Break These Laws in Dubai and you’re in Prison for Life!

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Break These Laws in Dubai and you’re in Prison for Life!

Are you thinking of visiting Dubai soon? Don’t break these laws!

Knowing what you can and can’t do in a foreign country like this is vital.

Dubai is a luxuriously beautiful Emirati city with a lot of charm and elegance, so it’s no wonder why people are so drawn to it.

However, to enjoy all its benefits you need to be on your best behaviour.

Some of the laws in Dubai may not seem like a big deal to you but a lot of people have been imprisoned, deported, fined and even flogged for not abiding by the codes of conduct.

Below are a list of laws that will land you in prison if you break them!

Harassing Females


Harrassing Women


A lot of people seem to think the laws regarding women in Emirati countries are excessive and strict.

However, there are some laws which actually favour them.

One of the laws in Dubai is that harassing women is absolutely illegal and could land you in prison.

Forms of harassment include: engaging in unwanted conversation, taking photos or even staring at them for too long!

If you have a habit of flirting and you’re the type to chase a girl when you think she’s playing hard to get, you may want to reconsider doing that when you visit the certain parts of the UAE.

Being Drunk in Public

Being drunk in public

Despite the amount of clubs in Dubai that sell alcohol, it can seem pretty counteractive to have a law that prohibits you from being drunk in the streets.

The laws on the selling, buying and the consumption of alcohol are quite strict in Dubai, so it’s important for you to abide by them. Citizens do not usually drink and it is mostly the foreign visitors that do.

Please note that you will need a licence to purchase alcohol.

In countries like the UK or the US, you will not be penalised in any way for walking drunk in the street but you definitely will be jailed in Dubai for that.

If you get drunk or tipsy, make sure you get into a taxi or use the metro.

Offensive Language and Swearing

Offensive language and swearing

It is absolutely against the law to swear or make offensive gestures in Dubai. If you are caught doing this, you may be jailed, fined, deported or even have all three of these things done to you.

There have been a lot of foreigners and expatriates who have been on the receiving end of these consequences. Some cases have even headlined in the media around the world.

When in Dubai, it is important to be polite and courteous. Also, try and refrain from swearing or making offensive gestures to others. Don’t be one of those unlucky fellows!



Taking, carrying or selling drugs in Dubai can lead to serious consequences. Also, if caught, you can serve a minimum of four years in jail for carrying even a tiny amount of drugs.

You may also need to seek permission from the UAE authorities just to bring prescribed medication into Dubai, especially because there are some which have been banned.

A lot of commonly used over-the-counter-drugs such as codeine have been banned too, so make sure you find out what is and isn’t allowed so you are not breaking the laws in Dubai.

A lot of unwary people try out drugs when in a different country because it can seem ‘fun’ but you should never risk your freedom for that.

Pre-Marital Sex

Pre marital sex

In Dubai, you can be jailed for holding hands with a member of the opposite sex if you are not married to them. Sometimes, you can even be stopped by CIDs and forced to show proof that you are married with the person you are holding hands with.

Also, sharing a hotel room with the opposite sex and at times, even the same sex (regardless of whether it’s your friend) will land you in a police cell if caught.

Get a separate hotel room if you are with someone of the opposite sex or book a room with twin beds, if you are staying with someone of the same sex.

The laws in the UK and US are quite relaxed and couples are free to show public displays of affection but in the UAE, it’s the complete opposite. A lot of couples have been convicted in Dubai for being caught kissing and cuddling.

Even though you may not agree with the rules in foreign countries, it is important to respect them while you are there.



This is something that is definitely not tolerated in the UAE. As a Muslim nation, this goes against the religious practices and doctrines, so if you are caught engaging in anything sexual with the same sex, you will be jailed.

Gay and lesbian couples should be careful not to display any public displays of affection too.

Dancing in Public

Dancing in public

Dancing in public is regarded as seductive, therefore it is deemed as inappropriate.

If you want to dance, do it in the privacy of your own home, hotel or in clubs. It may seem so harmless to you but breaching this will no doubt, lead to you being fined or imprisoned.



Due to Dubai being a very conservative nation that places an emphasis on religious morals and values, being nude in public (including beaches) is against the law.

Although some beaches allow dressing in bikinis, being completely naked is not allowed at all.

That includes topless sunbathing too.

Please also note that bikinis can only be worn at beaches, swimming pools and water parks.

Driving when Drunk

Driving when drunk

Driving when drunk is not tolerated at all in Dubai.

You’re not even allowed to have tiny amounts in your system. Also, speeding, using your phone when driving and tailgating is forbidden.

Fraud and Financial Crimes

Fraud and Financial Crimes

Fraud usually always has serious consequences.

You can be fined and jailed for any fraud related activities traced to you.

You can also go to jail for not paying your hotel bills or bouncing cheques.

If you are imprisoned because of this, you will not be released from jail until you pay off your debt.

In some cases, you may still have to serve time even after you have paid it off.

Also, non-UAE residents are not usually granted with bail, so make sure you stay on the right side of the law!

With over 7 years journalism experience, Anne Arts is our resident Dubai Expert. She loves hot beaches, cool summers and ice cream. When not writing for WorkLifeDubai, you can find Anne running along Nassimi beach and exploring on her Dubai missions!