United Arab Emirates

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Latest updates: Laws and culture - Ramadan 2019.

Risk level(s)

Risk level(s)

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.

Safety and security

Safety and security


There is a threat of terrorism in the country. Terrorist groups  have indicated their intention to target the country. Attacks could occur at any time and could target government buildings, military interests, places of worship, schools, transportation hubs and public areas such as tourist attractions, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, shopping centres, markets, hotels and other sites frequented by foreigners. Be particularly vigilant if attending sporting events and during religious holidays and other public celebrations, as terrorists may use such occasions to mount attacks. Heightened security measures are currently in place and may be reinforced upon short notice throughout the Arabian Peninsula.

Be aware of your surroundings at all times in public places, exercise caution in areas known to be frequented by foreigners (commercial and tourist areas), monitor local developments and follow the advice of local authorities.


Demonstrations, which must first be authorized by the government, rarely occur, and have focused mainly on 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. Ensure that your personal belongings and passports and other travel documents are secure at all times. Do not agree to carry anyone else’s packages, especially across borders.

Cyber attacks are common.

Women’s safety

Although it is rare, women have been verbally harassed and physically assaulted. Women should travel in groups and avoid travelling alone at night. Consult our publication entitled Her Own Way: A Woman’s Safe-Travel Guide for travel safety information for Canadian women.

Women have been detained when reporting sexual assault, as they must prove that the sex was not consensual to avoid being charged. U.A.E. laws criminalize extramarital sex (see Laws and customs).

Regional travel

The government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has suspended diplomatic relations with Qatar. All air and sea points of entry between UAE and Qatar have been closed since June 6, 2017. Authorities have also imposed restrictions on travel and residence for UAE and Qatari citizens. If you are planning to travel between the UAE and Qatar, verify your travel plans with your airline or travel company.

Road safety

Accidents are common. Driving habits differ markedly from those practised in Canada. Drifting sands may create hazards, and limited visibility during sand storms increases the risk of accidents.

Do not drive off-road unless you are in a convoy of four-wheel-drive vehicles with an experienced guide. Leave your travel itinerary with a third party. Ensure you are well-prepared with a sufficient supply of gasoline, water and food, and a cell phone.

Use only officially marked taxis with meters. Avoid shared or service taxis.

Sea travel

Exercise caution if travelling by sea, including for recreational purposes, in the region, particularly around the islands of Abu Musa and the Tunbs. Iran and the United Arab Emirates each claim sovereignty over these islands.

Air travel

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

General information about foreign domestic airlines

General safety information

Rip currents occur at beaches, and can sweep swimmers out to sea. Always comply with warning signs, particularly red flags, and only swim from designated beaches.

Entry/exit requirements

Entry/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 foreign diplomatic missions and consulates in Canada.


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 their date of entry into the United Arab Emirates.

Passport for official travel

Different entry rules may apply.

Official travel

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 diplomatic mission for your destination.

Useful links

Travel documents with an X in the "sex" field

The UAE authorities will deny you entry if your passport shows an X in the “sex” field or if it includes an observation to that effect.


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

Canadians entering the UAE for tourism must obtain an entry stamp at the port of entry. This entry stamp is free and valid for 30 days. It is also renewable for 30 days.

Health entry requirements

If you are planning to work or reside in the U.A.E., you must undergo medical tests, including a test for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. If you are found to be HIV-positive, you may be deported. HIV certificates issued by foreign medical authorities are not recognized. Positive tests for other communicable diseases may result in quarantine, treatment or deportation.

Prescription drugs

Some prescribed and over-the-counter medicines that are available in Canada, such as codeine, are considered controlled substances in the U.A.E. and are not allowed into the country without prior permission from the Ministry of Health. If you arrive in the U.A.E. without prior approval and the required documentation, you will not be allowed to bring the medication in the country; you also may be subject to prosecution and a jail sentence. This applies while the medication is being taken and while it is still detectable in your system.

Consult the Drug Control Department, Ministry of Health’s List of Controlled Medicines to determine if you must obtain permission to import your medication.

Dual citizenship

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

Regional travel

You could face significant delays when trying to enter or transit through the country if your passport contains Israeli visas or stamps, whether they are valid or expired. If you are a Canadian-Israeli dual citizen or are suspected of holding Israeli citizenship, U.A.E. authorities may refuse your entry.

The Government of the U.A.E. has implemented measures restricting the entry of Qatari citizens and foreign residents of Qatar into the U.A.E. These measures should not affect Canadians travelling to or transiting through the U.A.E. from Qatar. If you are a resident of Qatar, contact diplomatic representatives of the UAE to confirm current entry requirements.   

Yellow fever

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

Children and travel

Learn about travel with children.



Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.

Routine Vaccines

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

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

Vaccines to Consider

You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health professional about which ones are right for you.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread through contaminated food and water or contact with an infected person. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.


Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.


Measles is a highly contagious viral disease and is common in most parts of the world.

Be sure your measles vaccination is up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.

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.


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

Country Entry Requirement*

  • Proof of vaccination is not required to enter this country.


  • Vaccination is not recommended.

* 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.

About Yellow Fever

Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres in Canada

Yellow Fever Vaccination

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.

* 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.
  • There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
  • Proof of vaccination is not required to enter this country.
  • Vaccination is not recommended.

Food and Water-borne Diseases

Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.

In some areas in Western Asia, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Western Asia. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!


Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among pediatric travellers, travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives or travelling for a long period of time. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care professional about vaccination.


Insects and Illness

In some areas in Western Asia, certain insects carry and spread diseases like chikungunya, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, dengue fever, leishmaniasismalaria, Rift Valley fever, and West Nile virus.

Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.


There is currently a risk of chikungunya in this 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.

Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever

Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever is a viral disease that typically causes fever, bleeding under the skin, and pain. Risk is generally low for most travellers. It is spread to humans though contact with infected animal blood or bodily fluids, or from a tick bite. Protect yourself from tick bites and avoid animals. There is no vaccine available for Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever.



There is no risk of malaria in this country.


Animals and Illness

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in Western Asia, like avian influenza and rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.


Person-to-Person Infections

Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.

Services et établissements médicaux

On trouve des services médicaux adéquats dans les grandes villes, y compris des cliniques privées. Il faut payer sur-le-champ. Vous pouvez obtenir certains médicaments contrôlés en consultant un médecin.

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.

Laws and culture

Laws & culture

You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and detention page and our Overview of the criminal law system in the United Arab Emirates for more information.

The work week is from Sunday to Thursday.


Religious proselytizing is forbidden, as is disrespecting or criticising the Muslim faith and its symbols and practices.

Posting certain content (including videos and photographs) online may be considered a crime. This includes content that is or appears to be critical of the country or Emirati authorities, companies or citizens, as well as content relating to incidents in the country. Offenders may face heavy fines or imprisonment.

Disrespecting or criticising the ruling families and political system is also forbidden.

Providing assistance or support, financial or otherwise, to unlawful organizations is not permitted. Ensure that you donate funds only to government-approved charities.

Common-law relationships, cross-dressing, sexual relations outside of marriage and prostitution are illegal and subject to severe punishment, including the death penalty. It is illegal to live together, or to share the same hotel room, with someone of the opposite sex to whom you aren’t married or closely related.

Avoid physical contact in public, particularly overt displays of affection between adults.

Possession of prohibited items may result in imprisonment and deportation. Pornographic material is illegal in all emirates. Possession of ammunition shells or other related items may result in an investigation and cause exit delays, and must be avoided. Possession of pork is illegal only in the Emirate of Sharjah. Throughout the emirates, it is forbidden to photograph aircraft, certain government buildings and military installations. Do not photograph people without their permission.

The use of virtual private networks (VPNs) is restricted.

LGBTQ2 travellers

The laws of the U.A.E. prohibit sexual acts between individuals of the same sex, which are punishable by up to the death penalty. LGBTQ2 travellers should carefully consider the risks of travelling to the U.A.E.

General safety information and advice for LGBTQ2 travellers abroad


An International Driving Permit is required.

You must report all accidents to the police. Procedures to follow in the event of a car accident vary depending on the emirate in which the accident occurs. For example, you may be permitted to move your car to the side of the road in the event of an accident or you must wait to move until the police arrive. You should, therefore, familiarize yourself with the rules of the emirate(s) in which you are driving. Drivers involved in an accident resulting in injuries may be jailed until the injured are released from hospital. In an accident resulting in fatalities, compensation is often awarded to the family of the deceased. Relatively minor accidents may lead to lengthy court proceedings.

Consumption of illicit drugs

Criminal penalties for the possession, use and trafficking of illegal drugs, as well as poppy seeds, are strict and can include the death penalty. Convicted offenders can expect lengthy jail sentences and heavy fines. The possession of drugs, even a very small amount, can result in arrest and, if convicted, a two-year minimum prison sentence. The use of drugs deemed illegal by U.A.E. authorities, even if used while outside the U.A.E., is a prosecutable offence if traces of the substance are found in the blood or urine, and can carry a minimum prison sentence of four years.

Canadians have been imprisoned in the U.A.E. for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs, including drugs used outside of the U.A.E. that were still traceable in their blood or urine. Prescription or over-the-counter drugs that are legal in Canada, such as codeine, may be restricted in the U.A.E. See Entry/Exit Requirements for more information.

Alcohol consumption

Respect restrictions concerning the consumption of alcohol. It is illegal for all Muslims, even non-practising, to consume or possess alcohol. The consumption of alcohol outside approved venues is illegal and could result in arrest, fines and imprisonment. Public intoxication is a criminal offence, no matter where the alcohol was consumed. There is no acceptable legal blood alcohol content limit. You may be required to take blood and urine tests if you are suspected of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If the tests are positive, you may be prosecuted. There is a zero tolerance policy regarding drinking and driving. In Sharjah, the possession and consumption of alcohol are illegal throughout the emirate and subject to criminal prosecution.

Dress and behaviour

The country’s customs, laws and regulations adhere closely to traditional and Islamic practices and beliefs. Dress conservatively, behave discreetly and respect religious and social traditions to avoid offending local sensitivities.

During the lunar month of Ramadan (the ninth month of the Muslim calendar), refrain from drinking, eating, and smoking in public between sunrise and sunset. In 2019, Ramadan is expected to begin on or around May 5.

Exercise particular care in your behaviour with others, particularly 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 fines, a prison sentence and deportation. Canadians have been detained on allegations of showing disrespect toward others by making verbal insults and obscene gestures. Exercise the same care online, particularly when interacting on social media.

Dual citizenship

Dual citizenship is not legally recognized in the U.A.E.

If local authorities consider you a citizen of the U.A.E, they may refuse to grant you access to Canadian consular services. This will prevent us from providing you with those services.

General information for travellers with dual citizenship

Child custody

Child custody decisions are based on Islamic law (Sharia). 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 U.A.E. fathers acquire U.A.E. citizenship at birth, and must enter and leave the emirates on U.A.E. passports. The father’s written permission is required to leave the country.

Legal process

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 to which you intend to travel.

Courts may impose a sentence of corporal punishment on Muslims convicted of certain crimes, even if the individual is not a citizen of the U.A.E. Although the sentence is typically commuted to prison time, do not rely on this tendency, as a sentence of corporal punishment can still be enforced under Sharia.


Fraudulent practices, such as writing cheques without sufficient funds and failing to pay your debts, are considered extremely serious offences and may result in criminal prosecution, imprisonment and fines. Penalties are generally assessed according to Sharia. Bail is available only for U.A.E. residents. 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 your arrival in the U.A.E. Some local sponsors tend to retain an employee’s passport, although this practice is forbidden under U.A.E. law. The U.A.E. 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 General of Canada in Dubai.


The currency is the U.A.E. dirham (AED). Major credit cards are accepted in major hotels and restaurants. Automated banking machines are widely available.

Natural disasters and climate

Natural disasters & climate

Flash floods occur in dry river canyons, most frequently in winter.

Humidity and heat are highest during the hot season, from June to September.



Local services

Emergency services

Dial 999 for emergency assistance.

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.caInternetwww.canadainternational.gc.ca/uae-eau/ServicesPassport Services AvailableFacebookEmbassy of Canada to the United Arab EmiratesTwitter@CanadainUAE
Dubai - Consulate General of Canada
Street Address19th Floor, Jumeirah Emirates Towers, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, United Arab EmiratesPostal AddressP.O. Box 52472, Dubai, United Arab EmiratesTelephone971 (4) 404-8444Fax971 (4) 314-5556Emaildubai@international.gc.caInternetwww.canadainternational.gc.ca/uae-eau/ServicesPassport Services AvailableFacebookCanada in the UAETwitter@CanadainUAEOther social media @CanadaUAE

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

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, express 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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