Dubai laws: Doing this ordinary tourist passtime could see you in jail – what is it?

Dubai’s laws, social rules and traditional differ greatly from those in the UK and Europe. The country’s legal system draws upon its Muslim heritage and, as such, particular customs need to be respected by visitors from abroad. The country has well-known penalties for public displays of affection between married couples, and foul language both in public places and contained within private messages. Yet one lesser known stipulation – which can also see culprits slapped with a huge fine and even deportation, has now come to light.

Tourists should take extra care when capturing their perfect holiday shot in Dubai, due to the stringent photography regulations.

The UAE rule of law is centred on preserving the privacy of the individual and this extends to taking photographs in public places.

The offence, which has caught out many tourists, forbids individuals taking pictures of someone else without their prior consent or knowledge.

Visitors could suffer deportation and fines of up to Dhs 500,000 (USD$136,147).

Jail sentences have also been issued.

The UK’s Government website has offered further guidance and stated: “The UAE is a Muslim country.

“Laws and customs are very different to those in the UK.

“You should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times.

“There may be serious penalties for doing something that might not be illegal in the UK.”

Talking of photography guidelines in general, it added: “Photography of certain government buildings and military installations isn’t allowed.

“Don’t photograph people without their permission.

“Men have been arrested for photographing women on beaches.

“Hobbies like bird watching and plane spotting, may be misunderstood – particularly near military sites, government buildings and airports.”

To emphasise its warning, the website went on to cite a case in February 2015, where three British nationals were arrested while plane spotting at UAE airports.

They were detained in the country for two months.


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