10 Tips to Avoid Breaking the Law in Dubai

Dubai located in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world with millions of international tourists visiting every year. This world famous Middle Eastern city boasts incredible attractions, super modern achritecture, amazing hotels, luxury shopping and beaches. But is it safe to visit?


Is Dubai Dangerous for Foreigners?

Dubai is one of the safest destinations in the world and crime against tourists is very rare. This city has some of the lowest crime cases of any city in the world and even minor crimes like pickpocketing is rare.

But local laws are some of the strictest and most conservative in the world and it is very easy for Westerners to fall foul of the law accidentally. This is one of the biggest risks for foreigners.

Check out our top recommendations for things you know before visiting Dubai which will help you to stay safe and on the right side of the law.


1. Public Displays of Affection 

Showing affection openly with your partner in most other countries is innocuous, but in Dubai it is looking badly upon especially for unmarried and homosexual couples who should be extra cautious. Holding hands in public is okay for married couples but kissing, hugging and more is not.


2. Dress Appropriately

Be sure to dress extra-modestly in Dubai. Wearing clothes that aren't appropriate can land you in big trouble. For example in 2008, police detained 40 cross-dressing tourists.


3. Advice for LGBTQ+ Travellers

Dubai and the UAE has some of the most strict laws for LGBTQ+ people in the world ´╗┐and all types of same-sex acts are illegal. If you are caught you can face fines, imprisonment, deportation, flogging, or death. Trans travellers should be extra cautious too.


4. Behave Responsibly 

Drunken behaviour in public, swearing, fighting or using aggressive hand gestures can land you in big trouble with local law enforcement and also jail time. 


5. Avoid Drugs

If you are caught in possession of drugs this can land you in jail for life or even get a sentence to death! Even if you have a small amount of drugs in your belongings or in your blood or urine, this is considered as possession in Dubai. 


6. Use a VPN

Internet is monitored and regulated. It's against the law to visit certain websites or make defamatory statements or offensive comments about people, organizations, the government and ruling families in the UAE. Be careful of the websites you use and for extra safest, use a VPN for travelling.


7. Visiting During Ramadam

Ramadam is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting, prayer, reflection and community. If you are visiting Dubai Ramadam during this period (April - May) it is forbidden to eat or drink in public during daylight hours unless in specific areas. If you are caught eating in public during Ramadan you can be sentenced to jail for up to a month. Be sure to dress appropriately during this period too.


8. Sex

Paying for sex and soliciting escorts in Dubai is illegal. Also any type of relationship outside of marriage is unlawful.


9. Don't Photographing People Without Their Permission 

Under Article 378 of UAE Penal Code, taking photographs and videos of people without their consent is classed as invading their privacy. If you do this your camera can be confiscated and the recordings erased. As the photographer you might also have to pay a fine or faced being imprisoned.


10. Don't Drink & Drive

If you are thinking about renting a car and driving around Dubai the official legal alcohol limit for drivers in Dubai is zero. Don't drink and drive, these is no room for even one drink.


There are lots of things that are illegal in Dubai and in worst case scenarios some foreigners end up serving jail time. Be sure to read up on local laws before arriving in the UAE, most tourists don't have any issues but it is very important to be aware of things that can get you in trouble. Also purchase travel insurance before arriving.