Dubai is popular worldwide as a destination for leisure and business travels. Most recent data released by Dubai Tourism revealed that about 16 million people visited the city in 2018.
It’s important to note that the United Arab Emirates, including Dubai, have strict rules on drugs and alcohol and personal conduct, with some visitors landing in jail for falling foul of the law. Here’s what you should know before travelling to Dubai to avoid falling into trouble there.
Foreign nationals are often arrested in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for what are harmless things at home which has made many countries to regularly issue advisories to their citizens intending to visit the Middle Eastern nation.
The UK’s Foreign Office, in its newly-updated advisory, has again reminded British citizens going to the UAE, including Dubai, that they are not allowed to travel with alcohol and drugs.
It also warned that the UAE, predominantly a Muslim country and with traditions and laws unlike other countries, count drugs in the blood stream as possession, a charge which carries a minimum four-year prison sentence.
Other items prohibited, according to the Foreign Office, include CBD oil, either on its own or as an ingredient in things such as e-cigarette refills, and skincare goods.
Suspects caught with these substances stand the risk of being sentenced to jail.
“There is zero tolerance for drugs-related offences,” the Foreign Office wrote in its updated travel advice page for the UAE. “The penalties for trafficking, smuggling and possession of drugs (even residual amounts) are severe. Sentences for drug trafficking can include the death penalty. Some herbal highs, like Spice, are illegal in the UAE.”
While alcohol is allowed in certain hotels, restaurants and clubs in Dubai, it is against the law to be drunk in public. There have been several high-profile cases of Brits being arrested for being under the influence of alcohol in the emirate.
The London Daily Mirror recently reported that there have been cases of Brits arrested for being under the influence of alcohol in the emirate.
Dr Ellie Holman, 44, who lives in Sevenoaks, Kent, was jailed in Dubai after drinking a glass of wine while flying to the UAE on 13 July, the newspaper reported. On her arrival, she was grilled over her visa and the red wine she was given by Emirates staff on the plane.
The woman was arrested as she filmed an immigration officer with her mobile phone and was charged with three crimes including ‘alcohol abuse’. She was jailed for three days before being released and allowed to go home.
A Nigerian man was arrested in June at the Dubai International Airport with a total of 18.2 kg of drugs, according to Khaleej Times, a daily English language newspaper based in Dubai.
He was said to have been sentenced to seven years imprisonment in addition to a 50,000 dirham ($13,612) fine. The man, who denied the charges in court, will also be deported after serving his sentence.
Other general advices to would-be UAE visitors to ensure a memorable stay are:
- Dress appropriately in public. Generally, nothing should be too short and material should not be see-through. Furthermore, clothes emblazoned with logos or slogans that could be offensive should be avoided
- Don’t display affection in public. Kissing and hugging in public are not tolerated
- Don’t lose your temper or be visibly angry in public and do not use obscene language
- Don’t take photographs of government buildings. …
- Don’t eat or drink in public during Ramadan. Throughout this period eating, drinking, smoking, playing loud music and dancing in public places during daylight hours are strictly forbidden. Muslims and Non-Muslims will face punishment by law for breaking these rules
- An unmarried couple cohabiting is illegal in Dubai. Cohabiting, including in hotels, is also illegal, however most hotels in Dubai do not enforce an ‘only married couples’ rule.
Enjoy your trip whenever you choose to visit the UAE!
Vivian Asamoah & Raphael Adenaike