You are dreaming or actually planning your first trip to Dubai (Kenyans like going to Dubai as their first-holiday destination, again zero puns intended ;). It is always important to be conversant with the laws and regulations of a country before you visit. Middle and Near East countries apply quite strictly the Sharia law which is perhaps stricter in other non-westernized countries like Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Oman, and Kuwait among others.
Again this should not scare you. The desert safaris and Arabic nights are exceptional. You got to visit and enjoy the culture, food and the architecture. As a tourist, you only need to be in the right place at the right time.
Forget about my dress my choice, In Middle East dress code is enforced by legal authorities and dressing provocatively or attracting an unwarranted attention may land you in trouble. This may be a bit relaxed in Dubai but places like Qatar and Saudi Arabia are stricter. Public nudity, nude sunbathing, sex on the beach, being topless are all illegal. Of course, things may be different in more western hotels but even in those, don’t go overboard.
Photography is a hobby to many, including me. When visiting UAE be careful on who is in the background of your selfie or who is in front of what you intend to snap. Taking photos of people particularly women that you don’t know even if accidentally, may land you in prison. It is better to ask for permission if you must take a photo of someone.
Also take note that photography of government buildings, and military base whether knowingly or unknowingly, could land you in trouble. By trouble I mean you could be arrested, your expensive phone or camera confiscated or God knows what else.
Public Display of Affection (PDA)
In the Middle East, it’s common to see two men walking together holding hands, but a man and woman generally don’t unless they are married or related. If you are married, it is safe to carry a copy of your marriage certificate just in case you land in trouble.
If a random person is offended by your behaviour in any way they can file a complaint and you will be arrested. Don’t get me wrong, people can live together and do stuff but if someone wants to throw the book at you, woe unto you. Also, don’t think you are somewhere where nobody can see you, the cameras are watching you.
Sharia law is very strict when it comes to drinking. While alcoholic drinks are served in hotels and bars and sold in a few selected stores, it may generally be sold only to people who hold a liquor license. These licenses are only issued to people who possess current UAE residency permits and are non-Muslim therefore you as a tourist do not qualify. Drinking or being drunk in public is illegal with consequences ranging from immediate arrest to imprisonment to hefty fines. A point to note- liquor license issued in a country only allows you to drink in that country.
Harassment towards women
This is for you brother! Harassment may include conversation insults, rude gestures, unwanted touching, shouting, stalking, and insults and just about anything you’d consider rude normally.
Watch what you say or post on social media
Comments made in person or on media whether social or mainstream that could be seen as ridicule to another person, the United Arab Emirates and the Royal family is considered illegal and punitively punished. Thou shall also not say anything negatively about the Muslim faith because this can get you in trouble with the citizens or the authorities.
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