, four porn star martinis, two bottles of Chateau Petrus 2009, one bottle of Petrus 2011, and five double glasses of the exclusive Louis XIII cognac neat. In the receipt, it was also pretty clear that the diner shelled out a whopping DH90,000 ($24,500) in tips.

As you may already know, tipping culture varies from country to country, and the tipping culture in the UAE is a bit complicated.

Pexels | Karolina Grabowska
Pexels | Karolina Grabowska

While many in the Middle East are open to tipping, some people simply do not agree with the philosophy of tipping 20% of the bill.

This American food consultant Courtney Brandt states that tipping for food delivery like valet and beauty is understandable. "Because of what I do, I get most of my things complimentary,” she says. "I will still occasionally tip on comped experiences, but for the most part I look at my invitation as a whole complementary experience," via National News.

Another survey found that UAE consumers are the second-biggest tippers who leave at least an average gratuity of 8.2 percent after Americans.

The survey also found that only 10.2 percent of those asked in the survey did not freely tip in the restaurants and most of the gratuities were a relatively very small proportion as compared to the bill. The country, however, boasts the highest proportion which is 5.8 percent of those who tip 26 percent and sometimes more, defining the nation's diversity in tipping culture. 

Reif Othman, a chef, says, "You'll find some tourists and locals who do tip, but it's not the norm. A lot of people figure with the service charge already factored in, tipping isn't necessary. It's not something we enforce, but it's a nice little bonus for the team when it happens."

"Ultimately, tipping remains at the discretion of the guest, but it is generally not expected as a standard practice in the region. However, I feel when it comes to invites, people should leave at least a small tip to show their appreciation for the team and the service they have provided."


According to him, the average percentage of tips is somewhere between 10% to 15% where no service charges are applied. Even in the the UAE. some people refrain from tipping and the most common reason they give is poor service. 

"I think Dubai is quite bad at tipping," says Ellie Keene, who is the founder of hospitality PR agency Keene PR. "Our culture is very much based on packages, whether brunch, ladies night, or a special dinner package.

"This means that you can easily forget about tipping because you’ve paid in advance or have a set amount in your mind."

There is no set rule when it comes to tipping and it often depends on the kind of service and satisfaction you as a customer are. However, as per Modern Etiquette Consultancy coach Samira Hammadi, there are certain tipping trends that one should keep in mind. 

Getty Images | Johannes Simon
Getty Images | Johannes Simon

"The unwritten guide for tipping in restaurants is between 10 to 15 percent of the total bill," she says.

"Customers have the flexibility to adjust the percentage, however, based on the quality of service and their level of satisfaction. A tip should be withheld if the service delivered falls short of the customer's satisfaction, such as instances of rudeness or a lack of effort from the staff," she concludes.