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Safety and Emergencies for Expats in the United Arab Emirates

Author: Jim Newham
Submitted: March 2014

Safety – Natural Hazards

The UAE has a very low susceptibility to natural disasters. The main threat from nature comes from the summer heat. The hottest month in the UAE is August, when temperatures regularly exceed 40°C. At this kind of temperature, there is a serious risk of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. To avoid these conditions, it is important to make sure you drink enough water and wear loose, lightweight clothing. Try to arrange your day so you are out of the sun, especially in the middle of the day, taking breaks in cooler places whenever possible.

Air quality can be poor at times in the cities, especially in Sharjah. Most of this is due to airborne desert sand and dust, though man-made pollution is also a factor. You can check the current air quality where you live on this website:



Safety – Man-Made Hazards

The UAE’s crime rate is generally very low. Though the rate is a little higher in parts of Dubai, you are very unlikely to experience trouble anywhere in the country. More serious crimes are rarer still, and walking the streets is usually safe day and night.

Nevertheless, the UAE is not so safe that you can leave your doors unlocked, and it would be a mistake to become complacent about petty crime. Pick-pocketing, theft from cars and other minor types of theft do still occur, especially in crowded areas and on public transport. It is therefore wise always to be aware of what is going on around you and keep your belongings safe at all times. You can help reduce the chances of theft by keeping high-value items such as mobile phones and laptops out of sight as much as possible.

Some expats have themselves added to the crime statistics by falling foul of local laws, which are very strict about certain types of behaviour. Ostentatious drunkenness, excessive public affection (certainly full-on kissing, but possibly even hugging), obscenity and dressing immodestly may end you up with a fine or a brief stay in a police cell. Being alone in the company of a member of the opposite sex can also lead to arrest. The police are more likely to take action against you for any of these misdemeanours during Ramadan, the Muslim holy month.

The UAE is generally safe for women, as the incidence of sexual assaults is very low. There is very little harassment of women in general, though it is more likely to occur on beaches.

Many Western governments, for example those in the UK, US and Australia, deem the terrorist threat in the UAE to be high. However, this is not borne out by the very low level of terrorist activity the country has actually experienced. Nor is it the judgement of members of UAE’s own security personnel. Nevertheless, it is prudent to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity you do see. 

Roads in the UAE can be hazardous, due to poor local driving standards. See ‘Driving and Public Transport’ for more information.



Emergency numbers that can be used in the UAE are 999 for the police, 998 for an ambulance and 997 for the fire brigade. Additionally, for a serious injury, you can dial 999 for a helicopter ambulance. The emergency operator will usually answer in Arabic, though English-speaking operators are available as are those of other languages on request.

Emergency Service





Everywhere in the UAE



Everywhere in the UAE

Fire Brigade


Everywhere in the UAE



Everywhere in the UAE



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