UAE Laws

Whether you are resident for more than 10 years in the country or simply a tourist, knowing the laws are vital for your protection and safe living. Some exist, however the government aren’t too aggressive on implementing it.

1. Unmarried & Cohabitation

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Screenshot photo from Independent News
Travelling to Dubai and not married? Nobody asks the hotel nor they will ambush you in malls to ask for your marriage certificate, yet by law it’s not allowed. Same goes to residents. It is considered a serious crime, you could land in jail for 3 years and an immediate deportation.
Tip: Now we know that police aren’t asking upfront, it’s better not to brag about it to everyone. One can simply report you secretly and that would be the end of your story in this city.

2. Piracy

Screenshot photo from Khaleej Times
See that? Somebody got behind bars by uploading videos illegally. He illegally upload torrents and facilitate illegal streaming of copyrighted television series, movies and misusing pay-TV platform. Based on the facts and evidence, the court passed judgment sentencing the pirate to six months in jail followed by deportation to his home country. The pirate was also ordered to pay Dh50,000 as compensation to OSN for copyright and trademark infringement.
“The authorities have adopted extreme vigilance to all forms of television piracy which has resulted in websites streaming illegal content being blocked in the UAE. Stealing movies or television series is an offence, whether it is online or as DVDs from a shop, and the authorities recognise that the financial impact on the legitimate copyright owners will be the same,” said Sophie Moloney, General Counsel of OSN.

3. PDA (Public display of affection)

Screenshot photo from The National
Yep. Sounds cold. Kissing and hugging in public is not just an eye sore. It’s a reminder posted in establishments esp. in malls.
The code says displays of affection between couples – whether married or not – in public places does not fit local customs and culture.
“Holding hands for a married couple is tolerated but kissing and petting are considered an offence to public decency,”
“Public displays of affection, as well as sexual harassment or randomly addressing women in public places, is liable to be punished by imprisonment or deportation.”

4. Swearing

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“All kinds of aggressive or offensive gestures are considered a public offense,” from  code of conduct.
Using the ‘F-word’, irrespective of the person’s nationality or context, is a crime punishable by law in the UAE.
Article 374 of Penal code states: “Punishment by detention for a period not exceeding six months or by a fine not exceeding Dh5,000 shall apply if slander or abuse is transmitted by telephone, or face to face with the victim and in the presence of a third party”.

5. Alcohol

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The legal drinking age to consume or purchase alcoholic beverages is 21-years old. The law applies to tourists as well residents or expats. Drinking and keeping alcohol without alcohol license can bring you trouble in this country. It can be applied easily, the limit of consumption will be based according from your salary. 
Even if you have the license, you should only drink  in your own home or in a licensed restaurant or bar. There is zero tolerance laws for expatriates drink driving in the UAE. This means, unlike in Europe that there’s a minimum ml. you can drink and drive, here, it’s best to take a taxi the moment you drink one or two.
The penalties for breach of any of the above licensing laws is a jail term and can be combined with deportation in some cases.

6. Eating and Drinking publicly during Ramadan month

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According to article 313 of the Federal Penal Code, the punishment for eating or drinking during daytime in the holy month is a maximum Dh2,000 fine or a maximum of one-month imprisonment. “This action is prohibited by the law under the offence against religious faith and rituals. The law applies to Muslim and non-Muslim, male or female,”
 “If the offenders are visitors to the UAE for the first time, we advise them and make them aware that we don’t do that during Ramadan in public. But if the person is a resident in the UAE for a long time, we make a report and transfer the case to the public prosecution.”

7. Sharing accommodation

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As per Dubai Municipality rules, bachelors are not allowed to live in residential areas. “Industrial areas such as Muhaisnah, Al Quoz have been allocated for housing labourers. The rest of the bachelors are not allowed to share apartments in residential areas. They can do that only in commercial areas. For example, in areas like Al Rigga and Muraqqabat, bachelors can share bed spaces. However, there are limits to the number of people per bedroom.
This is generally calculated as minimum 40 square feet per person in one bedroom.
Property owners will be fined for violations when bachelors are allowed to take up housing units in residential areas and when more bachelors than the permitted number per room are allowed to share rooms in commercial areas. “Such violations are checked by the Public Health and Safety Department of Dubai Municipality. The Building Department of the civic body checks for unauthorized structural changes made to accommodate bachelors in buildings such as illegal partitions, extension of rooms etc.

9. Using Social Media In A Wrong Way

Screenshot photo from The National
Simply possessing on an electronic device a photo taken without the subject’s consent is an offence for which expatriates could be deported, a leading prosecutor said.
The 2012 law says that breaching someone’s privacy by copying, saving or publishing their photo or personal data using an electronic device is an offence punishable by at least six months in prison and/or a fine of up to Dh500,000, even if the photo was taken in a public place.

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