Dubai laws you should know
Dubai is a wonderful tourist destination that attracts a large number of visitors each year. It is also a very modern and diverse city, 90 per cent of its population being expatriates. Therefore, Dubai is considered to be a very tolerant city, where people from different cultures and religions live in harmony.
However, visitors should be aware that while there’s a high level of tolerance for foreign cultures, Dubai also has a very strict set of laws and things that might not be illegal elsewhere can attract harsh penalties here. Not knowing Dubai’s laws and regulations or the local customs can get you into a lot of trouble.
In public areas such as malls, women should dress in a conservative manner and it is better if they cover their shoulders, stomach and knees. Men are advised to cover their chest. However, if you’re at the beach or at the pool, showing some skin is not a problem. Women are free to wear bathing suits, but keep that top on, because topless sunbathing is not an option.
Offensive behaviour like swearing or making rude gestures is something that can get you a serious fine, or even some time in jail. Also, being drunk in public is frowned upon and alcohol can only be consumed in bars and restaurants.
Public displays of affection are considered rude. Kissing and hugging are not allowed in public areas as they violate Dubai’s decency laws. In 2007, an Indian couple had the uninspired idea of kissing in the back seat of a taxi. The taxi driver reported them to the police and they were sentenced to a year in prison.
Sex outside marriage is even worse. No matter where you are from, you are not allowed to have sex with your partner, if you haven’t tied the knot yet. And that’s not all, living with your partner or staying in the same hotel room without being married is also illegal.
Dubai is not the ideal place for gay couples either. Same-sex marriages are not recognised here which makes homosexual intercourse illegal.
Drugs are illegal in most countries, but Dubai has a zero-tolerance policy on the issue. The penalties for drug trafficking or drug possession are extremely harsh and can even lead to the death penalty. If you are found carrying the smallest amount of drugs with you, the result will probably be a minimum of four years in jail. Besides, the presence of drugs in the bloodstream also counts as drug possession.
Customs laws are not to be taken lightly. There are numerous items that you cannot bring with you when you enter or transit Dubai. Weapons and ammunition require permission and other items such as pornographic material or electronic cigarettes are completely illegal and will be confiscated at the border.
Taking photos of people on the street, especially women, without asking their permission, is also something you should never do. It’s best to avoid taking snaps of government buildings as well if you don’t want to get a fine.