Holiday warning over strict Dubai laws on drinking, smoking, kissing and dancing

In 2019, the last year unaffected by pandemic travel restrictions, close to 400,000 British holidaymakers had breaks in Dubai. The figure is set to grow in the coming years, as the city’s ultra-modern influencer-led marketing campaigns continue to strike a chord with younger jetsetters.

However, Dubai is a city and emirate in the United Arab Emirates and still has multiple crimes which carry the death penalty, with executions carried out by firing squad or stoning. The city also has strict laws on what you can and cannot dosocial, which can result in hefty fines and even imprisonment.

There have been multiple reports of British women being jailed for “alcohol consumption”, another for “public intoxication” and dancing in public is also illegal. So tourists have to be aware of the dos and dont’s when heading off there for a sunshine break.

Read more:How long you need to have left on passport to travel to Spain, Turkey, Greece, France and other holiday destinations

Drinking alcohol

Tourists are allowed to drink alcohol in licensed restaurants, hotels and bars attached to licensed hotels. However, drink outside of these designated areas, even on beaches, and you are likely to face imprisonment. You must also not be under the influence of alcohol in public.

The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) states: “ British nationals have been arrested and charged under this law”.

“Non-Muslim residents can get a liquor license to drink alcohol at home and in licensed venues. Residents must also get a permit to be able to drink in licensed venues.”

“Liquor licenses are not available to non-residents, but it is possible for tourists and visitors to buy and drink alcohol in licensed venues, such as hotels, restaurants and clubs”.


The Dubai Municipality has banned smoking in parks, beaches and all public recreational areas in recent years. It is also illegal to use e-cigarettes and vapes in these areas. You could be fined over £400 or be arrested should you be caught.

Smoking is permitted in designated areas, which are clearly marked.

Holding hands

Don’t expect a romantic beach getaway in Dubai, full of public displays of affection. Married couples holding hands are “tolerated”, but the FCO suggests all open displays of affection are “generally not tolerated”.

Kissing in public is also not allowed and there have been several arrests for doing so. All sex outside marriage is also illegal in Dubai.

Being gay

Homosexuality is illegal in Dubai and outward displays of affection between two people of the same sex, such as holding hands on the beach, risk huge punishment. Though unlikely, you could even be executed. But deportation or imprisonment is most likely.


Dancing in public, in such places like beaches and parks, is illegal in Dubai. Like smoking, there are designated areas where you can dance – these are licensed bars and nightclubs. Playing loud music on beaches is also forbidden.


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