Travellers to Dubai face four main categories of security risk: Islamist terrorism, crime, demonstrations, and regional instability. While none of the four categories are prominent causes for concern while visiting Dubai, it is strongly advised that newcomers to the Middle East are aware of the inherent threats that may pose a risk to their well-being.
The UAE has historically been threatened by terror groups such as al-Qaeda, mainly due to the country’s positive stance towards secularism, and its support of the US-led counter-terrorism efforts. The Islamic State (IS) had also declared war on the UAE in Mar 2016, because of the country’s intervention against the Islamist threat in Yemen. The UAE suffered a terror attack that involved the killing of an American teacher by an IS-affiliated woman on 1 Dec 2014. In November 2015, 41 men were prosecuted for planning assassinations and bombings at malls and hotels, as well as attempting to raise an IS-like caliphate in the UAE.
Crime and demonstrations in the UAE are relatively low in comparison to that of its neighbours. These conditions are mainly the result of strictly enforced laws on public order, harsh punishments for violations, as well as effective law enforcement. However, newcomers to the Middle East are strongly advised to familiarise themselves on the laws regarding the use of alcohol, drugs, personal conduct, and public displays of affection that may be more stringent as compared to their respective country of origin, and adhere to these laws lest they run afoul of the authorities.
The UAE’s involvement in the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar may also pose the risk of regional instability should the situation escalate into possible military action by either side. Nonetheless, the diplomatic crisis, which began in Jun 2017, remains at a standstill, with only economic sanctions and a land, sea, and air embargo being placed on Qatar.