10 Things That Are Illegal In Dubai, The UAE

things that are illegal in dubai
| 5 min read

Dubai is a beautiful metropolitan city in the United Arab Emirates. Renowned worldwide for its gorgeous skyline, with the Burj Khalifa being its crowning jewel, this developed city attracts tourists from every corner of the globe. With beautiful beaches, gorgeous architecture, and museums, Dubai is truly a city to behold. It has also recently turned into a one-stop luxury shopping destination. If you want to immerse yourself in the culture, you can explore the historical hub of this city. For thrill-seekers, there are options such as desert safaris and hiking expeditions. This ultra-modern city truly has something for everyone to try. It is always good to know more about the culture of this city and have a list of the do’s and the don'ts to make sure that you have a pleasant trip. Do check this list out to learn about things that are illegal in Dubai, the UAE.

1. Narcotic drugs

Source: Photo by Flickr user Me used under CC BY 2.0

Dubai and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in general have a very strict stance against the use of narcotic drugs. This is pertaining to the possession of as well as the usage of drugs. Over the past few decades, Dubai has had to deal with the growing social issues caused by the usage of illicit drugs. In light of the transnational crimes carried out by transporting drugs through this city, as well as the effects of drug usage on its citizens, the UAE assumed a zero-tolerance policy. on drugs With the law being put into effect, the possession, production, export, import, and transport of drugs are considered federal law violations. First-time offenders will be sent to rehabilitation and will have to pay a hefty fine.

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2. Chemical and organic fertilisers

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Cjp24 used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Chemical and organic fertilisers are substances that are added to the soil to aid the growth of plants. Dubai has strict rules against bringing in these substances and you will be stopped in customs should you have it in your possession at the airport. Excessive usage of these fertilisers without heeding to safety regulations can damage the soil as well as the plants and their government views this matter with utmost importance. There are very strict regulations on this matter and the production of fertiliser is regulated with permits.

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3. Fireworks

Source: Needpix

Fireworks are very heavily regulated in Dubai and it is illegal for a person to own these for personal use. There are strict rules for the buying and selling of these fireworks. If a person is caught selling fireworks, they can be jailed for up to six months or they will have to pay a fine of around AED 10,000 (around 2,700 USD). Anyone caught using or having fireworks in their possession will be dealt with similarly. The government does this to protect its citizens from any unnecessary risks and to prevent them from injuring themselves. Only licenced companies are allowed to use fireworks under strict safety regulations. If you are visiting Dubai near the New Year’s, a great place to check out firework shows are Downtown Dubai as well as Burj Khalifa!

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4. Gambling tools and machineries

Source: Pixabay

Dubai and the UAE in its entirety have very strict laws against gambling as it goes against Islamic Law. It is a religious and cultural taboo and the federal laws in Dubai restrict gambling in all its forms, as well as advertising it. Gambling is a crime that is punishable and the offender will have to pay a fine or be imprisoned. This helps to ensure that the public is not exposed to it and the many harmful ramifications that might show up due to engaging in the act of gambling.

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Dubai Tour Guide


Azira Oussama

Hello, I am Oussama, a licensed tour guide in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. I organize tours in Dubai and Abu Dhabi so you can experience modern and old life of this developed country and witness some of culture while exploring this great place.I also offer airport pick-up and drop-off from Dubai Airport. I am doing tours in English, French and Spanish.

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Dubai Tour Guide

Sultan Karrani

Sultan Karrani

I am an Emirati national working in the hospitality and tour guide industry since 2013. I grew up and worked in most areas of the UAE and I am special at providing guests with real information about the culture of the UAE and the different stories of the places we visit. My goal in my work is to introduce the world to the treasures of Emirati culture and its many tourist sites.

Tours by Sultan

Dubai Tour Guide

Claudia Antunes

Claudia Antunes

Hello ! or Marhaba as we say here! I'm deeply passionate about the history and vibrant culture of Dubai's old city, and I'm thrilled to share this enchanting journey with you. Step back in time with me as we wander through the winding streets, uncovering hidden gems and untold stories. Whether you're a history buff, a culture enthusiast, or simply seeking an authentic experience, my walking tours offer a unique blend of tradition and discovery. Join me as we explore the beating heart of Old Dubai together, one step at a time."

Dubai Tour Guide

Sandra guia Dubai Calvo

Sandra Guia Dubai Calvo

I'm an enthusiastic tour guide passionate about Dubai. With me, you will not only get a guided tour, but an unforgettable experience full of fascinating stories and deep knowledge of local history. Whether we are walking the streets of the old Dubai or enjoying the stunning beauty of the skyscraper , I guarantee you a unique and enriching experience. My goal is to make your experience memorable, educational, and most of all, fun. So get ready to immerse yourself in the cultural richness and beauty of our destination with me as your guide!

5. Laser pens

Laser pointer
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user 伯理璽天德 used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Laser pens are capable of causing harm. Due to the negative effects that these items may have, Dubai has had them banned. These handheld devices can have a range of up to a few miles and can cause momentary confusion on others should it be pointed at them. The sharp nature of this light causes sight issues, dizziness, as well as confusion. This can be used to disorient people and can at times be extremely dangerous especially if it ends up affecting the navigational systems of airplanes. Dealers are prohibited from importing these laser pointers and may be fined heavily should they be found in their possession.

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6. Ivory

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Unknown author used under CC BY 3.0

Dubai is almost like a gateway that separates the Asian and African continents and due to its geographical position, it could have become a hotspot for illicit smuggling and transport activities had they not taken strict steps to restrict it. Dubai’s wildlife protection laws in place make it illegal to transport ivory across international borders. Anyone caught in possession of this will be arrested and the ivory will be seized. The different customs points all over the country are always on the lookout and Dubai’s zero-tolerance policy ensures that ivory traffickers are punished.

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7. Travellers under age 18 staying in a hotel

Source: Pixabay

Travellers under 18 will be subjected to Dubai’s laws when they are visiting and it is important to respect that. Minors or travellers that are under the age of 18 can only stay at hotels if they are accompanied by an adult. It is illegal for minors to stay at these hotels alone. And it goes not just for hotels; even hostels are included under this law. These rules are put into place to ensure that child trafficking is controlled. Hotels usually take a photocopy of people’s passports to verify age. Guests who are minors will be asked to leave the premises.

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8. Weapons and ammunitions

Dangerous weapons seized from holiday flights
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user ukhomeoffice used under CC BY 2.0

Dubai has strict laws against weapons and ammunition that were put in place to protect its own citizens from getting into harm’s way. The safety of their citizens depends on this law and they take great care in enforcing it. Anyone found importing weapons and ammunition or found to have these in their possession will be dealt with severely due to the grave ramifications that it can pose on others. People who violate this will have to serve a prison sentence of up to six months or pay a fine of up to AED 15,000 (around USD 4,000).

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9. Public display of affection

Couple holding hands
Source: Pixabay

If you are planning to travel to Dubai with your significant other, you might need to be careful such as to not violate Dubai laws. Public displays of affection are not seen favourably as it goes against the people’s religious values. It is important for travellers to ensure that they uphold appropriate behaviours so that they do not go against the cultural norms. It is frowned upon for both married and unmarried couples to kiss or embrace in public spaces. It is advised that people who visit exercise responsibility to ensure that their actions are not deemed inappropriate by others.

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10. Endangered animal species

Arabian Leopard
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user shankar s. used under CC BY 2.0

Dubai has many strict laws in place to protect the endangered animal species that reside within its borders. The UAE is home to a number of beautiful animal species which are sadly critically endangered. Some of these animals include the hawksbill turtle, Arabian leopard, Arabian tahr, and the spiny-tailed lizard. To protect and conserve the wildlife that it has, they have implemented laws that criminalise the import or export of an endangered animal species. Offenders will be imprisoned and will have to pay a hefty fine of up to AED 50,000 (USD 13,000).

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Have a pleasant stay in Dubai

Source: Photo by Flickr user Michaela Loheit used under CC BY-ND 2.0

It is important to acclimate oneself to the traditions and customs of another country when we visit to ensure that our stay is pleasant. With the help of this list, you can have a glimpse into the laws that Dubai has in place to ensure that you stay in accordance with their regulations.

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Sreeja loves reading good books, dreaming about travelling to faraway places and binge-watching Netflix. She loves visiting different countries and learning about different cultures.

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