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UAE Local Law, Customs Rules and Regulations

Whether travelling to the United Arab Emirates for vacation, employment, business or education, it is critical to be aware the UAE local laws and rules, and comply with each of them to avoid any bad consequences in the future. We bring to you a comprehensive list of rules in UAE to follow for a pleasant and memorable stay here:

Dress Code

As per the laws in UAE, both men and women must wear decent clothes at public places. Women must avoid wearing tops/dresses/skirts that are short, low-cut or transparent. They must ensure that shoulders, stomach as well as back is covered. In a similar manner, men must wear shirt/t-shirt to cover their chest and make sure that their underwear is not visible. The UAE rules are relaxed at swimming pools and beaches. However, topless sunbathing is not allowed at any location. Cross-dressing is also considered illegal in the UAE.

Photography

No doubt, when you capture pictures, you capture the memories. However, you need to be careful while clicking pictures in the UAE. Photography of certain military sites and government building is strictly prohibited. Also, you must not photograph anyone without their permission. This applies especially to women and families, to maintain their privacy. Any individual caught taking pictures of someone at public places can be subjected to fines and judicial jurisdiction.

Alcohol

As per UAE local law and rules, you cannot consume alcohol at the majority of public places. If found drinking at public places, you can be put behind the bars. However, you are permitted to consume alcohol in restaurants, lounges and bars that are a part of 4 or 5 star hotels. Drunk driving is totally illegal in the UAE and if you are caught with even the tiniest trace of alcohol in your bloodstream, you would be put behind the bars.

Drugs

UAE follows no-tolerance policy for any drug-related offence. There are severe penalties for individuals caught in the act of possessing, smuggling, and drug trafficking. They are subject to a minimum jail term of 4 years or even death penalty. Please note that the presence of medical drugs in the bloodstream is even considered as possession as per UAE laws. So you must take proper care while brining courier prescription drugs, medications, and herbal highs like Spice, etc.

No kissing, no touching at public places

Although holding hands in public places is fine, kissing, cuddling or touching is a no no, avoid using foul language or hand gestures like swearing as these acts are considered rude and offenders can land in jail or be deported. UAE laws and regulations never tolerate sexual behaviour or acts of public display of affection. Even using abusive at public places is not permitted. Any form of aggressive behaviour or physical gesture such as pointing out a finger or sticking your tongue out is considered impolite. 

Respect the religion

You must never show any disrespect to the religion by either disrespecting the call for prayers, using any newspaper with religious content including name of the Prophet as a wrapping paper or committing blasphemy or sacrilege.

Driving laws in UAE

If visiting UAE for a vacation, you can drive with an international licence. However, you need to get a UAE license as a resident. License can easily be procured from the Road and Transport Authority (RTA). You must carry your license and, valid registration and insurance documents with you while driving. 

Ramadan 

Ramadan is the month of intense prayer, fasting, feeding the needy and spirituality for Muslims. While non-Muslims do not have to fast during Ramadan, they are not permitted to eat or drink in public places between sunrise and sunset. If you fail to follow these UAE rules, you are bound to get arrested. Even playing loud music or dancing on the streets is not allowed. So be careful! 

Electronic cigarettes

eCigarettes are considered illegal in the UAE and are most likely to be confiscated at the border.

Importing goods

Import of pornographic videos or photos into the UAE is restricted. Newspapers, magazines, books and videos may be subject to scrutiny and may get censored. Not only this, importing of food products like pork and related items in the country are prohibited.

Accommodation in hotels

It is also considered punishable if an individual shares a hotel room with someone from the opposite of the sex, especially if they are not married or closely related to each other. Prior to providing an accommodation, hotels take a xerox of the visitor’s passport/ Emirates ID. An individual cannot get accommodation in a hotel if he/she is under 18 years of age and not accompanied by an adult. 

Acts of homosexuality

All acts of homosexuality are considered illegal as per the rules of UAE. Same-sex marriages are not recognized, and are considered punishable.

Real estate

If you are willing to buy a property in UAE for residential or commercial purposes, you must seek professional guidance and ensure adherence to UAE laws and rules. The buying of property accompanies the resident visa for 99 years, and upon the expiry of the term, the property is owned by the government.

Weapon

You must be very careful in case you possess a weapon or any other equipment like ammunition, cleaning kits or gun belts. You must have prior permission to own them. Besides, technical equipment including satellite phones, listening or recording devices, radio transmitters, powerful cameras and even binoculars might require a license/permission before being used in the UAE.

Financial crimes 

Financial crimes such as fraud, bouncing of cheques, etc., are illegal in the laws of UAE. You can be subjected to imprisonment in such cases. Bank accounts can also be frozen. Moreover, non-residents of the UAE, who are arrested for financial crimes, are often not granted bail until the amount is paid. 

You must ensure that you strictly adhere to the afore-mentioned UAE local laws and customs to avoid any complications in the future.