Dubai is one of the world’s fastest-growing tourist destinations. Over 14 million people visit the city each year, some for business as the city becomes an international trade and finance hub, and many for pleasure.
Dubai is a destination for international luxury travelers thanks to its many high-end hotels, fine dining scene, and other luxurious amenities.
Even those who are not normally luxury travelers cannot help but marvel at the city’s high-flying modern marvels, such as the towering Burj Khalifa, the many massive shopping malls, and the Palm Jumeirah development. For traces of old Dubai and its culture, visit the Al Fahidi Historic Neighborhood.
There are plenty of things to see in this storied city, making it a modern bucket list destination. But is Dubai safe to visit? Here’s our take.
Is Dubai Safe to Visit in 2023?
Yes. Dubai is very safe to visit. Although there is some risk of security threats such as terrorism, Dubai is one of the safest destinations in the Middle East.
It also has a very low crime rate. However, visitors should be mindful of Dubai’s strict laws and be careful not to do anything that violates local regulations. Dubai is part of the United Arab Emirates, a federation of semi-independent kingdoms.
Travel advisories for the United Arab Emirates generally advise some caution but say that it is overall safe to visit. The New Zealand government advises visitors to exercise increased caution in the United Arab Emirates due to the threat of terrorism and armed conflict but says that it is still safe to visit Dubai.
Other countries, such as the United States, also advise visitors to exercise increased caution when visiting Dubai and any other parts of the United Arab Emirates. They cite the same reasons — the risk of terrorism and armed conflict.
Dubai itself isn’t actively at war with any nation, but it is located in a region with ongoing conflicts. There have been situations of attempted attacks on Dubai, such as an attempted drone attack on the United Arab Emirates in 2022 launched by Houthis in Yemen and other militant groups.
Militants have announced their intention to attack Dubai due to the kingdom’s involvement in regional conflicts. Observers are also concerned that regional conflicts, such as the Israel-Hamas war raging in Gaza, may increase the threat of terrorism in Dubai.
While the Dubai authorities have debunked recent reports spreading on social media of terrorists targeting Israelis in Dubai, there is still a risk of future attacks.
Dubai and Emirati authorities are very alert to potential threats and are working to keep residents and visitors safe. While it is normal to be worried about certain risks, you shouldn’t let them put you off from visiting.
Visitors should be aware that the city’s laws are very strict, and tourists and foreign residents have been arrested in Dubai before for seemingly minor offenses, such as verbal disputes or drinking a glass of wine on the plane to Dubai.
Detention in Dubai can be arbitrary, and it can be expensive or legally impossible to extricate yourself from legal trouble. To minimize your risk of legal trouble while in Dubai, be sure to obey local laws.
Some travel advisories, such as the one issued by the United Kingdom, have a list of the most common regulations foreigners get tripped up on.
In Dubai, avoid:
- Importing anything that could be interpreted as pornography
- Anything related to drugs, including products legal elsewhere, such as CBD
- Drinking outside of legally approved venues such as hotels
- Appearing intoxicated in public
- Criticizing the government online or making mean comments about others
- Dressing immodestly in public (especially if you are a female traveler)
- Public displays of affection
Finally, be mindful of the weather in Dubai. Dubai is hot all year round, with summers, in particular, becoming unbearable. The Dubai tourist board offers advice for visitors to stay safe in the heat, such as wearing sunscreen, drinking plenty of water, and staying indoors during the hottest part of the day.
Ready to Book?
Unlock Exclusive Discounts on Expedia.com!
Crime in Dubai
In part due to the harshness of its laws and legal punishments, Dubai has a very low crime rate. The crime rate is one of the lowest in the world. According to the Dubai police, the overall crime rate is 33.7 incidents per 100,000 people, which is very low.
One of the most common categories of crime in Dubai is drug-related offenses, at 8.4 incidents per 100,000 people, or about 25% of the total crime rate.
The violent crime rate in Dubai is even lower than the overall crime rate. Violent crimes only make up about 21% of the total crimes committed in Dubai. The most common violent crime is robbery, which has a crime rate of 3.1 incidents per 100,000 people.
The most common criminal offense in Dubai is theft, which has a crime rate of 9.9 incidents per 100,000 people. Theft makes up about 30% of the total crime rate in Dubai.
The rate of other property crimes, such as burglary and grand auto theft, is fairly low. The crime rate in Dubai is very, very low. Although you can still be the victim of some petty offenses, such as petty theft or pickpocketing, the risk of these offenses is extremely low.
When it comes to crime, Dubai is probably one of the safest tourist destinations in the world. You should still exercise some precautions when moving around town, such as not being careless with your valuables, but you don’t have to worry a lot about being the victim of a crime in Dubai.
Theft is the most common category of crime in Dubai. This broad category of crime includes pickpocketing, which is one of the most common crimes in Dubai.
Pickpocketing can happen anywhere, but common targets include:
- Areas around ATMs
- Bus stations, the Dubai Metro, and other areas around public transportation
- The beach
- Popular tourist areas such as malls and clubs
Pickpockets use common scam tactics to work their victims. Pickpockets will intentionally bump into their victims, then when they are picking each other up, rob their wallet.
Others use distraction to steal from victims, such as spilling something such as betel juice on you and offering to help you clean up. Whenever something like this happens, immediately hold onto your valuables.
Make sure that you put important items, such as your phone or wallet, in a secure place, such as a front pocket. If you are carrying a bag, make sure that it zips closed and that you hold it close to your body when walking through crowded areas such as souks or the metro.
Besides outright theft, scams are common in Dubai. When walking around the souks, be careful of aggressive touts and vendors, as they are notorious for overcharging tourists.
If you decide to purchase luxury goods, make sure that you go to reputable shops and do some research ahead of time on reputable vendors to avoid getting overcharged for counterfeit goods.
Theft from Vehicles
It makes sense that one of the most common crimes in car-centric Dubai is theft from vehicles. In a place where even tourists rely on rental vehicles to get around, criminals know that cars provide valuable targets (especially since people become complacent due to the low crime rate and forget to take basic precautions).
Although the risk of being the victim of a vehicle break-in is low, it is still possible. Make sure that you never leave your valuables unattended in your car when you park it, especially not for a longer period of time.
If you have to leave items in your car, such as a bag, always put it somewhere hidden. Smaller items should go in the glove compartment (preferably locked), while bigger items should go in the trunk, where they are hidden from view.
Never leave your car unlocked, and especially don’t leave it running with the keys in the ignition (although this is a common stunt people do for viral online videos to prove that Dubai is safe, it is also illegal by Emirati law).
Even if you’re stepping away from your car for a few minutes, lock the doors and close the vehicle as thieves take advantage of people looking away quickly at places such as gas stations. Besides thefts from vehicles, you should worry about thefts of some personal vehicles.
Theft of bicycles and electric scooters is fairly common, with thieves targeting vehicles parked outside of businesses or in Metro stations. Always make sure that you lock up your bike or scooter carefully if you are using one.
Avoiding Bad Areas
Dubai is so safe that there are no places that you need to avoid completely. However, there are some areas that have a reputation for having a higher crime rate, including:
- Sonapur, a ghetto for migrant workers
The nearby emirate of Sharjah also has a slightly higher crime rate than Dubai.
Things to Consider
Here are a few additional safety tips for visiting Dubai:
- Avoid statements that are positive about Qatar. For years, diplomatic relations between the two Gulf countries have been broken off, and showing support for Qatar in Dubai is illegal. Don’t wear Qatar jerseys or mention supportive comments about the country.
- Be careful when swimming. The beaches are sometimes dirty, so check with locals if they are safe to swim in. Obey posted signs and flag warnings. Swimsuits are legal on the beach but not anywhere else, so make sure that you cover up modestly when leaving the beach.
- Many people explore the desert around Dubai during their trip. It is safer to go with a reputable safari group than on your own. Take extra water, hydration tablets, and food, and protect yourself from the sun.
- If you are traveling during Ramadan, make sure to follow local norms. Dress modestly in public. During Ramadan, eating and drinking in public outside of restaurants is frowned upon due to its offense towards those fasting.
- Avoid all drugs. Don’t even take drugs before visiting Dubai, as having drugs in your bloodstream counts as possession. Penalties are very severe.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some common questions people ask about visiting Dubai safely:
Is it safe to go to Dubai for tourists?
Dubai is very safe for tourists due to its low crime rate and low security risks. However, tourists must follow local laws as well, so make sure that you do so.
How safe is Dubai for female travelers?
Dubai is one of the safest destinations in the Middle East for female travelers. Most women who visit the city report feeling safe walking around, even at night.
Is Dubai safe to walk at night?
Yes, Dubai is safe to walk at night. However, keep in mind that Dubai is not a very walkable city outside of certain parts, even during the day.
What threat level is Dubai?
Most countries have Dubai and the United Arab Emirates under a Level Two travel advisory, meaning that visitors should exercise increased caution while in town. There is some concern that security threats from the region could affect Dubai as well.
Why is crime so low in Dubai?
Dubai’s strict laws and heavy penalties for even minor infractions are probably responsible for the city’s low crime rate. Jail serves as a powerful deterrent against the threat of crime.
Should You Book a Trip to Dubai?
Dubai is safe to visit in terms of crime as it has a very low crime rate and is mostly immune from safety threats in other parts of the region. However, visitors should be very careful to follow local laws. Happy travels!