Public decency laws to be aware of before visiting Dubai
- While Dubai seems like a relaxed and easy-going destination, laws here are very different from those in most western Cities. Here are some of the rules to be aware of before visiting Dubai:
Swearing in public or on social media
- Using the F word or flashing your middle finger in public is punishable by up to a year in prison or a fine of up to AED 10000. There's also a lot of censorship in the UAE, swearing on social media if noticed by authorities is also punished the same way. Keep off political discussions especially where the royal family is involved, saying anything negative about the royal family while in Dubai can easily land you in trouble.
- It's also illegal to insult anyone both in public and on social media. It carries the same punishment as swearing in public.
- All fundraisers in the UAE, both fundraisers organized in social media or at a physical location, must first be approved by the Islamic affairs and charitable activities department. There have been cases of foreigners deported for conducting unauthorized fundraisers or being charged a fine of up to AED 250,000.
- While Dubai is known for its nightlife scene, dancing and playing loud music is limited to your house and entertainment joints. Dancing and playing music on the streets and parks is classified as indecent and provocative.
Eating on public transport
- Eating and littering on government-run public transport means is illegal and will cost you a spot fine of AED 100 if caught. It's also illegal to eat while at pedestrian crossings.
Taking photographs without consent
- It's illegal to photograph anybody in Dubai without their consent especially women. It's considered to be against religious beliefs and the person you photographed can press charges.
- While alcohol is not illegal in the UAE, Dubai has strict drinking laws. Most importantly, never be intoxicated in public.
Public display of affection
- This is very much frowned upon by the locals. Holding hands is generally tolerated but kissing and hugging in public is strictly prohibited.
Being in debt
- Having a cheque bounce or failure to pay bills is a criminal offense that is punishable by imprisonment.