Entry and exit requirements
Of course, a passport is required when travelling to or from the UAE. Some nationalities can obtain a visit visa on arrival at the airport, while others will need to obtain visit visas in advance. Your local embassy will be able to give you the latest rules for entry and exit, alternatively visit www.uae-embassy.org for the latest visa information.
The UAE Government states that every person residing in the UAE should possess a national identity card. Visit www.eida.gov.ae for the latest requirements.
The UAE government does not permit dual nationality. Children of UAE fathers automatically acquire UAE citizenship at birth and dual nationality is not acceptable and your passport may be confiscated, if caught.
It may sound obvious, but travellers are advised to avoid transport of any arms or items that may be considered to be against the law, such as military equipment, weapon parts, tools, ammunition, body armour, handcuffs or other police equipment. Transportation of any type of law enforcement equipment is usually taken very seriously by the UAE and penalties can be harsh.
Additionally, the UAE's stringent anti-narcotics programme bans poppy seeds, otherwise used in other cultures for culinary purposes, on its list of controlled substance. Check the items on the list of controlled substances in UAE on http://abudhabi.usembassy.gov/restricted_medication.html before travel.
Working illegally in UAE
Expatriates that reside and work in the UAE are required to present authenticated personal documents such as birth and marriage certificates, adoption and custody degrees, and other educational documents. The authentication of documents is a complex process, which involves state, federal and local offices, and may take several weeks for completion. Any attempt to work illegally is considered a crime and can result in a prison sentence and/or deportion.
Although it is common practice for local sponsors to hold an employee's passport, it is illegal to do so by UAE law. The UAE Ministry of Labour has established a special department for review and settlement of disputes between employers and employees relating to this.
It is advisable for expatriates seeking to do business in the UAE to thoroughly research and understand UAE laws and regulations before entering into a business in the emirates. This should include work visas and permits, import tax and other laws regarding establishment of businesses in the UAE. A business license from the Economic Department is a must. Visit www.mol.gov.ae.
In the UAE strict penalties are imposed for certain traffic violations, particularly for driving under the influence of alcohol. In such cases, violators are often jailed and even deported. A driving license is a must to drive in UAE and foreign driver's licenses are not recognised. If involved in an accident, the law states that you remain there until authorities arrive. For further details on traffic rules, visit www.rta.ae.
Non-payment of bills and bounced cheques
In the UAE a bounced cheque or non-payment of bills is considered a criminal offence resulting in fines or imprisonment.
Rules for smoking/alcohol/drugs
Drinking or possession of alcohol without the Ministry of Interior liquor permit is illegal and may result in arrest and/or fine and imprisonment. Alcohol is served at bars in some major hotels, but is intended only for the hotel guests. Any others, who are not guests of the hotel, and who consume alcohol in restaurants and bars here, are required to have their own personal liquor licenses. Liquor licenses are issued only to non-Muslims who own UAE Residency Permits.
Smoking is banned in several public offices and places such as shopping malls. Hence, it is important to follow the rules. There are designated smoking areas in Dubai.
UAE law states that possession of even trace amounts of illegal drugs can result in years of imprisonment for foreign nationals in the UAE. If the medication has been prescribed by a doctor in your home country, it is important to carry a copy of the prescription. Certain medication and drugs are classified as narcotics in the UAE, and it is considered illegal to possess them. If you are found caught with what is considered an illegal substance, you are liable for an automatic four-year imprisonment prior to deportation. Check check out the banned substances list with the Drug Control Department or UAE Ministry of Health, before importing them to UAE.
Behaviour / dress codes in the UAE
The codes and behaviour and dress code in UAE reflect the Islamic traditions of the country, and are more conservative than those of western nations. Public decency and morality laws throughout the UAE are very strict, in comparison to western and European nations. Any public display of affection or immodesty is not tolerated in the UAE, and may be subjected to imprisonment.
While dancing with few friends after a night out may not be considered offensive in several countries, dancing in public is considered as indecent in UAE. However, dancing at home, or at official clubs, is accepted.
Additionally, wrong clothing choices may draw unwanted attention. Ensure that you cover up, particularly in government buildings and shopping malls. While beachwear is allowed in beaches, any form of nudity is not accepted.
Taking photographs of potentially sensitive UAE military and civilian sites or foreign diplomatic missions may result in arrest or detention. It is also unacceptable to addresses a local woman in public, or takes her picture without permission.
Unmarried couples are not permitted to live together or share a room in the UAE.
Islam is the main religion throughout the UAE. Expatriates follow their own religions and that is tolerated. However, anything that is anti-Islam will not be tolerated at any level and may result in fines and imprisonment. During the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, and hence eating, smoking or drinking in public places during this month may not be acceptable.
Islamic Law (Sharia)
In Sharia Law, just as in other legal systems, a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Both the plaintiff and defendant are equal in the court of the law. Under Islamic law, crimes that carry definite penalties are apostasy, murder, fornication, adultery, homosexuality and theft. If you live and work in the UAE it is important to abide by the laws of the land.