Did you know the UAE is among the safest destinations in the world, with lowest crime rates, for travelers? Why is this? Well law enforcement is rather strict here and the government actively promotes the safety and security of the population.
Abu Dhabi, in fact, is ranked first for being the safest city with lowest crime rate, Dubai ranked 14 on the international list, as noted in The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Safe Cities Index. Like so, the two emirates are thought to be a suitable place to live, work and do business in. (See here the most common crimes in Dubai.)
The General Directorate of Abu Dhabi Police, Department of Security, told Khaleej Times: “Our country has become a safe and secure oasis and an attractive environment that provides for the wellbeing of all citizens, residents and visitors.” In addition, Saif Saeed Ghobash, Director General, Tourism and Culture Authority, Abu Dhabi (TCA), remarked: “Abu Dhabi has a solid reputation for safety with a virtually crime-free society.” These positive outcomes are a direct result of leadership’s support and interest in implementing the best strategies to enhance the level of security and safety.
So, which crimes are committed in the UAE that affect expats or tourists? Theft-related street crimes, including scams, fraud, pickpocketing, shoplifting, petty theft, rarely occur; public offenses such as inappropriate gestures, fighting, public intoxication are hardly ever happening and incidents of violent assault or sexual harassment are infrequent.
It is important, instead, for visitors to familiarize themselves well with local laws so as not to become themselves offenders. The UAE has a lot of very strict laws that expats are not used to. Failure to observe local customs and rules can lead to criminal liability and severe penalties with harsh punishments.
Public displays (including online) of abuse/ridicule/criticism of the country or its authorities may be considered a crime punishable under UAE law.
Also, “irresponsible internet use may land you in jail under the cybercrime rules of the country […] Spreading rumours, cyber-bullying, promoting radicalization on the internet and spreading destructive ideology,” are internet crimes, according to the Ministry of Interior; offenders may be imprisoned for up to five years and fined up to Dh2 million.
There are also severe penalties for trafficking, smuggling and for possession of illegal drugs with sentences that can lead to a minimum 4-year jail sentence and may even include the death penalty. The penalties for possessing an illegal weapon in the UAE, which require a license for use, can vary from imprisonment to paying a hefty fine.
In order to keep society safe and secure, Abu Dhabi Police, Dubai Police and Sharjah Police are adopting a series of initiatives; each service provides a security-related assistance via website and smart applications used to inform of any violations of the law (Criminal, Traffic, Administrative, Financial, etc.). Locals can receive information and tip offs about crimes or any other threats posing danger to society (the Najeed service introduced by Sharjah Police), or can raise security concerns they encounter (the Aman electronic system in Abu Dhabi) and “contact the police with complete confidentiality, round the clock, about any problems or concerns they may have” (the Al Ameen service from Dubai Police). Be sure to check out their websites as each publish safety tips on how to avoid becoming a victim of crime.
Here are the latest security technologies adopted in the UAE:
- The ‘Falcon Eye’ system that covers Abu Dhabi city which provides warnings and enables quick access to events and incidents.
- The IRIS system by Abu Dhabi Police is used for effective, accurate and fast results in detecting wanted persons.
- Driverless mini police cars by the Dubai Police will be used “to scan wanted criminals and those who are suspected of or are actually breaking the laws.”
- Flying bikes by the Dubai Police will be considered for use during emergencies and that will urge motorists to be cautious or slow down due to traffic accidents and allow ambulances and rescue patrols to get through traffic
- Dubai is also planning to use robot officers to make up 25% of its police force by 2030
If you need to report a crime or alert the authorities on an incident dial 999 from anywhere in the UAE for police.