Public Displays of Affection in Dubai

There’s nothing like indulging in public displays of affection for a lot of couples. After all, what harm can holding hands, giving a peck on the cheek or even kissing on the lips do to anyone, right? That may be the case in a lot of European and Western countries like the USA, France and Italy. But Dubai, like every other city in the world, has its own rules dictated by the societal, cultural and religious connotations.

Since it is a Muslim dominated city and the laws are governed by Islamic values, kissing in Dubai may get you in jail and/or deported at most, and receive disapproving looks from people around you at the minimum.  Recently a British couple was jailed for one month when a child saw them smooching and touching in public. So it is better to be safe than sorry.


  • 1

    Can you go to jail for kissing in public?

    Yes you may be locked up in the prison if you’re caught kissing in public, specially during Ramadan. Ramadan is one of the most blessed months of the Islamic calendar that teaches abstinence and patience. If anyone finds you kissing your partner in public and reports it to the police, you can get into trouble.

  • 2

    Is a peck on the cheek in public acceptable?

    You may give somebody of the same gender a kiss on the cheek to greet him/her (because this is how it is done in some Arabic customs). But if a passerby or the police finds any intimacy in the act, then it may be considered a homosexual act – something which can land you in jail.

  • 3

    Can the opposite gender be kissed when greeting?

    Seeing people of the opposite genders kissing each other while greeting is often seen. This is acceptable, even tolerated by people of orthodox values. But make sure it isn’t done unabashedly.

  • 4

    Kissing at the airport

    It is common for expatriates or tourists to kiss their partners on the lips while at the airport. This may be acceptable (for opposite gender couples, only). But it is advised not to make the kiss too lengthy or sexual in nature, neither should you indulge in french kissing if you don’t want to create any trouble with the authorities.

  • 5

    Exceptions to the rule of kissing and public displays of affection

    - Technically, the rules are same for everyone – whether married or unmarried. But they are more strictly practiced if an unmarried couple is found kissing. This is because married couples doing that may still be tolerated. But unmarried couples are more stringently penalized and fined since it goes against the basic teachings of Islam and the culture of Dubai.

    - Affectionate behavior may be more tolerated in nightclubs and bars like Keva Nightclub and Butterfly Nightclub & Restaurant than in shopping malls or parks. A little intimacy may also be allowed in concerts like Dubai Rugby 7 where alcohol is freely available. However, make sure the activities do not include groping or other kinds of sexual acts because these will not be tolerated.

  • 6

    What may increase the penalty?

    The penalties for kissing in Dubai or indulging in sexual acts include prison term, fine and even deportation. If alcohol is involved and people are found to be drunk while kissing, the imposed penalties can be even more severe.

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