Dubai: Whether you are new to the UAE or have been living in the country for years, there are some laws that you may not be aware of, and accidentally violate.
Here are some common practices in public life and civic behaviour that you should steer clear of.
In a hurry? Make sure that if you are crossing a road, you only do so from a designated pedestrian crossing. Police authorities across the UAE conduct regular awareness campaigns, educating residents of the best practices to follow when crossing the road. Anyone caught crossing the road outside pedestrian lanes can land with a fine of Dh400.
2. Plucking flowers, spitting
Defacing public property is a civic violation and municipalities in the UAE can issue fines, depending on the damage done by the individual. The minimum fine for plucking flowers and destroying public landscaping, according to municipal authorities, is Dh500. Spitting, too, will incur a fine of Dh500, while chewing and spitting betel leaves, which are banned in the UAE, comes with a Dh1,000 penalty.
3. Drying clothes on the balcony
It might seem like an innocuous thing to do, but hanging clothes to dry out on balcony railings can negatively affect the beautification measures undertaken by municipalities in the UAE.
Municipal authorities have highlighted the importance of adopting modern laundry-drying techniques such as electric dryers, and drying racks instead of hanging laundry over the railing, directly overlooking the street. A violator will be slapped with a fine of Dh1,000, which will be doubled in case of recurrence, according to Law No. 2/2012 in Abu Dhabi.
4. Raising money for charity, begging
Charitable activities in the UAE are regulated to ensure that those in genuine need of help receive it and criminals do not take advantage of public sympathy to swindle people of their money. According to Federal Law No. 9 of 2018 on Anti-begging, anyone caught begging in the UAE will be fined Dh5,000 and imprisoned for a term of up to three months.
If you wish to make charitable donations, authorised entities operate in the UAE, with donation kiosks at malls, public places as well as online facilities to enable you to do your bit for the community.
5. You can’t sell stuff without a licence
If you have procured readymade clothes, shoes or appliances on a small scale and wish to make some money on the side, it is important to note that any trade activity in the UAE needs to be done only after applying for the necessary commercial licences. Anyone failing to obtain the relevant licence to conduct business activities in the UAE may be slapped with penalties of up to Dh500,000.
6. Taking pictures in public
While the UAE offers several Instagram-worthy locations from where you can take stunning photographs, it is important to ensure that you do not take photographs of individuals without seeking their permission.
Federal Decree Law No. 5 of 2012 on Combatting Cybercrimes, prohibits the invasion of an individual's privacy, including taking pictures of others, or publishing or displaying those pictures. Moreover, the law states that those caught using technology to invade someone else's privacy can be jailed for not less than one year and face fines of between Dh150,000 and Dh500,000.
7. Using foul language
A heated conversation, with another individual, can land you in legal trouble if you lose your cool and use offensive language or gestures.
According to the UAE Penal Code, offending the honour or modesty of another person can lead to a maximum jail period of two years and/or a fine of up to Dh20,000.
8. Washing cars in public
Washing cars on the street, in public places or in residential areas is not allowed and should be done in assigned areas. Municipal authorities can also issue fines for illegal washing of cars, of up to Dh500.
9. Not wearing a seatbelt when in the back seat
Failing to do so, the driver of the vehicle will be fined Dh400 and slapped with four black points.