Traveling to Dubai

Traveling to Dubai – What You Need to Know

Planning a trip to Dubai? Read this first.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a federation of seven states formed in 1971 after independence from Britain.

Since then, it has become one of the Middle East’s most important economic centers.

Although Dubai has become a popular holiday destination, many people must know the strict laws there. The country’s laws reflect its Muslim tradition. Tourists unaware of these laws may suffer the consequences.

Entering/leaving the country

Travelers to the UAE often need to learn about the potential risks they are taking.

There have been cases of tourists being arrested and even sentenced for doing (or possessing) things that in their own countries would be minor transgressions or even perfectly legal.

For example, pork products and pornography are banned in the UAE. There is also a strict zero-tolerance drug policy.

Travelers can even be deemed to have banned substances if traces can be detected in their urine or bloodstream or even in tiny amounts on their person. Having an illegal substance, no matter how small, can attract a minimum sentence of four years in prison.

A British man was sentenced to four years in prison after a trace of cannabis was found stuck to his shoe. In one very extreme case, a Swiss national was detained after poppy seeds from a bread roll he had eaten were found on his clothes.

Besides illegal substances, there have been cases where travelers have been detained for carrying prescription drugs such as codeine.

If you need to carry prescription drugs, you are advised to check the status of your medicines before bringing them into the country. It is also advisable to bring a doctor’s letter stating the need for the drug and the dosage.

In the Country

Aside from drugs, here are some other laws which you should keep in mind when traveling in the United Arab Emirates.

  • Swearing in public is considered an obscene act, and you could be arrested for it.
  • Public displays of affection (including things like kissing or holding hands) could also lead to an arrest if deemed to be offensive.
  • Homosexual behavior and cross-dressing are forbidden by law.
  • Anywhere other than the beach or swimming pool, a woman’s clothing could be deemed inappropriate if it is tight, transparent, above the knee, or showing her stomach, back, or shoulders.
  • Alcohol consumption is only permitted in licensed hotels and clubs. Being drunk or drinking in public is an offense.
  • Driving after consuming any amount of alcohol is against the law.
  • Photographing of certain government buildings is banned and you should always ask before taking pictures of people.
  • During the month of Ramadan, you should not eat, drink, or smoke in public places.