Sunday 23 June 2024 (UAE)

Kissing in Dubai

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Kissing and public displays of affection (PDA) in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, UAE

Information about kissing in Dubai, French kisses in Dubai, sex on the beach in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, UAE. How to behave and misbehave, public decency and indecency laws, arrests and court cases, public displays of affection (PDA) in the UAE. Kissing in Dubai news, rules, law, is it illegal, news, kissing in public in Dubai. Kissing at Dubai airport, malls, hotels, clubs, bars ... before or after drinking beer, wine, other alcohol.

None of what is written here should be taken as any sort of advice. It is only intended to be an observation of what happens in the UAE based on our experiences of living in the country. The only recommendation we can really give is that you follow the law, and be respectful of UAE culture, especially during Ramadan, and/or outside Dubai, and even more so in Sharjah.

Dubai and the UAE do not have religious police with the job of checking on public morality, as is (or was) the case in Saudi Arabia. Nor do the police spend their time walking around shopping malls and bars looking for illegal hand-holding or kissing (at any rock concert in Dubai you can see the police calmly observe beer-drinking, hand-holding and kissing expats without usually taking any action). However, the job of the police is to uphold the law, and if someone makes a complaint, then the police will usually feel obliged to act, especially if the complainer is someone who might have more wasta than the police and/or the alleged offenders.

What is illegal in Dubai and the UAE (as far as we know)

Age of Consent in the UAE (Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, etc)

Kissing in Dubai

Holding hands in public

Conviction of sex related crimes in UAE

Sex, indecent exposure and kissing related stories in the UAE

Norwegian woman raped but not raped in Dubai - March 2013

A confusing story and court case about an alleged rape that allegedly wasn't a rape in Dubai made international headlines, mostly with the spin that Dubai is a draconian misogynistic dangerous place to visit for women who are at high risk of being raped, and then jailed if they report it to the police. Whilst being jailed for having sex after reporting a rape is a real risk in the UAE, this particular story sounds like there was an unusual combination of events and circumstances which led to a situation that might not have been exactly the picture painted by the international press.

Whatever anyone thinks about UAE laws regarding sex outside marriage, that is what they are, and there is enough information easily available that any visitor or resident should know sex outside marriage is illegal. Admittedly the question of whether or not it's a good idea to report a rape in the UAE seems to be more of question mark since the complaint is also an admission of committing a crime if the police or courts come to the conclusion that a rape didn't happen. It also seems to be the case that the police and court system in the UAE are somewhat skeptical of a rape claim if the woman was drinking alcohol with the man and voluntarily went back to his hotel room with him.

Reality is that both rapes and false rape claims happen anywhere in the world, and the only two people who know what really happened are the two involved. Even they might have differing perspectives on what actually happened.

Ms Norway was convicted and jailed for the crimes of sex outside marriage (1 year), drinking alcohol (3 months), and making a false complaint (1 month). She was subsequently pardoned (possibly international media coverage helped her in that regard), lost her job, and went back to Norway. Her partner in crime (for want of a better choice of words - his name was not released) was also sentenced to a year in jail for the crime of sex outside marriage, and also pardoned.

A couple of things that could be lessons to learn from this episode:

As a contrast to this story to illustrate that the UAE does take the crime of rape seriously, in July 2012 a British woman was drugged, kidnapped and raped by three Iranian men in Dubai, who were each convicted and sentenced to 10 years in jail followed by deportation. In July 2013, after they had exhausted the court appeal process, the sentence was upheld.

14 year old school girl arrested for adultery in Ajman - March 2011
Kiwi Brazilian British love triangle in Dubai - December 2010
Brazilian schoolgirl aged 14 allegedly raped by bus driver - April 2010
Dubai Kissing Couple at JBR - November 2009
Jail for sex but no sex in Sharjah - May 2009
Sex on the beach couple in Dubai - July 2008

Sharjah rules

A last word

In our opinion, given the number of western expats who happily live in Dubai or visit Dubai, for most couples (whether married or not), as long as they behave reasonably respectfully and sensibly, it is unlikely that they will find themselves in trouble just for holding hands while walking through a shopping mall or kissing each other hello at the airport. Just keep the tongues and hands under control until in the privacy of home or hotel bedroom. And if anyone has something to say about your behaviour, whether police, security official, or member of public; stop whatever it is you were doing that offended them, apologise politely, thank them for letting you know that your behaviour was not appropriate, and say how much you are enjoying the country. Whatever you do, don't start ranting about being right, or how things are different in your own country, or make any sort of criticism of UAE culture and morals.

Last update Wednesday 26-Jun-2019. Page development 4L 5C.
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