Public Displays of Affection in Dubai

Public displays of affection can be quite romantic between couples. After all, what harm can holding hands, giving a peck on the cheek or even stealing a quick kiss do to anyone, right? Well, that may be the case in a lot of European and Western countries like the US, 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 the most, or attract disapproving looks from people around you at the very least.  Recently a British couple was jailed for one month when a child saw them smooching and touching each other in public.

If you are visiting Dubai with your partner, you should know the following rules and regulations regarding public displays of affection in the city.


  • 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, especially during Ramadan. Ramadan is one of the most blessed months of the Islamic calendar and teaches abstinence and patience.

    If anyone finds you kissing your partner in public and reports it to the police, you'll be spending some time in holding at least.

  • 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 such act to be inappropriate for public display you can be taken into custody.

  • 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 you should make sure that it is platonic and not inappropriate.

  • 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 to keep it civil and as discreet as possible. The more you boldly you act the more attention you draw to yourself, which ultimately means more trouble for you.

  • 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.

    Unmarried couples are more stringently penalized and fined since it goes against the basic teachings of Islam and the culture of Dubai.

  • 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 get worse.

  • 7

    Places in Dubai where public affection is acceptable

    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 any activity is consensual and not inappropriate for public.

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