Photography Rules and Laws in Dubai

Dubai has established itself as a favorite tourist destination because of the numerous events hosted around the year, the landmarks it has built and the entertainment opportunities it provides. The best way to record the memories you create in the city, and take them back with you, is through photographs.

Grab a camera, step out into the city and click away! But just like the city has strict laws regarding banned materials in Dubai, there are a few photography rules anyone living in or going to Dubai should remember if he/she wants to stay out of trouble.

There have been numerous cases when residents and tourists were fined and/or imprisoned because of taking pictures in prohibited areas and not following the given guidelines. Make sure you aren’t the next in number by reading this guide and educating yourself.

Instructions

  • 1

    Don’t take pictures of women – especially UAE nationals


    You'll be offending a lot of women if you take their photographs. This is especially true in the case of Arabic/Muslim women because some consider it against their religious and cultural values.

    If you do have to capture them in a landscape picture, asking for their permission prior to taking the picture will save you a lot of trouble.

    Note: If a woman notices you taking her picture and asks you to delete them, oblige the request before she reports you to the authorities.

  • 2

    Seek permission


    There are times when you may want to capture a picture of children or a group of people; make sure you are honest and tell them the reason for taking the picture. Ask for their consent and if you are declined, don’t push it.

  • 3

    Be discreet


    Although a DSLR for a photographer is what clothes are to a body – inseparable – but carrying such a large camera will attract unnecessary attention and imply that the pictures are being taken for commercial purposes. Try and use the digital camera as much as possible since it is easier to carry and you can be discreet while taking pictures.

  • 4

    Ask nearby policemen to avoid misunderstandings


    There are times when there may not be any signs to stop you from photography but the area can be restricted. For example there was a case when two locals were fined when they took photos of the Yas Marina motorsport racing circuit even though it is a famous tourist and public place. So it is advised to ask nearby policemen, security guards or representatives of the place before taking pictures.

  • 5

    Do not take pictures of Royal Palaces


    There are usually warning signs placed around the royal places. But even if you don’t see one; do NOT take pictures. There have been many cases in which tourists and residents, in their innocence, click a few photos only to be fined by the authorities.

    This includes sensitive and government installations, airports, and the military bases. There have been many cases where people were fined/imprisoned or their cameras confiscated.

  • 6

    Don't offer Arabs money for photos


    Offering an Arab money for photos is considered an insult. Just ask for permission and most of them will be happy to smile for you. However, if you see any non-locals, laborers or workers, they'd be more than delighted to accept some money and pose for you.

     

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