x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Emiratis urged to heed local laws while abroad

The Government launches awareness campaign aimed at ensuring that Emirati travellers know of laws abroad that could make their travels uncomfortable.

ABU DHABI // An awareness campaign launched yesterday by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reminds Emiratis travelling abroad of the need to comply with local laws such as those banning face veils and requiring minimum wages for housemaids.

The ministry is distributing thousands of flyers that contain advice on how to obtain travel visas and comply with airport body-scanning checks while also cautioning against carrying inappropriately large amounts of cash at airports.

The end of June and the beginning of July are the most popular times to travel for Emiratis.

"With so many events taking place in this region, some people will look for alternative places to spend their vacation," said Ambassador Issa Masoud, the director of Emirati affairs at the ministry.

"We want them to respect the country they are going to. Every country has its laws. The niqab [face veil] law is very important, we would like to concentrate on it as it could to lead to the embarrassment of a family in the street."

Currently, the face veil has been banned in France, as well as some cities in Italy. Belgium is considering a ban.

Ambassador Masoud added that Emiratis needed to be aware when applying for a Schengen Visa - which allows travel between 15 European countries - that they must first travel to the country that issued the visa.

"And when you treat people, you have to not be arrogant, especially at the borders and at government buildings," he said. "Don't forget you are not in your country."

Families travelling with a housemaid should also exercise caution, he said.

The ministry advises employers to pay their maids salaries in line with the host country's minimum wage while abroad, particularly when travelling in Europe. This would "avoid trouble from them running away to human rights".

The campaign also seeks to encourage as many Emiratis as possible to sign up at the ministry's official website to help it keep track of citizens abroad in the event of a natural disaster. That helps the ministry to co-ordinate with overseas embassies for a smoother evacuation process.

"When people register, all their information is dealt with in utmost confidentiality, not everyone here has access to it, we only access it during emergencies," said Ambassador Sultan Mohammad al Ali, the director of the government communication and information affairs department at the ministry. "Thirty-nine thousand registered last year, this is not our target this year, this year we want a lot more to register."

The media campaign will run until the end of next month.

The ministry urged citizens with queries and those experiencing problems filling out forms online to call 800 44444.