United Arab Emirates
Irish citizens, either visiting or residing in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), are strongly advised to register their details with the Embassy of Ireland in Abu Dhabi. Please click here to register.
The Department of Foreign Affairs strongly recommends that you obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before travelling to the United Arab Emirates. You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.
Travellers should note that the Irish Government does not provide funds for emergency medical repatriation or for repatriation of remains.
Safety and Security
Most visits to the UAE are trouble-free. However, you should be aware of the threat from terrorism generally in the region. Attacks could be indiscriminate, and against Western interests, as they have been elsewhere in the area.
Excursions to the desert can be dangerous unless undertaken in adequately equipped 4 x 4 vehicles. You should always travel in convoy with other cars, take a supply of water and a mobile telephone if you have one and leave travel plans with friends or relatives.
It is an offence in the UAE to drink and drive. There is zero tolerance for drinking and driving, and the penalties can be severe. Insurance is likely to be invalidated, leaving the driver to pay claims by other parties involved.
There have been 40 cases of novel coronavirus reported worldwide (17 May 2013), including 20 deaths. Cases are associated with travel in the Arabian Peninsula and Jordan.. The WHO advises no travel or trade restrictions in relation to novel coronaviruses. However, Irish citizens travelling to the Arabian Peninsula and neighbouring countries should be aware of the presence of novel coronavirus in this geographical area and of the small risk of infection. Travellers should follow standard good hygiene practice including hand washing with soap and water following contact with animals. Further information can be found on the Health Protection Surveillance Centre website (www.hpsc.ie).
Local Laws and Customs
The UAE is a Muslim country in which Islamic law is enforced.
Women should dress in a modest way, particularly in Sharjah and Ajman emirates where Islamic law is rigorously enforced. Clothes should cover the tops of the arms and legs, and underwear should not be visible. Public displays of affection are frowned upon, and there have been several arrests for kissing in public. Sex outside of marriage is illegal, as is cohabitation, adultery and homosexual behaviour. Swearing or making rude gestures is considered an obscene act and offenders can be prosecuted.
The importation of narcotics, pork products and pornographic books and material is forbidden. Videos, books and magazines are subject to scrutiny and may be censored.
Fraud, including bouncing cheques and the non-payment of bills (including hotel bills), is regarded seriously in the UAE and can often result in imprisonment and/or a fine. Bail is generally not available to non-residents of the UAE who are arrested for crimes involving fraud. Convicted debtors will not generally be released from jail until the debt is paid or waived.
CONSUMPTION OF ALCOHOL
Liquor licences can be obtained by residents to consume alcohol in private homes, and alcoholic drinks are served in licensed hotels and clubs. But it is a punishable offence to drink or to be drunk in public.
The penalties for drug trafficking, smuggling and possession are severe. Drug trafficking penalties can include the death sentence or life imprisonment. The presence of drugs in the body constitutes possession and carries a minimum sentence of four years.
Medications available over the counter or by prescription in Ireland may be illegal or considered a controlled substance in the UAE. Any such medication is not allowed into the UAE without prior permission from the UAE Ministry of Health.
The UAE Ministry of Health has a list of restricted and controlled drugs which can be seen at http://www.uaeinteract.com/travel/drug.asp If necessary travellers should check the generic name of their medication with a doctor or pharmacist. Further queries should be directed to the local Embassy or Consulate of the UAE.
Natural Disasters and Climate
The climate in the UAE is hot and dry most of the year. Visitors should take appropriate precautions to prevent sun burn and should also ensure they do not become dehydrated, remembering that during Ramadan it is an offence to eat or drink in public between sunrise and sunset.
There are occasional sand storms but although they may restrict visibility, they are not usually of a severity to affect daily life.
In some parts of the country, particularly mountainous areas, occasional severe heavy rain can cause dangerous flash floods. Take appropriate precautions and consider local advice.
Additional Country Info
DIPLOMATIC AND CONSULAR MISSIONS
There is an Irish Embassy in Abu Dhabi. Click here for details: (Opens in new window)Top