United Arab Emirates
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United Arab Emirates - Exercise a high degree of caution
There is no nationwide advisory in effect for the United Arab Emirates (UAE). However, you should exercise a high degree of caution due to the regional threat of terrorism.
The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.
Although there is a constant and high terrorist threat in many countries in the Arabian Peninsula, this threat is considerably lower in the United Arab Emirates. Heightened security measures are currently in place across the Peninsula and may be reinforced upon short notice. If you are planning on travelling from the Emirates to another country in the Peninsula, be aware that reports emerge from time to time that terrorists plan to attack specific locations in one of these countries. Maintain a high level of vigilance and personal security awareness at all times. Exercise caution in areas known to be frequented by foreigners (commercial, public or tourist areas), monitor local developments and follow the advice of local authorities.
Demonstrations rarely occur. They have to be authorized by the government. There have been a number of demonstrations in the recent past related to regional political developments. Avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media.
The crime rate is low and violence is rare. Petty crime, such as purse snatching and pickpocketing, occurs. Lock car doors at all times. Do not show signs of affluence and ensure that personal belongings, passports and other travel documents are secure at all times. Do not agree to carry anyone else’s packages, especially across borders.
There have been reports of physical and verbal harassment toward women. Women should travel in groups and should not travel alone at night. Consult our publication entitled Her Own Way: A Woman’s Safe-Travel Guide for travel safety information specifically aimed at Canadian women.
Accidents are common. Driving habits differ markedly from those practised in Canada. Drifting sands and roaming animals also create hazards.
Accidents must be reported to the police. Familiarize yourself with the rules of the different emirates on whether you may move your car to the side of the road in the event of an accident or have to wait until the police arrive. Drivers involved in an accident resulting in injuries may be jailed until the injured persons are released from hospital. Foreign drivers involved in an accident resulting in fatalities should be aware that compensation is regularly awarded to the family of the deceased. Lengthy court proceedings may result from relatively minor accidents.
Undertake off-road driving in a convoy of four-wheel-drive vehicles with an experienced guide only. Leave a travel itinerary with a third party. Be well prepared and equipped with gasoline, water, food and a cell phone.
Use only officially marked taxis with meters. Avoid shared or service taxis.
Pirate attacks occur in coastal waters and, in some cases, farther out at sea. Mariners should take appropriate precautions. For additional information, consult the Live Piracy Report published by the International Maritime Bureau.
Exercise caution if travelling by sea, including for recreational purposes, in the Persian Gulf, particularly around the islands of Abu Masa and the Tunbs. Iran and the United Arab Emirates each claim sovereignty over the islands.
Consult our Transportation Safety page in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.
General safety information
Dial 999 for police, fire and medical emergencies.
It is the sole prerogative of each country or region to determine who is allowed to enter. The following information on entry and exit requirements has been obtained from the authorities of the United Arab Emirates. However, these requirements are subject to change at any time. It is your responsibility to check with the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates for up-to-date information.
Official (special and diplomatic) passport holders must consult the Official Travel page, as they may be subject to different entry requirements.
Canadians must present a passport to visit the United Arab Emirates, which must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of expected departure from that country.
Tourist visa: not required
Business visa: required
Student visa: required
Canadian passport holders must obtain an entry stamp (free of charge) valid for a 30-day visit at any port of entry.
Health entry requirements
You must undergo medical tests, including a test for infection by human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), if you are planning to work or reside in the UAE. If you are found to be HIV positive, you will be immediately deported. HIV certificates issued by foreign medical authorities are not accepted.
Some countries require proof of yellow fever vaccination before allowing entry. Consult the World Health Organization’s country list to obtain information on this country’s requirements.
Some prescribed and over-the-counter medicines that are available in Canada, such as codeine, are considered to be controlled substances in the UAE. Any such medication is not allowed into the UAE without prior permission from the UAE Ministry of Health. If you arrive in the UAE without prior approval and the required documentation, the medication will not be allowed into the country and you may be subject to prosecution and a jail sentence under the laws of the UAE. This applies while the medication is being taken and also while it is still detectable in the system. For more information, consult the website of the Ministry of Health of the UAE.
Contact the Ministry of Health Drug Control Department (DCD) to check whether your medication is on the List of Restricted and Controlled Drugs and as such requires prior permission for importation. Contact the Customer Service Centre of the DCD by e-mailing email@example.com, by telephone at (00) 971 2 611 7240 or by fax at (00) 971 2 632 7644. The Embassy of Canada to the UAE is unable to make these inquiries on your behalf.
You may face significant delays when trying to enter or transit through the country if your passport contains a valid or expired Israeli visa or stamps. If you are a Canadian-Israeli dual citizen or are suspected of holding Israeli citizenship, you could be refused entry by UAE authorities.
If you are travelling in the Middle East, your passport could come under increased scrutiny by immigration authorities and the authenticity of your passport could be questioned due to incidents of possible misuse. Contact the nearest Canadian government office or the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa for advice and assistance.
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. Please consult our Children page for more information.
The Agency strongly recommends that you consult with a travel medicine clinic or health care provider preferably six weeks before departure.
The Agency publishes travel health advice for the United Arab Emirates.
Adequate medical services are available in the main cities, including private medical clinics. Immediate payment is required.
Domestic tap water is generally safe to drink, but filtered or bottled water is preferred. Avoid undercooked meat, dairy products and most food sold in the streets.
Dehydration is a serious risk due to very high temperatures during the summer months. Protect yourself from the sun and drink plenty of water.
Laws & Culture
Laws & Culture
You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention FAQ for more information.
The work week is from Sunday to Thursday.
An International Driving Permit is required.
Illegal or restricted activities
Religious proselytizing is not permitted.
Common-law relationships, homosexual relations, adultery and prostitution are illegal and are subject to severe punishment, including the death penalty.
Avoid physical contact, such as holding hands, in public.
Pork is illegal in the emirate of Sharjah.
Possession of pornographic material is illegal in all emirates.
It is forbidden to photograph certain government buildings and military installations. Do not photograph people without their permission.
Consumption of prescription or illicit drugs
Criminal penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs, as well as poppy seeds, are strict and include the death penalty. Convicted offenders can expect lengthy jail sentences and/or heavy fines. The possession of drugs, even a very small amount, can result in arrest and, if convicted, a minimum four-year prison term. Using drugs deemed illegal by the authorities, even if used while outside of the UAE, can be punishable by law if traces of the substance are found in the blood or urine, and can also carry a minimum prison term of four years.
Canadians have been imprisoned in the UAE for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs, including drugs used outside of the UAE and still traceable in the blood or urine. Prescription or over-the-counter drugs that are legal in Canada, such as codeine, may be restricted in the UAE. Consult the Entry/Exit Requirements tab for more information.
Respect restrictions concerning the consumption of alcohol. It is illegal for all Muslims to consume or possess alcohol. The consumption of alcohol outside approved venues is illegal and could result in arrest and/or fines and imprisonment. Public intoxication is a criminal offence, no matter where the alcohol was consumed. There is no acceptable legal limit of alcohol consumption. You may be required to take a blood and/or urine test if you are suspected of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If the tests are positive, you may be prosecuted. In the emirate of Sharjah, any alcohol possession or consumption is considered illegal and is subject to criminal prosecution. There is a zero tolerance policy regarding drinking and driving.
Dress and behaviour
The country's customs, laws and regulations adhere closely to Islamic practices and beliefs. Dress conservatively, behave discreetly, and respect religious and social traditions to avoid offending local sensitivities.
Women should not wear tight or revealing clothing or short skirts. Both men and women should refrain from wearing shorts. Transgressions could be punished by detention or other penalties.
Exercise particular care in your behaviour with others, especially officials, to avoid offending local sensitivities. Verbal insults and obscene gestures may be considered a criminal act and, if found guilty, the accused could face deportation, fines and/or a prison sentence. Canadians have been detained on allegations of showing disrespect toward others by making verbal insults and obscene gestures.
Dual citizenship is not legally recognized, which may limit the ability of Canadian officials to provide consular services. You should travel using your Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times. Consult our publication entitled Dual Citizenship: What You Need to Know for more information.
Child custody decisions are based on Islamic law. It is extremely difficult for a Canadian woman, even if she is a Muslim, to obtain custody of her children through a court decision. Regardless of parental marital status, children of UAE fathers acquire UAE citizenship at birth, and must enter and leave the United Arab Emirates on UAE passports. The father's permission is required to leave the country.
Witnesses to incidents, as well as suspects, may be held for lengthy periods without access to legal counsel or consular officials. Authorities may withhold the passport of an individual involved in legal processes, pending resolution of the case. This could result in the delay of a planned departure.
Familiarize yourself with the rules and laws of each emirate you intend to travel to, as they differ from one emirate to another.
Fraudulent practices, such as writing cheques without funds and non-payment of bills, are regarded as extremely serious offences and may result in imprisonment and fines. Penalties are generally assessed according to Islamic (Sharia) law. Bail is not available for non-residents of the UAE. Temporary release pending legal action may be granted in minor cases if the passport of the accused and the passport of the guarantor are surrendered to the authorities.
Clearly establish the terms and conditions of employment in writing prior to arrival in the UAE. It is customary for a local sponsor to retain an employee's passport, but this is not required under UAE law. The UAE Ministry of Labour has established a special department to review and arbitrate labour claims in cases of dispute. A list of local attorneys is available from the Embassy of Canada in Abu Dhabi or the Consulate of Canada in Dubai.
The currency is the United Arab Emirates dirham (AED). Major credit cards and traveller's cheques are accepted in major hotels and restaurants; however, prices could be cheaper if you are paying in cash. Automated banking machines are widely available.
Natural Disasters & Climate
Natural Disasters & Climate
Flash floods occur in dry river canyons, most frequently in winter.
The humidity and heat are at their highest during the hot season, which lasts from June to September.
Abu Dhabi - Embassy of Canada
Dubai - Consulate General of Canada
For emergency assistance after hours, call the Embassy of Canada in Abu Dhabi or the Consulate of Canada in Dubai and follow the instructions. You may also call the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa, toll-free, at 800-014-0145.