The United Arab Emirates is an amazing country, and many people are visiting it annually because of the well-known Dubai. It’s basically a federation that’s made up of seven emirates, each ruled by a certain sheikh, and it’s located on the Arabian Peninsula.
Nevertheless, just like you’d do with any country you haven’t visited before, you may begin to ask yourself “Are United Arab Emirates safe to visit?”. Well, the emirates are a very modern country, and many tourists are visiting every year without major incidents happening. Most of the travels are trouble-free.
At the same time, it’s important to have some United Arab Emirates safety travel tips so you take precautions and ensure your safety even more. Having that in mind, this United Arab Emirates safety guide was created to help you with that task.
Highest Risks You Expose Yourself to When Visiting the United Arab Emirates
Overall Risks in the United Arab Emirates: LOW
Generally, the United Arab Emirates are very safe to visit, so it shouldn’t be an issue if you decide to go there for your next vacation. Conversely, the risks can’t be ruled out. Every country has its downsides, and it’s essential to be aware of them, just so that there are no unpleasant surprises.
For example, when it comes to terrorism, terrorist attacks are likely to be carried out in the emirates. Although the risk is not as big as it is in countries such as Syria, there’s the possibility of attacks being carried out in certain parts.
Religion is very important here, so if you come from another country, you must respect their customs. Things are most likely different compared to how they usually are at your home, so you must respect their law, religion, customs and traditions at all times. If you don’t, and you do something that may be illegal, there will be serious penalties.
You must not show any sympathy for Qatar on social media, or by any means of communication. It is considered an offence, and offenders could end up subject to a substantial fine or imprisoned.
Crimes such as theft, pickpocketing and sexual assaults have a chance of happening. However, there must be a lot of proof in order for the victim to demonstrate the assault and the fact that the act was not consensual.
There’s a little risk for female travelers, because they may be seen vulnerable when walking alone, especially if they do it at night. Drink spiking is possible too, and some mean locals may take advantage of tourists through this method.
In terms of political situation, there have been some missiles launched from Yemen into Saudi Arabia in 2018. Although most of them were intercepted and destroyed, the risk is still there, because they ended in a small number of casualties regardless.
Driving standards may be a little different compared to those of other countries, and the risk of traffic accidents is pretty high. Compared to the UK, for example, road users are 7 times more likely to be killed than in the UK. Moreover, UAE has one of the highest rates of road deaths.
Drinking and driving is, obviously, illegal, and UAE considers it a very serious criminal offence, even in small amounts.
This is the overall situation in the emirates, but the following part of the United Arab Emirates safety guide will go in more detail about each risk.
Pickpocketing and Theft Risks in the United Arab Emirates: LOW to MEDIUM
“How safe are the United Arab Emirates for tourists regarding theft?” may be one of the questions running in circles in your mind. It’s not unusual asking this, considering you’re going to be away from home, and you barely know what to expect from a new place.
Theft and pickpocketing may not be as common as they are in other countries, but the risk is still there. Considering there are as many as 14 million tourists annually, it’s obvious that some people would try to take advantage of that. As such, they would look for the perfect opportunity to steal something from people who are spending their vacation in the emirates.
When you’re in crowded places, it is possible to have someone try to steal your belongings, because it’s hard to tell who did it. When being surrounded by so many people, anyone’s a possible thief, which is why it would be hard to point fingers when you realize you’re missing something. That being said, it could be a wonderful field to those who conduct pickpocketing acts.
- How to avoid pickpocketing and theft in the United Arab Emirates?
If you want to avoid being a victim of such acts, you should first make sure your belongings are safely stored. In other words, don’t keep anything of big value in your pockets, because you can’t be on alert all the time. Moreover, keep your bag in front of you, and if you wear a backpack or a handbag, hold it tightly in front of you. Be wary everywhere, including public transport or areas frequented by tourists.
In addition, don’t carry large sums of money around. Even if you’re planning on going shopping, you’re not going to purchase everything in one go. Besides, in the event that something happens and your money get stolen, you at least have more at the hotel, or wherever you decide to leave them for safety.
Scam Risk in the United Arab Emirates: LOW
Regarding scams, the risk is very low. The country is known to be rich and prosperous, and there are almost no scams going on. However, you can’t rule out the risks altogether, therefore you need to still pay attention to your surroundings.
- How to avoid getting scammed in the United Arab Emirates?
You should be careful when receiving your change, and check whether the amount is the right one or not. Moreover, you should be wary of strangers approaching you and asking you for favors, because you never know what they are truly looking for. Also, make sure you only use reputable taxi companies, and monitor the driver to see if he turns on the meter.
Kidnapping Risk in the United Arab Emirates: LOW
There are no recent reports of such incidents occurring in the United Arab Emirates in the recent years - this may probably be due to the fact that the UAE laws are quite strict when it comes to such matters; there are also the local customs that are not fond of people that do such deeds, so to speak.
In short, you shouldn't worry about much while visiting the United Arab Emirates - naturally, you have to get information on the country's local customs as well, in order not to get in trouble; we'll soon see why.
- How to avoid getting kidnapped in the United Arab Emirates?
Even though the risks are low, it is better to come prepared, just in case. However, you need to rely only on basic safety measures in order to ensure your safety - namely, stick to populated areas and avoid the remote ones.
If you are walking through the city, make sure to keep close to its main attractions and stay away from the shady areas, such as poor lit alleys and neighborhoods with a bad reputation.
Terrorism Risk in the United Arab Emirates: MEDIUM
Terrorist attacks are not something to fear about generally when it comes to the United Arab Emirates. Overall, the situation is pretty much in control. However, the risk isn’t inexistent. Attacks could be still carried out, and even foreigners are at risk in these situations, as incidents are indiscriminate.
Apparently, terrorists are threatening to attack in the Gulf area, and the threats also include references to attacks on western interests. These could include transport, oil, aviation, military interests and even more. Attacks could be carried out even in public places, such as beaches, restaurants, hotels, shopping centers, mosques, and the list can go on.
- How to avoid terrorism in the United Arab Emirates?
Therefore, you must be careful when going anywhere. Although there’s not much to do in case of an unfolding attack, you can take precautions and be wary of anything that’s out of the ordinary. You should always maintain a level of security awareness. Take care in crowded places, and if possible stay away from religious events.
Risks for Women Traveling Alone in the United Arab Emirates: MEDIUM
If you’re a woman who doesn’t mind wandering the world by herself, you may sometimes find yourself worrying about your safety in certain countries. This is only natural, because being alone can make you more vulnerable in certain situations. Therefore, asking “Are the United Arab Emirates safe for solo women travelers?” is not out of the ordinary.
Things such as sexual assault and rape are rare incidents in the emirates, but you can’t rule them out altogether. You can be at risk anywhere, because people of all sorts are wandering the Earth. Being in the wrong place at the wrong moment may become a reality.
One of the things that’s really worth worrying about in case of sexual assault is how you could prove to the authorities that the act was not consensual. Basically, there’s a lot of pressure on assault victims, because they need to provide a proper proof that it was actually an assault and you didn’t agree to it.
So, if you consumed alcohol, for example, the situation may get really complicated, because proving your point would be even harder. In addition, as if this wasn’t difficult enough regardless, if both parties are proven to have had a consensual act, they may face prosecution for sex outside the marriage. There was a case in 2013, when a Norwegian woman reported a rape crime to the Dubai police. However, she was accused of conducting a consensual act outside marriage, while also being under the influence of alcohol.
Drink spiking is also something that could happen if you’re going out, and you don’t know what could happen to you if you ingest unknown substances.
- How to avoid crime as a solo woman traveler in the United Arab Emirates?
As this is something you certainly don’t want to happen, especially while on a vacation where you’re supposed to relax, you must take precautions. First things first, make sure you respect the dress code. Regardless of the weather condition, it’s recommended to not dress in any provocative way, and cover your skin as much as you can. This could prevent certain individuals from being drawn to you and doing something bad.
Furthermore, if you like going to locals, be wary of the amount of alcohol you consume, and definitely do not let your drink by itself on the table. Cases of drink spiking are something you often see in movies, but wouldn’t want them to happen to you. If possible, always keep your eyes on your drinks, and don’t go anywhere while your drink stays out there. You may return to a new type of drink.
You also shouldn’t accept drinks from strangers, because the same thing could happen. Always buy your own drinks.
Be careful while walking in public, and don’t walk alone at late hours. Return to the hotel before the sun goes down, because the night may increase the risk. If you take a taxi, always use a reputable company, and don’t accept drives from strangers either, particularly at night. You never know how it could go.
Rape Risk in the United Arab Emirates: MEDIUM
As previously stated, drink spiking does occur - it is of utmost importance to either keep an eye on your drink or avoid drinking at all. Why?
Well, there has been an incident, in 2013, when a Norwegian woman has been raped after a couple of drinks - naturally, she reported the case to the authorities. However, due to the strict laws of the UAE, she was convicted of illegal consumption of alcohol and sex outside marriage.
In short, you are also made responsible for what happens to you while in this country - if you drink one too many cups and someone takes advantage of you, you might get convicted as well.
This is why we recommend, as always, moderate/ responsible consumption of alcohol.
- How to avoid getting raped in the United Arab Emirates?
Even though it was mentioned before and pretty much self-explanatory, you should always know when to stop drinking - as a first measure of protection. Then, make sure that you don't accept drinks from strangers and, if you left your drink unattended, you might as well just leave it there than risk something more serious happening to you.
Obviously, you should also check the local customs of the United Arab Emirates, such as the recommended outfit and such - a provocative outfit is definitely not recommended in this country.
Basically, a tad of common sense and the basic safety measures are required if you want to keep yourself safe while visiting the United Arab Emirates.
Risks for People Traveling With Children in the United Arab Emirates: MEDIUM
As you probably know, thousands of tourists visit the United Arab Emirates every year - this being said, the only bad thing that could happen to your children is them getting lost inside a crowd.
The country is generally safe and peaceful, being the 35th safest country worldwide - thus, you can rest assured.
- How to avoid unwanted scenarios?
Naturally, you have to keep an eye on your children - just as you would in any other case. Make sure that they are not left unattended and that you have someone take care of them if you cannot.
Natural Disasters Risks in the United Arab Emirates: MEDIUM
Natural disasters may occur in the United Arab Emirates, and the most common ones are the ones occurring due to high temperatures, which can reach higher than 50C.
There is also the risk of sand storms and thunderstorms, which could end in casualties. That being said, you should monitor the local news and see the situation in the emirates before you throw your cash and buy the plane ticket.
Transportation Risks in the United Arab Emirates: MEDIUM
Road accidents are common anywhere, but you’d especially want to avoid one while being on foreign lands. As such, it’s only natural you’d ask yourself “How safe are the United Arab Emirates for tourists regarding road travel?”.
First of all, you should know that the driving standards may not be as good as they are in your home country. Many deaths occur in the United Arab Emirates due to poor driving standards, and it even has one of the highest rates of road deaths. It’s not uncommon for drivers to use too much speed either.
Drinking and driving is not to be taken for granted in the emirates, even if you’ve just had a really small amount of alcohol. If you do so, your insurance is likely to be invalidated if an accident occurs because of you. Doing offensive gestures and using bad languages with other drivers can also lead to bad things, including deportation, fines and even jail sentences.
Night-Clubs, Pubs, and Bar Risks in the United Arab Emirates: MEDIUM
As mentioned a couple of times before, the risks concerning this matter are low if you know how to behave, so to say, in such facilities. Naturally, as a foreigner you are likely to be approached by strangers and be offered drinks - obviously, you have to refuse them.
Also, besides drinking responsibly, you have to keep an eye on your drink, even if you are with a group of friends - alcohol can weaken your senses and even if your drink is right before you, you might still not notice that someone put something inside it.
Basically, be as careful as you would be in any other place - and, if the situation seems to get tense or escalate, just leave the area and pick another club, pub, or bar to have a bit of fun in.
Health Risks in the United Arab Emirates
When it comes to medical facilities and means of adequate treatment, the United Arab Emirates are well-equipped - the differences between the UK/ US and UAE facilities are quite hard to notice.
However, keep in mind that you might be denied treatment in such facilities if you do not have proper travel health insurance or enough funds to pay the treatment's fees.
Moreover, some medicine prescribed in another country may not be brought into the UAE, as some are considered controlled substances. In this respect, you should get informed on the medicine that you can bring with you, in order to avoid any issues after getting inside the United Arab Emirates.
Vaccinations You May Need When Visiting the United Arab Emirates
It’s recommended to go to the doctor at least 4 weeks before your trip is due, so you find out if any vaccinations are required. Some vaccines you may need to visit UAE are:
- Routine vaccines
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
Concluding Remarks: Are the United Arab Emirates Safe to Visit?
The United Arab Emirates are a popular location, and millions of people visit it every year. It only makes sense why you would want to visit them too, considering the beauty and popularity of Dubai. Safety is a concern though, and you most likely came to this United Arab Emirates safety guide to make sure your trip is trouble-free.
Hopefully, all these United Arab Emirates safety travel tips were of help to you, and your vacation will be one that you will never forget.