Local laws and customs
The UAE is an Islamic country and you should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions. Be aware of your actions and take care not to offend other cultures or religious beliefs, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or other religious festivals, or if you intend to visit religious areas.
Dress conservatively, particularly in Sharjah and Ajman emirates, where Islamic law is rigorously enforced. Clothes should cover the tops of the arms and legs and underwear should not be visible.
Public displays of affection are frowned upon, and there have been several arrests for kissing in public. Sex outside of marriage is illegal, as is cohabitation, adultery and homosexual behaviour. If you conduct a sexual relationship outside heterosexual marriage you run the risk of prosecution, imprisonment and/or a fine and deportation. Private life is respected in the UAE, however people are punished for sexual activity outside marriage where there is a public element or if it is brought to the attention of the police authorities.
If you become pregnant outside marriage, both you and your partner could face imprisonment and/or deportation. Doctors may ask for proof of marriage during ante-natal checks. An unmarried woman who gives birth in the UAE may also encounter problems when registering the birth of the child in the UAE, and could face arrest, imprisonment or deportation. To obtain a birth certificate from the UAE authorities, you must provide a marriage certificate and the authorities may compare the date of the marriage against the estimated date of conception.
During Ramadan, Muslims are not permitted to eat, drink or smoke during daylight hours. To avoid offence, you should not eat, drink or smoke in public during this time.
Bringing drugs, pork products and pornographic books and material into the UAE is forbidden. Videos, books and magazines are subject to scrutiny and may be censored.
Medications available over the counter or by prescription in Ireland may be illegal or considered a controlled substance in the UAE. Any such medication is not allowed into the UAE without prior permission from the UAE Ministry of Health. You can find a list of restricted and controlled drugs on the Ministry of Health website. Check the generic name of any medication with a doctor or pharmacist. The Ministry of Health guidelines advise that individuals cannot bring more than 30 days' supply of controlled medicines or three months' supply of prescription-only medicines into the UAE.
Changes were announced in October 2018 requiring all tourists and residents entering or transiting through the UAE to obtain prior online approval to carry medication for personal use into the UAE. The online application system can be found on the Ministry of Health website. Approvals can take up to five working days following completion of the online application.
Further information on controlled medicines and permissions can be obtained directly from the UAE Ministry of Health by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling +971 2 652 0500.
Financial crimes, including fraud, bouncing cheques and the non-payment of bills, is regarded very seriously in the UAE and can often result in imprisonment and/or a fine. Non-residents of the UAE who are arrested for crimes involving fraud do not generally get bail. Convicted debtors will not usually be released from jail until the debt is paid or waived. Several Irish citizens have received custodial sentences as a result of non-payment of outstanding debts.
Swearing and making rude gestures (including online) are considered obscene acts and can lead to prosecution. Take particular care when dealing with the police and other officials.
Women should dress in a modest way, particularly in Sharjah and Ajman emirates where Islamic law is rigorously enforced.
Homosexual activity is illegal in the UAE.
Liquor licences can be obtained by non-Muslim residents to consume alcohol in private homes, and alcoholic drinks are served in licensed hotels and clubs. These licences are valid only in the Emirate that issued the licence. Residents must also get a permit to be able to drink in licensed venues. But it is a punishable offence to drink or to be drunk in public. Passengers in transit through the UAE under the influence of alcohol may also be arrested.
The penalties for drug trafficking, smuggling and possession are severe. Drug trafficking penalties can include the death sentence or life imprisonment. The presence of drugs in the body constitutes possession and carries a minimum sentence of four years.
The Emirati authorities consider the presence of drugs in the blood stream as possession. Travellers who transit in UAE airports are subject to these laws. UAE airports have excellent technology and security, so transiting passengers carrying even residual amounts of drugs may be arrested.
Weapons and related equipment
Weapons, ammunition and gun belts etc. all require permission for entry or transit through the UAE.
Wed, 21 Nov 2018 14:50:13 GMT