A tattoo artist at work. Unlike body art, medical tattoos are acceptable in the UAE because they serve as warnings for first aid providers or help conceal bad scars. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Dubai Health officials have warned again that providing tattoo services as a means of artistic expression is not permitted in Dubai or in other emirates.

"This is not a practice which is being approved by the Ministry of Health. These tattoos are not being practised in medical services," Dr Ameen Al Amiri, assistant undersecretary for medical practices and licensing, told Gulf News.

Medical tattoos

In Dubai, only tattoos for medical purposes are allowed and such services are being licensed by Dubai Health Authority (DHA). Medical tattoos either serve as warnings for first aid providers of a person's medical condition or cover a scarred portion of the body.

"It [tattooing] is not a question of legality. It's a question of healthy or unhealthy practices. We are licensing tattoos provided by doctors or dermatological doctors in clinics," Dr Ramadan Ebrahim, director of Health Regulation at DHA, said, adding that clinics or medical professionals who perform tattoo services without a DHA licence will be fined and their licences will be revoked.

Municipality permit

All licences for body art provided in parlours or in places outside medical centres fall under the Dubai Municipality's jurisdiction, Dr Ebrahim said.

When contacted by Gulf News, Reda Hassan Salman, director of the Public Health and Safety Department at Dubai Municipality (DM), said that only cosmetic tattoos or permanent make-up are being licensed by the municipality. Art tattoos are definitely not allowed.

"Tattoo artists cannot practise [in Dubai] unless they have permission from DHA or DM," Salman said, adding that only permanent make-up or cosmetic tattoos are licensed.

Working on regulations

"We are working on tattooing regulations at the moment. As soon as they are ready, we will let the public know," Salman said.

Health officials stressed that the public should not seek the services of unlicensed tattoo artists who operate underground as this could pose health risks to them.

Unhygienic tattooing practices such as reusing contaminated needles may also transmit diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis, A, B, and C.

"There is a risk of transmission of various types of diseases, communicable diseases. Therefore we cannot approve this. It is not allowed by the Ministry," Dr Al Amiri added.


Dubai Dh300, some localised pain, and roughly 20 minutes —that's what it takes to get an eyebrow tattoo done. For others who want bigger and more complicated tattoos, it can go up to five hours and Dh5,000, or more.

Andrea (not her real name), a Filipina hairdresser, casually answered a customer's phone enquiry on getting a tattoo. But unlike earlier when she used to provide tattooing services in the parlour, she now does them discreetly, "home service" style.


"An eyeliner tattoo would cost Dh250 for both eyes. I can come to your home on my day off if you want," Andrea says.

Robert (not his real name), a Filipino in his thirties, said he could offer more.

"I can do various designs be it tribal, portraits creations, and more. The price starts from Dh500, depending on the size and design that you want," Robert, who has been a tattoo artist in Dubai for five years, said.