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United Arab Emirates

If you’re travelling to the United Arab Emirates, our travel advice and updates give you practical tips and useful information. 

Security Status

  • Normal precautions
  • High degree of caution
  • Avoid non-essential travel
  • Do not travel
  • Overview
  • Safety and Security
  • Local Laws and Customs
  • Natural Disasters and Climate
  • Additional Information
  • Embassy Contact

Overview

General COVID-19 Travel Advisory in Operation

For the latest update please read the General COVID-19 Travel Advisory >

Overview

Security status

Avoid non-essential travel.

Security Status Last Updated: 17 March 2020

COVID-19

Travel to the UAE from Ireland

The Irish government advises against all non-essential international travel at this time. Travel restrictions are in place due to concerns in relation topublic health and to mitigate the risk of new variants of COVID-19 entering the country. Details of these restrictions are available on the travel section of the gov.ie website.

In weighing decisions to travel to the UAE at this time, Irish citizens should take into consideration the risk of additional restrictions being introduced during their travel and, the impact that may have on their proposed visit.

The UAE authorities have introduced a number of measures to limit the spread of the virus. You should comply with any additional screening measures put in place by the local authorities. It is mandatory to wear a facemask in public and follow social distancing requirements. The UAE authorities have stated that any violation of instructions and procedures put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19 will be treated as a crime punishable by law.

The UAE Government and the Government of Dubai have introduced new international travel protocols that apply to citizens, residents, visitors and transit passengers.

If you are planning to travel to the UAE, you should consult official published guidelines and confirm requirements with your airline or travel provider. 

Requirement for COVID-19 testing prior to travel

All passengers flying to Abu Dhabi, including transit passengers, will be asked at check-in to produce a negative result from a COVID-19 test conducted in the previous 96 hours. From 31 January 2021, all passengers travelling to Dubai must present a negative COVID-19 PCR test certificate from a test taken no more than 72 hours before departure. For passengers transiting through Dubai, a COVID-19 PCR test is only mandatory for those arriving from specified countries and/or if required by the destination country. We strongly urge all passengers to double-check the requirements for COVID-19 testing with their airline prior to travel. 

Additional information is available on Etihad Travel Updates and Emirates Travel Updates

Visitors

Information on requirements for travel to Dubai is available on the Visit Dubai website. Visitors to Abu Dhabi should follow information on Etihad Travel guidelines and guidelines for travel to Abu Dhabi published on 24 December 2020

Transit

Transfer services through the UAE are operating (see below regarding travel via the UK). Please see Emirates and Etihad websites or contact your travel provider for further information.  

The UK government announced the suspension of direct flights from the UAE from 29 January. Special requirements may be in place if transiting through certain countries when travelling from the UAE to Ireland. Travel details and transit rules should be confirmed with your airline prior to travel.

Travel from the UAE to Ireland

From 16 January, all passengers arriving into Ireland are required to have a negative / not detected result from a pre-departure COVID-19 RT-PCR test taken within 72 hours before their arrival in Ireland. This is a mandatory requirement. Passengers will be asked to present evidence of their negative/‘not detected’ result before boarding their airplane or ferry and will be denied boarding if they cannot produce such evidence. Further information is available here.  

If you must travel to Ireland, you are required to fill out a COVID-19 Passenger Locator Form online before you travel.

If a citizen has a genuine humanitarian emergency requiring urgent travel, they should contact the Embassy immediately for advice and consular assistance before commencing their journey.

A legal requirement to quarantine has been introduced for all passengers arriving in Ireland from 4 February 2021.  If you travel to Ireland for essential reasons from the UAE:

• 14-day quarantine period must be undertaken at the address specified on the Passenger Locator Form

• you must complete the full 14 days of quarantine - regardless of whether you have a negative test result

If you do not fulfil the legal requirement for mandatory quarantine you are committing an offence, and can be fined up to €2,500 or get a prison sentence of up to 6 months, or both. Further information on essential travel to Ireland from abroad is available on the gov.ie website 

General Travel Advice

Residents

The Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) advises UAE residents to enter their details on the ICA portal to confirm their eligibility to return to the UAE, in accordance with their UAE residence visa validity.

Dubai residents should refer to the guidelines published by the Government of Dubai on 23 June. Dubai residency visa holders must apply to the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs for permission to return to the UAE.

Quarantine

COVID-19 testing and quarantine requirements vary in different emirates. You should follow the regulations for your destination emirate. Information on quarantine requirements in different emirates is available on the UAE government information website,  Etihad travel Updates and Emirates Travel Updates and here for those travelling to Ras Al Khaimah.

In Dubai, quarantine is not required unless you are required to take a further COVID-19 PCR test on arrival. In this case, you must self-isolate until you receive a negative COVID-19 PCR test result.

New guidelines for international travel to Abu Dhabi, including a green listwere published on 22 December. Ireland is not currently on the green list

From 24 December, passengers arriving in Abu Dhabi from green list countries should self-isolate at home or in their hotel room until receiving a negative result from a COVID-19 PCR test taken on arrival. Further COVID-19 PCR tests should be taken on day 6 and day 12.

Passengers arriving in Abu Dhabi from countries not on the green list will be required to self-isolate at home or in their hotel room for 10 days and wear a medically-approved tracking wristband. There are exemptions for those under 18, over 69 or suffering from a chronic disease.  Further PCR tests should be taken on day 6 and day 12 and the wristband will be removed on day 10 if previous tests are negative.

You should follow the directions of the UAE authorities on arrival. If you are travelling from a country considered to be high risk or the authorities do not deem your accommodation to be suitable, you may be required to quarantine in a hotel or government facility.

Travelling between Dubai and Abu Dhabi

Restrictions on entry by road to the emirate of Abu Dhabi have been in place since 2 June.

The Abu Dhabi government announced that from 1 February, entry to the emirate will be granted to those able to demonstrate receipt of a negative PCR COVID-19 test result taken within the previous 48 hours. Those who enter Abu Dhabi and stay in the emirate for four or more consecutive days are required to take a PCR test on day 4 and, if staying for 8 or more consecutive days, are required to take a PCR test on day 8.

Residents can enter the emirate of Abu Dhabi by producing a negative DPI laser test result taken within the previous 24 hours. Those who enter Abu Dhabi with a DPI test result and stay in the emirate for 48 hours or more must take a PCR test on day 3 and a further PCR test on day 7, if staying in the emirate for seven days or more.

Failure to take PCR tests on the appointed days can result in fines and penalties.

If you are entering Abu Dhabi to get a flight from Abu Dhabi International Airport, it is recommended that you allow sufficient time for traffic delays at the border.  

International passengers arriving in Dubai and travelling to the emirate of Abu Dhabi should adhere to the updated guidelines for international arrivals to Abu Dhabi published on 22 December. Visitors entering Abu Dhabi from non-green list countries will be required to quarantine if they have been in the UAE for less than 10 days.

UAE citizens and residents participating in Phase Three of the vaccine trials or the National Vaccination Programme are exempt from testing requirements to enter Abu Dhabi.

UAE Visa and Entry Permits

Updates on UAE visas during COVID-19 can be found on the UAE Information and Services website.

Queries on the validity or expiry of visas, or on change of visa status (e.g. from a residency visa to a visit visa) should be directed to UAE immigration (ICA for visas issued by Abu Dhabi and other emirates; and GDRFA for visas issued by Dubai). In Dubai you can call AMER on 800 5111 or +97143139999 or visit one of the AMER centres located around Dubai.  

If your UAE residency visa has been cancelled, you will need to leave the UAE within 30 days or change the status of your visa to remain in the country legally and to avoid fines.

If you are in the UAE, you should monitor developments regularly and follow the advice of local authorities.

Irish Embassy Abu Dhabi Covid-19: Frequent Asked Questions

Ministry of Health and Prevention UAE

Department of Health Abu Dhabi

Dubai Health Authority

Additional information on COVID-19 can be found via the following links:

HSE

HPSC

ECDC

World Health Organisation

Emergency assistance

There are ongoing regional tensions and, in the event of any incidents, you should monitor local media reports and follow the advice of the local authorities. 

There is considered to be a high threat from terrorism. You should remain vigilant at this time.

The UAE is a Muslim country. Laws and customs are very different to those in Ireland and other western countries. It is important to respect local customs, laws & religions while in the UAE. There can be serious penalties, including custodial sentences, for doing something that may not be illegal in Ireland. See Local Laws & Customs section.

The best help is often close at hand so if you have problems, start by talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management. You can also contact the Irish Embassy if you require assistance or advice.

The Emergency services number in UAE is 999.

Our tips for safe travels

  • Purchase comprehensive travel insurance which covers all your intended activities
  • Register your details with us so that we can contact you quickly in an emergency, such as a natural disaster or a family emergency
  • Follow us on twitter @dfatravel for the latest travel updates
  • Read our Topical ‘Know Before You Go’ guide 

Safety and Security

Safety and security

Political Situation

There are ongoing regional tensions and, in the event of any incidents, you should monitor local media reports and follow the advice of the local authorities.

The political situation in the UAE is stable but you should avoid demonstrations and public gatherings, which can sometimes turn confrontational.

Terrorism

You should be aware that there is a threat from terrorism generally in the region. Attacks could be indiscriminate, and against Western interests, as they have been elsewhere in the region.

Crime

Crime remains relatively low in the UAE but you should take sensible precautions. 

  • Don’t carry your credit card, travel tickets and money together - leave spare cash and valuables in a safe place 
  • Don’t carry your passport unless absolutely necessary and leave a copy of your passport (and travel and insurance documents) with family or friends at home
  • Avoid showing large sums of money in public and don’t use ATMs after dark, especially if you are alone. Check no one has followed you after conducting your business
  • Keep a close eye on your personal belongings and hold on to them in public places
  • Avoid dark and unlit streets and stairways, arrange to be picked up or dropped off as close to your hotel or apartment entrance as possible
  • Personal attacks, including sexual assault and rape, are relatively rare, but do happen. UAE law places a high burden of proof on the victim to demonstrate that sexual relations were not consensual, especially when the victim had consumed alcohol or where the attacker was known to the victim. If the sexual relations are determined to have been consensual, both parties may face prosecution for the offence of sex outside marriage. Drink spiking can occur. Don’t accept drinks from strangers or leave drinks unattended.

Photography

You should also stay away from military sites – taking photos of military or security installations, and some public buildings is prohibited. Avoid filming or photographing people without their permission. 

The UAE has strict laws regarding online behaviour, including comments made via social media, with offences punishable by fines, imprisonment and deportation. Sharing videos or photographs of others through social media can be a punishable offence. 

Driving

If you’re planning to drive in the UAE, you should be extremely careful. Road safety standards are low, particularly outside towns and cities. Accidents are frequent and are often caused by speeding, poor driving and inadequate lighting.

Drivers involved in an accident causing injuries may be detained until the injured are released from hospital. In an accident causing injuries or fatalities, those found at fault may be legally required to provide financial compensation to the injured or the family of the deceased. 

You should exercise great care as a pedestrian and only cross the road at designated pedestrian crossings. Drivers often fail to stop for pedestrians at zebra crossings. 

Offensive gestures and bad language can lead to fines, a jail sentence and deportation.

Excursions to the desert can be dangerous especially without adequately equipped 4 x 4 vehicles. Serious accidents can occur when driving on sand dunes in the desert, which can result in death. You should always travel in convoy with other cars, take a supply of water and a mobile telephone and leave travel plans with friends or relatives.

If you want to drive:

  • Bring your international driving license and make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is against the law and the penalties can be severe. Your insurance is likely to be invalidated, leaving you to pay claims by other parties involved
  • Keep your vehicle doors locked and your bags kept out of sight to prevent opportunistic bag-snatching if you’re stopped at traffic lights

Hiring a vehicle

If you’re hiring a vehicle, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If you’re allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.

Check that you have adequate insurance and read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).

Water Safety

Rip currents can occur at any beach, and can sweep even the strongest swimmer out to sea. Always comply with warning signs, especially red flags, and only swim from approved beaches. Only swim at pools with a lifeguard in attendance, and always check and ensure that there are qualified lifeguards present if your children will be swimming as part of their school activities or at summer camps.

The safety of tourist boats may not be up to Irish standards. Ensure that life jackets are available for all passengers.

 

Local Laws and Customs

Local laws and customs

Muslim culture

The UAE is an Islamic country and you should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions. Be aware of your actions and take care not to offend other cultures or religious beliefs, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or other religious festivals, or if you intend to visit religious areas. In 2020, the holy month of Ramadan is expected to start on 23 April.

Dress conservatively, particularly in Sharjah and Ajman emirates, where Islamic law is rigorously enforced. Clothes should cover the tops of the arms and legs and underwear should not be visible.

Public displays of affection are frowned upon, and there have been several arrests for kissing in public. Sex outside of marriage is illegal, as is cohabitation, adultery and homosexual behaviour. If you conduct a sexual relationship outside heterosexual marriage you run the risk of prosecution, imprisonment and/or a fine and deportation. Private life is respected in the UAE, however people are punished for sexual activity outside marriage where there is a public element or if it is brought to the attention of the police authorities.

If you become pregnant outside marriage, both you and your partner could face imprisonment and/or deportation. Doctors may ask for proof of marriage during ante-natal checks. An unmarried woman who gives birth in the UAE may also encounter problems when registering the birth of the child in the UAE, and could face arrest, imprisonment or deportation. To obtain a birth certificate from the UAE authorities, you must provide a marriage certificate and the authorities may compare the date of the marriage against the estimated date of conception.

During Ramadan, Muslims are not permitted to eat, drink or smoke during daylight hours. To avoid offence, you should not eat, drink or smoke in public during this time.

Forbidden products

Bringing drugs, pork products and pornographic books and material into the UAE is forbidden. Videos, books and magazines are subject to scrutiny and may be censored.

Prescription medications

Prescription medicines are tightly controlled in the UAE. Medications available over the counter or by prescription in Ireland, such as codeine may be illegal or considered a controlled substance in the UAE. You should carefully consult the UAE Ministry of Health guidelines before travelling to the UAE to see if your medication is on the list of controlled or prohibited substances. If in doubt you should consult your doctor or pharmacist. 
 
If your medication is on the controlled drugs list you will require approval to bring it into the UAE. You can apply for online approval prior to travel or on arrival in the airport in the UAE. Online approvals can take up to five working days following completion of the online application. You will require the original prescription and an attested medical report and will only be permitted to carry up to 30 days’ supply. If you arrive in the UAE without prior approval or the required documentation for approval on entry, the medication will not be allowed into the UAE and you may be prosecuted under UAE law.
 
Even if you do not bring such medications with you to the UAE, local authorities may prosecute you if blood and urine tests detect traces of a prohibited substance in your system.
 
Other medicines not on the controlled list may be brought into the UAE but you should carry your original prescription and not more than three months’ supply. Medicines should be in the original packaging and should not have expired. 
 
Some herbal remedies may be restricted or prohibited. Cannabidiol oil or CBD oil is considered an illegal drug in the UAE and there have a number of arrests for possession, including traces in vaping devices, at border entry points. Possession carries a minimum sentence of two years but for larger quantities can be ten years or more. 
 
Further information on controlled medicines and permissions can be obtained directly from the UAE Ministry of Health by emailing info@moh.gov.ae or calling +971 2 652 0500.

Criminal offences

Financial crimes, including fraud, bouncing cheques and the non-payment of bills, is regarded very seriously in the UAE and can often result in imprisonment and/or a fine. Non-residents of the UAE who are arrested for crimes involving fraud do not generally get bail. Convicted debtors will not usually be released from jail until the debt is paid or waived. Several Irish citizens have received custodial sentences as a result of non-payment of outstanding debts.

Swearing and making rude gestures (including online) are considered obscene acts and can lead to prosecution. Take particular care when dealing with the police and other officials.

Women travellers

Women should dress in a modest way, particularly in Sharjah and Ajman emirates where Islamic law is rigorously enforced.

LGBT

Homosexual activity is illegal in the UAE.

Alcohol

Liquor licences can be obtained by non-Muslim residents to consume alcohol in private homes and licensed hotels and clubs. Tourists in Dubai can apply for a temporary liquor licence through one of the official distributers of alcohol in Dubai. Liquor licences are only valid in the Emirate in which they are issued. Liquor licences are not available to non-residents in the other Emirates, but it is possible for tourists and visitors to buy and drink alcohol in licensed venues, such as hotels, restaurants and clubs. Drinking alcohol in the Emirate of Sharjah is illegal. It is a punishable offence under UAE law to drink alcohol or to be drunk in public. Passengers in transit through the UAE under the influence of alcohol may also be arrested.

Illegal drugs

The penalties for drug trafficking, smuggling and possession are severe. Drug trafficking penalties can include the death sentence or life imprisonment. The presence of drugs in the body constitutes possession and carries a minimum sentence of four years.

Travellers who transit in UAE airports are subject to these laws. UAE airports have excellent technology and security, so transiting passengers carrying even residual amounts of drugs may be arrested.

Weapons and related equipment

Weapons, ammunition and gun belts etc. all require permission for entry or transit through the UAE.

 

Natural Disasters and Climate

Natural disasters and climate

Climate

The UAE is hot and dry most of the year. Drink plenty of water but remember that during Ramadan it is an offence to eat or drink in public between sunrise and sunset.

Sandstorms

There are occasional sandstorms but they are not usually bad enough to affect daily life. 

Flooding

In some parts of the country, particularly in the mountains, occasional heavy rain can cause flash floods. Take precautions and seek out local advice.

Additional Information

Additional information

Entry & exit requirements (visa/passport)

Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of six months to enter the UAE. A longer period of validity may be required if you intend to seek a UAE residency visa. If you hold a UAE residence permit, your passport must be valid for at least 3 months in order to travel into the country.

If you are unsure of what the entry requirements for the UAE are, including visa and other immigration information, ask your travel agent or contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of the UAE.

For non-residents, Irish temporary passports are not valid for entry into the United Arab Emirates. However, temporary passports are accepted for airside transit and exit from the United Arab Emirates.

Visitors must have legal status in the UAE when they depart. If your residency visa is under process, or if you are subject to a travel ban, involved in legal proceedings, have unpaid debt or are a child subject to a custody dispute, you may be prevented from leaving the country. A number of Irish nationals have been arrested when departing or transiting the UAE, including as a result of unpaid debts in the country.

Buying Property

If you wish to buy property in the UAE, you should seek appropriate professional advice, as you would in Ireland.

Embassy contact

Embassy Contact

If you need emergency assistance from the Embassy, then contact us immediately. Our telephone number is: +971 (0) 2 4958200.

If you require emergency assistance at the weekend or on a public holiday, you will be asked to leave a message on the answering machine. The answering machine is monitored regularly, and the Duty Officer at the Embassy will contact you as soon as possible. When you leave a message, remember to state your name, the nature of the problem, where you are now, and the details of how the Duty Officer can contact you (e.g. leave your mobile phone number, or the phone number of the hotel/hostel where you are staying). If necessary, contact the police also. Please note that the Duty Officer will deal with emergencies only

Embassy of Ireland
Al Yasat Street off 6th Street
Al Bateen
P.O. Box 61581
Abu Dhabi
United Arab Emirates

Tel: +971 (0)2 4958200
Fax: +971 (0)2 6819233

Sunday to Thursday 09:00-13:00

Contact us