- Normal precautions
- High degree of caution
- Avoid non-essential travel
- Do not travel
- Safety and Security
- Local Laws and Customs
- Natural Disasters and Climate
- Additional Information
- Embassy Contact
High Degree of Caution
General Travel Advice
Irish citizens can get 30-day visit visas upon entry to the UAE.
A valid passport is required for travel to the UAE. Irish passports should have a minimum validity of six months. Passport cards cannot be used.
For more information on the entry and exit requirements, please see the Additional Information tab.
Passengers should check with their airline carrier or travel company for the latest information if they are planning to transit through the UAE. Flights may be subject to change or cancellation at short notice.
The UAE is a Muslim country. Laws and customs are very different to those in Ireland and other western countries. It is important to respect local customs, laws, and religions while in the UAE. There can be serious penalties, including custodial sentences, for doing something that may not be illegal in Ireland. See Local Laws and Customs tab.
Visitors to the UAE are advised to follow the guidance of national and local authorities and stay fully informed of what's going on by monitoring local news and social media.
Please note that in the UAE defaulting on the repayment of loans or bills is taken extremely seriously. A criminal case is often filed resulting in a travel ban. Individuals in such circumstances are not permitted to travel outside the UAE. Ensure that any personal debt is fully paid off before you leave the UAE.
The best help is often close at hand so if you have problems, try talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management.
You can contact the emergency services in the UAE by dialling 999. Specific emergency numbers are:
- Police: 999
- Fire brigade: 997
- Ambulance: 998
Our tips for Safe Travels:
- Get comprehensive travel insurance that covers all your planned activities.
- Register your details with us so that we can contact you quickly if there’s an unforeseen crisis like a natural disaster or a family emergency.
- Follow us on twitter @dfatravelwise for the latest travel updates.
- Read our ‘Know Before You Go’ guide.
Safety and Security
Safety and Security
Safety and security
There are ongoing regional tensions and, in the event of any incidents, you should monitor local media reports and follow the advice of the local authorities.
The political situation in the UAE is stable but you should avoid demonstrations and public gatherings, which can sometimes turn confrontational.
You should be aware that there is a threat from terrorism generally in the region. Attacks could be indiscriminate, and against Western interests, as they have been elsewhere in the region.
Crime remains relatively low in the UAE but you should take sensible precautions.
- Don’t carry your credit card, travel tickets and money together - leave spare cash and valuables in a safe place
- Don’t carry your passport unless absolutely necessary and leave a copy of your passport (and travel and insurance documents) with family or friends at home
- Avoid showing large sums of money in public and don’t use ATMs after dark, especially if you are alone. Check no one has followed you after conducting your business
- Keep a close eye on your personal belongings and hold on to them in public places
- Avoid dark and unlit streets and stairways, arrange to be picked up or dropped off as close to your hotel or apartment entrance as possible
- 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. If the sexual relations are determined to have been consensual, both parties may face prosecution for the offence of sex outside marriage. Drink spiking can occur. Don’t accept drinks from strangers or leave drinks unattended.
You should also stay away from military sites – taking photos of military or security installations, and some public buildings is prohibited. Avoid filming or photographing people without their permission.
The UAE has strict laws regarding online behaviour, including comments made via social media, with offences punishable by fines, imprisonment and deportation. Sharing videos or photographs of others through social media can be a punishable offence.
If you’re planning to drive in the UAE, you should be extremely careful. Road safety standards are low, particularly outside towns and cities. Accidents are frequent and are often caused by speeding, poor driving and inadequate lighting.
Drivers involved in an accident causing injuries may be detained until the injured are released from hospital. In an accident causing injuries or fatalities, those found at fault may be legally required to provide financial compensation to the injured or the family of the deceased.
You should exercise great care as a pedestrian and only cross the road at designated pedestrian crossings. Drivers often fail to stop for pedestrians at zebra crossings.
Offensive gestures and bad language can lead to fines, a jail sentence and deportation.
Excursions to the desert can be dangerous especially without adequately equipped 4 x 4 vehicles. Serious accidents can occur when driving on sand dunes in the desert, which can result in death. You should always travel in convoy with other cars, take a supply of water and a mobile telephone and leave travel plans with friends or relatives.
If you want to drive:
- Bring your international driving license and make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is against the law and the penalties can be severe. Your insurance is likely to be invalidated, leaving you to pay claims by other parties involved
- Keep your vehicle doors locked and your bags kept out of sight to prevent opportunistic bag-snatching if you’re stopped at traffic lights
Hiring a vehicle
If you’re hiring a vehicle, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If you’re allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.
Check that you have adequate insurance and read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).
Rip currents can occur at any beach, and can sweep even the strongest swimmer out to sea. Always comply with warning signs, especially red flags, and only swim from approved beaches. Only swim at pools with a lifeguard in attendance, and always check and ensure that there are qualified lifeguards present if your children will be swimming as part of their school activities or at summer camps.
The safety of tourist boats may not be up to Irish standards. Ensure that life jackets are available for all passengers.
Local Laws and Customs
Local Laws and Customs
Local laws and customs
The UAE is an Islamic country and you should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions. Be aware of your actions and take care not to offend other cultures or religious beliefs, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or other religious festivals, or if you intend to visit religious areas. In 2020, the holy month of Ramadan is expected to start on 23 April.
Dress conservatively, particularly in Sharjah and Ajman emirates, where Islamic law is rigorously enforced. Clothes should cover the tops of the arms and legs and underwear should not be visible.
Public displays of affection are frowned upon, and there have been several arrests for kissing in public. Sex outside of marriage is illegal, as is cohabitation, adultery and homosexual behaviour. If you conduct a sexual relationship outside heterosexual marriage you run the risk of prosecution, imprisonment and/or a fine and deportation. Private life is respected in the UAE, however people are punished for sexual activity outside marriage where there is a public element or if it is brought to the attention of the police authorities.
If you become pregnant outside marriage, both you and your partner could face imprisonment and/or deportation. Doctors may ask for proof of marriage during ante-natal checks. An unmarried woman who gives birth in the UAE may also encounter problems when registering the birth of the child in the UAE, and could face arrest, imprisonment or deportation. To obtain a birth certificate from the UAE authorities, you must provide a marriage certificate and the authorities may compare the date of the marriage against the estimated date of conception.
During Ramadan, Muslims are not permitted to eat, drink or smoke during daylight hours. To avoid offence, you should not eat, drink or smoke in public during this time.
Bringing drugs, pork products and pornographic books and material into the UAE is forbidden. Videos, books and magazines are subject to scrutiny and may be censored.
Financial crimes, including fraud, bouncing cheques and the non-payment of bills, is regarded very seriously in the UAE and can often result in imprisonment and/or a fine. Non-residents of the UAE who are arrested for crimes involving fraud do not generally get bail. Convicted debtors will not usually be released from jail until the debt is paid or waived. Several Irish citizens have received custodial sentences as a result of non-payment of outstanding debts.
Swearing and making rude gestures (including online) are considered obscene acts and can lead to prosecution. Take particular care when dealing with the police and other officials.
Women should dress in a modest way, particularly in Sharjah and Ajman emirates where Islamic law is rigorously enforced.
Homosexual activity is illegal in the UAE.
Liquor licences can be obtained by non-Muslim residents to consume alcohol in private homes and licensed hotels and clubs. Tourists in Dubai can apply for a temporary liquor licence through one of the official distributers of alcohol in Dubai. Liquor licences are only valid in the Emirate in which they are issued. Liquor licences are not available to non-residents in the other Emirates, but it is possible for tourists and visitors to buy and drink alcohol in licensed venues, such as hotels, restaurants and clubs. Drinking alcohol in the Emirate of Sharjah is illegal. It is a punishable offence under UAE law to drink alcohol or to be drunk in public. Passengers in transit through the UAE under the influence of alcohol may also be arrested.
The penalties for drug trafficking, smuggling and possession are severe. Drug trafficking penalties can include the death sentence or life imprisonment. The presence of drugs in the body constitutes possession and carries a minimum sentence of four years.
Travellers who transit in UAE airports are subject to these laws. UAE airports have excellent technology and security, so transiting passengers carrying even residual amounts of drugs may be arrested.
Weapons and related equipment
Weapons, ammunition and gun belts etc. all require permission for entry or transit through the UAE.
Natural Disasters and Climate
Natural Disasters and Climate
Natural disasters and climate
The UAE is hot and dry most of the year. Drink plenty of water but remember that during Ramadan it is an offence to eat or drink in public between sunrise and sunset.
There are occasional sandstorms but they are not usually bad enough to affect daily life.
In some parts of the country, particularly in the mountains, occasional heavy rain can cause flash floods. Take precautions and seek out local advice.
Entry & exit requirements (visa/passport)
Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of six months to enter the UAE. A longer period of validity may be required if you intend to seek a UAE residency visa. If you hold a UAE residence permit, your passport must be valid for at least 3 months in order to travel into the country.
If you are unsure of what the entry requirements for the UAE are, including visa and other immigration information, ask your travel agent or contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of the UAE.
For non-residents, Irish temporary passports are not valid for entry into the United Arab Emirates. However, temporary passports are accepted for airside transit and exit from the United Arab Emirates.
Visitors must have legal status in the UAE when they depart. If your residency visa is under process, or if you are subject to a travel ban, involved in legal proceedings, have unpaid debt or are a child subject to a custody dispute, you may be prevented from leaving the country. A number of Irish nationals have been arrested when departing or transiting the UAE, including as a result of unpaid debts in the country.
If you wish to buy property in the UAE, you should seek appropriate professional advice, as you would in Ireland.
If you need emergency assistance from the Embassy, then contact us immediately. Our telephone number is: +971 (0) 2 4958200.
If you require emergency assistance at the weekend or on a public holiday, you will be asked to leave a message on the answering machine. The answering machine is monitored regularly, and the Duty Officer at the Embassy will contact you as soon as possible. When you leave a message, remember to state your name, the nature of the problem, where you are now, and the details of how the Duty Officer can contact you (e.g. leave your mobile phone number, or the phone number of the hotel/hostel where you are staying). If necessary, contact the police also. Please note that the Duty Officer will deal with emergencies only
Embassy of Ireland, UAE
Atiq Bin Majid Al Muhairi Street
Al Bateen, P.O. Box 61581
United Arab Emirates
Monday - Thursday 09:00-13:00
Get travel and medical insurance
Before travelling, the Department strongly recommends that you obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical repatriation/evacuation, repatriation of remains and legal costs. You should check any exclusions and, in particular, that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.