Officials attribute the decrease to a crackdown on smuggling and greater awareness of what is not allowed into the country.
Banned items seized by Dubai customs decline
Fewer banned items were seized by customs officers at Dubai's airport last year.
Officials attributed the decline to a crackdown on smuggling and greater awareness of what is not allowed into the country.
There was a 15 per cent drop in the number of prohibited and restricted items seized last year - 1,834 items, from 2,165 in 2011.
Ali Al Maghawi, director of the airport operations department at Dubai Customs, said the effort to reduce smuggling had improved the image of Dubai.
"The awareness campaigns, as led by Dubai Customs, have influentially educated passengers about classifications of illegal items and restrictions of their entry into the country," he added.
Campaigns have informed people about the legal and health risks of importing items such as fake medications, counterfeit goods and endangered animals.
Passengers detained were from different parts of the world and aged from 15 to 65. Of those held, 1,670 were men and 164 women.
Smugglers use different techniques to fool customs officers, hiding items in gloves, wallets, cartons and cigarettes packs. But inspectors are trained to identify drugs and suspicious behaviour.
"Dubai Customs is always seeking to achieve its vision of being the leading customs administration in the world, supporting legitimate trade," Mr Al Maghawi said.