Revealed: Top crimes committed by UAE visitors

Ministry of Interior warns ignorance is no excuse for violating the state’s conservative laws

The UAE government has released a list of the top crimes committed by foreigners in the country and warned there was no excuse for ignorance of the law.

Drink driving is the most common crime committed by non-locals, although the article published in the Ministry of Interior’s monthly English-language magazine 999 is not clear whether the offenders are only tourists or also include expatriates living in the conservative Islamic state.

The list also includes taking pictures of strangers, sunbathing in “very skimpy” clothing, wearing disrespectful clothing and public display of affection.

Other offences mostly related to common traffic violations.

The magazine’s editor in chief, Lt Colonel Awadh Saleh Al Kindi, said there was no excuse for not knowing the law when foreigners arrived in the country.

“There is an abundance of information on the Internet,” he said.

“This commonly used legal principle, Ignorantia juris non excusat (ignorance of the law is no defence), is an internationally followed legal principle holding that [the] person who is unaware of a law liable for violating that law.

“There is no valid reason for tourists and visitors to not find out more about their destination country’s customs and laws before or even after arriving here.

“There are enough learning resources – and our cover story will make for a very good starting point for anyone considering visiting the UAE for work or play.”

Foreigners charged with offences that do not exist in their country often make news headlines, within the UAE and internationally.

A Canadian executive for UAE telecommunications provider Etisalat was jailed for a month in November for cursing at an employee. He had argued that he was not guilty because the curse word was not an offence in his native Canada.

The Gulf state also has been criticised internationally for some legal cases.

In July, international pressure forced Dubai authorities to pardon a Norwegian woman sentenced to jail after reporting that she had been raped.

Activist groups also have popped up, warning tourists of the potential legal dangers of visiting the UAE. Dubai-based Emirates’ alliance with Qantas caused some in Australia to question whether the airline would provide information to passengers when they disembarked at Dubai airport about the state’s conservative laws, including in relation to public affection, drinking alcohol and clothing requirements.

But Al Kindi said UAE laws were designed to balance personal freedom and respect regardless of a person’s faith and nationality.

“Visitors and residents should avoid improper conduct or inappropriate behaviour that can otherwise lead to fines, imprisonment and deportation,” he said.

Al Kindi said the UAE has taken a global lead by establishing the Law Respect Culture Bureau within the Ministry of Interior with the aim to promote legal awareness and instil a law-respecting culture among community members.

Join the Discussion

Disclaimer:The view expressed here by our readers are not necessarily shared by Arabian Business, its employees, sponsors or its advertisers.

NOTE: Comments posted on may be printed in the magazine Arabian Business

Please post responsibly. Commenter Rules

Posted by: Zaitoon

A reminder that the laws never go on holidays and are enforced all year round so enjoy the festive seasons without breaking the laws of the land else you might celebrate the new year behind bars, now that wouldn't be a pleasant experience inst it? Happy New Year

Posted by: Fahim

As long as all the foreigners, residents and tourists remember Ignorantia Juris Non Excusat or "ignorance of the law is not excuse" and are cognizant of the unambiguous laws of the land, nobody will fall in trouble.
As to the unrelenting tide of illegal immigrants from across the Mediterranean Sea is because of the lax EU Immigration Policy, and the Arab brain drain is because of a troubled Levant and North Africa, and the Asian brain drain is because of the huge Asian population which consist of 5 Billion while Europe's population is 700 Million, that's a no brainer.

Posted by: one of the joes

Jaber et al, did you try the nightlife in Dubai and Abu Dhabi? Have you seen the number of people from other Gulf states / other Arab states consuming what is on offer here?
And did you try looking at how many people in Europe actually live a lifestyle as you described it vs the hundreds of millions of people that live a decent life and work hard to make a living?
And may be you try doing the math ... supposedly there are about 8.5 mio people living in the UAE today. majorities are from Arab countries, India, Pakistan, Philippines, ... and then traditionally British passport holders, South Africans ... There are very few from continental Europe, they add up to less than approx 50,000. It appears other nations have much more reason to come here than Europeans - may be their lives back home are not as bad as you seem to believe?

Posted by: Jaber

Tfg and WHJ

Don't bother about the frustrated Dougs, Telcoguys and Steves whose nonsensical whine entertain us. Don't worry, they sure will obey the laws of their host, no wonder their governments are urge them to obey the firm laws of the land esp during festive seasons otherwise they'll face dire consequences.....
Their ilk only understand the melodious tunes of Pack'n'Leave.
Until now the European (dis)Union is still sunk in the Dark Ages, just look at their cultureless libertine lifestyles and morally corrupt societies and their nationalistic subverted politics, they have become the joke of the whole world, no wonder Europeans are strewn all over the world desperate for jobs and a dignified life that is non existent in the battered Europe (dis)Union with a begging bowl. These are truly amazing times.

Posted by: Doug

And yet the weird thing is that everyone outside of Europe seems to want to come to Europe. Or are all the GCC national tourists roaming around in Kensington in summer and the large number of people emigrating from Asia to Europe just a figment of my imagination?

As for 'cultureless', let me know when this region decides to develop some of its own instead of buying in things like the Louvre Abu Dhabi and then failing to build it anyway. There's more art galleries, museums and theatres in London than there are in the whole of the GCC.

Posted by: tfg

Euro trash:

Post-modern, degenerate, trendy, or out-of-style European cultural phenomena masquerading as avant-garde High Art.

Self-aggrandizing Europeans who condescend Americans, yet consume massive amounts of American culture and appropriate it as their own.

Posted by: Steve

Er... tfg... you OK over their? you read as though a conservative marxist anti european american has had a fight with a thesaurus and lost rather badly, or at least is in the middle of a very bad day. I hope Saudi isn't getting you down too much.

Posted by: who you fooling

Where as Saudi's consume massive amounts of American food!!

All comments are subject to approval before appearing

Further reading

Features & Analysis
Everything you need to know about Qatar

Everything you need to know about Qatar

Former British protectorate has been ruled by the Al-Thani family...

The Al Thanis are Qatar's power family

The Al Thanis are Qatar's power family

New research sheds light on the overwhelming influence of the...

Raising the bar: DLA Piper plans fresh growth in the Gulf

Raising the bar: DLA Piper plans fresh growth in the Gulf

Legal firm DLA Piper’s Middle East business recorded 10 percent...

Most Discussed