Dubai has strict customs regulations. Like any other destination you may be checked by customs officers on entrance.
Unfortunately Dubai Customs don’t exactly make it easy to find out what you can and can’t bring into Dubai.
Duty Free Rules.
Dubai’s duty free regulations are fairly straightforward. At the time of writing (July 2014) the Dubai’s duty free rules can be found in the Passenger Customs Guide (3rd Edition 2014) published by Dubai Customs. This guide is available for download from the publications section of the official Dubai Customs website.
The 2014 Passenger Customs Guide states that visitors to Dubai can bring in the following goods free of duty:
Gifts with a value of not more than AED 3,000 400 cigarettes OR 500 grams of tobacco OR 50 cigars Up to 4 litres of alcohol OR 48 cans of beer (each not exceeding 355 ml)
Personal effects are also exempt from duty. The following items are permitted and no duty will be due provided they for personal use:
Clothes, toiletries, mobile phones, PCs and laptops, radios and CD players, portable musical instruments, sports equipment, cameras and video cameras, telescopes, prams, and jewellery Up to 100,000 AED in cash and traveller’s cheques (provided passenger is 18 or over)
The text on the actual website states that the cash limit is 40,000 AED. The limit was raised to 100,000 AED in 2011. It has clearly not been updated on the website. Outdated information is fairly typical of official Dubai websites.
There is no mention of prohibited items in the 2014 Passenger Customs Guide. However, they are listed in the 2009 Travellers Guide. Presumably they have not changed.
Prohibited items on the 2009 list include:
Narcotic drugs (cocaine, heroin, marijuana, hallucination pills, poppy seeds etc.) Products from Israel Gambling equipment Cooked and homemade food Forged currency Tyres Original prints, lithographs, statues, sculptures Books, photographs, and other printed material that are immoral or are against Islamic teachings.
Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) were banned subsequent to publication of the 2009 Travellers Guide.
Again the 2014 Passenger Customs Guide does not mention items that must be declared to Dubai Customs on arrival. They are listed in the 2009 Travellers Guide and include:
Radios (even though they are on the duty free list) Cash above AED 40,000 (presumably now AED 100,000) Films, books, photographs, DVDs and CDs Gifts with a value above AED 3,000 Medicines of all kinds Narcotics Explosives and fireworks Knives and swords Weapons and ammunition Plants, trees, and soil Pets Skins of endangered animals.
Statement on medication – website of the Embassy of the UAE in the UK at July 2 2014:
Individuals may bring medicine into the country for their personal use. Up to three months’ supply of a prescription item can be brought into the country by a visitor and 12 months’ supply by a resident if they can produce a doctor’s letter or a copy of the original prescription. Narcotic items can only be brought into the UAE in exceptional cases with prior permission from the director of medicine and pharmacy control. These guidelines relate to medicines brought in by an individual through an airport or border crossing and medicines arriving by post.
Visitors must take care to ensure that medicines and medications prescribed in their home countries are not restricted before travelling to the UAE. The UAE Ministry of Health’s Drug Control Department publishes a list of controlled medicines and medications. Visitors should contact the Ministry of Health drug control department to check whether their medication is on the controlled list, and needs prior permission for importation. The Customer Service Centre of the drug control department can be contacted by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, by telephone on +971 2 611 7240 or by fax +971 2 632 7644.
The following PDF documents were on the UAE Ministry of Health website:
Guidelines for Import of Personal Medicines List of Restricted and Controlled Drugs.
The website of the UAE in Washington DC has copies of what we believe to be the same documents. Visit their ‘Planning a Trip’ page and look in the Related Links section to the right. We suspect they are the old documents that date back to around 2007/08. They could have been updated since. However, until the UAE Ministry of Health actually publishes an updated list on its website we cannot be sure.
Dubai has extremely strict drug laws. People frequently end up in court for offences that would not even warrant arrest in many countries.
Anybody thinking about bringing drugs or restricted medicines into Dubai should read the following articles:
Fair Trials International – Briton imprisoned for possession of 0.003 g of cannabis BBC News article – Various cases Gulf News – Codeine requires a prescription Gulf News – Woman jailed for traces of codeine in her system ArabianBusiness.com – Surge in number of British tourists arrested for drugs in 2007, drugs in bloodstream can count as possession Gulf News – Stewardess ends up in jail after calling police to inform them she had been drugged.
Comments and Additional Information.
Can I bring some homemade ready to eat food stuff to Dubai? Is it allowed to bring fruits to Dubai?
Hi, I will be visiting my daughter in Dubai soon. I would like to surprise her with all her favourite snacks. Can you please let me know if the following is allowed. Biltong (beef jerky) , sweets , chocolates and Chips (nik-naks) and powdered soups.
Dan Schramm says.
First, Dubai is a beacon of light compared to all the other Arab/Persian countries. I wonder if Dubai has drug problems like Saudi Arabia with the meth drug Captagon? Remember the Saudi prince caught with a private jet full of it? Dubai is a bit paranoid, but perhaps for good reason. Probably though if you use any medication, much less any illegal drug, Dubai should not be your vacation destination. So, to the moderator, what is the general cost of a doctor’s visit and how do local drug costs compare to the Western world.
February 26, 2017.
Can I bring 4x 50mg viagra into Dubai ?
January 11, 2017.
Would I be able to bring a 500 ml bottle of Kefir Milk into Dubai? I am just going for a week, and I drink it as a probiotic. It is not prescribed by a doctor or anything.
I will be transiting through Dubai airport back to Australia. Whilst away I brought a lot of Christian books and DVD from Amazon. Is there any problem taking them through customs.
November 12, 2016.
I am going to Dubai and i am planning to take with me a laser light which has a stars effect when you switch it on together with my laptop..is it allowed?
October 12, 2016.
Does anyone know if you can take Manuka Honey (from NZ) into Dubai?
September 3, 2016.
Well thought out forum, I do see the problems that others are having, this in part that they take drugs, with my job, if I smoke a joint I am fired, so what is the big deal people. IF you do drugs, do not visit this city or country, and in fact go to rehab, as you have a problem. The problem with the UAE is not them, but you. So keep to your ways and mind the rules, and I am sure you will get along fine with the fine people.
Hatim Mustafa says.
My sister is coming from US next week to Dubai for a short visit. Want to know about any gold restriction while entering UAE.
Hi all, I’m travelling to Dubai in August for 4 days and then onto Maldives with my husband and 2 children. I’m recently been told by my doctor that I have a condition called premenopause, so I have to take Hormone replacement therapy called Premique 5mg and Adcal-d3 calcium and vitamin D tablets. As Dubai is a stopover I will have to carry 3 weeks of these medications, will it be a problem? I can get a prescription and letter from the doctor but I’m worried that it may still cause a problem. Please can you help with this and advise me on what I should do many thanks!
Catalina C says.
Firstly thanks to those of you that make this website possible.
Second, I’m going out to Dubai to live and work there. With the move there is stuff that is going with the removal company but I am sending my golf clubs and an extra suitcase as excess baggage.
In my luggage I want to take my Ceylon Green Tea and my Hawaiian Spirulina powder. Will this be ok?
Hi. Could someone tell me if I can carry a dietary supplement that contains minerals, vitamins, amino acids, antioxidants, pro and pre biotics. If yes, should it be sealed or can I carry an open can? Also should it be in the carry on or checked in luggage? Will really appreciate any suggestions.
February 17, 2016.
I just spoke with a lady in UAE embassy in Kuala Lumpur. This is what she says.
1. Medications are allowed if they are have a doctors prescription letter and explanation about what they are for. They must be in original packaging.
2. Vitamins and supplements are allowed provided they are in original packaging. No letter is needed for this.
3. There is no need to declare medicines and vitamins at the customs. If they decide to check, just show the letter for the medicines. There will be no problems with the usual types of vitamins and supplements.
I am going this May and am feeling apprehensive as well. I hope there will be no problems. Can anyone share if I can buy over the counter medicines at the pharmacies in Dubai?
I will be travelling to Dubai Via Qatar and Qatar Airways. Is it possible for me to take two litres of spirits with me in my checked luggage provided it is bought from London Duty free after security checks? Will I be allowed to keep it in Dubai and through Qatar?
I am in the same situation, were you allowed to keep the alcohol?
dubai visitor says.
Can I bring some ready to eat dry homemade snacks with me to Dubai?
I am planning on bringing some plants like oregano and lemon grass, is there a problem or regulation regarding this herbs?
I’m travelling from Singapore to Stockholm Arlanda, transiting in Dubai DXB. I was thinking of grabbing a Limited Edition Johnnie Walker Bottle on the way out of Singapore. will this bottle be confiscated at DXB?
Haven’t had luck finding any info on duty rates in the UAE, so hopefully someone can help here.
We’re coming back from a fantastic trip in South Africa on Emirates with a five-night stopover in Dubai. (I love Dubai, by the way–I spent two weeks in the Middle East last year and had a blast.)
One of the key attractions in South Africa is wine tasting, and we’re building up a small collection of bottles we’d like to take home to the U.S. Of course, the stopover in Dubai may be problematic for that due to the import limits.
So, my question: what is the duty for wine imported into Dubai exceeding the duty free limits?
If it’s $20/liter, then we may have to drink or sell off what we’ve purchased. If it’s more like $2/liter, then it’d still be worth bringing our collection home with us to the USA.
Appreciate any advice!
Extra alcohol is confiscated. Can not completely exclude fine…
I let few bottles of RSA wines there.
I’m planning to come to Dubai. Can I bring a laptop from my Indian office? I’m not sure about the copyright of the operating system.
i am a young Nigerian woman and I have planned to travel to Dubai in a few days. But i just heard from someone that they have rules that state that females below the age of 40 will not be allowed to enter the UAE without company. I really wonder why. Is this true?
February 25, 2015.
We are moving to Dubai in April and I really would like to have a nice garden there 🙂 Am I allowed to take flower seeds from South Africa?
February 3, 2015.
Is it ok to bring some of my XBOX 360 pirated CD’s in Dubai?
February 9, 2015.
You’re asking if it is ok to bring illegal products into Dubai? Do you not think Dubai has copyright laws?
Sure, you’d probably get away with it. If you just had a few games I suspect they’d probably not be interested or turn a blind eye. If you’ve got lots, they may give you a hard time and possibly take action.
John Pierre says.
January 28, 2015.
I am travelling to India from US with a flight change in Dubai. I am planning to take 1 bottle of liquor in the check in baggage. Will I have any problem at Dubai Airport? I’ve heard that airport authorities only allow liquor bought from duty free shops within the airport for any outbound flight and confiscate any liquor a person is carrying from his home country. Is that true?
January 30, 2015.
It is not true. Your alcohol will not be confiscated.
Eileen Murray says.
Caution required. Bought a bottle of whisky at Manchester airport in duty free. Have just had it confiscated at Dubai, on a transfer through to Sydney. They said their rules are that the bag must be sealed. If was as it was handed to us at Manchester. No mention there, or on the flight of the requirement for Dubai for the bag to be sealed. They also would not give us a receipt to prove they had taken it.
This is actually a requirement of the Australian government and you will have the same problem flying how HK, Singapore or KL etc… The shop at Manchester shouldn’t have sold it to you as they would be aware of this.
September 6, 2015.
Any alcohol bought at any duty free has to be put in your checked baggage for any onward flights.
Tony Boynton says.
This is nothing special about Dubai. It applies to all countries.
If you are buying from duty free in your country and flying to another country via a connection flight in a 3rd country. You must get the duty free to put the products along with the receipt into airport sealed bags , not to be opened until final destination . This is a security issue and not simply that it is alcohol.It is liquid in excess of 100 mm.
Helen Thompson says.
We had drinks taken from us in Japan after buying at Perth Aus duty free. It was sealed and we had the receipt. We were in transit to London.
September 28, 2016.
This is a late comment but I hope it helps anyone planning to travel your alcohol being confiscated is an Australian customs law not UAE.
Darron OBrien says.
Actually it is true. I have had my alcohol bought in duty free at Heathrow, in a sealed bag with receipt, confiscated on three occasions when connecting to another flight. I think the officials live in their own world and you cannot challenge them.
Maureen VELLA says.
I was in Dubai on 2 night stopover in 2011. My experience was all good. The day we left a taxi turned up at our hotel with a young man lying diagonally across the back seat. He had vomited into the corner and down the side of the seat. He had been to a night club with friends the night before and had got totally drunk. The cab the driver had to get it cleaned and deodorized which cost him a day’s pay because he drove days and someone else drove nights! Do you think that was fair? Next thing 2 really big cops arrived looking for the offender. The hotel manager was kind enough to say that he was brought to the wrong hotel and had left. How lucky it was for that young man – but not for the poor taxi driver.
Thanks for your story, but I’m not sure how it is relevant to Dubai’s customs regulations.
December 30, 2014.
I am planning to buy a DSLR camera which will cost me around 3000 AED in Japan and I will bring it into Dubai for my personal use. Should I get rid of original box or is it ok to bring it in its original package? Thanks.
Can’t see a problem as it is for personal use.
November 7, 2014.
I am a diabetic and will obviously be carrying my prescription drugs on me for the duration of my stay (4 days). Do i need a doctors letter for these drugs? I cannot seem to find anything to help advise me.
November 10, 2014.
Just make sure all medicines are in their original packaging and you have the prescription. You’ll be fine.
carol Freestone says.
November 29, 2014.
We have just had our medications permitted as we had our signed doctors letter and a seal from the Trade Department with the Australian Government and then sent it on to the UAE Embassy for them to stamp them.
It was easy and all over within one week but the cost was $20 per page of the doctors letter so make sure they use only one page as our costs were $40 each and then $60 each for the UAE Embassy to stamp them. While costly it will put you at ease.
Nicole Mecion says.
Ok! excellent! Worth the piece of mind without a doubt, Can you post the links that you used to get the UAE stamp. I am in United States so I am guessing that I would have to get it signed by my government.
September 18, 2016.
I am traveling through on a layover and don’t understand how people taking flight anxiety medicine or daily anxiety meds are supposed to get all these required approvals. They seem impossible. Getting a notary to attest to a prescription? Our US government isn’t going to take the time to attest to the authentication of my medicines. These seem like unattainable requirements. Can anyone speak to what to do?
I’m also in Australia and have a doctors letter do they want the original or copy ?
Also does it need to be certified by a special lawyer first ? Thanks.
October 30, 2014.
I’m going to Dubai next month. Can I bring with me my height enhancer “Gloxi”? It is actually just a food supplement and not a drug. I asked my doctor and he said this product is harmless but he can’t give me a prescription for this, but I have the product description that tells everything in it. It’s going to be my 2 months supply. Is it ok?
November 10, 2014.
They’ll probably laugh at you for believing a ‘height-enhancer’ pill can actually work.
October 14, 2014.
Would it be OK to bring a unused bong into the UAE? It has never been used. I mean a bong could be used for tobacco?
October 20, 2014.
You are correct in saying that a bong could be used for tobacco and I’m sure you could argue this if questioned. Indeed smoking tobacco in water pipes is very common in Dubai. If you are a drug user though I wouldn’t personally advise it. They could in theory use it as an excuse to test your blood for drugs. Although rare, there have been a few cases where people have had drugs in their blood and been charged with possession.
October 10, 2014.
If I am travelling to London from Dubai can I take 2 bottles of wine in my suitcase or is alcohol only allowed “in” and not “out” ?
October 20, 2014.
Practically yes. Legally no.
December 3, 2014.
So what I understood that no alcohol is allowed in checked in baggage when departing Dubai. Am I right? Please confirm thanks in advance.
December 19, 2014.
I should have given more explanation. Kayne asked whether he could bring alcohol into Dubai. Yes, you can bring it through customs. However, once it is in Dubai, the laws are a little strange.
Legally speaking you need an alcohol license (available to residents only) to transport alcohol in Dubai. So when you transport it from the airport to your hotel you are technically breaking the law. Practically, everybody breaks this rule. After all, they’ll happily sell non-residents alcohol at Dubai Duty Free. They don’t expect you to drink it at the airport so they know you’ll be breaking the law.
That’s what I meant in my answer to Kayne.
Will have a 3 day stop-over in Dubai.
Can I bring a small knife (‘Leatherman’ multi-tool, blade length.
3 inch) in my luggage?
My medium/short/wave plus FM Radio will be with me. Do I have to declare it ?
Is such a travel item allowed?
According to the latest customs regulations you just have to declare knives and radios. Your airline may have different regulations though. For example, I’ve just looked at the regulations for knives on the Emirates website. It appears that you can take a knife in your checked baggage but not in your carry-on baggage. I would advise you to confirm with your airline.
September 26, 2014.
Hi, I am a seafarer scheduled to disembark in Fujairah, UAE next month. From there, I would travel to my country in Asia. I would like to ask if anyone knows if i could have my electronic cigarette in check-in baggage? Anyway, I would just be transiting the country.
September 30, 2014.
You will be fine. I’ve had my electronic cigarette with me many times. The worse case scenario is that they’ll just take it off you. You won’t end up in jail or anything bad.
September 17, 2014.
Can I take a pack of Pampers pack ( 88 pcs pack) with my hand luggage. If yes, how many packs.
September 23, 2014.
There are no restrictions on nappies in Dubai :). Your question is relevant to your baggage allowance. That is a matter for your airline. If you can fit it in the maximum size of hand luggage allowed I presume the answer is yes.
David Reilly says.
September 11, 2014.
Is it possible to bring Kamagra Oral Jelly or Intimax Oral Jelly into Dubai? I buy these in India as Viagra is too expensive and difficult to get prescribed here. I don’t have a prescription for these.
September 15, 2014.
As far as I am aware the ingredient in these is Sildenafil Citrate, which is just the chemical name for Viagra. If so, I don’t believe this is restricted or controlled so you don’t need a prescription. However, you have to be careful of the dosage. Do a search for ‘Sildenafil Citrate Dubai’ and you will see an article about how some tablets were seized because they each contained 130 mg of the drug. The legal limit is apparently 100 mg.
September 5, 2014.
I am going to Dubai for a holiday and as a nervous flyer I take diazepam prescribed by my doctor before flights. My husband thinks that I may not be permitted to carry diazepam in to Dubai for my return flight. Can anyone tell me if my medication is permitted?
September 10, 2014.
Diazepam is a controlled medication in Dubai/UAE. This means you can bring it in provided you have been prescribed it by a doctor. You will need to bring the prescription and it will need to be in its original packaging.
You are also only allowed to bring in a reasonable amount suitable for the duration of your stay. Presuming you only need a tablet or two for the flight back this shouldn’t be a problem.
Can anyone answer this?
Can i bring some liquor in my baggage from Europe to Dubai?
September 10, 2014.
Hi. It depends whether you mean hand baggage or the suitcases you will check in. Airlines have restrictions on all liquids in hand baggage but you’ll be ok if you buy it after passing security (i.e. in duty free in your European airport and presuming it is a direct flight). If you buy from elsewhere you’ll need to put it in your suitcase and check it in. If you don’t want to pay duty on arrival in Dubai you should stick to the duty free limits (4 litres of wine/spirits and 48 cans of beer).
February 6, 2015.
Does that mean I can bring in 4 litres of wine AND 48 cans of beer? I would not want to though, but REALLY?
February 9, 2015.
They are LIMITS. You don’t have to buy that much. You don’t have to buy any. If they were lower we’d have people on here complaining they were too low.
Plus they’re nothing out of the ordinary. Current UK duty free limits for alcohol purchases made outside the EU are 16 litres of beer and 4 litres of wine.
Just wondering if anyone could answer this. I’m going to Dubai for 6 days and I have my laptop with me. It has some movies on it that my friend has given me. They’re not pornographic or anything but they have been downloaded illegally I think. Should I delete them off my computer or do they not matter?
You will be ok. You are not importing pornographic videos. Those are prohibited.
Think about it. Almost everybody has videos and music on their phones or computers. Some will be legal, others won’t. The only way Dubai Customs could verify their legality would be to ask to see purchase receipts for all these downloads.
Do you really think they have the time and resources to stop every passenger, inspect their electronic equipment for downloads, and then demand to see a purchase receipt for each piece of media.
Illegal downloads are illegal in most countries, not just Dubai. It is usually up to the rights holder to bring any prosecutions, not the customs authorities. Of course, if you had a bag full of a 100 DVDs with no labels, that might be a different story. But, regarding downloads on your computer, you will be fine.
curios visitor says.
Can I bring condoms to Dubai in my luggage?
Yes, you can bring condoms to Dubai. You can also buy them here. There are no rules prohibiting condoms or birth control in Dubai.
Could i just confirm if it will be possible to bring my contraceptive pill to dubai, i dont have a prescription for it? Also is it possible to bring progesterone hormone tablets which can be used to delay periods? againI dont have a prescription for these.
Can you buy Viagra in Dubai? Do you need a prescription to buy it?
Yes. You can buy it over the counter from any pharmacy without a prescription.
September 16, 2014.
Wow, you can buy dong-engorging drugs without a prescription but if they find a normal pain reliever in your blood, then you get arrested and jailed for 4 years. These Arabs are farcical. The UK should seize their assets next time they come to London at the end of Ramadan.
September 16, 2014.
September 29, 2014.
May I ask if I can I bring a Lelo Liv vibrator into Dubai. It is discreet. However I’ve read some posts that say bringing sex toys to Dubai is banned.
September 30, 2014.
Sex toys are illegal in Dubai. I did a bit of further research before answering this question and found an article in the Gulf News from 4 years ago.
An expatriate woman ordered one sex toy online for shipping to Dubai. It was seized by Dubai Customs. She wasn’t arrested or prosecuted but was asked to sign a document stating that she would not attempt to import sex toys in the future. It was made clear to the woman that she would face legal action if tried to bring a sex toy into Dubai again.
So in answer to your question, I would advise to leave it at home. If they found it, it looks like you wouldn’t be arrested (unless of course you started to kick up a fuss and make problems). I imagine though you would find the situation embarrassing.
I find it appalling that they can arrest you with possession for what you carry in your blood. I live in Europe, but am Australian. Recently I had to return at short notice for a funeral and without thinking booked flights with QANTAS, as I have many times before.
Only to discover that QANTAS now flies via Dubai. Having recently visited Amsterdam, a place where smoking weed is legal, I became very nervous reading all these messages about possession in the blood stream. QANTAS denied my request to cancel the ticket and in the end I had to rebook with another airline, doubling the cost of the flight (the flight was for my wife, son and I so 4000 euro +)
It is completely retarded to be able to arrest someone for possession if its in their blood. What do they think we can do with it? Sell it?
And for all those people who say “just dont do drugs to begin with”, who are you to tell others what to do. We are not importing drugs into this shithole country.. no one would be that stupid. but imposing morality on people long before they have to transit through their airport is just fascism.
October 22, 2015.
Marijuana is actually not even legal in Amsterdam. Read up.
Frustrated expat says.
As a teenager who’s lived in Dubai for 4 years, I still find the laws retarded and draconian. Especially the age limits. Anywhere that supplies alcohol is 21+. This includes concerts and events, which in other places would be 15+ at most. All I can say is, they live in the dark ages here. You’ve just to to accept it and look forward to when you move/go home.
Do not holiday here if you’re 18-21 and hoping for a drink. If you want to show some love in public, definitely don’t come here, because that heinous crime warrants a stoning.
15+. I don’t think so dude. I can’t name a single country in the world that serves alcohol that young, and I’m from Ireland!
4 years jail for poopy seeds?
4 years jail for 0.003 grams of weed?
If all you Dubai supporters don’t see this as utterly stupid then you deserve a 4 year prison sentence on your next visit for no logical reason to contemplate the absurdity or it.
Don’t think it just happens to other people, because guess what your other people.
Chris Churchill says.
What a load of crap is this website, with very few exceptions. Why don’t you people get a life and leave well alone? You want to do drugs and gossip malicious fiction? Then pay the price! Why would you even want to visit another culture if all you want to do is behave in the same fashion as in your country of residence? Just as money makes money, trash makes trash. I would normally ignore some of the outrageous comments made here, but some of them are just so stupid, they defy belief. If all you want to do is complain, stay home and let those who are prepared to comply with local laws, enjoy their travels. It’s not rocket science. Don’t be a tosser; the world already has too many.
Amazing comment! Those that can’t accept other cultures should stay in their houses. That’s all.
October 25, 2014.
I agree wholeheartedly, I am visiting Dubai in a few weeks and I am looking forward to spending some time in a country that is not spoilt by the oafish behaviour of those that use drugs or excessive drink. If one cannot respect the laws and customs of any country in the world that one intends visiting then you have no right visiting them.
February 10, 2015.
I think you are talking to empty space right now. Some people so ignorant they are even do not respect law and culture their own country. So what to say about other countries?
One of the real advantages of the draconian drug laws and the stories they generate to those of us living here in Dubai is that it keeps sensationalist morons like so many of you from visiting. Happy holidays!
I just called the UAE embassy in London (02074866281) and they said as long as you have a current prescription / letter from your doctor for any medication containing codeine, it is ok to bring it in to the country for personal use.
Whilst the laws on ‘recreational’ drugs are indeed strict, they are in many other countries, which have far worse human rights records. Just don’t do it.
Some reports of imprisonment are unfair and are eventually resolved (sad but true), but there is a fashion for Dubai bashing in the media these days, which omits information about those arrested for actual offences.
Let’s face it, Dubai as all tourist destinations needs visitors, and it’s police force rarely overreacts when it comes to tourists. As long as you behave with respect (re not fighting men or women, public affection – snogging and groping each other, and consuming alcohol- try not raging round drunk and shouting your head off, staggering through the place), you will never have a problem. If you don’t feel you wish to have a holiday which doesn’t include this in your list of activities, then don’t go.
I very much get the impression half the comments here are made by teenagers with nothing to do and have never been to Dubai. One thing is true: the rules here are strict, you should know them and abide the law. This coming from a non-Arab expat living in Dubai.
Gosh, myself and my husband were considering coming to Dubai for two months on our extended honeymoon. The laws regarding customs and flying are retarded. We certainly won’t be coming now – we’ll spend our money elsewhere.
Gosh Eva you just do that. I am certain they will have a national day of sad faces for your absence.
October 18, 2016.
Why does Dubai create such negative comments seen from a Western perspective. Now I know why.
We are an older couple; adults who made the mistake of trying to spend some pleasant time getting to know a different culture. Instead we were confronted by a backward, draconian attitude right at Dubai airport.
We had bought a new Lelo vibrator in Europe and it was identified in the luggage and confiscated. My wife was requested to sign a paper that approved the destruction of the vibrator. ln spite of our argument that she used it to ease neck pain, it was deemed a sex toy by a number of people in authoritative positions.
It appears without doubt that the right of a woman to make independent decisions regarding personal state of mind and/or body is in the hands of a male dominanted mentality. It is obvious that there is no freedom for women to make personal choices also reflected in other more social circumstances.
It is humiliating and offensive to be in a position to defend private issues within a relationship in an open customs hall. We only wanted to stay an easy 2 nights and not really confront the harsh restrictive practises, and anti-female attitudes in the country. We are not importing drugs, alcohol, porn, weapons, etc. or wanting to subvert the culture.
We will not return to such a repressed mentality in the future and advise others to consider the hidden regulations in closed countries.
I just want to expel the fears that scare mongers are expressing on this site. Today I decided to phone the UAE embassy in London ( I live in the UK) as my family and I are visiting Dubai next month I became very concerned after reading the scares on here . I also found a list on the internet of the restricted and controlled drugs that are not allowed then my wife had pointed out to me that she was being prescribed one of these controlled drugs. More worry as our tickets have already been purchased.
I spoke to a man in the drugs control department of the embassy who told me as long as my wife has a doctors letter and recent prescription she could take all her medications with her even controlled drugs. If the owner of this site or anyone else wants to check this then they should phone 02074866281. And please everyone don.
I have never used drugs and I don’t even drink alcohol. I don’t bring x rated magazines or toys into the country or even artistic or cultural books with explicit images as I’ve lived here a long time and know better.
In any case, I suffer from vaginismus which is a very painful contraction of the muscles in the private region. My gynaecologist tried taking a pap smear and I had to stop her as it was very painful. As a result I haven’t gone for another test in 2 years. She recommended getting dilators to open up the area (she is a doctor working in Dubai by the way).
I never bothered but my sister in the UK bought me some dilators from a medical company which cost about GBP 500. I returned to Dubai with them. I was shocked when the Airport staff treated it like it was some kind of sex toy/ vibrator. Though they were polite, they had a very crude approach to the issue. Despite my pointing out the information card attached to the box they just brushed it off. Needless to say, that I was thoroughly embarrassed and frightened. It is an embarrassing health problem as it is!
What I don’t get is my friends and even my boss boast about bringing sex toys into the country, so why humiliate me for a medical device? I agree with one of the other commentators on this page that they need to be properly educated and also trained to speak better English.
They should be train to speak better English? Maybe you should stay in your own English speaking country and not expect that the world should adapt to you or owe you a favour!
February 7, 2015.
Excuse me. They work in an airport with a massive volume of English speaking customers. Over a million people from the UK alone each year. I don’t think it’s much to expect for some diversity in their language skills. Not to mention the country relies on tourism! So many people think this world was built from nothing. It takes cooperation and recognition of diversity to make this world thrive. I live in Australia. We have many different Asian languages on signs all throughout our country as it is important to accommodate the large number of Asians that reside here.
I really do not understand all the scary crap here. I have been living in Dubai for 1 year only, and I have never felt more comfortable, safer, happier anywhere else I have lived before. This is the place to be in, and if anybody is scared because they can not bring drugs into the country, then we don’t want them here either. We are clean, safe, we would not like any trouble. It is funny hearing about being uncomfortable, really very funny. I am from Chicago, are we free there, safe walking down the street after dark? Very funny. I don’t understand all the bs. Welcome to Dubai, seeing is believing, do not be prejudice, enjoy it. Don’t drink and drive, don’t drink and bother the others, drink it for yourself, no problem. Dubai is heaven on earth.
born and raised in DXB says.
It is a messed up place. They say you can’t drink unless you have a permit but none of these laws are enforced unless you piss of a cop or a person with connections. Honestly, what you do in other countries should be your business and should not be targeted in Dubai if you have no intention of doing it there. Traces in blood or urine should not be considered possession. It’s just retarded.
All I can say is I live in Dubai. I have lived all over the world also and its one of the safest places to live! If people are naive enough to believe the press then I am happy if it keeps all the drug dealers out! We don’t live on a daily basis worried that we will be arrested, us women do not have to cover up, alcohol is enjoyed plentiful in very civilized bars and nightclubs. We can even buy alcohol and drink it in our own homes once you have picked up your licence from MMI. All types of medicines and drugs are available over the counter in the pharmacies so if you take a drug that you are concerned may not be acceptable at customs then do the research and ask your own Doctor what the equivalent may be which may be available to purchase once in the country. To be honest I am sick of reading all this crap – I love my home! I love Dubai!
The Cruel Barbarian says.
After I have read all these comments, I wonder why do people still go to these countries? Would it not be better to boycott them? I am in no way a drug user of any kind, but just the thought of getting arrested for having three poppy seeds off a bread roll on my clothes makes me think I must cancel my trip with Emirates and take a more lenient airline.
I have lived in Abu Dhabi for all the 18 years of my life and moved to canada for university. I consume chron regularly and i find it very medieval and just plane uneducated to consider traces of marijuana in the blood stream as possesion. What you do in the jurisdiction of another country where marijuana is legal is your own business. Officers have no right to check you for something you do that does not harm anyone else in another country. I truly love the UAE but I find this very stupid. I was stopped on my last travel and my luggage and every pocket of every pant was checked. Luckily I washed everything twice and took extra precautions to ensure I was clean. Something needs to be done about this.
So, just so we’re clear…weed, which is illegal in the US is also illegal in Dubai. Whether or not the US is more lenient with its drug policies shouldn’t matter! It’s still illegal so should not be in your system in the first place. Also, knowing the rules and regulations of a country, despite whether or not you think they’re fair, doesn’t mean you have the option to follow them! Bottom line, don’t do drugs, especially if traveling into a place that takes it so seriously. If you are incapable of following a rule which they have made pretty clear, than getting in trouble is your own fault. I’m having a hard time understanding what everyone is so worried and confused about. And do you think for a second, that one of their people wouldn’t be treated a certain way in our country if they came over with things that we specifically said WERE NOT ALLOWED?! My husband and I are planning a move there in the next few months and neither one of us do drugs or associate with anyone who does. I do take birth control, but have no problem leaving it behind and going to a doctor once I get there. Wow.
I was born in the UK, moved to Dubai when I was 1 and stayed out there until I was 18 and ready to go to uni. Although there are numerous things that can royally p*ss you off out there, it’s also one of the best places in the world. I got searched last summer because they found a piece of tobacco in my passport that "looked a bit like weed" (sigh). As soon as I went through passport control there was a plain clothed officer ready to introduce himself and ask me to follow him. We got to the searching table and when they looked through my passport found some tobacco in between the pages. I smoke by the way and I used to have to use my passport as ID in the uk, hence whenever there had been cigarettes/pouch of tobacco in my pocket, some of the leftovers would fall into my passport. Anyway, I was nervous as hell as I had socialised with people who smoke the stuff and felt like I was going to get done over because of someone else’s problem.One of the chief officers at the time then took some photocopies of my passport without telling me why. After a small (but scary) conversation with the customs officer he asked me to follow him to a room so I would be strip searched (down to my underwear). When he found that there was nothing, he let me go. The whole process lasted about 30 minutes maximum. However I was very shaken up about it afterwards. I have since returned to Dubai on numerous occasions and since then I have had no trouble. Partly because I have since decided to dress smart/have a shave and a haircut, and partly because i found out they had been looking through my suitcase before I had even taken it off the belt. Does this irritate me? A bit. Would I rather this happen than the whole investigation process? Definitely. I would let everyone in that airport look through my bags if I didn’t have to put up with that again.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you have nothing to be worried about, come to Dubai. It’s not bad as most people on here have pointed out, but there are some laws that need to be changed. Once you get past the customs (and ignore the manic main highways) you’ll have a great time. I always have and if you just don’t do anything ridiculously stupid like bring drugs in, swear at officials/locals when drunk, shag on beaches and generally being an arsehole, you will love it and surprisingly enough actually enjoy conversing an interesting nation of people.
For all those who think Dubai is a great and fair place from your personal experience? What does it take for you all to figure out that the fact it has not happened to you yet does not mean pretty crazy things have not happened in Dubai? And you all just wait. One of these days your luck will be down, and they will be in a bad mood, and off to slammer 4 years for you for some silly stuff like having medicine in your bag. And similar idiots like you will still be writing in these blogs about how they went to Dubai and all is fair, while you rot in jail with no one to hear or speak up for you.
Are these the same medicines that are listed on the banned substances list?
I never heard of anyone being thrown in jail for 4 years because the customs officer was in a bad mood.
Don’t break the law and no problems.
I gather you don’t/won’t visit the UAE? Huge loss! I’m sure they weep on a daily basis over such a substantial loss in tourist trade you are costing them.
take if from me says.
Ok I have never been harassed at DXB airport. But my brother has. The key difference is he has long hair, and a more eccentric sense of fashion. I dress smart. When I land at terminal 3 it takes me 10 mins to get out of the airport after an international flight, and my bags don’t get scanned anywhere. Why? because I don’t look suspicious. SO for all you bro’s who rolled those joints on their laptops, don’t worry. It’s not that bad. Just dress half smart and you should be fine. The guy that got found with the speck in his shoe was a rasta. So go figure they would pick on him. Poor guy.
Unfortunately, Dubai won’t be getting any of my international tourist dollars since I am prescribed Xanax and take it for anxiety. I would love to see this modern city but I just won’t take the risk. Other countries that don’t care as long as I have a prescription (Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, UK, Holland, etc.) will be in my future travel plans.
Oh no. Call the cavalry! Change the laws to allow you in with all your tourist dollars!
Don’t you think that’s a little drastic?
Find a temporary replacement to take that isn’t banned and you will be fine.
Why are you such a loser? You’re sticking up for a country that doesn’t recognize personal freedoms, that treats women like second class citizens, that punishes the victim of a rape, that tells other people how to live their lives, that judges gay people for their lifestyle. And I could go on. Who are you kidding? The United States is based on freedoms, on a Constitution wherein we hold these truths to be self evident, that all are created equal and are entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. You prefer the dictates of a fundamentalist religion? Seriously? If a man is prescribed Xanax from his doctor it is ok for you to judge him? One day you need medication. Then what? Get real. Where is this going? You are living under a regime that, when taken to extremes, you get the Taliban. Good luck with that.
Expat in UAE says.
September 17, 2014.
FREEda. every country in this world has their own constitution and laws. It is expected from the visitors to be aware of the laws before they travel to that particular country. It is very much like a person who takes drugs at home visiting his relatives that hate drugs. The person needs to adjust to the relatives’ place. It is not his home. It is very simple.
Personal freedom? Every country limits personal freedom. From a rapists viewpoint, allowing him to rape will be considered as personal freedom. A thief will consider allowing to steal is personal freedom. I hope you get my point here.
UAE is a Country that treats women as second class? I have never seen a city where a woman can go around the streets alone at 2 am without a single grain of fear, except in UAE. Do you consider safety of women as considering them second class? The respect shown to women in UAE is immense. Do you consider respecting women is considering them second class? The United states is based on freedoms. All are entitled to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. I believe USA does not have jails because everyone has the liberty to pursue happiness by doing anything they want and living freely. You judge people of following the dictates of a fundamentalist religion and you point fingers on people who judge gays? Think over it.
I hope my comment will change the way to think about other countries.
The UAE is one of the best places in the world to live and settle. The people are warm, hospitable and polite. Give respect and take Respect. Simple and plain.
I have been living the Emirate Abu Dhabi of UAE for 5 years, and I visit Dubai about twice a month and till now, I haven’t had a trouble with any law. The UAE is a safe place as long as you are not a criminal, a drug addict or a terrorist.
I have read all of the comments and I offer this simple solution. Do not go. Stay home or go somewhere else. There are other places that are a little more relaxed. Spend your money somewhere else. If all of this is going on in Dubai DO NOT GO.
I just wouldn’t go back to Dubai. They really do just make up their laws as they go along. Guess it’s their country so they can treat their visitors as they please but the Arabs are such hypocrites. I’ve worked in top hotels and they have no respect for the laws of the countries they are in and as for being good Muslims! Don’t make me laugh. If cocaine and prostitutes is being a good Muslim, then they have different ideas than me.
I wouldn’t risk going there with my girlfriend because its only a policeman’s whim that’s the difference between long jail terms and having a good holiday. Why would you risk that?
I lived in UAE and northern Oman for 2 months and will be returning for another 2 month stay in less than a week. I had absolutely no problems. I was treated with respect everywhere I went and helped when I needed it. I wasn’t given any kind of test or pat down when I arrived at the airport. I’ve never even really noticed a police presence in Dubai. I flew there with two kinds of anti-depressents and birth control pills, had a doctors letter for each but they didn’t even look at any of it. I am a 25 year old female from the US.
I was supposed to be travelling to Bangkok in the next two days, but transiting in Dubai. I like the odd cheeky spliff with a couple of drinks, but the slightest risk of a urine test I.
Don’t do any drugs there and you’ll be fine. I’ve never been there but I might go soon if my company gets the contract. I’ll smoke a joint when I get back to San Diego. No big deal.
Dubai is a castle built on sand. The marine life has been ruined by pumping concrete into the sea for constructing the islands. I’ve been and had a nice time but will not return. I did have to purchase all new clothes and luggage to avoid having any traces of illegal substances on me, even scrubbed the soles of my favourite sandles.
Much as we’d like to travel via Dubai en route from Australia to the UK, we can’t take the risk because some of my wife’s prescriptions would land her in jail. That’s not a sensible law, it’s barbarism.
I think Dubai is a great place and it’s because they have strong rules that it’s one of the safest places in the world.
Frankly I would say they are just a bunch of barbarians (sorry insult to barbarians everywhere). They are cruel to people and beast alike. They still live in the dark ages ie 7th century but with 21st century goods. Hypocrites one and all with their religious zealot laws. Yet when they come to UK they do the complete opposite. We don’t need your oil or your money. So get lost.
Guys it’s plain and simple. Dubai’s laws are unclear and subject to the whims of the rulers, so the basic understanding is that there really is no law. What you need to know is how to look like you don’t care. It’s that simple. One commentator mentioned how it was hard to get a smile out of anyone in the UAE. That’s because everyone minds their own business. If you were to do the same and just quietly come and leave, there would be no problems and you could get away with almost anything. The other escape route is to befriend a rich Arab. That works for me. You won’t believe the things I pull off in this place. It’s also probably cause I’m not white that I look even less conspicuous to these policemen!
"When in Rome…" Dubai sounds like a great place if you are civilized enough to respect the culture/customs. Some people from the West just don’t get it – truly thinking the world is their oyster. How do you suppose a person from the UAE (dressed in traditional garb) would be received walking into the Shell station at Inglewood and Crenshaw?
A 4 year sentence for 3 poppy seeds from a bagel. This law in nonsense. Never travel or visit to Dubai.
Comment for Alan. Who needs sympathy from you? Getting arrested for 0.003g is plain stupid. The cops should be out there to catch real criminals and this applies.
worldwide. But then law and order does not work well anywhere in the world and people like Alan are ignorant and should not be in charge of law.
After hearing all the horror stories about going to jail for possessing codeine, there is no way I am going to visit Dubai now.
From an American who goes through Dubai frequently. After reading so many of these comments, it is apparent that most are posted by people who use illegal drugs anyway and whine when they get held up because of their drug use and the others are from people, who "heard" of something and were not there when the incident happened and were told by their "friend" who they "know" wouldn’t do anything illegal. I do know, after 30 years of arresting druggies, that drug heads will lie to their own mother and whine about being the victim. They usually claim that someone planted it in their pocket without them knowing. Yeah right. It’s simple to stay out of trouble. Stay off the drugs and stay away from drug heads. I see plenty of Americans and Brits going through these countries, being loud, obnoxious, and just plain acting stupid. May as well hold up a big sign saying, "Hey cop, check me out". Cops worldwide always find it humorous about how stupid drug heads are. No sympathy from me.
I flew in from Iraq with 4 brand new 9mm magazines that are for my target shooting pistol back home. I cleared the previous 4 security checks and confirmed with security that it was fine (not classified as a weapon nor ammunition). In Dubai while in transit, I went out the airport to give a bag to a friend I travelled with who was over weight. I then immediately checked in again and was stopped and taken in for questioning. An hour later they let me go but kept the magazines saying is was classified as a dangerous item. So I can buy at Duty Free a 2 metre steel camera tripod, a steel tipped umbrella, a litre of flammable whiskey, and then eat with steel cutlery on the flight, but can’t travel with a 50 gram empty tin magazine. I think that education of security staff needs to be updated. Rank and abuse of authority just makes honest travellers like myself avoid and dislike Dubai.
First off, for any of you commenting about ‘respect the rules of the country blah blah blah’. What nonsense. Whilst I totally respect the rules once I’m in the country, they have no business telling me what to do outside it.
I spent the scariest time of my life in Dubai customs when my fiancee was taken into a tiny cupboard sized room with two burly men strip searching him without any cameras in the room and then threatening him with life sentence even though he had absolutely nothing on him. They planted a piece of plant in his trouser pocket while we were searched (it wasn’t even marijuana) and then used it to (what we ended up believing) get a bribe out of us. So are you all saying that if in Australia, 6 weeks ago, he’d had a puff of a joint, they should have the authority to put him away if they found traces in a urine or blood test? You must be joking. I have travelled all my life and love Emirates as an airline, but I for one, will never ever set foot in that airport again. My life is too important to me for that.
On another note, the entire 20 hours we were in that city, no matter how hard we tried, we could not squeeze a single smile out of anyone. For all I care, they can go stick their fake environmental nightmare of a city.
UAE citizen says.
December 28, 2014.
Get a bribe out of you huh? That’s a big sign that you are lying, either it was a fine that you had to pay and you just called it a bribe or you’re making this up. As a UAE citizen I know that these people get payed 360000 AED annually which is equivalent to 100000 USD a year, which is probably more than you get paid. So I’m pretty sure they didn’t take money from you.
And for all the people that want to visit Dubai or UAE in general, you are always welcome here unless you do illegal things. By the way you can’t get arrested for being gay. I have many gay friends here that are living safely and they are openly gay but the thing is, you can’t have sex in the middle of the street and expect to not get arrested even if you are straight. That goes to the whole world.
Oh please. Like we care if you don’t visit Dubai anymore. Who the hell do you think you are? You and your boyfriend are lowlife drug users. These people from the airport are probably ten times richer than you and your whole family. Stop badmouthing this country. We don’t need and want you here. Drug addicts!
I am neither an Arab nor Muslim but I absolutely love Dubai. They are very strict when it comes to prostitution and drugs, but to be fair, you shouldn’t have drugs with you at all. If they are prescribed medications, take the doctors note with you. I have never ever EVER had a problem with living in Dubai or its airport security. Remember that politeness and a smile goes a long way. Don’t give them reason to to imprison you and don’t argue. None of the Dubai rules are ridiculous and yes there have been some cases of unfairness, but that happens in every city, not just Dubai. Everyone should go there, just know their laws and you’ll have an amazing time. I promise.
A guy was arrested when customs officials found a poppy seed from a bread roll at a Dubai Airport so I’ve heard. They have no intelligence acting that way.
These stories all sound so sad. I shall not be visiting Dubai.
I’m British, but was born in Dubai (I’m 24) and lived here till I was 20. I loved living here but do have to say sometimes the application of the laws is ridiculous. Last year I was visiting my family in DXB for Xmas and was stopped in the airport and searched. I have a blood disorder and have to take medication every day to stop attacks. The customs officials at DXB airport confiscated my medication, held me in the airport for 4 hours (with my parents waiting for me in arrivals). They did not let me contact anyone. I had a prescription with me from Leicester Royal Infirmary, but they still would not let me have my tablets. They eventually released me but refused to give me back my medication as they contain a hormone deriviative and this is apparently considered illegal in the UAE (even though I used to get them from the pharmacy of Al Zara hospital in Sharjah). Was a bit of a nightmare all things considered. Stupid thing was I really needed those tablets, but was able to buy them from a pharmacy the day after I arrived in Dubai! Stupid or what!
Sherri wait until you get them on a bad day, I have looked into their laws and nowhere does it mention that you aren’t allowed a telescopic lens. They have robbed us of this expensive gift and haven’t even replied to our letters or emails for answers. Read the reviews about taking in medicine even with doctors letters. It took Tracey Wilkinson 8 weeks to get out of jail. She was facing 4 years just for having it in her blood system. If I was you don’t take anything in with you and visit a local doctor there!!
People are so critical of Dubai and their laws. At the end of the day they are the laws in that country and you should abide by them if you are going to visit. I think the country is fantastic and only wish the UK were so strict on our laws.
I have been to Dubai 6 times now and have never had a problem.
Just to clarify, can co-codamol be taken into the country if a valid UK prescription can be provided with it?
My family and I have just returned from 3 days in Dubai. We got held on arrival for 4hrs at the airport by customs because my husband had a telescopic lens in his suitcase. It was a very expensive gift given to him and it was confiscated. This was not a weapon but somehow they thought it was! No we won’t be returning and yes be very careful on what you take in!
Our son whom is 18 and very immature for his age etc he has uae residency and has been a student here in Dubai for the past 4 years. He was approached by customs at the airport on his arrival at Xmas time from a UK flight and he was asked if he was carrying drugs. As he appeared to be nervous with such question they then decided to full strip search him. This has had some negative effect on him about the UAE on the whole experience. They could have had a different approach if they at all suspected.
Although I’m totally drug-free, my concern is treading on some dopeheads joint on my way to the airport, then carrying the incriminating crap into Dubai in the tread of my shoes. For that reason I’ve bought a pair of business shoes, with very shallow groves on the bottom. They hopefully won’t pick up any crap. And as I make my way off the plane, I’ll shuffle my shoes against the carpet, so that any crap will hopefully get cleaned off.
Framed in Dubai Airport says.
This true story will blow you all away! A very good friend of mine who I have known for 27 years was framed with carrying a small amount of hash by custom officials at Dubai airport on a stop over. I could not believe this nor understand what they would gain from this! The only reason that I could think of is that they are targeting people that even slightly resemble a drug user in their eyes, and then brand them so they can never enter the UAE. My friend Sam does look like a bit of an old hippie but has not touched a drug as long as I have known him. And of all places to find the pea-sized piece of hashish was inside his passport after they had taken it and turned away from him, then turned back with it sitting there between the pages. He was gob-smacked ! They immediately took him away, strip searched and urine tested him, then asked to plead guilty and said they would release him. If he denied it, he would spend up to 1 month in jail waiting for court. Of course he pleaded guilty and they did release him in time to catch his connecting flight, but can never return to the UAE. How’s that for justice!
January 28, 2015.
I think we should do the same to them in the West when they travel to our countries then perhaps they just might learn a lesson or two.
I’m not even sure why we still let them in?
Perhaps the oil will run out soon and we can deny visas to them en masse.
Anyone supporting Dubai in this forum is a serious shmuck! Every land has laws and these must be respected but inside the airports during travel is zone that should be considered neutral considering some don’t have the option of where they fly through. I feel you all protect Dubai because it is an Arab country. Screw off DubaiPro. You are either a part of a messed up religion that believe that everyone should agree with you or die or you are some tool cop that likes to post your dribble on these forums.
Any government or law enforcement system that would prosecute a traveller for simply having something in the blood stream that could be legal in a country they had just passed through is obviously trying to force their ridiculous religious beliefs on the rest of the world. UAE sucks!
UAE citizen says.
December 28, 2014.
No one forced you to convert to Islam or to come to UAE. If you don’t like UAE or its laws, well that’s your problem and we are better off without you.
January 28, 2015.
With all due respect you do need Westerners to visit your backwards country!
There are slave slums, people are treated like dirt by virtue of their race or citizenship, you do not offer citizenship or even permanent residence to people who have indeed civilized your country, helped extract the oil, and literally transformed your people from desert dwelling bedoiuns into well lazy but albeit somewhat civilized babies who spend every penny on luxury items, don’t contribute positively or otherwise to the development of the human race.
If you are so better off than the west then why is it that you need our tourism money? Why is it that you offer visa free travel to us when we don’t offer it to you? Why are you blasting our music? Driving our cars? Using medicines MADE by us? The article is about medication. If someone has medicine legally prescribed why should they fear traveling to and from your country?
If you want to be treated as civilized and you want to brand yourself as a safe tourist destination then eliminate the anxiety for people who visit your country to enjoy it!
No one wants to travel on vacation and be criminalized.
This has nothing to do with Islam.
I am a Muslim American of Arab origin and I am just as disgusted by your archaic rules and stupidity as are others on this forum!
My country, USA at least gave me citizenship but yours denies it to even those born there!
It us really medieval if you ask me.
Amazing that so many commenters here have no idea what Codeine is.
Codeine isn’t some drug you buy from a dealer in a dingy alley. It’s a drug you buy from your chemists when you have a cough or mild pain. It is in Nurofen Plus, some Solpadeine brands, the legendary Co-codamol, and many more.
Also, if you eat a poppy seed baguette (a baguette found in any bakery), you will have traces of Codeine, Morphine, Thebaine and many other alkaloids in your system.
Is taking any of the above worth 4 years in jail for? Especially when people travel there expecting Dubai to be a civilised country?
Yet more evidence that Dubai is just like every other Muslim nation – backwards and medieval. The slave slums are further evidence.
UAE citizen says.
December 28, 2014.
So just because you’re not a Muslim you consider Muslim countries to be medieval? If the UAE was considered medieval by you, you should know that it has a very low crime rate. Do you know why? Because it has very strict laws. Drug use in USA is also illegal the the policemen don’t enforce the law as they should. That’s what i call medieval.
January 28, 2015.
Drug laws are enforced.
People are given appropriate sentences based on the crime.
Being criminalized for possessing medicines legally prescribed by one’s physician and dispensed by a pharmacist in accordance with the law should not land someone in jail for 4 years in a “civilized society”.
Even so, you glamorize western affiliated hospitals in Dubai but medicines prescribed by Western doctors to Western patients in their own country somehow makes them criminals in yours?
Where is the logic here?
Anyone criticising Dubai in this forum is a serious joker! Every land has laws and these must be respected. I feel you all criticise Dubai because it is an Arab country. Grow up drug addicts. You either quit or stay away from Dubai.
January 28, 2015.
No not everyone is an addict!
People legitimately have conditions that require them to take prescription narcotics.
That is a decision better made between a qualified physcian and the patient.
People should not be criminalized or penalized for taking drugs prescribed to them.
Fair and simple.
It’s a frustrating issue. I too have a friend who came for a 2 week vacation and ended up being looked up. He brought unprescribed medication with him but his brother brought it. They are saying they will let him out but it’s been 2 months.
I was searched two days ago by customs at DBX, when leaving the airport for a short visit to Dubai. I’m glad they didn’t asked a blood sample because one week prior i used some marijuana and opium. Marijuana can be traced in blood for 6 weeks!! Outrageous policy.
May I suggest that anyone who has had any second thoughts about visiting or travelling via Dubai should write to the local UAE consulate in their own country, as well as their local UAE tourism agency, to say that they have cancelled their travel plans due to the extreme behaviour of the UAE government in respect of "traces" of substances found. Most fair legal systems require deliberate possession of a minimum quantity of the illegal substance to constitute an offence. I have used Emirates airline many times, and enjoyed visiting the city of Dubai, but in light of the recent revelations of their extremism, I shall be using an alternative route, even if it costs a fair amount more.
In response to that idiot Danielle, are you a fool?. Whatever you do, do not eat any rolls or bread with poppy seeds or you will go to prison for 4 years. Also when you get to Dubai you need to check the bottom of your shoes. For all you know you may have stood on a discarded joint. If they find any slightest trace you are going to prison for 4 years. Do not take the pain killer co-codomol which you can buy over the counter in the uk. If any trace is found in your system you are going to prison. Good luck, you’re going to need it love.
I’ve lived here in the region for years and I cross the borders two or three times a month. I have never had much hassle except with hire cars. The airport is a doddle to go through, much better than Heathrow. The police are generally laid back. I always smile or talk about soccer, which they love. I even crossed without a passport one time. No problems. The only thing to remember is to check your stamps as they can be a bit lackadaisical and forget to change the dates.
I am a regular smoker of marijuana, it is not illegal where I live. As such I cannot guarantee that there would not be near microscopic traces in the pockets of my clothes even after several washes and attempts to clean. So I’d have to buy all new clothes. Quitting marijuana a couple of months prior to travel is no problem. But buying all new clothes and bags is far too expensive and inconvenient. Even though I have no desire to break the laws of the UAE, it seems like it would be very difficult and expensive not to. I am now too scared to go there and after much research on the applicable laws am cancelling my trip. Whilst I agree with their laws, targeting and imprisoning people who unintentionally have minute traces present in their clothing or luggage or the sole of their shoe seems immoral. A great deal of innocent people are imprisoned in this way.
January 28, 2015.
I mean who has time to worry about what might be under their shoes or on their clothes ?
God save the college student who shares a dorm room with a pothead or someone who loves bagels or someone with back pain or ADHD.
It’s like this place is turning into a not so friendly destination after all.
I have been coming to Dubai on and off for 11 years. In all that time, I have never been tested, harrassed or questioned going through the airport. If I were travelling here with medications, I would contact the UAE consulate in your country asking what documentation you need to bring in specific medications. Better to be safe than sorry. In the paper today, a 75 year old man is in court for being in possesion of codeine for back pain. He had taken it for 41 years, but no doctor’s prescription or letter. Like any country, be careful. Some basic drugs are banned in Greece too.
Sagree, no Dubai does not accept any temporary passports. You must have a full valid passport to travel there. As for the drug stuff, it’s illegal anywhere so get over it. I like going to a clean, drug free country. If you want otherwise, there are loads of places to go for that.
Also, prescription drugs, e.g.. for depression, etc. are allowed in as long as you have your prescription with you.
I have just returned from Dubai. I am regular user of social drugs in the uk including cannabis. I was impressed with Dubai’s anti-drug policy, nice to not see stoners and coke heads in every bar. I had no problem at customs, and i didn’t smoke cannabis for 4 weeks prior to departure as a precaution. If you are a clean living non-drug taker, you will have no problems. Respect their laws and you will be respected. I wish the police were as harsh here, maybe our crime rate would be less!
Did anyone notice that that prohibited list contains common medications like birth control pills (used to treat ovarian cysts and endometriosis), and medications that treat mental illnesses like schizophrenia (Risperdal), anxiety (Xanax), depression (Prozac), headaches (amitryptyline), bipolar disorder (Camcolite)?
Guess any poor soul unfortunate to suffer from any of those conditions isn’t welcome in Dubai.
They’re one step away from how the Nazis treated people with those disorders.
January 28, 2015.
Right Margie or people with ADHD. Would a five year-old with a prescription for Adderall or Concerta be treated as a criminal too?
I read in another forum that a poor albeit white South African girl was caught with a few joints.
She had her baby with her and he was crying and the woman cop refused the mother’s request for milk.
Who locks up a mom and her baby? Let alone refuses a young innocent child milk?
I will cancel my trip to Dubai. Who can understand these people? They promote this place, and later on they jail you. Incredible.
January 28, 2015.
Yeah I’m beginning to feel the same way!
I don’t want to end up in prison for carrying medication that I need or worry about searching for a ban list.
Better to just stick to other areas of the world that have common sense.
I am amazed at some of the remarks and comments made about Dubai. I’m moving there in January to work for Emirates. If you want to smoke marijuana, cannabis and whatever else people smoke these days, then just don’t go to Dubai. They have their laws for a reason and I for one am very impressed with the way they control and regulate their drug laws. I think it should be implemented in other countries as well. Maybe then there will be less drug overdoses and people’s lives destroyed because of drug abuse.
There’s a difference between stopping people trying to smuggle drugs (even small amounts) and urine testing people with nothing on them. What each individual does under different jurisdictions is their own business. I’m stopping in Amsterdam on my way to Dubai and I’m actually worried about going into town because I could easily "pick up" a trace of marijuana from the street onto my shoe!
People need not forget that carrying ‘a small amount of marijuana’ in America, for example, does not just get you a warning. It gets you arrested and imprisoned. Before going to any foreign country, do the research so you can play it safe!
Dave – DXB Resident, What a person does in another country is their business. What if you live in Holland and go to the UAE, will they pee test you to make sure you are clean? For Gods sake, what’s going on here?
Any country you go to, you have got to respect their laws and their culture.
If you have been told not to carry something, simply don’t!
And no they don’t stop you for things like mints nor do they do a urine test! Dubai is one of the most fantastic places to live in and to visit. Drug laws are strict in the UAE because the government is concerned about its people.
Boycott Bill says.
I’m with ‘concerned traveler’. This is a backwards police state that has no respect for basic process of law. My advice is to boycott the place, its airline and all its businesses, and to tell all your business associates and friends to do likewise. Its the only recourse we have.
Concerned traveller says.
Sounds like Dubai for all its gleaming new buildings, wealth and outward appearance is no more than a barbaric, over-zealous police state that is stuck on itself. Putting people into jail for 4 or more years for such microscopic traces of cannabis and over-the-counter medications (which are essential to the health and quality of life for some) and poppy seeds from bread (good grief!) is truly the height of stupidity and demonstrates the UAE’s inability to follow international norms. Yes, it is within the UAE’s sovereign rights to disallow the importation of addictive drugs within its borders (as most civilised countries do) but not to this outrageous extreme. I will never visit UAE or Dubai, connect through their airport nor will my company do business with such a ruthless country until they stop their barbaric custom enforcements on innocent travelers and/or visitors. Beware travellers, the image Dubai is projecting to the world is a fraud.
January 28, 2015.
I have lived in Dubai for 3 years. It is a very friendly and easy going place to be. Trouble will never come looking for you out here.
I use cannabis very occasionally here in the UK. I recently found out that I am to be posted to Dubai for 2 years starting in October. Prior to receiving this news I had smoked the week before. Seeing the posts on this site are very worrying. Should I now call the whole trip off?
Many thanks for your help.
Would a temporary South African passport be acceptable to enter Dubai. I will be spending 2-3 days in Dubai.
Dave – DXB Resident says.
No, they don’t ‘pee test’ everyone that passes through Dubai airport, the thing is, follow the laws, dont bring in what you shouldn’t and then your fine. Its your own responsibility to check what the customs of other countries are before you go there, if you don’t adhere by there customs, then obviously you are going to get into bother.
Yes, you probably will get 4 years in prison for pocession of marijuana, but should you even be bringing into the country anyway? And should it even be in your system?
Respect Dubai’s laws, and the authorities of Dubai will respect you.
legal user of medicine says.
Like Alan I am very dubious of Dubai Customs. I usually take a Valium for air travel, as I was involved in a crash once, and never got over the jitters. It helps loads. However, if they take urine samples of everybody that comes through the airport, not only is that insane, an invasion of privacy, but it could land me in jail for 4 years just because I took a tiny pill 6 hours before to enable me to step aboard.
Do they pee test everybody? I mean I read where they arrested a guy for Melatonin! It’s even sold over the counter in Dubai and they still arrested him!
Smokelover, the limits have changed. We have updated the information. Thanks for raising this.
Is the cigarette limit still 2000? Can the editor please confirm what is the updated figure that anyone can bring to the UAE from abroad. Thanks.
People are right when they write that the law will do pretty much what they decide in Dubai. I lived there for 3 and a half years and witnessed a lot of cases which we would consider unjust. I had a DJ get 4 years for traces of marijuana in his blood system and know another guy who was arrested and spent 2 months in jail just because a local said he had been smoking marijuana. I myself was thrown in jail for a week for just crashing a car and walking home to report it instead of standing on a blazing desert road in 105 degree heat to wait for a passing police car! It’s a great place to live but if you ever have the misfortune to come under the eyes of the law I can tell you now you it’s like talking to a deaf person. They will do exactly what they want and there is no reasoning or leniency. I might add these cases are very rare but they do happen. The British consulate will also be unable to help you in any way until you are tried in court as they will not interfere in a case which is under investigation. The Dubai authorities know this and can keep an ‘investigation’ going for years if they wish.
Feb 20 2008 – The severity of Dubai.
Alan. I’ve tracked down a list of restricted medicines in the UAE (see link above). I can’t vouch for its accuracy.
Travelling to Dubai with dexamphetamine and can’t find anyone who will tell me if it is allowed? I have prescription & doctors letter but very dubious. Could someone set me straight?
Mildred. I’m sorry for your predicament. Prescription drugs legal in some countries (codeine etc.) can get you thrown in jail in Dubai if you can’t show a prescription. That is fully acknowledged in the comments in this section. However, to be fair you didn’t say this. You said mints.
I wish you all the best with your campaign and hope it’s resolved quickly. Let us know the outcome.
Editor: I wish it were fantasy, but unfortunately I am living this reality right now: Someone I love is facing charges for bringing melatonin into Dubai, which is sold over-the-counter.
Unfortunately I can’t keep coming back, because the campaign for his release is a full time job for me, but I’ll leave you with a quick example of prosecution based on prescription drugs in urine: … news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/southern_counties/4200952.stm.
If I sounded alarmist it is because I do not want anyone to go through what I am right now. This has been a nightmare. Thanks for listening, and I hope some good comes of this.
Mildred. Dubai’s drug laws are strict but you are exaggerating their severity. I would very much doubt you could come up with some credible evidence that somebody has been received a 4 year jail sentence for possession of a mint. If you have any evidence of this, a newspaper report etc., please post here and I’ll be glad to publish. Otherwise I think readers can take some of her comments as fantasy.
I would like to add that you can be thrown in jail for bringing into the country health supplements, aspirins, mints, and anything they decide looks funny. It is also considered ‘drug smuggling’ by having even the slightest trace of last months toke in your system and you will face four years in prison for this. Please be aware that if you have touched a smoker, or have potentially inhaled second hand smoke, this counts as ‘smuggling’ as well, and you will be face the four year sentence.
When they say ‘zero tolerance’ we’re talking Orwellian proportions, here.
Drug laws are very strict in Dubai. You can get a pretty hefty jail sentence for possession of just small amounts of recreational drugs like marijuana.
clever sod says.
Don’t forget to buy booze from duty free when you land. You cannot buy alcohol from shops once you are in Dubai if you are a tourist, only from hotel restaurants and bars. Also get cigarettes here because some Western brands are difficult to find in the city.
Try and avoid bringing any medicines containg codeine into Dubai. If you have to, make sure you bring your prescription.
Save carrying extra luggage and but from the arrivals duty free by the baggage reclaim (after immigration) at DXB airport. Wines, spirits, gifts, perfumes, cigarettes. All the usual suspects. And open 24 hours a day.
Add Comment or Additional Information Cancel reply.
Find out whether you need a visa to vacation in Dubai.
Islam is the official religion of Dubai. Disrespecting its laws can land you in serious trouble.