10 laws expatriates break with impunity

Storing alcohol at home, having a satellite TV or washing your car on the road may seem harmless but these are offences that carry heavy penalties. Shveta Pathak lists out ten rules where violations could land us in 
serious trouble

Image Credit: Ador T. Bustamante/XPRESS

1 ILLEGAL satellite TV: 
Since your building owner did not specify it, you may think installing Dish TV, Sky TV or other such illegal satellite TV decoders was permitted. You are mistaken.

Laws you violate: The UAE Intellectual Property Law and UAE Trademark Law.

“ Ignorance of law, one has to remember, is no excuse and most times we see people are aware of the laws, but tend to take things lightly. People should not take the law lightly — it is for their own good.”
-Advocate Bindu Chettur
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Penalty: Fines could go up to Dh50,000. Those providing such services could face jail and deportation.

Recent crackdown: Earlier this year, passports of residents using illegal decoders were confiscated, and warning notices were placed at buildings in Bur Dubai and Karama. “Installing unauthorised satellite television connections is illegal and unauthorised,” says advocate Marc Massihi from Hikmat Fayad and Associates.

2 Keeping alcohol at home: 
You may have taken it from a friend or brought it from a outlet in Ajman and or somewhere else, but remember, keeping alcohol at home without a liquor permit is an offence. Anyone consuming, transporting, possessing or selling alcohol in the UAE needs a licence.

Law you violate: Penal Law

Penalty: “Penalties can lead to imprisonment of six months and fine of Dh5,000. People land in trouble when they carry liquor and meet with an accident or create public disturbance,” says Mohammad Hameed, Legal Consultant, Al Midfa & Associates.

3 Employing Illegal domestic help: Illegal workers include housemaids on someone else’s visa or those helping you in odd jobs without a proper visa. Around 1,200 people are on trial for recruiting maids illegally and you wouldn’t want to be part of this list.

Law you violate: UAE immigration laws.

Penalty: Fines could go up to Dh50,000.

Recent crackdown: Arab woman fined Dh50,000 for employing a housemaid who was not on her sponsorship.

4 Littering: 
How many times have you tossed a cigarette butt or a fast food wrapper out of your car window? This mindless littering could land you in serious trouble with the law. And lest you think no one is watching, Dubai Municipality has deployed an army of 700 inspectors including residents authorised to impose on the spot fines.

Law you violate: Dubai Municipality’s orders.

Penalty: From Dh500 to Dh1,000.

Recent crackdown: Around 3,600 people fined this year for throwing waste out of cars and spitting in public.

5 Jaywalking: 
You’re in a tearing hurry, alright, but it doesn’t give you the license to dash across the road. Crossing streets at undesignated streets or crosswalks is not only life-threatening, but also a pedestrian infraction punishable by law.

Law you violate: Federal Traffic Law

Penalty: Dh200
Recent crackdown: Over 26,000 people have been fined for jaywalking between January and August this year.

6 Washing your car on the road or letting water drip from the air conditioner: 
Washing your car on the streets, disposing vehicle water in the open, or water leaking from your air-conditioner onto the roads is a strict no-no. 
Law you violate: Dubai Municipality’s orders.

Penalty: Dh100 for leaking air conditioner, washing vehicles on the road or flushing vehicle water on the road.

Recent crackdown: Over 400 people have been fined this year on this count.

7 Using illegal phone cards: 
You’re tempted to buy cards that enable you to make cheap international phone calls.

Law you violate: UAE Penal Law.

Penalty: Jail term, fine and deportation. “Unauthorised voice calls are an infringement of the law and cheap calling cards are illegal,” said advocate Massihi.

Recent crackdown: A man was arrested last week for helping others to make cheap international phone calls from a computer at his home.

8 Sharing flats/live-ins: 
Sharing a flat with a person of the opposite sex who is not a blood relative is an offence. “Sharia law prohibits two unmarried and unrelated persons from the opposite sex living together. Under Article 356 of the UAE Penal Code anyone who engages in consensual sex [with someone other than husband/wife] also gets a minimum jail term of one year,” says advocate Hashik T.K. from Abdul Rahman Moutawaa & Associates.

Law you violate: UAE Penal Law.

Penalty: Fine, detention or both and possibly deportation.

9 Sex out of wedlock: 
Seeking sexual gratification outside marriage can land you behind bars.

Law you violate: Article 356 of the UAE Penal Law.

Penalty: Fine, jail, deportation, depending on the 
judge’s discretion.

Recent case: A British woman and her Irish partner were sentenced to three-months in jail in early November after being convicted of having sex in the back of a taxi.)

10 Public display of affection
: Kissing or hugging someone unrelated to you in public can have serious consequences.

Law you violate: UAE Penal Law of 1987

Penalty: Up to six months in jail and deportation.

“Ignorance of law, one has to remember, is no excuse and most times we see people are aware of the laws, but tend to take things lightly. People should not take the law lightly — it is for their own good,” says advocate Bindu Chettur.

Your comments

  • Abdul Majeed Hanif

    Nov 29, 2012 2:38

    Good and clear information given by XPRESS. If we follow these laws, it will make the UAE a better place to live in.

  • John

    Nov 29, 2012 2:25

    I also thought consuming alcohol was an offence. It always seems to get thrown in for good measure! The Government (and the airlines) should warn unsuspecting tourists of the perils of shopping at Duty Free and having a drink?

  • Anonymous

    Nov 29, 2012 2:16

    Very true. I wish someone took up the issue of bribery which is rampant in the private sector.

  • deepa

    Nov 29, 2012 2:11

    Shouldnt prostitution be included in the list?

  • Pritam Kumar

    Nov 29, 2012 2:06

    The report was useful. The content was really very informative.

  • Jochen Sautter

    Nov 29, 2012 1:52

    If it is illegal to transport alcohol without a license then authorities at the Duty Free in the arrival section of the airport must first ask for alcohol licence from whoever wants to purchase liquor. Also tourists are NOT aware of this rule. There should be signs all over, when arriving at DXB, or at least at the Duty Free.

  • Melwyn

    Nov 29, 2012 1:46

    LEAKING WATER FROM THE CAR AIRCON? Doesnt that sound a bit ridiculous. UAE is a quite a humid country and it is but obvious that the aircon in the cars would give off water on the roads specially in the summers. I fail to understand why this would invite a penalty. Probably I am missing something here. Would be great if the authorities threw some light on this. I have been a previous resident of UAE for six years and have always been a law abiding expatriate and completely agree with the authorities on the above penalties. However, a leaking aircon being illegal somehow seems a bit too far fetched. But then I might be wrong.

  • dong

    Nov 29, 2012 1:44

    Why don't duty free shops ask for liquor license and instead let you buy alcohol? And if so, then why are they prohibited to be stored at home?

  • Anonymous

    Nov 29, 2012 1:40

    Great laws, but I wish the enforcement of the laws was a bit more strict. Every morning, when my neighbour leaves for work, he throws garbage right outside the building. I also have neighbours who leave their children's toys scattered in the corridor, thereby leaving no place to walk. Their kids play at around 6am in the morning making it very difficult for us to sleep during the weekend...They even play at 2am in the night when they have a party...I need someone to suggest where can I complain about the lovely neighbours next door!

  • kk

    Nov 29, 2012 1:02

    Thank you for giving all the information together hope everyone will follow this.......

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Latest Comment

Good and clear information given by XPRESS. If we follow these laws, it will make the UAE a better place to live in.

Abdul Majeed Hanif

29 November 2012 14:38 jump to comments