The UAE is a Muslim state so most of the laws directly relate to Sharia law. Besides, in the Emirates the morals are quite strict - one can get a fine or penalty for something that is not even considered to be an offence in other countries.
However, it should be noted that foreign tourists in the United Arab Emirates receive warm welcome, since tourism here is one of the most profitable businesses. In most cases, naturally, except for serious crimes, severe penalties are not imposed on tourists. However, so as not to mess up holidays and to avoid trouble one should still comply with rules and laws of the United Arab Emirates.
Basic laws for tourists
Most of the UAE laws have their origin from the Sharia law, and, for example, cases of divorce and custody are ruled exclusively by Sharia courts. As for criminal offenses and crimes committed by tourists such cases are usually resolved in civil courts.
So what is prohibited for tourists in the UAE? The list of prohibited acts includes the use of bad language and vulgar gestures on the street, in cafes, etc. Even if you said “a couple of gentle words” to your friend, for your short temper you will have to fork out a nice rounded figureor you may be imprisoned for up to 7 years. Also it is not advised to show feelings of affection in public. Kissing and hugging in public in the UAE constitute gross violation of public morality, for which you will be immediately arrested by police.
Provokingly revealing clothes is prohibited. In particular, women should not appear in public in dresses with cleavage, swimsuit, transparent and revealing clothes, as well as in mini-skirts and short dresses. Requirements for male appearance are more loyal - for men it is only prohibited to wear too open T-shirts and shorts. In the tourist areas such clothes is not a problem, and these limitations relate primarily to those places where mainly local people live.
It is better not to watch at local women, and certainly not talking to them. Even if you get lost, and there is no one, except local lady, it is not a tradition to ask her the way. However, in practice this rule is often ignored without any problems provided that general rules of respect are observed when communicating. Particularly severe penalties are issued for being rude and insulting to local women. Also photography and filming of locals are banned: it is necessary to ask permission before taking photo of anyone. Amateur photographers should be attentive when taking pictures of buildings in the UAE. If a beautiful building turns out to be a military object, Sheikh estate or government building, you can be charged with espionage.
In United Arab Emirates there is extremely negative attitude to extramarital sexual relations, so couples that are not married may be refused one bedroom suite. If wife has maiden name, then it might be required to show marriage certificate (with notarized translation).
There is a very negative attitude to alcohol in the UAE. For drinking alcohol on the street and in public places one will face serious penalty, and in some Emirates even imprisonment. Drinking alcohol is only allowed in bars, restaurants, cafes or hotel rooms. In addition, according to the law, severe punishment is prescribed for being drunk in public places or on the street. However, there is a substantial sense of understanding to tourists with regard to this point. But in order to avoid trouble, while being under alcoholic intoxication, it is better to avoid police eye. In addition, under no circumstances you may drive a car if you are drunk; for drunk driving the imprisonment is stipulated in the UAE. And in this case no one will care that you are a foreign tourist.
While in real life, if you want to drink there is no problem with it in Dubai – there is a variety of discos, bars and restaurants to suit all tastes. Inside these places life is booming, but outside them it is strongly recommended to respect the public order.