The UAE is often hailed for its impeccable safety record and the life of luxury expats can enjoy with no fear of crime. In contrast to other highly populated cities, Abu Dhabi and Dubai have a high standard of safety, and violent crime is extremely rare, but petty crimes do occur and normal precautions should be taken.
The penalties for breaking laws in the UAE are severe and expats should familiarise themselves with local laws and customs in order to avoid attracting unwanted attention.
Crime in the UAE
Burglaries can and do occur, especially during the summer months when many expat families return to their home countries, leaving houses vacant. On the other hand, it is considered safe to walk around late at night and to take taxis independently.
Women on their own are not considered to be targets or at risk, but should ensure that they dress modestly as there have been occasional reports of women being harassed.
Road safety in the UAE
Road safety in the UAE is a concern and although road-traffic fatalities have gone down in recent years, driving here is not for the faint-of-heart. While there are financial penalties for dangerous driving and speeding, they are well within most people's financial means and therefore are not a successful deterrent.
The UAE has a no-tolerance policy for drinking and driving. Penalties are severe and can include a fine and/or jail time.
All traffic accidents, no matter how minor, are required by law to be reported to the police immediately. Dial 999 from the scene.
Terrorism in the UAE
The UAE does not have a high threat of terrorism, although some governments have warned of the possibility of extremist attacks in the country due to its proximity to other volatile countries in the Middle East and its large Western expat community.
Protests in the UAE
The UAE was largely unaffected by the Arab Spring of 2011. The country’s wealth and the high standard of living means that there is not much economic and social dissent against the government and protests and public demonstrations are generally rare.