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Crime in the United Arab Emirates

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Title: Crime in the United Arab Emirates  
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Subject: Crime in the United Arab Emirates, Khalifa Award for Education, Saudi Arabia–United Arab Emirates border dispute, National Day (United Arab Emirates), Crime in Hong Kong
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Crime in the United Arab Emirates

The crime rate in the United Arab Emirates is relatively low[1][2] compared to more highly industrialized nations.[2] Incidents of petty crime like pickpocketing are low.[1] The United States Department of State states: "Crime generally is not a problem for travelers in the UAE. However, the U.S. Embassy advises U.S. citizens to take normal precautions against theft, such as not leaving a wallet, purse, or credit card unattended. Although vehicle break-ins in the UAE are rare, U.S. citizens are encouraged to ensure that unattended vehicles are locked and that valuables are not left out in plain sight".[3]

Sharia law is a significant part of UAE legislation, therefore flogging and stoning are legal punishments in the UAE. UAE incorporates hudud crimes of Sharia in its Penal Code, thus apostasy is a crime punishable by death in the UAE. Homosexuality is also a crime punishable by death in the UAE.

Sharia law

The UAE's judicial system is derived from the civil law system and Sharia law. The court system consists of civil courts and Sharia courts. According to Human Rights Watch, UAE's civil and criminal courts apply elements of Sharia law, codified into its criminal code and family law, in a way which discriminates against women.[4] Flogging and stoning are legal punishments in the UAE.

Flogging is a legal punishment for criminal offences such as adultery, premarital sex and prostitution.[5] In most emirates, floggings are frequent with sentences ranging from 80 to 200 lashes.[6][7] Between 2007 and 2013, many people were sentenced to 100 lashes.[8][9][10][11][12][13][5][14] Moreover in 2010 and 2012, several Muslims were sentenced to 80 lashes for alcohol consumption.[15][16] Under UAE law, premarital sex is punishable by 100 lashes.[17]

Stoning is a legal form of judicial punishment in the UAE. In 2006, an expatriate was sentenced to death by stoning for committing adultery.[18] Between 2009 and 2013, several people were sentenced to death by stoning.[11][19][20] In May 2014, an Asian housemaid was sentenced to death by stoning in Abu Dhabi.[21][22][23]

Sharia law dictates the personal status law, which regulate matters such as marriage, divorce and child custody. The Sharia-based personal status law is applied to Muslims and sometimes non-Muslims.[24] Non-Muslim expatriates are liable to Sharia rulings on marriage, divorce and child custody.[24] Sharia courts have exclusive jurisdiction to hear family disputes, including matters involving divorce, inheritances, child custody, child abuse and guardianship of minors. Sharia courts may also hear appeals of certain criminal cases including rape, robbery, driving under the influence of alcohol and related crimes.[25]

Apostasy is a crime punishable by death in the UAE. UAE incorporates hudud crimes of Sharia into its Penal Code - apostasy being one of them.[26] Article 1 and Article 66 of UAE's Penal Code requires hudud crimes to be punished with the death penalty,[26][27] therefore apostasy is punishable by death in the UAE.

Emirati women must receive permission from male guardian to remarry.[28] The requirement is derived from Sharia, and has been federal law since 2005.[28] In all emirates, it is illegal for Muslim women to marry non-Muslims.[29] In the UAE, a marriage union between a Muslim woman and non-Muslim man is punishable by law, since it is considered a form of "fornication".[29]

Homosexuality is illegal: the death penalty is one of the punishments for homosexuality. Article 80 of the Abu Dhabi Penal Code makes sodomy punishable with imprisonment of up to 14 years, while article 177 of the Penal Code of Dubai imposes imprisonment of up to 10 years on consensual sodomy.[30]

Kissing in public is strictly illegal and can result in deportation, kissing in public is a crime punishable by deportation.[31] Expats in Dubai have been deported for kissing in public.[32] More recently in 2010, several expats were deported from Dubai for kissing in public.[33][34]

Article 1 of the Federal Penal Code states that "provisions of the Islamic Law shall apply to the crimes of doctrinal punishment, punitive punishment and blood money."[35] The Federal Penal Code repealed only those provisions within the penal codes of individual emirates which are contradictory to the Federal Penal Code. Hence, both are enforceable simultaneously.[36]


The threat of a terrorist attack is a matter of concern. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) of the Government of Australia advised travelers "to exercise a high degree of caution in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) because of the high threat of terrorist attack". The DFAT claimed they received reports of a terrorist plan to attack Western interests in the nation.[1]


Incidents of cybercrime are increasing. In 2002, there was a 300% rise in computer hacking within six months. According to experts, the United Arab Emirates is among the top ten countries which are most vulnerable to attack by hackers.[37] White-collar crime includes embezzlement of funds, fraud and bribery.[38]


The UAE is a drug transshipment country for traffickers due to its proximity to Southwest Asian drug producing nations.[39] Drug trafficking is a major form of crime in the UAE,[40] and the nation has a zero tolerance policy towards illegal drug use. Possession of the smallest amount of illegal drugs is punishable by a minimum of four years' imprisonment.[41]

Money laundering

The UAE is vulnerable to [40] However, despite government efforts to combat money laundering, regulation of banking is still developing.[39]


According to the Global Study on Homicide, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the homicide rate in the UAE in 2012 was 2.6 per 100,000.[42] The average global homicide rate for that period was 6.2 per 100,000 population.

Human trafficking

Human trafficking is a problem which involves involuntary servitude of young boys and women.[2] In 2006, young boys were trafficked into the country for the purpose of being used as camel jockeys.[2][43] There were many camel jockeys working in the UAE under inhumane conditions but these have now been replaced by robot jockeys.

Human trafficking cases in the UAE have been falling over the years. In the first half of 2014, three cases of human trafficking were received by the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children (DFWAC) compared to 12 in the same period of 2013.[44]


Women are trafficked into the country for sexual exploitation. Women from Russia, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda, Morocco, India, Pakistan, the People's Republic of China, the Philippines, Iraq and Iran are reportedly trafficked to the UAE.[45] Porous borders and proximity to war-affected countries like Iraq increase the problem of human trafficking.[46]

See also


  1. ^ a b c United Arab Emirates Government of Australia, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
  2. ^ a b c d United Arab Emirates
  3. ^ United Arab Emirates United States Department of State
  4. ^ "Human Rights Watch warns expat women about the UAE". 
  5. ^ a b "Torture and flogging". Fanack. 
  6. ^ "UAE: Judicial corporal punishment by flogging". World Corporal Punishment Research. 
  7. ^ "United Arab Emirates". Crime and Society. 
  8. ^ "Pregnant maid to get 100 lashes after being found guilty of illegal affair". 
  9. ^ "Teenager to be lashed for adultery". 
  10. ^ "Illicit lovers sentenced to 100 lashes each". 
  11. ^ a b "Two women sentenced to death for adultery". 
  12. ^ "Prison for couple who conceived outside of wedlock". KA, 19, Emirati, was sentenced to six months in prison. Her would-be husband, AM, Omani, was sentenced to 100 lashes and one year in prison. 
  13. ^ "Adulterer to be lashed, jailed in Sharjah". 
  14. ^ "DUBAI: Alleged victim of gang rape sentenced to one year in prison". At that point, she was facing a penalty for extramarital sex, which is 100 lashes and a minimum of three years in prison. 
  15. ^ "Man to get 80 lashes for drinking alcohol". 2010. 
  16. ^ "Man appeals 80 lashes for drinking alcohol in Abu Dhabi". 2012. 
  17. ^ "Woman denies affair after hearing she faces stoning". Under the same law, premarital sex is punishable by 100 lashes. 
  18. ^ "UAE: Death by stoning/ flogging".  
  19. ^ "Man faces stoning in UAE for incest". 
  20. ^ "Woman denies affair after hearing she faces stoning". 
  21. ^ "Expat faces death by stoning after admitting in court to cheating on husband". 
  22. ^ "Woman Sentenced to Death by Stoning in UAE". 
  23. ^ "Asian housemaid gets death for adultery in Abu Dhabi". 
  24. ^ a b "Britons 'liable to Sharia divorces' in UAE". BBC. 
  25. ^ "The UAE Court System". Consulate General of the United States Dubai, UAE. 
  26. ^ a b Butti Sultan Butti Ali Al-Muhairi (1996), The Islamisation of Laws in the UAE: The Case of the Penal Code, Arab Law Quarterly, Vol. 11, No. 4 (1996), pp. 350-371
  27. ^ Al-Muhairi (1997), Conclusion to the Series of Articles on the UAE Penal Law. Arab Law Quarterly, Vol. 12, No. 4
  28. ^ a b "Divorcees, widows concerned about receiving ‘permission’ before remarrying". 
  29. ^ a b United Arab Emirates International Religious Freedom Report, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (2009)
  30. ^ "Federal criminal statute In UAE". Sodomylaws.Org. Archived from the original on 14 June 2006. 
  31. ^ "Public kissing can lead to deportation". 
  32. ^ "Women get jail and deportation for kissing on Dubai public beach". gulfnews. 25 May 2008. 
  33. ^ "Jailed Dubai kissing pair lose appeal over conviction". 
  34. ^ "London man tells of 'shock' jailing in Dubai over kiss". 
  35. ^ "Federal Law No (3) of 1987 on Issuance of the Penal Code". United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. 
  36. ^ "Measures Against Corruptibility, Gifts and Gratification – Bribery in the Middle East". Arab Law Quarterly. 
  37. ^ Lawrence M. Salinger (2004). Encyclopedia of white-collar & corporate crime. SAGE. p. 44.  
  38. ^ Lawrence M. Salinger (2004). Encyclopedia of white-collar & corporate crime. SAGE. p. 45.  
  39. ^ a b c United Arab Emirates The World Factbook
  40. ^ a b Lawrence M. Salinger (2004). Encyclopedia of white-collar & corporate crime. SAGE. p. 46.  
  41. ^ United Arab Emirates Foreign and Commonwealth Office
  42. ^
  43. ^ Richard Giulianotti, David McArdle (2006). Sport, Civil Liberties and Human Rights. Routledge. p. 15.  
  44. ^ "Sharp fall in human trafficking cases in UAE". Retrieved Dec 4, 2014. 
  45. ^ Dubai declares war on human trafficking The Hindu
  46. ^ Fight human trafficking Gulf News

External links

  • Database on the black markets in the United Arab Emirates
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