Laws and traditions in the UAE vary greatly from those in the world. It is especially important to watch what you say and do during the holy month of Ramadan and in religious locations to avoid offending anyone.
Even though your action is technically legal in most other countries, it might nonetheless carry severe repercussions in Muslim countries. You should learn about and adhere to the customs and laws of the place you’re visiting.
We’ve categorized laws and cultural rules that you better know before visiting the UAE in order to avoid disrespecting your hosts or getting in trouble for breaking the law.
Doing or Carrying Drugs in UAE
Drug crimes will not be tolerated under any circumstances. Drug trafficking, smuggling, and possession (of any quantity) carry harsh punishments. The death penalty is an option for sentences involving drug trafficking.
A minimum of three months in jail or a fine of AED 20,000 to even AED 100,000 applies to possession of any amount of prohibited drug use. The presence of narcotics in one’s bloodstream is considered possession by Emirati law enforcement.
In the United Arab Emirates, natural stimulants like Spice are prohibited. Punishable by jail time and a fine, possessing or hiding the proceeds of a drug crime or making a transaction with such funds is itself a criminal offense.
Airports in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) serve as intermediate stops for many passengers. Because of the high level of security at UAE airports, even trace quantities of narcotics might result in a passenger’s detention.
Ingredients like cannabidiol (CBD) oil are prohibited in the United Arab Emirates and may be included in cosmetic products and E-cigarette refills. Possession of such items will result in confiscation and possible legal action.
Drinking alcohol in the UAE
In the United Arab Emirates, alcoholic beverages may be consumed legally at both private residences and public establishments. Residents in Dubai still need a liquor license in order to buy alcohol for personal consumption. However, this is no longer the case in Abu Dhabi or any of the other Emirates (with the exception of Sharjah).
Tourists can get a temporary liquor license from one of Dubai’s two recognized liquor distributors for a period of one month. Visitors visiting Dubai will be given a code of behavior paper and asked to sign a statement indicating they have read and understood the laws governing the sale, transport, and use of alcoholic beverages in the city. This license is valid only inside the boundaries of the issuing Emirate.
While visitors and tourists cannot get liquor licenses in the other Emirates, they can purchase and consume alcoholic beverages in hotels, restaurants, and clubs that have obtained such permits. It’s important to note, however, that public intoxication or drinking is illegal in the United Arab Emirates.
Although the legal drinking age in Abu Dhabi is 18, hotels are not allowed to provide alcoholic drinks to anybody under the age of 21 due to a bylaw passed by the Ministry of Tourism. The legal age for drinking in Dubai and the other emirates (with the exception of Sharjah) is 21. In Sharjah, drinking alcohol is against the law.
Having a sexual relationship outside of wedlock in the UAE
Extramarital sexual partnerships, as well as consensual sexual relationships between men and women who are older than 18, are legal in the United Arab Emirates. However, both participants in an extramarital consenting sexual connection shall be subject to a prison term of not less than six months if the spouse or parent, or guardian of either individual files a criminal complaint.
If one partner in a sexual connection is a minor, the other partner who is above 18 will be prosecuted for engaging in sexual activity with a minor. If the defendant and the alleged victim are both under the age of 18, they will both face criminal charges, but the penalties are likely to be restricted to warnings, monitoring by parents or courts, professional training, or mental care.
Taking photos & videos in the UAE
Some government and military facilities prohibit photography. Don’t take pictures of people without asking beforehand. A number of guys have been detained for taking pictures of ladies on beaches. Bird watching and plane spotting are popular hobbies, but they might be misunderstood if practiced too close to airports, military bases, or government facilities.
It is possible that content (including videos and photos) posted online that is critical of the UAE government, companies, or individuals, that is related to incidents in the UAE, or that appears to abuse, ridicule, or criticize the country or its authorities, or that is culturally insensitive, is illegal under UAE law. Some people have been arrested, charged, and/or convicted for sharing such content online.
The authorities in the UAE demand previous approval for any media activity involving the creation, transmission, or sharing of written, electronic, audible, visual, or other forms of information. If you violate the law, you might go to jail and have to pay a hefty fine.
Top 7 must things to know when visiting the UAE
- In Dubai, it is against the law to expose skin or wear clothing that falls below the knees in public. Since the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is not a democracy and adheres to Islamic and Sharia law, you must dress modestly and cover your shoulders at all times.
- Even visitors from faraway places like Australia or the United States must observe certain customs during the holy and sacred month of Ramadan. Due to the fact that Muslims fast throughout the month of Ramadan, tourists are asked to refrain from eating, chewing gum, and drinking water in public. Everyone must abide by the regulations or serious consequences may result. Between the hours of sunrise and dusk, no food or liquid should be consumed this month.
- Visitors to Dubai for the first time should know that using swearing is frowned upon there. The Islamic regulations enforced in Dubai are highly complicated and sophisticated. Therefore, think carefully about the words you choose to use. Not everything that is acceptable in your own country will be tolerated in Dubai. Avoid using profanity in any public setting when in Dubai.
- The only thing that isn’t great is the summer. The importance of the UAE’s summers cannot be overstated. They can be so strenuous and severe that they’re intolerable. During the hot summer months, most individuals prefer to spend their time indoors, at stores, or at other places with air conditioning. Those who enjoy desert excursions in Dubai should be aware of how hot the summers may get.
- Westerners often exaggerate the number of gambling establishments in Dubai. There should be at least one casino in Dubai, but instead, there is none, nowhere in the United Arab Emirates. If you want to have a good time in Dubai, you should remember this.
- Sunday is not a day of rest but rather a regular workday in the UAE. Due to the holiday on Friday, the weekend really begins on Thursday in the UAE. While most nations observe Sunday as a day of rest, this is not the case in the UAE, where Saturday is the weekend day.
- Those planning a trip to the UAE for the sole purpose of shopping should be aware of the high prices. Residents of Dubai spend a lot of time window shopping in shopping centers. The only time the rates are low is during the sale season. Do yourself a favor and hold off until the next sale season.
The rules and laws mentioned above are only a few of the many restrictions that every foreigner or tourist to the UAE should be aware of. The UAE is unlike any other Western country since it is governed by Sharia law, which results in quite diverse regulations and laws. These are assumed in every human being. There are severe repercussions for breaking the rules. Hope this article helps you stay away from trouble and have a good time in this beautiful country.