UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

UAE Flag
Country Description: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a federation of seven independent emirates, each with its own ruler. The federal government exists as a constitutional republic, headed by a president and council of ministers. Islamic ideals and beliefs provide the conservative foundation of the country's customs, laws and practices. The UAE is a modern, developed country, and tourist facilities are widely available.

Passport and/or Visa Requirements: A passport and visa are required. In addition, an AIDS test is required for work or residence permits; testing must be performed after arrival. A U.S. AIDS test is not accepted. For further information, travelers can contact the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates, Suite 600, 3000 K Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20007, telephone (202) 338-6500.

Medical Facilities: Basic modern medical care and medicines are available in the principal cities of the UAE, but not necessarily in outlying areas. U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. In some cases, supplemental medical insurance with specific overseas coverage has proven useful. Additional information on health matters can be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's international travelers' hotline at (404) 332-4559 or via the CDC home page on the Internet at http://www.cdc.gov.

Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: Crime is generally not a problem for travelers in the UAE. The loss or theft of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Useful information on safeguarding valuables, protecting personal security, and other matters while traveling abroad is provided in the Department of State pamphlets, "A Safe Trip Abroad" and "Tips for Travelers to the Middle East and North Africa." They are available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402.

Drug and Crime Penalties: Travelers are subject to the laws and legal practices of the country in which they travel. Penalties for possession, use or trafficking in illegal drugs are strict in the United Arab Emirates and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines. Legislation enacted in January 1996, imposes the death sentence for convicted drug traffickers. Crimes of fraud, including passing bad checks and non-payment of bills (including hotel bills), are regarded seriously in the UAE and can result in imprisonment, as well as fines. Penalties are generally assessed according to Islamic (Shariah) law. In the case of imprisonment, bail is generally not available to non-residents of the UAE.

Dual Nationality/Child Custody: The UAE government does not recognize dual nationality. Children of UAE fathers automatically acquire UAE citizenship at birth and must enter and leave the UAE on UAE passports. UAE authorities will usually confiscate the U.S. passports of dual (UAE/U.S.) nationals. This does not constitute loss of citizenship, but should be reported to the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi or the U.S. Consulate General in Dubai. Child custody decisions are based on Islamic law. It is difficult for an American woman, even a Muslim, to obtain custody of her dual national (UAE/U.S.) children through the UAE courts.

Business Disputes: American citizens may become involved in disputes of a commercial nature involving the withholding of the American citizen's passport by the local individual or firm. It is customary for a local sponsor to hold an employee's passport, but it is not required under UAE law. Most such disputes can be avoided by clearly establishing all terms and conditions of employment or sponsorship in the labor contract at the beginning of any employment. Should a dispute still arise, the UAE Ministry of Labor has established a special department to review and arbitrate labor claims. A list of local attorneys capable of representing Americans in such matters is available from the Consular and Commercial Sections of the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the U.S. Consulate General in Dubai.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: Traffic accidents are a leading cause of death in the UAE. While road conditions are generally good, unsafe driving practices are common, especially on intercity highways. Traffic safety laws, including speed limits and seat belt regulations, are only selectively enforced, especially for UAE citizens. On highways, wandering camels, unmarked speed bumps and drifting sand create additional hazards.

New country-wide traffic laws impose stringent penalties for certain violations, particularly driving under the influence of alcohol. Penalties may include hefty jail sentences and fines, and, for Muslims, lashings. Persons involved in an accident in which another party is injured automatically go to jail until the injured person is released from the hospital. Should a person die in a traffic accident, the driver of the other car is liable for payment of compensation for the death (known as "dhiyya"), usually the equivalent of $41,000. Even relatively minor accidents may result in lengthy proceedings, during which both drivers may be prohibited from leaving the country.

UAE residents must obtain a UAE driver's license in order to drive. Visitors may obtain one-month temporary licenses by presenting their valid foreign license, a copy of their valid UAE visa, and the required fees. Car rental agencies can usually process the request for a temporary license on behalf of their clients. The UAE recognizes driver's licenses issued by other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states only if the bearer is driving a vehicle registered in that GCC state. Under no circumstances should anyone drive without a valid license.

Embassy Location and Registration: U.S. citizens who register at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate General can obtain updated information on travel and security within the UAE. The U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, is located on Al-Sudan St., P.O. Box 4009. The telephone number is (971) (2) 436-691. The U.S. Consulate General in Dubai is located at the Dubai International Trade Center, P.O. Box 9343. The telephone number is (971) (4) 313-115.

The workweek in the UAE is Saturday through Wednesday.

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