security in the UAE

Safety and Security in the UAE

10 September 2015 by Anna Staford

Travelling to the UAE

The United Arab Emirates is a dynamic and ultra-modern country that attracts millions of tourists annually. Most visits are generally safe but still travellers are strongly advised to be aware of possible risks and be careful. Visit the UK Government Travel Aware website and read the following overview of safety and security in the UAE.


Crime in the UAE

The crime rate in the UAE is very low but, of course, common safety precautions should be exercised. Use reputable taxi companies only and do not accept lifts from strangers. Drink spiking may occur, so do not accept drinks from people you don’t know and don’t leave your drinks unattended. Petty crimes such as bag snatching and pickpocketing sometimes occur. Lock car doors and don’t leave anything valuable in your car. Always make sure your travel documents, gadgets and other important possessions are secure.

Read also: Travel Insurance and Pre-Existing Medical Conditions


If you bring need to take medication with you, find out in advance whether it is permitted in the UAE. Common western painkillers like codeine are considered illegal narcotics in the UAE. Do not take them with you, or if you must, ensure you take your prescription. Alternatively, ask your doctor for an equivalent substitution, if your usual medication is illegal. Breaking this law could result in imprisonment.

LGBT Tourists


The United Arab Emirates forbid all LGBT activities. If you are witnessed showing any signs of homosexuality in public, the punishment may include fines, prison sentence, whipping, forced psychological treatment or even capital punishment.

Road Travel

  • If you want to drive independently, hire a car and make sure your driving licence is valid in the UAE.
  • If you want to drive a private car, check that you are correctly insured to do so. The rate of traffic accidents is high in the United Arab Emirates. The World Health Organisation warns that the UAE drivers and passengers are 7 times more likely to be killed on a road than their UK counterparts.
  • Speeding is common and even crossing the road on foot is dangerous.
  • Offensive words and gestures towards other drivers can lead to serious fines, prison sentences and deportation.
  • Even the smallest alcohol consumption prior to driving is strongly forbidden.
  • Do not drive off the main roads or if so, use a four-wheel vehicle and drive with an experienced guide. Leave your travel itinerary with someone and notify them of your approximate planned return time.

The United Arab Emirates have much to offer. Read as much as you can about the local traditions, plan your trip well and take out travel insurance to leave with peace of mind.

Read also: 7 Tips to Visit Dubai on a Budget

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