x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Rules for daily living

The UAE is a safe country to live in. Street crime is virtually unheard of and, unlike big cities in the West, it is safe to be out on your own after dark.

However, there are a few areas in which visitors may be caught unawares. This section aims to help you better understand and respect the day to day laws in the Emirates.



The UAE is a conservative but tolerant country so expected standards of dress vary depending on where you are. It is not advised to wear revealing clothing, especially if you are a woman, in public. For example, revealing swimsuits are frowned upon at the beach. As a rule of thumb, women should avoid wearing short skirts in public, low-cut tops or leave their shoulders exposed in public. Many malls in the country have signs outside reminding visitors to dress in a respectable manner and you can be ejected for ignoring them.


Bad language and gestures in public
Using profane, or bad, language to others in public in the emirates can land you in jail. The best approach is to be respectful at all times. Profane hand signals are also forbidden.


If you are arriving in the UAE as a single person there are a number of basic rules you need to be aware to avoid falling foul of the law. It is illegal for an unmarried couple to live together and the penalty, if caught, can be up to a year in jail. Sex outside of marriage is also strictly forbidden and can result in criminal charges. Adultery is also a crime in the UAE. Homosexual acts are also illegal in the emirates.


Public displays of affection
Although a generally tolerant society, overt displays of affection that would be considered harmless in the West can be frowned upon in the UAE. Again, a common sense approach is best. Holding hands in public will not result in police action but some people make take offence to kissing. Outraging public decency can result in a jail term.


With it's mix of deserts, Arabic traditions and state-of-the-art buildings, the UAE is a treasure trove for photographers of any ability. However, there are a few rules to remember. Visitors to the UAE should avoid photographing women in general, particularly Emiratis, without permission. It is also illegal to photograph military, government or airport installations. Signs are usually in place to warn you but common sense is advised.


If you lose your job, you have a 30-day grace period in which to find other employment or get your affairs in order before leaving the country. After this grace period you will be deported if you are still unemployed.