United Arab Emirates
Last updated: ET
Still valid: ET
Latest updates: An editorial change was made.
United Arab Emirates - Exercise a high degree of caution
There is no nationwide advisory in effect for the United Arab Emirates. However, you should exercise a high degree of caution due to the threat of terrorism.
On September 21, 2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) released a statement threatening retaliation for the American-led coalition campaign against ISIL in Iraq and Syria. The statement encouraged opportunistic and indiscriminate attacks against citizens and interests of countries supporting the coalition, including Canadians. Individuals and terrorist groups in the region may be inspired to carry out attacks in a show of solidarity with ISIL. Canadians could also be targeted by a terrorist attack and be considered kidnapping targets. Exercise a high degree of personal security awareness at all times, maintain a heightened level of vigilance and be aware of your surroundings at all times.
Although there is no history of terrorist attacks in the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.), terrorist groups such as ISIL have indicated their intention to target the country. Attacks could occur at any time and could target places of worship, military interests, commercial facilities and hotels and other locations frequented by foreigners, particularly Westerners. Terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of Arabian Peninsula countries since October 2014. Heightened security measures are currently in place and may be reinforced upon short notice throughout the peninsula.
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.
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.
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.
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 Chamber of Commerce.
Exercise caution if travelling by sea, including for recreational purposes, in the Persian Gulf, particularly around the islands of Abu Musa and the Tunbs. Iran and the United Arab Emirates each claim sovereignty over these islands.
The Government of Canada does not assess foreign domestic airlines’ compliance with international aviation safety standards. See Foreign domestic airlines for more information.
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.
It is the sole prerogative of every country or territory to determine who is allowed to enter or exit. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry or exit requirements. The following information has been obtained from the authorities of the United Arab Emirates and is subject to change at any time. The country- or territory-specific entry/exit requirements are provided on this page for information purposes only. While every effort is made to provide accurate information, information contained here is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, express or implied. The Government of Canada assumes no responsibility, and shall not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided. 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 U.A.E, which must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of expected departure from that country. Prior to travelling, ask your transportation company about its requirements related to passport validity, which may be more stringent than the country's entry rules.
Temporary passport holders may be subject to different entry requirements. Check with diplomatic representatives for up-to-date information.
Tourist visa: not required
Business visa: required
Student visa: required
Canadian passport holders must obtain an entry stamp, free of charge and valid for a 30-day visit, at any port of entry.
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.
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, and you 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.
Contact the Customer Service Centre of the Ministry of Health Drug Control Department (by email: firstname.lastname@example.org, telephone: +971 2 611 7240 or fax: +971 2 632 7644) to verify whether your medication is on the List of Controlled Medicines and therefore requires prior permission for importation.
You may 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.
See Health to obtain information on this country’s vaccination requirements.
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. See Children for more information.
- Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) - July 12, 2016 00:00 EDT
- Measles: Global Update - April 15, 2016 00:00 EDT
Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.
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 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 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.|
|Country Entry Requirement*|
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 at high risk visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care provider 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, leishmaniasis, malaria, Rift Valley fever, and West Nile virus.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
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.
Medical services and facilities
Adequate medical services are available in the main cities, including private medical clinics. Immediate payment is required.
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 & culture
Laws & culture
You are subject to local laws. See Arrest and detention for more information.
The work week is from Sunday to Thursday.
An International Driving Permit is required.
Religious proselytizing is forbidden, as is disrespecting or criticising the Muslim faith and its symbols and practices.
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, homosexual relations, adultery and prostitution are illegal and are 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.
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. You should, therefore, familiarize yourself with the rules of the emirate(s) in which you are driving: depending on the emirate, you may be permitted to move your car to the side of the road in the event of an accident or you must wait until the police arrive. 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 prescription or illicit drugs
Criminal penalties for the possession, use and trafficking of illegal drugs, as well as poppy seeds, are strict and 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 four-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 also 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.
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 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 2017, Ramadan is expected to begin on or around May 27.
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 is not legally recognized in the U.A.E. If local authorities consider you an Emirati citizen, they may refuse to grant you access to Canadian consular services, thereby preventing Canadian consular officials from providing you with those services. You should always travel using your valid Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times to minimize this risk. You may also need to carry and present an Emirati passport for legal reasons, for example to enter and exit the country (see Entry/exit requirements to determine passport requirements). Citizenship is determined solely by national laws, and the decision to recognize dual citizenship rests completely with the country in which you are located when seeking consular assistance. See Travelling as a dual citizen for more information.
Emirati authorities determine your citizenship based on the passport that you use to enter the country.
Child custody decisions are based on Islamic (Sharia) 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 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.
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 law. Bail is not available for non-residents of the U.A.E. 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; however, prices may be cheaper if you pay 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, from June to September.
Dial 999 for emergency assistance.
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.
The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad. In the event of a large-scale emergency, every effort will be made to provide assistance. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
See Large-scale emergencies abroad for more information.
- Date modified: