Home Visit Dubai How to not get arrested in Dubai! Guide to the UAE’s laws

How to not get arrested in Dubai! Guide to the UAE’s laws

by Danni B

Recently it was reported in several British newspapers that a woman was arrested for drinking a glass of wine on a Emirates flight (check it out here). The Dubai government issued an official statement stating she was arrested for trying to enter with an expired passport and insulting an immigration official. So I decided to write an article in response about how not to get arrested in Dubai.

I will be mostly covering visiting as a tourist. As a resident, you are typically more aware of the rules or at least I hope you are. For more information about the lifestyle in Dubai. Check out my article Living in Dubai – Most commonly asked questions.

Check your travel documents and visa entry requirements before you travel

A lot of countries are able to get a visa on arrival but your passport must have a minimum of six months validity. As is common for most countries. They may also ask for return flight details. Use the official government website here to find out more.

Be respectful towards to police and other officials

Be polite. Say thanks and don’t argue. From experience, police and officials are very helpful in Dubai. Normally they give you a verbal warning before any action is taken. If an official or police officer tells you what you’re doing isn’t appropriate. Listen and apologise. If you’re not sure what to do, ask what they think is best.

Be respectful to UAE tradition and local customs

Public displays of affection are frowned upon and can land you in jail. Swearing in public is not allowed. Flipping someone off while driving can land you in jail or with a large fine. I can’t cover everything that will get you arrested; so make sure you read up before you travel.

Don’t act drunk in public

Remember to be sensible. The same as any country. If you’ve drank too much; get yourself home in a taxi and sleep it off. It is illegal to be drunk in public. If you don’t think you can act respectfully when you’ve had drink, don’t drink. It’s that simple. Millions of people come to Dubai each year and enjoy a drink without getting into trouble.


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Don’t do or bring drugs

It seems a fairly obvious rule for how to not get arrested in Dubai. The UAE is very strict when it comes to any form of drugs and even small amounts can land you in jail. Which is before you’re deported. This is certainly one reason which you do not want to get arrested in Dubai for.

Check your prescriptive drugs before you pack them

Some medications are illegal in the UAE and these can get you arrested when in your possession. If you do need to take a prescription with you, you may need a doctors letter. So it is best to check with your doctor, pharmacist or even your airline customer services. Useful information is available here.

Check UAE customs laws for other items

Certain items and foods are not permitted in the UAE. For example, poppy seeds are illegal due to their links to opiates. So make sure you check before you travel. You can check the Dubai customs website here.

Be careful what you photograph and think before you post something online

Government buildings outside and inside are not permitted to be photographed. It is not allowed to take a photograph of a woman without her permission. So use your common sense. Also publically posting car accidents, bad parking with the car numberplate or anything else which is deemed to cause upset and embarrassment for those involved can lead you to be fined or arrested in Dubai. If you have a complaint about a company, use the official channels and the police if you need rather than trying to publically shame someone.

These are the most common reasons tourists get arrested in Dubai. So don’t take the risk. Follow the guidelines above and you should be like the majority of 10 million tourists who visit each year without getting into trouble.

Want to know more about Danni B? Check out my profile here.

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