Countries » United Arab Emirates



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Country-specific Safety Information

Given the general situation in the Middle East, you are advised to be vigilant in the United Arab Emirates. Travelers should be reticent in public, be considerate of the religious, political , cultural and social traditions of the country (See "Criminal Law ").


The UAE is among the safest countries in the Middle East with an extremely low crime rate. Nevertheless, pickpocketing cannot be ruled out in large shopping centers or large events. Lonely single women and female adolescents should exercise caution after dark. Especially, there have been reported assaults while using taxis or during walks.

Drug possession and consumption

At the airports, transit passengers are more rigorously checked for drug possession of even small quantities (less than 0.1 g) in luggage, clothing or body. Infringements mean long prison sentences. Past consumption (up to several days before) of even soft drugs can be traced by blood tests and are punished accordingly.

Medicine import

Caution should be exercised when carrying medication, since the import of some commonly used drugs and their ingredients is banned in the UAE. Also the import of e-cigarettes is prohibited.

Travel by road

Travels within the Emirates are not particularly limited and are possible without safety concerns. Due to a well-developed and almost completely illuminated road network, driving is not burdensome. However, one should care of high traffic density and aggressive speeders, which increase the risk of accidents. Women are allowed to drive motor vehicles without a male escort. In terms of clothing, however, caution should be exercised. Sleeveless tops and very short skirts or hot pants are inappropriate and should be avoided.

Activities in the "Strait of Hormuz"

Boat trips to the islands Abu Moussa, Greater Tumb und Lesser Tumb should be avoided, since these islands are claimed by both the UAE and Iran and shown on charts as belonging to the respective territory. Foreign boat crews, which approached the islands of UAE side, have been arrested by the Iranian side on charges of "violation of Iran's territorial waters and illegal immigration " and sentenced in court to imprisonment.


During the lunar month of Ramadan, everyday life is limited (eg., daytime closure of restaurants outside the hotels, reduced working hours for authorities) and an increased sensitivity can be expected in religious matters and in matters of respect for Islamic traditions.

Public consumption of food (including chewing gum), drinking, smoking -even in vehicles- is prohibited from sunrise to sunset for non-Muslims by law. Women should dress as discreet as possible during this time (long-sleeved clothing). Men should refrain from wearing short casual wear during this period of fasting.

Other Customs Rules

Import of weapons, drugs, counterfeit money and pornographic material will be severely punished. Suggestive images on cover illustrations of books and magazines could be construed as pornography. Pre-recorded video cassettes may be reviewed or confiscated.

For further information on customs import of goods, please, contact the embassy of the country. Only there, you can be given a legally binding information.

Criminal Law

It is punishable to photograph the following: military installations, ports, airports, the royal palaces, public buildings, industrial plants. In case of violation, at the very least the camera / film / memory card will be confiscated.

The UAE is an Islamic country. Although alcohol is available in some hotels, its consumption is prohibited without a license. Violations can lead to confiscation of one's passport, a lengthy trial and fines. In the Emirate of Sharjah, the alcohol ban is particularly strict and alcohol is not available.

For drug trafficking, the death penalty may be imposed.

In the UAE, strict Islamic moral values are reflected in the enforcement of criminal law. Despite the apparently liberal social climate in the UAE, you should be aware that homosexuality and non-marital sexual intercourse are prohibited; violations of these laws can be punished criminally. An "active" persecution of homosexuals or transsexuals does not take place in the UAE. Although rape is punished by law in UAE, it almost impossible to prove it, since four Islamic witnesses and a confession from the offender are required. In most cases, the victim of a rape is subject to criminal prosecution as well, for engaging in a non-martial relationship (even if this was non-consensual). Several prominent cases, including that of a victim of a gang-rape receiving an eight-month sentence, highlight the severity of this warning. Non-marital pregnancies can be prosecuted once they become known (eg., by a doctor's visit). Unmarried pregnant women, even if they are planning to marry, should be aware of these risks before traveling to the UAE. Public display of affection (eg., "hand-holding") is also prohibited.

Harmless comments on religious issues can be prosecuted in the UAE as an insult to Islam or the Prophet and are punished with fines or even by prison.