UAE Local Laws
Dubai is a modest country
Are you travelling to the United Arab Emirates soon? If so, there are a few customs and laws to keep in-mind. While the UAE is slowly is a cosmopolitan location, it follows a set of rules and conducts that differ from those of Western societies.
Dubai’s laws and customs are rooted in showing respect
exercising common sense
Drugs aren’t tolerated in the UAE (including marijuana, which is legally accepted in many Western countries).
Penalties for possessing, smuggling, or selling drugs are severe. They range from a minimum of 4 years in prison, to death penalties.
Also, some medical drugs with psychotropic or narcotic effects aren’t allowed. For a list of quantities and drugs you may bring along, check the UAE Ministry of Health web page.
The legal drinking Age in Abu Dhabi is 18 – but hotels aren’t allowed to serve alcohol to those under 21. Non-Muslims in the UAE can acquire liquor licenses for drinking – either at home, or at licensed locations.
A license is issued for an emirate (equivalent to state). So a license in one emirate doesn’t provide drinking permissions in another. Also, getting a liquor license requires you be a resident of a state, though there are exceptions.
Tourists in Dubai can get a 1 month license from its 2 official distributors. Additionally, they’ll be given a document to verify whether they understand the rules related to buying, consuming, and transporting liquor.
UAE law forbids being intoxicated or under the influence in public. Individuals of all nationalities can be taken into custody and charged, especially if intoxication results in offensive or disorganized behavior.
This also applies to intoxicated passengers in transit through the United Arab Emirates.
Relationships Outside Marriage
UAE laws and social customs don’t allow sex outside of marriage – regardless of the relationship you have with a partner. If it’s found that there’s a sexual relationship under those lines, you risk prosecution, deportation, or imprisonment.
Also, those norms also extend to living space. Those in a relationship outside of marriage aren’t allowed to live together. Also, you aren’t allowed to share a hotel room with someone of the opposite sex (unless they’re a close relative).
If you do become pregnant outside of marriage, you risk imprisonment and deportation (along with your partner). You might be asked for proof of marriage during ante-natal checks.
Also, if you’re unmarried and have a child, you might have issues registering your newborn in the UAE, which may also lead to arrestment or deportation.
The UAE doesn’t recognize same-sex relationships or marriages. For the most part, the UAE is a tolerant place that respects private life. However, there have been locations where individuals were published for same-sex sexual activities (especially if it involved public displays of affection).
This also applies to expats and tourists. And in that location, we recommend reading in-depth about LGBT rights before travelling.
Public Displays of Affection
Those are frowned upon in the UAE, regardless of marital status. And there have been situations where couples were arrested for kissing in public.
Media Laws and Regulations
UAE laws don’t allow photography or media material within many military and government installations. Also, you’re not allowed to post material (such as photos and videos) that are critical of Emirati companies, people, or the government.
Ridiculing the government is considered a punishable crime. Also, it’s preferable if you do not photograph people in public (and especially women on beaches, which has led to arrests before).
A license is required for media productions, transmitting information, and transmitting information related to UAE authorities. For more information on the licensing required, we recommend visiting the National Media Council Website!
The biggest risk to your safety in Dubai is yourself
United Arab Emirates is a Muslim state governed by Sharia Law. Stress-free stay.