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Public Decency Laws

Amongst the world’s media, especially in countries such as the UK, there has been a lot reported on how people are to act and dress in Dubai which has resulted in a lot of confusion. It is important to remember that there are many different cultures living in Dubai with different definitions of what is and what is not acceptable and the Dubai government is trying to maintain harmony amongst all these communities.

Most malls in Dubai display signs asking shoppers to dress respectfully. So what does this actually mean? In UAE law it does not specify certain acceptable clothing, but in general specifies that clothes should not be sexually provocative, for example do not wear a bikini in public places. Wearing very short shorts and see through blouses in public places is also frowned upon, reserve these items of clothing for the pool or private beach club. Wearing a skirt of an appropriate length and t-shirt to the mall is absolutely fine.

Another common question is what are the laws regarding public displays of affection – a married couple are allowed to walk along hand in hand but are not allowed to indulge in a sexual behavior such as kissing, these acts can lead to a jail term followed by deportation. Unmarried couples are not allowed to hold hands in public places. It is also worth noting that unmarried couples are not allowed to live under the same roof and if found to be doing so could be given a jail term of up to one year. Homosexual acts are also illegal in the UAE.

Alcohol should only be consumed in premises with a license and no one is allowed to be out in public under the influence of alcohol. You must not drink alcohol in a public place such as a beach, desert or park. Individuals wishing to buy, consume or transport liquor must have a valid liquor license. The Dubai Police CID operate a very strict zero tolerance towards alcohol.

Swearing or rude gestures, for example giving someone the finger) should also be avoided – remember this whilst driving and feeling stressed! Any breach of these guidelines could result in imprisonment or a fine.

Drugs are not tolerated in Dubai and typically result in four year prison terms for drug possession, while trafficking drugs has a death penalty attached. Banned substances include (among others) poppy seeds, melatonin, codeine or any minute trace of marijuana or other narcotic substances. Prescription drugs should be accompanied by a doctor’s note detailing the need for the medication and dose, even if in transit. Medicines should also be carried in their original packaging if possible.

If unsure about any of the rules in Dubai always try and ask, find out the official answer or err on the side of caution.



One Response to “Public Decency Laws”

  1. Lan says:

    There is certainly lots of good information on this excellent website!!


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