Dubai and the rest of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have very different customs and laws to those in the UK. This is the latest travel advice. The UAE is a Muslim country and the rules crack down on activities that might seem harmless at home in Great Britain. There’s one thing in particular that can catch tourists out when they head to Dubai on holiday. The emirate has very strict laws when it comes to alcohol and disobeying them could result in jail time.
It’s illegal in Dubai to drink or be drunk in public and is a “punishable offence under UAE law,” cautioned the UK Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO).
This law can be very confusing for British tourists as drinking alcohol itself is permitted, but only in licensed venues.
“It is possible for tourists and visitors to buy and drink alcohol in licensed venues, such as hotels, restaurants and clubs,” explained the FCO.
There have been instances when British nationals have been arrested and charged under this law.
However, the FCO added that this was “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.”
The drinking age in Dubai and all other emirates besides Sharjah (where drinking alcohol is completely illegal) is 21.
Alcohol is not the only area where Britons could find themselves caught out while visiting Dubai.
Showing open affection can land you in jail. Married couples can hold hands but kissing and hugging are considered offences against public decency.
There have been several arrests for kissing in public in the past.
Swearing and making rude gestures (in public and online) are considered “obscene acts and offenders can be jailed or deported,” stated the FCO.
They added: “Take particular care when dealing with the police and other officials.”
Two years ago, a local website reported that a Dubai court had ordered the retrial of a man convicted of swearing at a colleague in a WhatsApp message.
Dancing is only allowed at home or in licensed clubs and events. To dance in public is considered “indecent and provocative”.
Both dancing and loud music are prohibited in public places, such as beaches, parks and residential areas.
Sharing a hotel room with someone of the opposite sex who you aren’t married to – and aren’t closely related to – is illegal.
“All sex outside marriage is illegal, irrespective of any relationship you may have with your partner in the UK,” warned the FCO.
“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.
There is also one other simple error which is easy to make but could have dire consequences.
Anyone writing a cheque should make sure they are able to be cashed in. If the cheque bounces then they could face huge fines of up to £2,000.