The UAE has one of the world’s lowest crime rates – nineteen crimes per thousand people, and this is largely due to zero tolerance and tough penalties for offenders.
Despite low crime figures, foreigners should take normal precautions against theft, such as not leaving a wallet, purse, or credit card unattended. Although vehicle break-ins in the UAE are rare, just as anywhere in the world, you should ensure that your unattended vehicle is locked and that your valuables are not in view.
If you lose your passport, report it immediately to the local police station and to the nearest embassy or consulate. They will assist you with funds transfer, contacting family or friends as well as medical care. Should you become involved in crime, consulate officers can also help you understand the UAE justice system and find you a lawyer if needed.
Some people are concerned about the possibility of terrorist attacks against US citizens and US interests throughout the world, so Americans are generally advised to maintain a low profile in the UAE.
The UAE is a convenient drug trans-shipment point because of its easy access from the Makran coast of Pakistan, where Afghan drugs are commonly trafficked. The UAE applies a zero tolerance policy towards illegal drugs and penalties can include life imprisonment or the death sentence. The government continues to tighten its drugs strategy by intensifying security at its air, land and sea ports. Coastal patrols, along with educational campaigns to reduce demand for illegal drugs, are helping the situation, while the enforcement of harsh penalties continues to deter a large number of drug criminals. A new barrier along the Omani border is being constructed, partly in an effort to slow/stop the flow of illicit drugs into the UAE.
Other crimes such as not paying a bill could mean prison, but bail is generally not available to non-residents of the UAE. Be aware that during Ramadan, Muslims fast during the day and drinking, smoking and eating in the street is forbidden.
While many of the more ‘Westernised’ emirates such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi are relatively tolerant of foreign visitors and their cultures, but other emirates such as Sharjah and Ajman still enforce strict Islamic law. The local population, both male and female, wears long loose clothes, covering up entirely. Foreigners do wear light summer clothing but shorts and skimpy clothes are often frowned upon. Finally, remember that kissing and any other public displays of affection can actually lead to arrest in the UAE.
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