Going to Dubai? Better Know the LAWS.
IMPORTANT: If you break the law of a country you are visiting, your embassy will probably not be able to help you. So know the laws and customs before you go.
By now you might be aware that a British couple in their 30s were sentenced to three months in jail and deportation because of their “public display of affection” on the beach following a champagne brunch. Well, actually the charges were drunkenness and public indecency and sex outside of marriage. The couple claims there was no sex, just kissing.
Recently, a lesbian couple was sentenced to a month in jail, followed by deportation, for sharing a kiss on the public beach in Dubai.
Three years ago, an unmarried Indian couple was sentenced to one year in prison just for hugging and kissing in the back seat of a taxi in the Emirate of Fujairah which is north of the UAE. When the taxi driver saw what they were doing, he drove them directly to the police station!
If you’re planning a trip to Dubai, remember that it is part of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The operative word here is “Arab.” It might be a popular destination right now, and very glamorous (and expensive), but it is a Muslim country and their laws are very conservative.
Just because you’re a tourist who is bringing money into the region, never lose sight of the fact that this is NOT an amusement park or a paid attraction. You are visiting another country with another culture, and you’d better learn their laws before you go there. (This applies to ALL international travel.)
Here are some of the laws.
Public displays of affection, including holding hands and kissing, are socially unacceptable and can lead to an arrest.
Prescription and over-the-counter medications are often considered illegal or a controlled substance. Keep your meds in their original containers and bring a letter from your doctor as a well as a copy of your prescription with you.
If you are caught with any illegal drugs, or have the presence of illegal drugs in a blood or urine test, or even have a trace amount of drugs on your clothing, on your body, or in your luggage, you could be charged with drug possession.
Don’t drink and drive there either. In fact, technically you are only allowed to drink alcoholic beverages at your hotel.
Do not take pictures of the locals, especially women, without permission. And notice that many government buildings don’t allow photographs. They take this very seriously.
According to the U.S. Department of State:
Americans living or traveling in the United Arab Emirates are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department’s travel registration web site and to obtain updated information on travel and security within the United Arab Emirates. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency.
The U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi is located at Embassies District, Plot 38, Sector W59-02, Street No. 4, P.O. Box 4009. The telephone number is (971) (2) 414-2200, and the Consular Section fax number is (971) (2) 414-2241.
The email address for American Citizens Services inquiries, including passport questions, is email@example.com. The after-hours telephone number is (971) (2) 414-2500. The Embassy Internet web site is http://uae.usembassy.gov/.
The U.S. Consulate General in Dubai is located on the 21st floor of the Dubai World Trade Center, P.O. Box 9343. The telephone number is (971) (4) 311-6000 (for after-hours emergencies, contact the Embassy at (971)(2) 414-2200 for the Dubai Duty Officer, and the Consular Section fax number is (971) (4) 311-6213.
The email address for American Citizens Services inquiries, including passport questions, is firstname.lastname@example.org. The web site for the U.S. Consulate General in Dubai is http://dubai.usconsulate.gov/.
The workweek for both the Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the Consulate General in Dubai is Sunday through Thursday.