United Arab Emirates - Consular Information Sheet
July 19, 2001
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is
a federation of seven independent emirates, each with its own
ruler. The federal government exists as a constitutional republic,
headed by a president and council of ministers. Islamic ideals
and beliefs provide the conservative foundation of the country's
customs, laws and practices. The UAE is a modern, developed country,
and tourist facilities are widely available.
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: A passport and visa are required.
In addition, an AIDS test is required for work or residence permits;
testing must be performed after arrival. A U.S. AIDS test is not
accepted. For further information, travelers can contact the Embassy
of the United Arab Emirates, Suite 700, 1255 22nd Street, N.W.,
Washington, D.C. 20037, telephone (202) 955-7999.
In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments
have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include
requiring documentary evidence of the relationship between the
child and an accompanying adult and, when the child's parent(s)
or legal guardian is not traveling with the child, permission
from that adult for the child's travel. Having such documentation
on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.
DUAL NATIONALITY: The UAE government does not recognize
dual nationality. Children of UAE fathers automatically acquire
UAE citizenship at birth and must enter the UAE on UAE passports.
UAE authorities have in the past confiscated the U.S. passports
of UAE/U.S. dual nationals. This does not constitute loss of U.S.
citizenship, but should be reported to the U.S. Embassy in Abu
Dhabi or the U.S. Consulate General in Dubai. Dual nationals may
be subject to UAE laws that impose special obligations. For additional
information, please see
SAFETY AND SECURITY: Americans in the United Arab Emirates
should exercise a high level of security awareness. The Department
of State remains concerned about the possibility of terrorist
attacks against United States citizens and interests throughout
the world. Americans should maintain a low profile, vary routes
and times for all required travel, and treat mail and packages
from unfamiliar sources with suspicion. In addition, American
citizens are urged to avoid contact with any suspicious, unfamiliar
objects, and to report the presence of the objects to local authorities.
Vehicles should not be left unattended, if at all possible, and
should be kept locked at all times. U.S. Government personnel
overseas have been advised to take the same precautions. In addition,
U.S. Government facilities may temporarily close or suspend public
services from time to time as necessary to review their security
posture and ensure its adequacy.
Taking photographs of anything that could be perceived as being
of military or security interest may result in problems with authorities.
CRIME: Crime generally is not a problem for travelers
in the UAE. The loss or theft of a U.S. passport should be reported
immediately to local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
Useful information on safeguarding valuables, protecting personal
security, and other matters while traveling abroad is provided
in the Department of State pamphlets, A
Safe Trip Abroad and Tips
For Travelers to the Middle East and North Africa. They
are available from the
Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office,
Washington, D.C. 20402, via the internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs,
MEDICAL FACILITIES: Basic modern medical care and medicines
are available in the principal cities of the UAE, but not necessarily
in outlying areas. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization
and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost thousands
of dollars or more. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate
cash payment for health services, and U.S. medical insurance is
not always valid outside the United States. U.S. Medicare and
Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services
outside the United States.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: The Department of State strongly urges
Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior
to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas
and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical
evacuation. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs
incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage
is purchased. Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do
not provide payment for medical services outside the United States.
However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance
plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas including
emergency services such as medical evacuations.
When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans
should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require
payment in cash prior to providing service and that a medical
evacuation to the U.S. may cost well in excess of $50,000. Uninsured
travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme
difficulties. When consulting with your insurer prior to your
trip, ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare
provider or whether you will be reimbursed later for expenses
you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric
treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.
Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas
insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau
of Consular Affairs brochure Medical
Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available
via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or autofax: (202)
OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Information on vaccinations
and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international
travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX
(1-888-232-3299), or via CDC's
Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign
country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ
significantly from those in the United States. The information
below concerning the UAE is provided for general reference only
and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Safety of Public Transportation: Good
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Excellent
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Good
Passers-by are in general very willing to assist in road accidents
but can be very unprofessional in medical emergencies requiring
first-aid treatment. Mobile phones are widely used throughout
the UAE, so passers-by usually request emergency police and medical
services quickly. Response time by emergency services is adequate.
However, medical personnel emphasize transport of the injured
to the hospital rather than treatment on site. Traffic accidents
are a leading cause of death in the UAE. Unsafe driving practices
are common, especially on inter-city highways. On highways, wandering
camels, unmarked speed bumps and drifting sand create additional
Country-wide traffic laws impose stringent penalties for certain
violations, particularly driving under the influence of alcohol.
Penalties may include hefty jail sentences and fines, and, for
Muslims, lashings. Persons involved in an accident in which another
party is injured automatically go to jail until the injured person
is released from the hospital. Should a person die in a traffic
accident, the driver of the other car is liable for payment of
compensation for the death (known as "dhiyya"), usually
the equivalent of 41,000 U.S. dollars. Even relatively minor accidents
may result in lengthy proceedings, during which both drivers may
be prohibited from leaving the country.
In order to drive, UAE residents must obtain a UAE driver's license.
Foreign driver's licenses are not recognized, and temporary UAE
licenses are no longer issued. However, a non-resident visitor
to the UAE can drive if he/she obtains a valid international driver's
license issued by the motor vehicle authority of the country whose
passport the traveler holds. The UAE recognizes driver's licenses
issued by other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states only if
the bearer is driving a vehicle registered to the same GCC state.
Under no circumstances should anyone drive without a valid license.
Non-GCC citizens departing the UAE via land are required to pay
a departure fee of 20 UAE dirhams (equivalent to 5.45 U.S. dollars).
This fee is payable only in the local UAE dirham currency.
additional general information about road safety, including links
to foreign government sites, see the Department of State,
Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial
air service by UAE carriers at present, nor economic authority
to operate such service between the U.S. and UAE, the U.S. Federal
Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed UAE's civil aviation
authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards
for oversight of UAE's air carrier operations. For further information,
travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within
the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the
FAA internet website at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa.htm.
The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some
foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of
air services. As a result of the August 23, 2000 crash of a Gulf
Air flight in the Persian Gulf, DOD has recommended that military
commanders use air carriers other than Gulf Air for DOD official
travel, at least until investigation of the crash is complete.
For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers,
travelers may contact DOD on telephone number: (618) 229-4801.
CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: UAE customs authorities enforce strict
regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from
UAE of items such as firearms, including fireworks, pornographic
materials, medications, religious materials and communication
equipment. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of UAE in Washington
for specific information regarding customs requirements. UAE customs
authorities also impose additional requirements for the importation
of pets into the country. Prior permission in the form of a permit
from the UAE Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries must be secured
before the pet's travel. To obtain the permit, the following items
will need to be submitted to the UAE Ministry of Agriculture and
Fisheries at the following address: P.O. Box 213, Abu Dhabi, UAE,
telephone number 971-2-662-781 or 971-2-485-438. a). the pet's
travel itinerary; b). copies of veterinary health certificates,
showing that the animal is free of disease and indicating all
shots which have been given to the pet; c). the sex and color
of the pet; and d). a completed import permit application form
(available from the ministry).
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens
are subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes
differ significantly from those in the United States and may not
afford the protections available to the individual under U.S.
law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in
the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating the
UAE laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.
The penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal substances
are strict in the UAE, and convicted offenders can expect jail
sentences and heavy fines. Legislation enacted in January 1996
imposes the death sentence for convicted drug traffickers. A variety
of drugs normally taken under a doctor's supervision in the United
States are classified as narcotics in the UAE. A doctor's prescription
should be carried along with any medication that is brought into
In addition, the UAE's tough anti-narcotics program also includes
poppy seeds, widely used in other cultures, including the U.S.,
for culinary purposes, on its list of controlled substances. The
importation and possession of poppy seeds in any and all forms
is strictly prohibited. Persons found to possess even very small
quantities of the controlled substances listed by the UAE are
subject to prosecution by the authorities and may be given lengthy
prison terms of up to 15 years. Travelers with questions regarding
the items on the list of controlled substances should contact
the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi or the U.S. Consulate General in
If suspected of being under the influence of drugs, individuals
may be required to submit to blood and/or urine tests so that
local authorities may make a determination as to usage. UAE authorities
have been known to arrest travelers upon their arrival into the
UAE and, based on recent prior drug use, to prosecute these travelers.
Crimes of fraud, including passing bad checks and non-payment
of bills (including hotel bills), are regarded seriously in the
UAE and can result in imprisonment, as well as fines. Penalties
are generally assessed according to religious law. If imprisoned,
bail is generally not available to non-residents of the UAE.
Drinking or possession of alcohol without a Ministry of Interior
liquor permit is illegal and could result in arrest and/or fines
and imprisonment. Alcohol is served at bars in most major hotels.
However, this alcoholic beverage service is for those persons
who are staying at the hotel. Persons not staying at the hotel
who come in to use the facility's bar technically are required
to have their own personal liquor license. Liquor licenses are
obtainable only by non-Muslim persons who possess UAE residency
permits. Drinking and driving is considered a serious offense.
While individuals are free to worship as they choose, and facilities
are available for that purpose, religious proselytizing is not
permitted. Persons violating this law, even unknowingly, may be
arrested and imprisoned.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: American citizens may become involved
in disputes of a commercial nature that prompt local firms or
courts to take possession of the American citizen's passport.
Travel bans may also be enforced on American citizens involved
in financial disputes with a local sponsor or firm. These bans,
which are rigidly enforced, prevent the individual from leaving
the UAE for any reason until the dispute is resolved. Although
it is customary for a local sponsor to hold an employee's passport,
it is not required under UAE law. Most contractual/labor disputes
can be avoided by clearly establishing all terms and conditions
of employment or sponsorship in the labor contract at the beginning
of any employment. Should a dispute arise, the UAE Ministry of
Labor has established a special department to review and arbitrate
labor claims. A list of local attorneys capable of representing
Americans in such matters is available from the Consular and Commercial
sections of the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the U.S. Consulate
General in Dubai.
Travelers intending to reside and work in the UAE should have
their academic and occupational certificates duly authenticated
by the Department of State's Documents Authentication Office in
Washington, D.C. before traveling to the UAE. The Documents Authentication
Office may be contacted by telephone from within the United States
at 800-688-9889 or by fax at 202-663-3636. UAE labor law requires
local sponsors to produce employees' academic and/or professional
certificates, duly authenticated by the Foreign Ministry of the
individual's country, before a work permit can be issued. Travelers
intending to bring their families to reside with them in the UAE
will also need to have their marriage certificate and children's
birth certificates authenticated by the State Department in Washington,
CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For
information on international adoption of children and international
parental child abduction please refer to our internet site
at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html or telephone
REGISTRATION/EMBASSY AND CONSULATE LOCATION: Americans
living in or visiting the UAE are encouraged to register with
the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi or the Consulate
General in Dubai, where they can obtain updated information on
travel and security within the UAE. the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi
is located on 11th St., also known as Al-Sudan St., P.O. Box 4009.
The telephone number is (971) (2) 443-6691, and the Consular Section
fax number is (971) (2) 443-5786. The after hours telephone number
is (971) (2) 443-4457. The
Embassy internet web site is http://www.usembabu.gov.ae. The
U.S. Consulate General in Dubai is located on the 21st floor of
the Dubai World Trade Center, P.O. Box 9343. The telephone number
is (971) (4) 331-3115, and the Consular Section fax number is
(971) (4) 331-6935. The workweek for both the Embassy in Abu Dhabi
and Consulate in Dubai is Saturday through Wednesday.
This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated October 2,
2000, to update information in the sections on Entry Requirements,
Medical Insurance, Criminal Penalties, Special Circumstances and