United Arab Emirates travel advice

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Risk level

United Arab Emirates - Exercise a high degree of caution

Exercise a high degree of caution in the United Arab Emirates due to the threat of terrorism.

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Safety and security

Terrorism

There’s an ongoing threat of terrorism. Terrorist groups have indicated their intention to target the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Enhanced security measures are in place, and Emirati authorities may reinforce them on short notice.

Terrorist attacks could occur at any time.

Targets could include:

  • government buildings, military installations and schools
  • places of worship
  • airports and other transportation hubs and networks
  • public areas such as tourist attractions, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, shopping centres, markets, hotels and other sites frequented by foreigners

Always be aware of your surroundings when in public places. Be particularly vigilant during sporting events, religious holidays and other public celebrations. Terrorists may use such occasions to mount attacks.

Missile strikes and drones

Conflicts in the Middle East and the Gulf region can affect the UAE. Regional tensions can flare up at any time, resulting in an unpredictable and volatile security situation.

Armed groups in the region have publicly stated their intention to target neighbouring countries, including the UAE, with drones and missiles.  Drone attacks continue to either reach UAE territory or be intercepted over the country.

 Missiles and drones have reached:

  • urban areas
  • military installations
  • oil industry infrastructure
  • public facilities, such as airports

Their interception may cause scattered debris or fragments.

During missile and drone strikes:

  • seek shelter
  • stay away from doors and windows
  • follow the instructions of local authorities

If you encounter debris or fragments:

  • don’t get close to or touch them
  • move away from them immediately
  • contact local authorities

Crime

The crime rate is low. Petty crime, such as pickpocketing, purse snatching and theft from cars may occur.

During your stay:

  • make sure that your personal belongings, including your passport and other travel documents, are secure at all times
  • don’t leave personal items and documents in plain sight in a vehicle
  • keep your car doors locked and windows closed at all times

Violent crime is rare.

Fraud

Credit card and ATM fraud

Credit card and ATM fraud occur. Be cautious when using debit or credit cards:

  • pay careful attention when your cards are being handled by others
  • use ATMs located in well-lit public areas or inside a bank or business
  • avoid using card readers with an irregular or unusual feature
  • cover the keypad with one hand when entering your PIN
  • check for any unauthorized transactions on your account statements

Cybercrime

Cybercrime, malware attacks and online extortion are common in the UAE. Perpetrators may compromise public Wi-Fi networks to steal credit card or personal information.

  • Avoid using public Wi-Fi networks
  • Avoid making purchases on unencrypted websites
  • Be cautious when posting information on social media
  • Be particularly vigilant when contacting or meeting individuals known over the Internet

Telephone scams

Foreigners have received calls from scammers claiming to be local authorities or financial institutions. The caller may try to collect personal information or request a fund transfer to resolve administrative or customs issues.

Don’t send any money or personal information in this type of situation.

Romance scams

Romance scams are common. Victims of these types of scams have lost thousands of dollars. Before travelling to the UAE to visit someone you met online:

  • keep in mind that you may be the victim of a scam
  • inform yourself about the country’s customs and laws on conjugal relations and marriage
  • be sure to retain possession of your return plane ticket, money, and passport

Useful links

Women’s safety

Although rare, women travelling alone may be subject to some forms of harassment, verbal abuse, or physical assaults.

Local authorities may not respond adequately to reports of sexual violence and harassment. Emirati authorities have detained women reporting sexual assault. The victim must prove that the sex was not consensual to avoid being charged. The notion of sexual consent may differ substantially from the Canadian context.

If you are the victim of a sexual assault, you should report it immediately to the nearest Government of Canada office.

  • Avoid travelling alone, especially at night
  • Remain particularly vigilant in less populous areas

Be careful when dealing with strangers or recent acquaintances

Advice for women travellers

Spiked food and drinks

Snacks, beverages, gum and cigarettes may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery.

  • Be wary of accepting these items from new acquaintances
  • Never leave food or drinks unattended or in the care of strangers

Water activities

Coastal waters can be dangerous. Rip currents occur at beaches and can sweep swimmers out to sea.

Rescue services may not be consistent with international standards. Some beaches don’t have lifeguards or warning flags.

  • Only participate in scuba diving and other water activities with a well-established company
  • Don’t swim alone, after hours or outside marked areas
  • Consult residents and tour operators for information on possible hazards and safe swimming areas
  • Monitor weather warnings
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities

Water safety abroad

Adventure tourism

Desert expeditions or trekking can be dangerous, especially if they are not well organized. Trails are not always marked, and weather conditions can change rapidly.

If you undertake desert expeditions:

  • never do so alone
  • always hire an experienced guide from a reputable company
  • travel in a 4 x 4 vehicle
  • buy travel insurance that includes helicopter rescue and medical evacuation
  • ensure that your physical condition is good enough to meet the challenges of your activity
  • avoid venturing off marked trails
  • ensure that you’re properly equipped and carry sufficient water supply
  • know the symptoms of dehydration and heatstroke, both of which can be fatal
  • ensure that you’re well informed about weather and other conditions that may pose a hazard
  • inform a family member or friend of your itinerary, including when you expect to be back
  • obtain detailed information on each activity before setting out

Road safety

Road safety varies across the UAE.

Accidents causing fatalities are common.

Pedestrians should be particularly careful and should always use designated crossings, pedestrian bridges or underpasses.

Road conditions

Road conditions are excellent throughout the UAE. Driving conditions may be hazardous during sandstorms or foggy conditions due to limited visibility.

  • Avoid off-road driving unless you’re in a convoy of 4 x 4 vehicles
  • Leave your travel itinerary with a third party
  • Ensure that you’re well prepared with a cell phone and a sufficient supply of gasoline, water and food

Driving habits

Drivers can be reckless. They often tailgate and drive at excessive speeds.

If you choose to drive in the UAE:

  • always drive defensively
  • maintain distance from other vehicles on the road
  • familiarize yourself with your itinerary before leaving
  • always carry a cell phone and charger
  • keep a list of emergency numbers with you

Public transportation

The emirates of Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah, have reliable and modern public transportation systems. Public transportation options are more limited in the other emirates.

Buses

Public buses in the UAE are generally modern, safe and efficient. Most emirates have public buses and inter-emirates buses operating on their own schedule.

Taxis

Taxis are convenient to travel within cities and between the emirates.

Street taxis use meters while private taxis have flat rates.

Pink taxis (in Dubai) and purple taxis (in Abu Dhabi) are reserved for and driven by women.

Special taxis for people with special needs or disabilities are also available.

  • Use only officially marked taxis or trusted ride-sharing app
  • Avoid sharing a taxi with strangers

If using a private taxi, negotiate the fare in advance

 Pink taxis - UAE Government

Sea travel

There are territorial disputes between the UAE and Iran in the Gulf over the islands of:

  • Abu Musa
  • Greater Tunb
  • Lesser Tunb

Be cautious if you travel by sea in the Strait of Hormuz due to tense encounters that could lead to vessel and passenger detention.

Air travel

We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.

Information about foreign domestic airlines

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Entry and exit requirements

Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Government of Canada cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.

We have obtained the information on this page from the authorities of the United Arab Emirates. It can, however, change at any time.

Verify this information with the Foreign Representatives in Canada.

Passport

Entry requirements vary depending on the type of passport you use for travel.

Before you travel, check with your transportation company about passport requirements. Its rules on passport validity may be more stringent than the country’s entry rules.

Regular Canadian passport

Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond your date of entry into the United Arab Emirates.

Passport for official travel

Different entry rules may apply.

Official travel

Passport with “X” gender identifier

While the Government of Canada issues passports with an “X” gender identifier, it cannot guarantee your entry or transit through other countries. You might face entry restrictions in countries that do not recognize the “X” gender identifier. Before you leave, check with the closest foreign representative for your destination.

Other travel documents

Different entry rules may apply when travelling with a temporary passport or an emergency travel document. Before you leave, check with the closest foreign representative for your destination.

Useful links

Other entry requirements

The authorities of the United Arab Emirates only accept Canadian temporary passports for exit and transit. Travellers cannot enter the UAE when travelling with a temporary passport or an emergency travel document.

Visas

Tourist visa: not required
Business visa: required
Student visa: required

If you’re entering the UAE as a tourist, you must obtain an entry stamp at the port of entry. This entry stamp is free and valid for 30 days. Ahead of the expiry of the initial 30-day period, you may request a validity extension for an additional 30 days.

Useful links

Health entry requirements

Medical tests, including tests for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and tuberculosis infections, are required to obtain or renew a work or residency permit. Emirati authorities don’t recognize foreign-issued HIV test results.

If you test positive for HIV or another communicable disease such as hepatitis or tuberculosis, you may be subject to:

  • detention
  • deportation
  • quarantine
  • mandatory treatment

It’s also forbidden to enter the UAE with HIV/AIDS antiretroviral medication for personal use. If you do so, you may be subject to:

  • scrutiny
  • detention
  • deportation

Exit requirements

You must exit the UAE with the passport you used for entry.

If you obtained a new passport during your stay in the UAE, you should consult the immigration authorities before travelling to ensure your visa was properly transferred to the new document.

Previous or expired visas must be formally cancelled by the organization or the individuals sponsoring your work or residency visa. If your previous visa has not been cancelled, you may be prevented from leaving the UAE or face difficulties returning in the future.

Exit bans

UAE authorities may place an exit ban on certain individuals to prevent them from leaving the country.

An exit ban can relate to investigations into:

  • an individual, their family or an employer
  • criminal and civil matters, including business disputes
  • employment without a valid work permit
  • unpaid financial debts

An exit ban can be requested by people involved in any of these circumstances. You may not be aware that authorities have placed an exit ban on you until you try to leave the country.

Your passport may be seized until the case is fully investigated and settled.

If you face an exit ban, you should seek legal advice.

Children and travel

Children born to a father who holds Emirati citizenship acquire UAE citizenship at birth, regardless of where they were born.

They must enter and leave the country on a UAE passport.

Travelling with children

Yellow fever

Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).

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Health

Relevant Travel Health Notices

This section contains information on possible health risks and restrictions regularly found or ongoing in the destination. Follow this advice to lower your risk of becoming ill while travelling. Not all risks are listed below.

Consult a health care professional or visit a travel health clinic preferably 6 weeks before you travel to get personalized health advice and recommendations.

Routine vaccines

Be sure that your routine vaccinations, as per your province or territory, are up-to-date before travelling, regardless of your destination.

Some of these vaccinations include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella (chickenpox), influenza and others.

Pre-travel vaccines and medications

You may be at risk for preventable diseases while travelling in this destination. Talk to a travel health professional about which medications or vaccines may be right for you, based on your destination and itinerary. 

Yellow Fever - Country Entry Requirements

Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.

Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

Risk

  • There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.

Country Entry Requirement*

  • Proof of vaccination is required if you are coming from or have transited through an airport of a country where yellow fever occurs.

Recommendation

  • Vaccination is not recommended.
  • Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care professional.
  • Contact a designated Yellow Fever Vaccination Centre well in advance of your trip to arrange for vaccination.

About Yellow Fever

Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres in Canada
* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.

Hepatitis A

There is a risk of hepatitis A in this destination. It is a disease of the liver. People can get hepatitis A if they ingest contaminated food or water, eat foods prepared by an infectious person, or if they have close physical contact (such as oral-anal sex) with an infectious person, although casual contact among people does not spread the virus.

 

Practise safe food and water precautions and wash your hands often. Vaccination is recommended for all travellers to areas where hepatitis A is present.

Measles

Measles is a highly contagious viral disease. It can spread quickly from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.

Anyone who is not protected against measles is at risk of being infected with it when travelling internationally.

Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are fully protected against measles.

Hepatitis B

 Hepatitis B is a risk in every destination. It is a viral liver disease that is easily transmitted from one person to another through exposure to blood and body fluids containing the hepatitis B virus.  Travellers who may be exposed to blood or other bodily fluids (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) are at higher risk of getting hepatitis B.

Hepatitis B vaccination is recommended for all travellers. Prevent hepatitis B infection by practicing safe sex, only using new and sterile drug equipment, and only getting tattoos and piercings in settings that follow public health regulations and standards.

COVID-19

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious viral disease. It can spread from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.

It is recommended that all eligible travellers complete a COVID-19 vaccine series along with any additional recommended doses in Canada before travelling. Evidence shows that vaccines are very effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. While vaccination provides better protection against serious illness, you may still be at risk of infection from the virus that causes COVID-19. Anyone who has not completed a vaccine series is at increased risk of being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 and is at greater risk for severe disease when travelling internationally.

Before travelling, verify your destination’s COVID-19 vaccination entry/exit requirements. Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are adequately protected against COVID-19.

Influenza

 The best way to protect yourself from seasonal influenza (flu) is to get vaccinated every year. Get the flu shot at least 2 weeks before travelling.  

 The flu occurs worldwide. 

  •  In the Northern Hemisphere, the flu season usually runs from November to   April.
  •  In the Southern Hemisphere, the flu season usually runs between April and   October.
  •  In the tropics, there is flu activity year round. 

The flu vaccine available in one hemisphere may only offer partial protection against the flu in the other hemisphere.

The flu virus spreads from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Clean your hands often and wear a mask if you have a fever or respiratory symptoms.

Rabies

In this destination, rabies may be present in some wildlife species, including bats. Rabies is a deadly disease that spreads to humans primarily through bites or scratches from an infected animal. 

If you are bitten or scratched by an animal while travelling, immediately wash the wound with soap and clean water and see a health care professional. 

Before travel, discuss rabies vaccination with a health care professional. It may be recommended for travellers who will be working directly with wildlife. 

Safe food and water precautions

Many illnesses can be caused by eating food or drinking beverages contaminated by bacteria, parasites, toxins, or viruses, or by swimming or bathing in contaminated water.

  • Learn more about food and water precautions to take to avoid getting sick by visiting our eat and drink safely abroad page. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
  • Avoid getting water into your eyes, mouth or nose when swimming or participating in activities in freshwater (streams, canals, lakes), particularly after flooding or heavy rain. Water may look clean but could still be polluted or contaminated.
  • Avoid inhaling or swallowing water while bathing, showering, or swimming in pools or hot tubs. 

Typhoid

Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among children, travellers going to rural areas, travellers visiting friends and relatives or those travelling for a long period of time.

Travellers visiting regions with a risk of typhoid, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation, should speak to a health care professional about vaccination.  

Insect bite prevention

Many diseases are spread by the bites of infected insects such as mosquitoes, ticks, fleas or flies. When travelling to areas where infected insects may be present:

  • Use insect repellent (bug spray) on exposed skin
  • Cover up with light-coloured, loose clothes made of tightly woven materials such as nylon or polyester
  • Minimize exposure to insects
  • Use mosquito netting when sleeping outdoors or in buildings that are not fully enclosed

To learn more about how you can reduce your risk of infection and disease caused by bites, both at home and abroad, visit our insect bite prevention page.

Find out what types of insects are present where you’re travelling, when they’re most active, and the symptoms of the diseases they spread.

Chikungunya

There is a risk of chikungunya in this country.  The risk may vary between regions of a country.  Chikungunya is a virus spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. Chikungunya can cause a viral disease that typically causes fever and pain in the joints. In some cases, the joint pain can be severe and last for months or years.

Protect yourself from mosquito bites at all times. There is no vaccine available for chikungunya.

Animal precautions

Some infections, such as rabies and influenza, can be shared between humans and animals. Certain types of activities may increase your chance of contact with animals, such as travelling in rural or forested areas, camping, hiking, and visiting wet markets (places where live animals are slaughtered and sold) or caves.

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, livestock (pigs, cows), monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats, and to avoid eating undercooked wild game.

Closely supervise children, as they are more likely to come in contact with animals.

Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS)

Cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) have been reported in this destination. The risk to travellers is low; MERS is primarily spread through contact with camels or camel-based products (raw milk, meat, urine). It can also spread through close contact, such as when caring for an infected person. 

Avoid contact with animals (especially camels), camel-based products, and wash your hands frequently.

Prevention of Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS)

MERS symptoms range from mild and flu-like to more severe pneumonia-like symptoms, and can result in death.

There is no vaccine or medication that protects against MERS.

Person-to-person infections

Stay home if you’re sick and practise proper cough and sneeze etiquette, which includes coughing or sneezing into a tissue or the bend of your arm, not your hand. Reduce your risk of colds, the flu and other illnesses by:

  •  washing your hands often
  • avoiding or limiting the amount of time spent in closed spaces, crowded places, or at large-scale events (concerts, sporting events, rallies)
  • avoiding close physical contact with people who may be showing symptoms of illness 

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), HIV, and mpox are spread through blood and bodily fluids; use condoms, practise safe sex, and limit your number of sexual partners. Check with your local public health authority pre-travel to determine your eligibility for mpox vaccine.  

Medical services and facilities

Good health care is available throughout the emirates. However, it may vary significantly from facility to facility, particularly outside of large cities.

Private clinics and hospitals are well equipped. Services may be expensive, but they usually have sufficient qualified medical personnel speaking English well.

Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays.

Travel health and safety

Prescription medication

Some prescription medications may not be available in the UAE.

If you take prescription medication, you’re responsible for determining its legality in the country.

  • Bring enough of your medication with you
  • Always keep your medication in the original container
  • Pack your medication in your carry-on luggage
  • Carry a paper and an electronic copy of your prescriptions

Keep in Mind...

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

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Laws and culture

You must abide by local laws.

Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad.

Penalties for breaking the law in the UAE can be more severe than in Canada, even for similar offences. No transfer of offender's treaty exists between Canada and the UAE. If you’re convicted of a serious crime, you must serve your jail sentence in the UAE.

Legal process

UAE authorities routinely notify the Embassy of Canada or Consulate following the arrest of a Canadian citizen.

If you are arrested, request that the arresting authorities immediately notify the nearest Canadian government office of your arrestIf you are not allowed to do so, ask a friend or family member to contact the Embassy or Consulate of Canada.

The UAE and Canadian criminal law systems are significantly different. Laws, penalties and legal procedures vary according to the emirate.

Detention during the investigative period is common and can be lengthy. You may be held without access to legal counsel or consular assistance. You may also have to remain in the UAE for a parole period after your release.

If you’re involved in legal proceedings, local authorities can prevent you from leaving the UAE by withholding your passport or enforcing an exit ban. Familiarize yourself with the rules and laws of each emirate to which you intend to travel.

Overview of the criminal law system in the United Arab Emirates

Death penalty

Although rarely carried out, the death penalty can be applied in the UAE.

If you are convicted of a crime, you can face:

  • corporal punishment
  • deportation
  • the death penalty

Drugs

Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe.

 Convicted offenders can expect:

  • heavy fines
  • jail sentences
  • the death penalty for severe offences, including drug trafficking

The UAE has a zero-tolerance policy towards drugs, even for travellers in transit. Detection of drugs (including cannabis) in blood or urine tests can also lead to a conviction.

Alcohol

Although it’s legal to consume alcohol in private homes and licensed venues, it’s a punishable offence to drink or be under the influence of alcohol in public. Even passengers in transit through the UAE can be arrested if they’re under the influence of alcohol.

Don’t drink alcohol outside private homes or licensed venues.

Drugs, alcohol and travel

Medications

Certain prescription and over-the-counter medications legally available in Canada, such as codeine and psychiatric medications, are classified as controlled substances in the UAE. It’s illegal to bring them into the country, even in small quantities, without prior permission from the UAE Ministry of Health.

If you attempt to bring banned medication into the UAE without prior approval and required documentation, you may be subject to:

  • confiscation of medication
  • heavy fines
  • jail sentences

Medical tests are mandatory to obtain or renew your residency permit. You could face prosecution if traces of prohibited substances are detected in your urine or blood sample, even if you haven’t imported the medication into the UAE.

Consult the Ministry of Health and Prevention’s list of controlled medicines to determine if you must obtain a permission to import any required medication. You can obtain a permission by creating a profile online and completing an electronic form.

Useful links

2SLGBTQI+ travellers

UAE law criminalizes sexual acts and relationships between persons of the same sex.

2SLGBTQI+ travellers could be detained based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or sex characteristics. They could also be detained and face other charges such as:

  • cross dressing
  • gross indecency
  • offence to public morals

2SLGBTQI+ travellers could face:

  • heavy fines
  • jail sentences
  • corporal punishment
  • deportation
  • the death penalty

They should carefully consider the risks of travelling to the UAE.

Travel and your sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics

Dress and behaviour

UAE customs, laws and regulations adhere closely to Islamic practices and beliefs. Public displays of affection, including holding hands and kissing, may attract the attention of local authorities. Verbal insults and obscene gestures may be considered criminal acts.

Foreign female travellers are not expected to wear head covers. However, revealing clothing is considered inappropriate.

To avoid offending local sensitivities:

  • dress conservatively
  • behave discreetly
  • respect religious and social traditions
  • interact on social media with the same care as you would in person
  • seek permission from locals before photographing them

Ramadan

In 2024, the lunar month of Ramadan is expected to begin on or around March 10.

In public, between sunrise and sunset, refrain from:

  • drinking
  • eating
  • smoking

In Abu Dhabi and Dubai during Ramadan, restaurants remain open, serving food as normal. Most government and public sector businesses have reduced working hours.

Religious proselytism

Religious proselytism is illegal.

You should avoid engaging in religious activities that contradict or challenge Islamic teachings and values. This includes preaching, possessing or distributing religious literature or material.

Lèse-majesté

It’s illegal to criticize or disrespect the UAE’s:

  • ruling families
  • political system
  • institutions

This includes comments made on social media.

Punishment can be severe, including lengthy jail terms.

Dual citizenship

Dual citizenship is legally recognized in the UAE.

If you are a Canadian citizen, but also a citizen of the UAE, our ability to offer you consular services may be limited while you're there. You may also be subject to different entry/exit requirements.

Emirati authorities determine your citizenship based on the passport you use to enter the country. Ensure you use the same passport to enter and exit the country. Using different passports may lead to detention and delays.

General information for travellers with dual citizenship

Family law

UAE family law is different from Canadian family law. Decisions are based on Islamic law.

Children of an Emirati father automatically acquire Emirati citizenship at birth.

Although the courts will review each case individually, custody of boys under the age of 11 and girls under 13 is normally awarded to the mother. Custody is normally transferred to the father once boys reach 11 and once girls reach the age of 13.

Regardless of which parent is awarded custody, fathers are normally given guardianship responsibilities for the children by the courts, granting them significant legal rights. Guardians have the right to hold the child’s passport and can legally prevent the child from exiting the UAE.

International Child Abduction

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is an international treaty. It can help parents with the return of children who have been removed to or retained in certain countries in violation of custody rights. It does not apply between Canada and the United Arab Emirates.

If your child was wrongfully taken to, or is being held in the United Arab Emirates by an abducting parent:

  • act as quickly as you can
  • consult a lawyer in Canada and in the United Arab Emirates to explore all the legal options for the return of your child
  • report the situation to the nearest Canadian government office abroad or to the Vulnerable Children's Consular Unit at Global Affairs Canada by calling the Emergency Watch and Response Centre

If your child was removed from a country other than Canada, consult a lawyer to determine if The Hague Convention applies.

Be aware that Canadian consular officials cannot interfere in private legal matters or in another country's judicial affairs.

Useful links

Cohabitation outside of marriage

Heterosexual sex and cohabitation outside of marriage for individuals over 18 years of age was recently decriminalised in all Emirates except Sharjah. This applies only to couples in which both partners are from countries that don’t follow Islamic Shariah marriage laws. While the practice is decriminalised, it may still be viewed negatively by parts of Emirati society.

Extramarital sex remains illegal in certain cases where a case is brought forth based on a complaint from the husband or guardian.

Travel and your sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics

Online behaviour

Laws related to online behaviour, which also apply to the use of social media, are strict. Comments or behaviours considered defamatory, antisocial, culturally insensitive, or contrary to morality may be punishable by:

  • fines
  • imprisonment
  • deportation

The authorities also restrict the use of virtual private networks (VPNs). Social media influencers receiving compensation for advertisements and product placement require a UAE influencer licence. If you do so without a licence, you may be fined or detained.

 Social media influencers licensing - UAE Government  

Photography

There are restrictions on photographing and filming:

  • military installations and military personnel
  • aircraft
  • government buildings
  • individuals without their permission

If you are in or around these areas, always:

  • verify if photography is allowed or if a special permit is required
  • request permission in advance if people are featured in your photos
  • refrain from photographing or filming if in doubt
  • comply with all requests from local authorities

Illegal activities

The following activities are illegal in the UAE and punishable by heavy fines or jail time:

  • engaging in prostitution
  • possessing pornographic material
  • issuing bounced checks or failing to pay a debt
  • possessing pork products in the emirate of Sharjah
  • littering in public places and on roads from a vehicle
  • spitting in public places, including on beaches

Imports and exports

There are strict import and export regulations on:

  • firearms and ammunition
  • body protection gear

Failure to comply may result in imprisonment or deportation.

Useful links

Fundraising

Fundraising and charity activities are strictly regulated in the UAE.

It’s illegal to raise funds or organize a crowdfunding campaign without proper authorization. Make sure that you donate funds only to government-approved charities.

Government-approved charities - UAE Government

Employment

Working in the UAE on a tourist visa is forbidden. You must be sponsored by your employer to work legally.

Certain local sponsors may attempt to retain your passport, even if UAE law forbids this practice.

  • Clearly establish the terms and conditions of employment in writing before your arrival
  • Never leave your passport or any other identity document with anyone

Driving

You must carry an international driving permit to drive and rent a car in the UAE, except in Dubai where you can use your Canadian driver’s license. If you become a resident of the UAE, you can convert your Canadian driver’s license to the UAE driving license at the Traffic Department of each Emirate. For Abu Dhabi, you can do this via TAMM services.

The country has a zero-tolerance policy for drinking and driving. The legal blood alcohol limit is zero.

Penalties for drinking and driving are severe.  If the police suspect you of drinking and driving, they could oblige you to provide a blood or urine sample. If alcohol or drugs are detected, you may be prosecuted.

If you’re convicted, you can expect:

  • heavy fines and a lengthy jail sentence
  • vehicle confiscation
  • driver’s license suspension

If involved in an accident:

  • don't leave the scene
  • don't move your vehicle
  • call the police

Failure to remain at the site may be considered an admission of guilt depending on the emirate in which the accident occurred.

The UAE government may prevent you from leaving the country until all injury claims have been settled, regardless of which party is at fault. If the accident has resulted in death, you may be legally required to provide financial compensation to the deceased’s family.

Local judicial resolution process may take several months, even for minor accidents.

International Driving Permit

Money

The currency of the United Arab Emirates is the dirham (AED).

ATMs are available across the emirates.

Credit cards are widely accepted at main hotels, shops and restaurants. Smaller businesses may only accept cash.

If you are carrying AED 60 000 or more, or the equivalent in other currencies, you must make a declaration to customs when you enter of leave the country. The sum can be in:

  • cash
  • cheques
  • money orders
  • traveller’s cheques
  • other convertible assets

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Natural disasters and climate

Heat waves

Humidity and heat may be most severe during the hot season, from June to September.

Know the symptoms of dehydration and heatstroke, which can both be fatal.

Dust storms

Sandstorms and dust storms may occur any time, particularly during the summer months.

Winds carrying sand can blow at high speeds for days, creating difficult driving conditions. Poor visibility can affect flights. These storms can also cause respiratory problems, which can be fatal for some individuals.

During a storm:

  • stay indoors
  • keep windows closed
  • follow the instructions of local emergency services personnel
  • monitor local media for up-to-date information on the situation

Drought and flooding

The UAE has been facing a water crisis in recent years, leading to drought and desertification.

Although rare, heavy rain does occur in winter months from December to March. It can result in flash floods in dry riverbeds and canyons.

Flash floods and landslides can hamper overland travel and reduce the provision of essential services. Roads may become impassable and bridges damaged.

  • Monitor local news and weather reports
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities, including evacuation orders

Fog

During winter, periods of severe fog can hinder transportation and visibility.

  • Exercise caution, particularly while driving
  • Expect travel delays
  • Monitor local news and weather reports
  • Follow the advice of local authorities

Weather forecasts and warnings - National Center of Meteorology

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Need help?

Local services

Emergency services

In case of emergency, dial:

  • police: 999
  • ambulance: 998
  • fire department (civil defence): 997

Consular assistance

Abu Dhabi - Embassy of Canada
Street AddressAbu Dhabi Trade Towers (Abu Dhabi Mall), West Tower, 9th Floor, Abu Dhabi, United Arab EmiratesPostal AddressP.O. Box 6970, Abu Dhabi, United Arab EmiratesTelephone971 (2) 694-0300Fax971 (2) 694-0399Emailabdbi@international.gc.caInternethttps://www.international.gc.ca/country-pays/uae-eau/abu_dhabi-abou_dhabi.aspx?lang=engFacebookEmbassy of Canada to the United Arab EmiratesTwitter@CanadainUAEOther social mediaCanada and the United Arab Emirates
Appointment Book your appointment online
Dubai - Consulate General of Canada
Street Address19th Floor, Jumeirah Emirates Towers, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, United Arab EmiratesPostal AddressP.O. Box 504948, Dubai, United Arab EmiratesTelephone+971 (4) 404-8444Fax+971 (4) 314-5556Emaildubaiconsular@international.gc.caInternethttps://www.international.gc.ca/country-pays/uae-eau/dubai.aspx?lang=engFacebookCanada in the UAETwitter@CanadainUAEOther social media@CanadaUAE
Canada and the United Arab Emirates
Appointment Book your appointment online

For emergency consular assistance, call the Embassy of Canada to the United Arab Emirates, in Abu Dhabi, or the Consulate General of Canada to the United Arab Emirates, in Dubai, and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.

Disclaimer

The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. We take the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provide credible and timely information in our Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad.

The content on this page is provided for information only. While we make every effort to give you correct information, it is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, expressed or implied. The Government of Canada does not assume responsibility and will not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided.

If you need consular assistance while abroad, we will make every effort to help you. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.

Learn more about consular services.

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