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Travel Advice for the Special Olympics World Games, Abu Dhabi 2019

Be Prepared


Check your passport now and ensure it is valid for at least six months. Entry to the UAE may be refused if there is less than six months’ validity remaining on your passport. All Irish passport holders receive a 30-day tourist visa on arrival in the UAE. Temporary Irish passports are not accepted for entry to the UAE.

Make a copy of your passport, email it to yourself and a family member at home and save a picture of it on your phone, in case it gets lost or stolen and you need replacement travel documents.

If you’re hiring a car, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If you allow your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times. 


Before travelling to the UAE, we strongly recommend that you purchase comprehensive travel insurance.


You can download our free TravelWise app, available to download on iOS and Android, which offers quick access to all emergency consular contacts, trusted travel advice for 200 countries and country-specific alerts. As all content is available offline, there are no additional roaming fees.

Take appropriate sun protection precautions and stay hydrated when outside for prolonged periods.


The UAE is an Islamic country and you should respect local laws, customs, traditions and religions at all times. There can be serious penalties, including custodial sentences, for doing something that may not be illegal in Ireland. Alcohol is available for purchase in licenced hotels and clubs by non-Muslims but it is a punishable offence to be under the influence of alcohol in a public place, including on arrival at an airport in the UAE. There is zero tolerance for drug-related offences. Offensive gestures and language, including while driving, can lead to prosecution.

Public displays of affection are frowned upon, and there have been several arrests for kissing in public. Personal attacks, including sexual assault and rape, are relatively rare, but do happen. UAE law places a high burden of proof on the victim to demonstrate that sexual relations were not consensual, especially when the victim had consumed alcohol or where the attacker was known to the victim.

Prescription medicines are tightly controlled in the UAE. Medications available over the counter or by prescription in Ireland may be illegal or considered a controlled substance in the UAE. You should consult the UAE Ministry of Health website before travelling to the UAE to see if your medication is on the list of controlled or prohibited substances. If in doubt you should consult your doctor or pharmacist. If your medication is on the controlled drugs list you will require approval to bring it into the UAE. You can apply for online approval prior to travel or on arrival in the airport in the UAE. You will require the original prescription and an attested medical report and will only be permitted to carry up to 30 days’ supply. Other medicines not on the controlled list may be brought into the UAE but you should carry your original prescription and not more than three months’ supply. Medicines should be in the original packaging and should not have expired. Some herbal remedies may be restricted or prohibited.

Avoid unnecessary risks. There is a general threat from terrorism in the region so remain vigilant at all times. Steer clear of trouble and always behave respectfully when engaging with local authorities, including local law enforcement agencies. Never photograph police, army officers or military sites and always ask for permission before photographing others. Be mindful of what you post on social media as criticism of the UAE or its culture can be a punishable offence.

Tourists and visitors are expected to dress modestly. The tops of the arms and legs should be covered in public areas.

Take time to familiarise yourself with the local laws and customs. You can learn more from our comprehensive travel advice at


Keep in contact with family and friends. Call, text or post on social media, and ensure your loved ones have information about your itinerary and travel plans.

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