New advice booklet issued for British expats in UAE

by Ray Clancy on February 16, 2011

British expats warned on behaviour

British expats in the United Arab Emirates are being advised to be careful after research shows that statistically and proportionally they are more likely to be arrested than anywhere else in the world apart from Thailand.

The British Embassy has decided to take a proactive stance because of the sheer number of British people getting into trouble in the region. One case involved a 16 year old British Muslim boy who was offered and took alcohol and ended up being arrested and sentenced to lashings.

According to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Britons are most likely to be arrested firstly in Thailand and secondly in the UAE. The Emirates is also third highest in terms of drug related arrests.

‘It’s not because the British community here is badly behaved, the British community here is very well behaved. But FCO research does show that a majority of arrests overseas are avoidable,’ said Guy Warrington, British Consul General to the UAE at the launch of a new booklet aimed at spreading awareness among the expat community.

The consular team visits British schools to educate children about the rules, regulations and laws of the Emirates, working in conjunction with the UAE’s police forces.

Mandy Smith, Vice Consul of the Assistance Team at the Dubai Embassy, said that in the case of the 16 year old boy there was nothing her team could do.  ‘We’re not allowed to interfere in the legal process of a country, just as we would not allow anyone to intervene in the laws of the UK,’ Smith said.

The embassy campaign is aimed at educating children and adults about the laws over kissing in public, dress code, respect for religion, alcohol and drugs and also issues like finance. It is illegal, for example, to bounce a cheque in the UAE.

It’s estimated that 100,000 Britons live in the UAE and approximately a million visit every year.

The booklet reminds people that alcohol consumption is allowed only by non Muslims in licensed restaurants, pubs, clubs, private venues and at home for residents who have acquired an alcohol license. Drugs are strictly forbidden and sexual relationships outside of marriage are illegal, irrespective of any relationship you may have with your partner in the UK. Cohabiting, including in hotels, is also illegal.

The UAE has a zero tolerance policy towards drinking and driving. Bouncing a cheque is illegal in the UAE. Dancing is allowed in the privacy of your home or at licensed clubs.

Sexual harassment or randomly addressing women in public or taking their photos without permission is strictly frowned upon.

Offensive language, spitting and aggressive behaviour, including hand gestures, are viewed very seriously and can result in imprisonment and deportation.

Holding hands for married couples is tolerated but kissing and hugging are considered offences against public decency. Smoking is forbidden in government areas, offices and shopping malls. Working without the proper visa is illegal. You cannot partake in any kind of paid employment without first obtaining a work visa. More information can be found on the Foreign Office’s website.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Advertising Agency March 27, 2011 at 8:39 am

UAE government is doing very well in terms of controlling the drugs…


Prassad November 25, 2011 at 6:37 am

It seems like the UAE might be an interesting place for a short visit, but I suspect that for for most Westerners a long stay would approach a near death experience. This isn't to disparage their culture or religion; far from it. Western society could learn something from them. However, it seems that a Western oriented expat would be more comfortable in a community of nursing homes than in the UAE.


Sheila March 11, 2012 at 5:59 pm

Hello Prassad. I had to check the date of your post because I thought surely it was a decade ago! but No, only 15 weeks.
Having lived in Dubai for over 3 years I would say that it is far from comparable with Nursing Homes. I know, on the face on it and written in black and white it sounds very restrictive, but it is vibrant and far more lenient than appears in reading about it.
Like any country, including the UK where I'm from, there are rules that you stick by if you want to stay out of prison.
I hope you have the pleasure of visiting Dubai and seeing/experiencing for yourself. You will Love it! Just the same as everyone who comes to visit us. No-one wants to go home :o)


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