All Need To Know About UAE Criminal Law in 2024

The UAE criminal law is the set of rules that regulate the conduct of people and the sanctions for people who commit crimes. Criminal law in the UAE follows sharia or Islamic law. Furthermore, it incorporates elements of civil law and common law. Criminal law in the country covers a wide range of crimes. That is, from the most serious ones such as rape, homicide, or terrorism to the most minor ones such as defamation, theft, and alcohol consumption.

In this article, we will explain everything you need to know about the UAE criminal law in 2024. The first thing will be to show you a brief summary of the most important items of criminal law. In addition, we will teach you what the main differences are between civil law and criminal law. You will also see the rights that victims have and how the criminal process develops in the country. Finally, we will show you the most important crimes along with their respective punishment. If you want to know more about the UAE criminal law, keep reading and discover how it works and how it can affect you.

Overview the Basics of Criminal Law in UAE

UAE criminal law

To understand the UAE criminal law, you have to first understand what a crime is. The definition of a crime is the same in any jurisdiction. However, the procedure for establishing the guilt of the offender or imposing the sentence varies depending on the territory. Furthermore, it is essential to know the complexities of criminal procedures.

You have to know that the criminal procedure can be overwhelming or cumbersome. Especially for foreigners due to language and cultural barriers. That is why in this section we will give you a guide with essential information regarding the criminal process.

File the criminal case: The first and most important step for a victim is to report any criminal act. To do this, you just have to file a complaint against the accused at the nearest police station. The complaint in question must include all the details about the incident in a series of events. You should know that in some cases the police officer may refuse to accept the case because it is outside the jurisdiction of the police station.

Legal or court costs for filing a complaint: Unlike civil lawsuits, the plaintiff does not have to pay legal fees or court fees to file his or her claim against the attacker. However, you may incur attorney fees for legal representation before criminal courts.

What happens after registering a complaint? After filing a complaint, the police department will review the evidence in the case. That is, the documents and evidence collected during the investigation. The police report needs to be sent to the prosecutor once it is complete. The prosecutor has the obligation to prepare his report and conduct his investigation to determine whether the suspect is guilty.

Difference Between Civil and Criminal Law

Civil law is responsible for governing private relationships between people. While in criminal law it is part of public law due to criminal acts. The UAE criminal law is what punishes crimes. For a person to be guilty of a crime, the prosecution must prove it. Furthermore, this will be a crime against all citizens, not just the person who made the complaint.

Civil law cases include different branches. For instance, the law of people, family, obligations, property, and inheritance. Therefore, it is important not to confuse civil cases with criminal cases. Civil law usually deals with issues of divorces, marriages, inheritances, buying and selling or renting homes, etc.

Concerning criminal law cases, the State uses several means to punish citizens who commit crimes. The purpose is to punish people for behavior that harms society as a whole. Thus, public order can be maintained, and the safety and integrity of property and people are guaranteed.

In other words, it is a right that aims to convict people after committing crimes. Regardless of its severity, the point is that it affects the entire society. At the time when a person faces an accusation of breaking a specific law. The prosecutor makes a formal accusation or accusatory report against an attacker. In this case, the accuser is the State and the representative of the prosecutor or assistant. While the person made available is the attacker.

An interesting difference between civil law and criminal law’s punishments. Under criminal law, the attacker may have to pay very high fines or even jail time. However, in civil law, the dispute can be resolved with economic negotiation or a sanction imposed by a judge.

Exploring Types of Crimes with Harsh Punishments in the UAE

In the United Arab Emirates, each emirate has its own judicial system. Each of them results in different punishments and penalties throughout the country. Punishments and penalties may vary but crimes can be broadly divided into different crimes. Among them, in dogmatic, punitive, blood money, and repressive crimes. This is according to the current UAE criminal law.

Below you will see the most serious criminal offenses in the UAE and their subsequent penalties.

Drug-Related Offenses

All residents, citizens, and visitors of the UAE need to be aware of the zero tolerance towards drugs in the country. In the United Arab Emirates, there are strict laws and policies at the local and federal levels to combat drug and drug trafficking.

In particular, on the issue of drugs, there is federal law number 14 of 1995, which is specifically on drug control. Additionally to taking into account certain psychotropic substances named in the narcotic drug law. Specifically, it is the prohibition on the obtaining, export, import, transportation, sale, purchase, possession, and abuse of narcotics. It also takes into account other acts and activities on the topic of drugs.

In the narcotics law, drugs are classified into two classes, which are:

  • Narcotic drugs: That is, any artificial or natural substance belonging to annexes 1,2,3, and 4 of the narcotic drugs list. For example, cannabis, cocaine, heroin, methadone, nicomorphine, opium, and more.
  • Psychotropic substances: That is, any artificial or natural substances belonging to lists 5,6,7, and 8 in the narcotic drug law. For example, butalbital, barbital, etinamate, aminorex, and other similar ones.

On the other hand, in the United Arab Emirates, under Articles 24 and 27 of the Narcotic Drugs Law, medical abuse of any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance is reduced. This law specifies the following aspects:

  • A pharmacy cannot dispense psychotropic substances or narcotics. With the exception that you have a prescription from a consulting physician official to practice the profession. Specifically, medicine or veterinary medicine in the UAE.
  • The director of a pharmacy must keep a prescription. In addition, the date of dispensing of psychotropic substances must be specified. Except having a medical prescription from a consulting doctor.
  • Finally, a medical prescription is valid for a single use only.

Sexual Assault and Related Crimes

Sexual crimes are covered in the UAE criminal law in articles 358, 359, 361, and 362. Specifically, Federal Law no. (3) of 1987 about criminal law. Below you will see a brief description of these items:

Article 358: This article establishes that the person who openly commits a shameful and indecent act must face a sanction. Specifically, a custodial sentence of at least six months or more. If a minor commits the act under 15 years of age, the duration will be extended to 1 year or more, despite not openly committing.

Article 359: Article 359 states that a person with the intention to dishonor a woman verbally or physically in a public place has to face punishment. Which will be a prison sentence of a maximum of 1 year and 10,000AED. The judge may decide to impose two sentences or sentence only one of the sentences in question. You have to know that the same penalty is compulsory for people wearing women’s clothing who enter women-only places.

Article 360: Anyone who publicly transmits lewd gestures or messages to passers-by in public places must face a sanction. Specifically, it will be imprisonment for a minimum duration of six months.

Article 361: People who intend to make lewd speeches, sing, appeal, and seduce someone have to face punishment. This will be a prison sentence lasting a maximum of six months and a fine of at least 5,000AED.

Article 363: Inciting or persuading a minor, man or woman, to engage in prostitution or helping them in the act, must face punishment. It has to be a minimum prison sentence of two years and a fine.

Traffic-Related Offenses

On July 1, 2017, the modified federal traffic law of the UAE came into force. In this way, the new regulations aim to further protect the lives of road users. In addition, it is able to reduce traffic victims. Therefore, in criminal law, we find the following traffic laws:

  • Every passenger in a car must wear their seat belt. In this way, there are also those who go in the back seat. Failure to do so will result in the driver being fined AED 400 and receiving four black points.
  • Reckless driving carries a fine of AED 2,000, 23 black points and the vehicle will be impounded for a period of 60 days.
  • Other violations include blocking traffic, swerving, running red lights, and driving without a license plate.
  • If drivers are caught under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, their license will be suspended for a period of one year. In addition, the court will be in charge of deciding the fine and/or prison sentence.
  • Ignoring traffic lights carries a fine of AED 1,000 and a fine of 12 points. In addition, they will confiscate your vehicles for a month.
  • Using phones while driving or any other type of distraction will result in a fine of AED 400 and four black points.
  • Exceeding the speed limit by 80 mph will result in a fine of AED 3,000, 23 black points, and vehicle confiscation for 60 days.
  • Other violations include littering, overtaking on the shoulder, jaywalking, using expired tires, illegally transporting passengers and not leaving a safe distance between vehicles.

Financial Crimes and Fraud

In the criminal law in UAE, you can see different crimes related to financial crimes and fraud. For this reason, we will present you with the crimes related to these:

Money laundering: The perpetrator of a money laundering crime, according to article 2 of the AML law; is a person who has the knowledge that the funds that have been laundered were obtained from an illegal activity. In addition, the product is moved or rearranged or the money/product is positioned to disguise or hide its origin.

Fraud: In Article 451 of the UAE Penal Code, the unlawful appropriation of property, whether for the same person or another or obtaining benefits will be considered fraud if it deceives the victim using fraudulent methods. In this way, any act of fraud is punishable by a fine or jail.

Breach of trust: According to article 453 of the UAE penal code, a person will be punished with imprisonment or a fine if he does the following: embezzles, disperses, or uses money or any property, furniture, or documents, with the intention of cause harm to their legitimate owners. This is when they are delivered to the said person on the basis of a mortgage, lease, consumer loan, or agency.

Murder and Homicide

When we ask what is criminal law, we are referring to laws that prohibit certain acts. In this way, legally speaking, murder is said to be the killing of a person by another person who performs the act without the permission of authority or the law. Federal law number 3 of 1987 of the penal code is the one that covers crimes such as murder in the UAE,

This law outlines the penalties for crimes that endanger people’s lives and safety in the UAE. For this reason, you find many expert criminal lawyers. In this way, it is important to know the difference between civil and criminal law

According to Article 26 of federal law number 3 of 1987, crimes were divided into three categories. These are felonies, infractions, and misdemeanors. In this way, crimes are classified based on the punishment that their commission entails. Therefore, in the UAE, murder is classified as a serious crime and the penalty is life imprisonment.

Why Dubai Is the Safest City in the World

If you ask yourself what is the crime level in the UAE? It is important to see why Dubai is the safest city in the world. Furthermore, it is important to remember that 80% of Dubai’s inhabitants are made up of foreigners. They are attracted to the high-end lifestyle and the opportunity to earn tax-free income.

However, this is not the only attraction that Dubai has. This is because, in a recent ranking of countries where people feel safe walking independently at night, the first place was taken by the UAE. Furthermore, you find that Dubai for many years had as its main motivation being the safest refuge.

For this reason, the UAE government’s initiatives and attention to public safety are an essential part of attracting the world’s best entrepreneurs and talent to Dubai. According to multiple economic indices, including the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Safe Cities Index and the Smart Cities Encyclopedia, Dubai leads in more than 11 personal safety metrics.

On the other hand, Dubai has many private security services that can keep people safe. In this way, it helps the city position itself at the top of safety indices. For this reason, if you want Private Security services in Dubai you can count on Emirati Guard.

Evolution of Criminal Law in the UAE and the Role of Technology

When you refer to What is criminal law in UAE? You must talk about how it has evolved and the role that technology has played in this. Furthermore, information technology began to drive almost every aspect of modern life. Among these changes are communications, law, economics, commerce, and business development.

In addition, this has also led to the evolution of cybercrime, which has caused companies to apply solid data protection policies. They even have the purpose of criminal law software to combat these new crimes and improve the response to other types of crimes.

The UAE is a reference point throughout the world. Therefore, the government always takes measures to improve laws and regulations to adapt to changes. In this way, they make changes such as the UAE labor law.

In this case, criminal law is not far behind and has evolved to adapt to changes. For this reason, technology plays an important role since, currently, many processes are automated or perfected thanks to it and this case is no exception. Furthermore, cybersecurity in Dubai is a reality that many companies must consider to protect important information.


UAE criminal law

The main objective of the new UAE penal code is to protect women, domestic staff, and public security in the country. Furthermore, it is important to know everything about it in order to avoid committing any crime. Dubai is practically the safest city in the world today and it is thanks to measures like these.

Therefore, if you want to know more about the penal code you can consult experts on the subject. In addition, they can help you answer questions such as, what is the most common crime in Dubai? In this way, if you want to know more about security measures or topics related to security, do not hesitate to visit our blog, here you can find a lot of information about security in Dubai.