UAE witness a significant footfall of tourist every year and have an equally large number of expat population. Thanks to western media and few travel bloggers, UAE has a strong image when it comes to tourists and expats getting arrested for illegal activities. Often the arrest happens because of the lack of knowledge people have about UAE law and its implications. However, ignorance can’t be claimed as an excuse to legal offence anywhere in the world.
The UAE law is fundamentally different from many European and Asian nations. Many of the rules in UAE are based on Sharia Law. Not just UAE, many Middle Eastern countries follow Sharia Law and have the death penalty for serious crimes such as murder, rape, drug trafficking, and treason. There are many other activities which are considered illegal in the UAE and may invite legal trouble. Best way to protect yourself from getting involved in a legal issue is to know the list of laws which might put you in trouble.
Here’s the list on can keep in handy or better by heart before travelling or moving to UAE.
- Cross Dressing
Cross-dressing can not only get you arrested but even jailed. If you must, then please pleasure yourself in private.
- Public Display of Affection
Even a minor display of affection in public places have invited arrest for many. Things like holding hands and kissing are socially unacceptable in the UAE. We recommend that even if you are in the confines of your hotels, don’t go overboard
- Dancing in Public
Many cities in the UAE have a good number of night clubs and have exclusive licenses to operate. Other than that, any dancing in public places for any reason is considered illegal.
- Swearing or Making Rude Gesture in Public
Using obscene or vulgar language in public is not at all accepted in the UAE. One must even refrain from using rude gestures which might come naturally to many. For example, there had been a considerable number of arrests so far where tourists have shown middle fingers to someone.
- Not being Appropriately Dressed in Public
Public nudity, topless, sunbathing, are far from the definition of appropriate dressing in the UAE. To the contrary, there is no definition actually to describe what is unappropriated dressing. Travellers and expats must take a cue from the people around even ask for advice from locals. Just a heads up, you must be more cautious while in Sharjah and Ajman as these places are considered to be more conservative.
- Having sex out of wedlock or living with someone without marriage
It is illegal for unmarried couples to have sex or even share a hotel room together. Though many international hotels do not check for marital status, it’s better to be safe than sorry. At times this rule even causes harm to some of the rape victims as they can be arrested on the pretence of having an extramarital affair even if the girl is minor. It’s better to have a lawyer by your side when you go to report a sexual offence to the authorities.
- Drinking alcohol in public or a non-licensed place
Drinking alcohol in the UAE is not illegal until and unless you are consuming it at the confines of your home or licensed establishment. Even after that if you are caught drunk outside these places, you may get arrested.
- Promoting a charity on social media
For promoting any charitable organization in the UAE, you must seek a license from the concerned authority. So, before you hit share on social media, make sure the organization has necessary permissions in place.
- Posting anything on social media which is anti-UAE
Posting or sharing anything which any material which shows the UAE or the royal family in a bad light is an illegal offence.
- Public Protest
To organize or conduct a large rally or gathering in the UAE is illegal. Any gathering which aims to show outrage towards the government or the royal family can invite severe legal consequences for all the participants. You may be looking at deportation, jail term, and/or fine.
- Photography laws
Photography may be your passion but do use your due diligence while clicking pictures in the UAE. Taking photographs of anybody without their permission is illegal. It goes especially for women and minors. Similarly, posting any pictures online without their consent is also not legal. Posting images of accidents on social media are also not allowed even if you have been a part of that accident. However, you can use them to show the authorities.
We hope we got you covered for your travel and work visit to UAE. Please understand though these laws may sound a bit different from your home country, the rules of a nation are determined by social and cultural norms followed by the people of the land. Every traveller must respect the rules of our country. After all, the strict laws and their effective implementation are one of the main reasons why the UAE has such a low crime rate even compare to many developed nations.