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Know Your Rights: 5 Laws Every Dubai Expat Should Know

Drugs and the Law

With the aim to provide updated legal advice in a clear and readable way for expats living in Dubai and the Middle East, here we set out your rights when it comes to illicit and prescription drugs in the UAE. It is important to note that the penalties for breaching any of the following drug laws can include imprisonment and deportation.

1) The consumption of illegal drugs in the UAE is a criminal offence, punishable by possible imprisonment and/or deportation. Drugs that are legal in your home country may not necessarily be legal in the UAE, this could include drugs that you have been prescribed for medical reasons in your home country. Consult the following list of restricted and controlled substances before consuming any drugs within the UAE.

2) The import of illegal drugs in to the UAE is a criminal offence. Regarding medications, travelers are advised to read the following guidelines before purchasing medication from your home country and bringing it into the UAE. This includes whilst transiting through Dubai airport. If you have obtained a prescription for medication from your home country, it is recommended to carry a translated and attested copy of the prescription with you.

3) Take particular care when returning from holiday if you may have come in to contact with anyone who has taken an illegal drug and may have passed even the smallest quantity on to you. Possession of illegal drugs, even for example a speck on a shoe, may be a criminal offence.

4) Some medications are illegal in the UAE if possessed without a prescription from a Doctor. These include some sleeping pills, antidepressants and pain killers. Check with your Doctor whether a prescription is required before taking these types of medicines.

5) We have come across a number of cases in which expatriate women’s drinks have been spiked with illegal substances against their knowledge. Such action could result in the woman having committed a criminal offence (by having an illegal substance in her system). Never accept a drink from someone you do not know, and be vigilant in busy bars and nightclubs.

Al Rowaad Advocates & Legal Consultancy is licensed to perform legal services and advocacy in all courts of the UAE, reaching out to local and expatriate clients. Our strong practice areas are family law, labor, corporate & commercial, private equity, banking, maritime & transport, litigation & arbitration and real estate. Visit our website or email us at

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