7 Dubai Laws Very Different To UK Rules That Brits Need To Know Before They Travel

Dubai Laws Very Different To UK Rules That Brits Need To Know Before They Travel

Dubai makes for a brilliant city break filled with beaches, shopping, theme parks, an incredible foodie scene and vibrant night life.

Not to mention it's just a few hours' flight from the UK, so it's ideal if you're after a short break.

However, Brits travelling to the UAE should be aware that the laws and regulations there are very different to those of the UK - and some things you can do at home could actually land you in trouble with the law in Dubai.

For example, drinking alcohol, dress codes and even rules on swearing are vastly different.

To give you a helping hand, we take a look at the top laws and regulations Brits need to know before they travel. You can also find more advice on local laws and customs in the FCO travel advice for Dubai.

Dubai Laws Very Different To UK Rules That Brits Need To Know Before They Travel


1. Drinking alcohol

Although it's not illegal to drink alcohol in Dubai, there are some strict restrictions in place .

Essentially if you're a tourist you can drink in Dubai, but you have to stick to designated areas - and you can't be seen drinking, or intoxicated, in public.

The FCO warns: "British nationals have been arrested and charged under this law, often in cases where they have come to the attention of the police for a related offence or matter, such as disorderly or offensive behaviour".

It's also worth noting that you need to be aged at least 21 years old to drink alcohol in Dubai.

2. Swearing (including online)

If you're prone to cursing like a sailor, you need to seriously watch your language when in Dubai.

According to the FCO: "Swearing and making rude gestures (including online) are considered obscene acts and offenders can be jailed or deported. Take particular care when dealing with the police and other officials."

If you're posting on social media, make sure to avoid any swear words or language that could be considered offensive.

Dubai Laws Very Different To UK Rules That Brits Need To Know Before They Travel


3. Relationships outside of marriage

All sex outside marriage is illegal, regardless of your relationship in the UK.

The FCO warns: "If the UAE authorities become aware that you’re conducting a sexual relationship outside marriage (as recognised by them), you run the risk of prosecution, imprisonment and/or a fine and deportation."

In fact, it's against the law to live with or share the same hotel room with someone of the opposite sex unless you are married, or closely related.

It's also worth noting that public displays of affection are frowned upon - and according to the FCO there have been several arrests for kissing in public.

Dubai Laws Very Different To UK Rules That Brits Need To Know Before They Travel


4. Smoking E-cigarettes

E-cigarettes are illegal in the UAE, so leave yours back in the UK.



5. Dress code

Modesty is key, especially if you're out and about in public areas such as shopping malls.

Ideally both men and women should wear clothes covering the tops of their arms and legs - and underwear should not be visible.

Going swimming? Swimwear is fine on the beach or at swimming pools, but make sure you have a suitable change of clothes for when you leave.

Dubai Laws Very Different To UK Rules That Brits Need To Know Before They Travel


6. How you use social media

Be smart about what you choose to post on your social media channels. For example, don't swear online and if you can, avoid mentioning alcohol and drinking.

Posting anything online that could be seen as criticising/ridiculing the UAE government, local customs and people, or events could be considered a crime punishable under UAE law.

The FCO says: "Posting material (including videos and photographs) online that is critical of the UAE government, companies or individuals, or related to incidents in the UAE, or appearing to abuse/ridicule/criticise the country or its authorities, or that is culturally insensitive, may be considered a crime punishable under UAE law. There have been cases of individuals being detained, prosecuted and/or convicted for posting this type of material."

As of June 2017, it's also an offence to post anything showing sympathy for Qatar on social media or any other means of communication.

social media


7. Taking those holiday photos

While the beach might be Instagram-worthy, be cautious of what you are taking pictures of. Don't photograph people without their permission - and be aware that men have been arrested for photographing women on beaches.

Don't take photos of government buildings and military installations either - and if you enjoy hobbies like plane spotting or bird watching, this isn't the right time to indulge as these could be misunderstood, especially if you're near military sites, government buildings and airports.

The FCO warns: "In February 2015, 3 British nationals were arrested while plane spotting at UAE airports. They were detained for 2 months."