Potential Risks in Dubai
Mugging and Theft
Keep Valuables Secure: Be mindful of your belongings, especially in crowded places. Use anti-theft bags and keep important items in front and zipped compartments.
Avoid Display of Wealth: Minimize the display of expensive jewelry, gadgets, or large amounts of cash to avoid attracting unnecessary attention.
Stay Alert: Stay vigilant in crowded areas and be aware of your surroundings.
Secure Pockets: Use zippered or buttoned pockets to secure your belongings, and avoid placing items in back pockets.
Credit Card Skimming
Use Reputable ATMs: Use ATMs located in secure, well-lit areas, preferably within bank premises.
Regularly Monitor Transactions: Keep an eye on your bank statements and report any suspicious activities promptly.
1. 999 for Police
2. 998 for Ambulance
3. 997 for Fire Department (Civil Defence)
4. 996 for Coastguard
Popular Travel Scams in Dubai
- "Free" Tours or Gifts: Travelers may be offered free city tours, gifts, or meals, but these often lead to high-pressure sales pitches for timeshares, holiday packages, or expensive products. Exercise caution with offers that seem too good to be true and politely decline unsolicited invitations.
- Spurious Goods: Some unscrupulous vendors may try to sell counterfeit or fake luxury products to tourists. Shop at Reputable Stores: Purchase from trusted retailers or malls to ensure the authenticity of the products.
- Camel Rides and Photo Scams: Travelers opting for camel rides may encounter operators charging unexpected fees or pressuring for additional payments for taking photos during the ride. Confirm the total price and any additional fees before engaging in activities.
Transport Safety in Dubai
- Use only registered cabs: The taxis have a different colored roofs to differentiate between cab companies. Many of these drivers are immigrants, and they speak many languages, so you should be able to communicate easily. In some cases, there are unlicensed taxis with no meters which charge higher fees than normal. It is preferable to only use licensed taxis from registered cab companies during your trip.
- Gender-based segregation in public transport: Conducting yourself properly in public is important in Dubai, especially with regard to members of the opposite sex. In public transport, it's recommended that women seek the front section of the bus that is specifically for them. Sometimes, sitting beside a member of the opposite sex can be misinterpreted as flirtatious behavior.
Note: Don't put your feet on seats as it is considered disrespectful.
- Take safaris ONLY with experienced guides: Safety measures extend to desert safaris around Dubai as well. It's best to avoid embarking on such safaris without an experienced guide. Conduct some research online or through word-of-mouth before using the services of any tour operators because some companies value profits over security. Desert safaris can be dangerous without proper measures like speed limits, seatbelts, and protective gear in the case of quad biking. In recent years, there have been discussions about children on these rides as many tour operators do not have proper safety equipment in their sizes.
Women and Couples Safety in DubaiDubai is a cosmopolitan city, and for the most part, women are quite safe. There are separate counters and queues for women in most parts of the city. You can walk on the streets without worrying about any potential threats. Sexual harassment is admittedly still a problem, but there are very few cases when leering and catcalls have turned into threatening actions against women. Dubai Police are strict about sexual harassment, so threats about calling the police usually work against these harassers.
- Women's attire in Dubai: Women are free to wear anything they desire, like shorts, crop tops, and sleeveless tops, in most parts of Dubai, especially in popular tourist areas, as long as it isn't obscene. It is not mandatory for women to wear headdresses or veils here. However, as an Islamic country, the local people are modest about their clothing.
- Nightlife scenarios for women: Dubai has a happening nightlife with plenty of pubs and nightclubs in major hotel chains. These areas are generally safe for women to enjoy some drinks and party through the night.
- Violence against women: There are very rare cases of violence against women in Dubai, but this is not to say that it doesn't happen. In instances of sexual assault, the Dubai Police are very prompt in taking action.
- No PDA: Although Dubai is welcoming to tourists, public displays of affection remain problematic. While holding hands and pecks on the cheek are socially acceptable, anything more is considered impolite. It attracts unnecessary attention in public.
Alcohol and Drugs Safety in Dubai
- Public intoxication: Public intoxication is not allowed. Consumption of alcohol is permitted in licensed venues (most often bars and nightclubs in major hotel chains), and leniency is shown to non-Muslims in Dubai. When leaving the hotel, ensure that you take your cab back to your accommodation instead of walking on the street. Drunken behavior of any kind in public is not permitted. This extends to drinking and driving as well, as the police are very strict about it.
- Alcohol Consumption during Ramadan: Strict alcohol rules are particularly enforced during the month of Ramadan. Alcohol is not served during fasting hours, and the loudest music and live performances do not take place. Holy days are dry days in Dubai.
- Carry a prescription for your medicines at ALL times: The UAE is notorious for its strict policy regarding drugs and controlled substances, including medicines. Some common drugs containing codeine or diazepam (such as Valium) are banned without a doctor's prescription. While traveling around Dubai, it is a good idea to keep your doctor's prescriptions with you if you are carrying your medicines. Sometimes, these prescriptions are not enough documentation, and tourists have been fined or refused entry into the UAE.
How Open is Dubai to LGBT Travellers?Homosexuality is considered illegal in Dubai, and same-sex marriages are not recognized. According to Article 177 of the Penal Code of Dubai, consensual sodomy can lead to up to 10 years imprisonment. It is commonly depicted in local media as associated with disease and sex crimes. However, there is a discreet, underground LGBTQ community in the country. Unless individuals display outright homosexual behavior or announce it, there shouldn't be much problem in Dubai. But they do not take strict action against LGBT tourists visiting the country as long as there is no PDA or evident behaviour that would enrage the locals.
Dubai, with its commitment to safety and low crime rates, offers a relatively secure environment for tourists. By staying informed, following standard safety precautions, and being cautious of potential scams, travelers can fully enjoy their trip while ensuring their safety and well-being. Awareness and prudence go a long way in making the most of a visit to the vibrant city of Dubai.