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10 Britons Who Were Arrested And Jailed in Dubai

Updated on December 14, 2017

Be Careful of the Laws of Dubai!

Dubai is a Muslim country under Shariah Law and there are certain things that you need to be aware of if you go there that may not occur to you that they are illegal! Primarily this means no public displays of affection, no sex outside of marriage, no drinking alcohol without a licence, no gestures or dressing disrespectfully and for sure no drugs!

Unfortunately there are people that are either ignorant of these laws or choose to ignore them at their own cost. Unless you look up the rules of the country before you go there it is possible that you can get caught out unwittingly so it is best to make yourself aware of what is and is not allowed before you go.

Below are 10 examples of Brits who have been arrested and charged for various things in Dubai that you might get away with elsewhere in the world.

Stop and think before you do something that might be illegal in Dubai
Stop and think before you do something that might be illegal in Dubai

Brits Arrested in Dubai

  1. A 23 Year Old British Woman of Pakistani descent and her 44 year old fiancé were arrested in January 2010 after the woman claimed she was raped in the toilets of a 5 star hotel by a waiter. The couple were arrested and charged with having sex outside of marriage and drinking alcohol (they were Muslim).
  2. The now infamous case of a British couple, Michelle Palmer and Vince Acors, who were arrested for having sex on the beach in July 2008. It was reported that Ms Palmer through her shoe at a policeman at the time of the arrest. The couple were sentenced to 6 months in jail each plus deportation but their sentence was reduced on appeal and they were able to fly back to the UK having spent a month in jail.
  3. British Mum Tessa Meager was arrested but later released for ‘stripping naked’ in the Dubai Mall. A local woman had taken offence to her clothing (she was wearing a sea through kaftan and shorts with a bikini top underneath). – This kind of clothing is disrespectful to Muslims and there are signs on the doors of malls asking people to dress respectfully so tourists need to be a bit more observant and indeed respectful of local customs.
  4. The latest tragic case was of Bruit Lee Bradley Brown who died in police custody after being arrested for essentially being drunk and disorderly in the Burj al Arab hotel.
  5. A 34 year old British UN worker was arrested in the airport for cursing and giving the finger to an airport worker in November 2010.

Even stying in a hotel like the Burj al Arab will not stop you being arrested if you break the law.
Even stying in a hotel like the Burj al Arab will not stop you being arrested if you break the law.

6. Radio 1 DJ Grooverider was arrested and jailed for 4 years in 2007 for possession of cannabis. Possession of any drug in the UAE carries a minimum jail term of 4 years. Luckily for the DJ he was given a royal pardon after serving 10 months of his sentence.

7. Brits Sally Antia and Mark Hawkins were arrested and jailed for 2 months in 2009 for committing adultery after Mrs Antia was shopped by her husband as she came out of a hotel with Mr Hawkins.

8.Two Britons ages 24 and 25 were arrested and charged with kissing in public when they offended a local woman who saw them. They were also charged with illegal alcohol consumption. They were jailed for a month and deported subsequently.

9. In February 2011, ex-England Midfielder Carlton Palmer was arrested for drink driving in Dubai. There is a zero tolerance policy on drink driving in the Emirate.

10. Tracy Wilkinson, a British mother of two was arrested in 2005 for having codeine and temazepam in a urine sample that was taken after irregularities were found in her passport. Codeine is illegal in Dubai and Mrs Wilkinson spent 8 weeks in jail until she was eventually freed.

Drugs that are Legal in Other Countries

The UAE publishes a list of drugs that are not allowed in the Emirate and if you are taking any regular medication it is worth referring to this list.

It is entirely possible that a drug you are taking legally in another country is illegal in Dubai. Banned drugs include some painkillers and some anti-depressants.

If you are taking prescription medication it is worth taking a copy of your prescription with you to show the authorities if you are questioned.

If you are in any doubt about the medication you have you can email the Customer Service Centre of the drug control department at


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    • Cogerson profile image

      Cogerson 6 years ago from Virginia

      Interesting sounds like they mean business with all their laws and enforcement of the laws,,,voted up