Crime and Harassment in UAE: Travel Safety Tips

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Crime rates are low in the UAE, but stay alert to harassment, theft and drink spiking. Learn how to travel the UAE safely with these tips from our travel safety expert, Phil Sylvester.

A busy shopping mall in Dubai Photo © iStock/valentinrussanov

The crime rate overall in the UAE is much lower than many cities in the United States – and is even safer than the United Kingdom according to SafeAround.com.

Don't let these statistics lull you into a false sense of security – be aware of harassment, dodgy taxi drivers, drink spiking and theft on your trip.

Pickpocketing in UAE

Pickpocketing and bag snatching does happen in the UAE, but these types of crime are very rare. Take the necessary basic precautions to avoid theft: don't be flashy with cash, don't leave your wallet or purse open on the table showing a giant wad of cash, enter markets with small amounts of cash at the ready to make payments, keep your bags zipped shut and close to you at all times.

Physical and verbal harassment in UAE

There have been incidents of physical and verbal sexual harassment of women in the UAE, as well as sexual assault. In particular, underground walkways near the Abu Dhabi corniche has had multiple incidents of sexual assault on women walking alone, so be extra careful in this area and do not travel alone if you can avoid it.

Taxi drivers

Taxi drivers have been reported as a source of harassment and it is advisable for women to sit in the back seat, and not to engage in the general sort of conversation one may engage in with taxi drivers in western countries. For some reason, even polite conversation such as "Yes, I am very well thank you and how is your day?" can be seen as propositioning the taxi driver. We have absolutely no idea how that mentality arises, but nonetheless it is there.

If you need to catch a taxi, get the hotel or restaurant to make the call for you especially if you are a solo female traveler.

Dress appropriately

Cultural differences in the UAE mean that women should dress conservatively while traveling here. Be aware that what you may be used to wearing back home could be taken as an invitation for unwanted attention in the UAE. Cover up, wearing light-weight, loose-fitting clothing.

What may be acceptable on the beach isn't acceptable anywhere else in the UAE. Dress modestly by covering your shoulders and wearing a skirt or pants below the knee when traveing around, the locals will appreciate your respect for their culture. Plus it protects you from the hot sun, and potentially thawts any sleazy types. Bear in mind, that outside of the UAE things can be much more conservative so it pays to keep the peace.

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2 Comments

  • Pavlina Poloczkova said

    Hi,
    my company is sending me to Abu Dhabi on ADIPEC 2016, and i would like to ask you if you can help what to wear. Im looking for information as much as possible because i dont want to offend them culture. I will be very gratefull for your help.

    Thank you. Best regards

    Pavlina Poloczkova

  • Sheldon Turley said

    What if your just changed flights at Dubai international airport how do you dress for men. Are shorts a no-no even changed flights??

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