Expats in UAE urged to be aware of certain Dubai laws

Expats in UAE urged to be aware of certain Dubai laws

Expats in UAE urged to be aware of certain Dubai laws

Newly arrived expats in Dubai are being urged to take note of the emirate’s unfamiliar laws.

It’s no surprise Dubai is one of the world’s most popular relocation hubs for expat professionals due to its ultra-luxurious ambience and big salaries. However, expat life in the emirate is governed by unfamiliar laws which may seem illogical to new arrivals as they’re based on very different political and religious structures than those in the West. Emiratis in general are aware expats may not appreciate what’s permitted and what’s not but, as in all world countries, the law is the law and newcomers should familiarise themselves with the legal requirements.

One law which is very well known outside the Gulf States is the prohibition of alcohol. What many don’t realise is that foreigners are allowed to imbibe in hotel bars and certain restaurants, but drunkenness in public is still against the law. Of course, all hallucinogenic drugs are illegal, with possession and use totally prohibited. Penalties if you’re caught are extreme and include a long prison sentence. All public displays of affection, even just holding hands in public, are frowned upon in this strict Muslim country and there’s no exception made for expat bars, as they’re still regarded as public areas. Homosexuality is also illegal, with those either dating or living with a member of the opposite sex urged to keep their private lives extremely private or risk jail and deportation. Dubai is an unfriendly location for LGBT expats, and even cross-dressing can result in a prison sentence.

In spite of the city’s outward appearance as a luxury hang-out for the international wealthy, its culture is still very conservative and includes restrictions on clothing with women especially affected. Females should dress modestly at all times and avoid revealing their legs above the knees and their arms above the elbows. Long trousers and a shirt with a collar are the norm for men. Clothing rules are slightly more relaxed on the beaches, but it’s best to just cover up as infringement of this law can lead to imprisonment and deportation.

One absolute no-no is sex outside marriage, enforced more rigidly than any other of Dubai’s rulings. It applies to tourists and expats as well as citizens, and has been known to result in imprisonment for unmarried couples who’ve been in stable relationships for years. In 2017, one unmarried couple visited a doctor when the woman began having stomach pains, with the doctor informing her she was pregnant before calling the police. The couple were arrested for having sex outside marriage. Another British couple were arrested for having sex in their hotel room and, technically, it’s also illegal for a woman to be alone with a man who is not her close relative or husband.

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