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Keep on the right side of the law if you are moving to Dubai

By January 21, 2019November 23rd, 2023FinGlobal

Keep on the right side of the law if you are moving to Dubai

January 21, 2019


Dubai is an attractive destination for expats wanting to maximise their salaries and save for their future. Internationally renowned as a country with no income tax, property tax, capital gains tax or sales tax it is a country that helps you maximise your earnings. However many expats make the mistake of thinking that Dubai is very westernised. Dubai is a city determined to retain its heritage while racing at breakneck speed to embrace the 21st century. As a vibrant, international city, it encompasses all the good, bad and ugly of any large city. The experience of living and working in Dubai can be most enjoyable and a great adventure if expats leave themselves open to the experience and abide by a few simple rules. Before you move there – here are some tips to ensure you stay on the right side of the UAE laws:

What not to do in Dubai

You are not allowed to drink in your own home

Alcohol is frowned upon in Dubai and many expats are under the impression that you can get away with drinking as long as you are not seen to be drinking in the street or are drunk in public. What many do not realise is that expats are only allowed to drink alcohol in a number of designated restaurants, hotels and nightclubs, provided they have a permit that allows this. Drinking alcohol at home is regarded as illegal for non-Muslim expats unless they have a special permit that allows for the purchase of alcoholic beverages and its consumption behind closed doors. The emirate has a zero-tolerance policy on drinking alcohol in public and many plain-clothes police operate in public areas to ensure that this does not happen.

Photographs can be illegal

You should never take a photograph of a local in Dubai without asking their permission first – particularly if the person is a female. Taking photos of many government buildings is illegal and you can get into trouble if you are caught doing so.

Certain cold and flu medication is banned

There are certain products that are banned in Dubai and cannot be brought into the emirate. This includes certain painkillers and some cold and flu remedies and if they are found on your person, you could be facing a mandatory four-year prison sentence. Before you travel, ensure your medicine does not contain any banned or restricted substances.

Keep your body covered

Expats can also find themselves in trouble if they fail to observe the rules around clothing. Women should keep their clothes conservative and avoid transparent or low-cut or short items that reveal their bodies. Men should also cover the chests and keep their underwear out of sight.

No kissing in public

Public displays of affection, including kissing, cuddling and holding hands is not allowed in public, unless you are in an expat bar or club. These laws are taken very seriously and you are not exempt if you are in your car or in the back seat of a taxi. It is also important to note that unless you are married – you will not be legally permitted to live together and can face jail or deportation if you are caught by the authorities. While some unmarried couples do live together in Dubai – they do so at their own risk and arrests can happen.

Road rage is not tolerated

Offensive behaviour is strongly frowned upon and if you show actions of rage or offensive gestures while driving you can be reported to the police and be either fined or imprisoned. Driving in Dubai is for the stout-hearted. The road system is difficult to navigate and the driving can be erratic and fast, especially on the main expressway, Sheikh Zayed Road. If you considering moving to Dubai, make sure you look at the areas you choose to live in based on the Dubai Metro transport route.

Lastly, the paperwork

Double check all the documents that are required in order for you to move. Research what the required documents, fees and accounts to open are. That will be your biggest expense in Dubai.

No one mentions that in Dubai, depending on what job you do, you won’t able to save that much in your first year!

If you are a South African living or moving to the UAE and would like to know more about how you can maximise your finances through financial emigration from South Africa, accessing your South African retirement annuity and our tailor-made tax solutions for South Africans around the world, contact FinGlobal today.

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