Crime in the United Arab Emirates

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
UAE police vehicle

The crime rate in the United Arab Emirates is relatively low[1][2] compared to more highly industrialized nations.[2] Incidents of petty crime such as pickpocketing are low.[1] The United States Department of State states: "Crime generally is not a problem for travelers in the UAE. However, the U.S. Embassy advises U.S. citizens to take normal precautions against theft, such as not leaving a wallet, purse, or credit card unattended. Although vehicle break-ins in the UAE are rare, U.S. citizens are encouraged to ensure that unattended vehicles are locked and that valuables are not left out in plain sight".[3]


Although terrorist attacks are rare, the United Arab Emirates has been listed as a place used by investors to raise funds to support militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan.[4] Businesses based in the UAE have been implicated in the funding of the Taliban and the Haqqani network.[5] In January 2022, a terrorist attack against three oil tanker trucks and an under construction airport extension infrastructure occurred in Abu Dhabi. The attack was conducted by the Houthi movement and killed 3 civilians.[6]


Incidents of cybercrime are increasing. In 2002, there was a 300% rise in computer hacking within six months. According to experts, the United Arab Emirates is among the top ten countries which are most vulnerable to attack by hackers.[7] White-collar crime includes embezzlement of funds, fraud and bribery.[8]


The UAE is a drug transshipment country for traffickers due to its proximity to Southwest Asian drug producing nations.[9] Drug trafficking is a major form of crime in the UAE,[10] and the nation has a zero tolerance policy towards illegal drug use. Possession of the smallest amount of illegal drugs is punishable by a minimum of four years' imprisonment[11] and a maximum punishment of death.[12]

Money laundering[edit]

The UAE is vulnerable to money laundering due to its position as a major commercial driver in the region.[9] The UAE leadership has taken several measures for combating organized crime. A law was enacted in January 2002 for the purpose of curbing money laundering.[10] However, despite government efforts to combat money laundering, regulation of banking is still developing.[9]

Washington-based Center for Advanced Defense Studies released a report that US sanctioned war profiteers, terror-funders and drug traffickers have been long-using Dubai's real-estate market as a money-laundering haven.[13]

In a report published in April 2020, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) questioned the UAE’s system despite what it called “significant steps” to strengthen regulations, including new legislation in 2018 and 2019.[14] In its 2020 assessment, FATF called the Emirates' limited money laundering prosecutions a “concern” and urged the country to strengthen its measures.[15] In November 2021, the UAE submitted a report to FATF, but the country failed to achieve a number of thresholds.[16] On 4 March 2022, FATF placed the UAE in its grey list of countries subject to increased monitoring, due to the shortcomings in addressing the issue of money laundering and terror financing. The organization said that the Emirates made “significant progress” in enhancing its systems, but there was still a need for improvements in several areas.[17] [18]


According to the Global Study on Homicide, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the homicide rate in the UAE in 2012 was 2.6 per 100,000.[19] The average global homicide rate for that period was 6.3 per 100,000 population.

Human trafficking[edit]

Porous borders and proximity to war-affected countries like Iraq increase the problem of human trafficking into the UAE.[20] Trafficking into the country is generally of young boys and women. The most usual purpose of such trafficking is involuntary servitude, employment in deceptively undeclared adverse and abusive conditions, and sexual exploitation.[2]

Involuntary servitude and abusive labor conditions[edit]

In 2006, young boys continued to be trafficked into the country for the purpose of being used as camel jockeys.[2][21] There were many camel jockeys working in the UAE under inhumane conditions; a program to gradually replace exploited child jockeys with robot jockeys was initiated.

The number of human trafficking cases officially notified in the UAE has been falling. In the first half of 2014, reports of three cases of human trafficking were received by the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children (DFWAC) compared to 12 in the same period of 2013.[needs update][22]

A report from the US Department of State into Trafficking in Persons: UAE in 2021, concludes that violations of Emirati labor laws in which signs of human trafficking were present, were not routinely investigated by authorities, and "efforts to identify ... forced labor victims and male victims, remained weak and data collection remained insufficient."[23] The report also noted: "The government did not report convicting any labor traffickers during the reporting period and historically has not reported any forced labor convictions."[23]

Sexual exploitation[edit]

According to the United States Department of State's 2021 report into Trafficking in Persons: UAE, the country's most recent annual statistics were prosecutions in nineteen sex trafficking cases, compared to thirty-eight in the year before:[23]

...during the reporting year the government prosecuted 54 individuals in 19 sex trafficking cases, zero individuals for forced labor crimes, and three individuals in one child forced begging case across the seven emirates, compared with 67 individuals in 38 sex trafficking cases the year prior. Officials reported conviction of 15 sex traffickers and administered sentences ranging from one to seven years' imprisonment, with the vast majority of perpetrators receiving three years or more with additional fines and subsequent deportation at the conclusion of sentences. During the previous year, the government convicted 33 sex trafficking defendants under trafficking laws and handed down similar punishments.

Women trafficked into the country for sexual exploitation were reported, in 2007,[needs update] as being trafficked from: Syria, Iraq, Russia, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Romania, Moldova and its disputed constituent Transnistria, Ukraine, Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda, Morocco, India, the People's Republic of China, the Philippines, Iran and Pakistan.[24]


  1. ^ a b United Arab Emirates Archived 2008-08-29 at the Wayback Machine Government of Australia, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
  2. ^ a b c d "United Arab Emirates". Archived from the original on 2015-05-29. Retrieved 2008-08-26.
  3. ^ United Arab Emirates Archived December 19, 2008, at the Wayback Machine United States Department of State
  4. ^ Walsh, Declan (December 5, 2010). "WikiLeaks cables portray Saudi Arabia as a cash machine for terrorists". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on December 15, 2016.
  5. ^ "US embassy cables: Afghan Taliban and Haqqani Network using United Arab Emirates as funding base". The Guardian. December 5, 2010.
  6. ^ Charbel Mallo and Celine Alkhaldi. "3 killed in suspected Houthi drone attack in Abu Dhabi". CNN. Retrieved 2022-01-17.
  7. ^ Lawrence M. Salinger (2004). Encyclopedia of white-collar & corporate crime. SAGE. p. 44. ISBN 0-7619-3004-3.
  8. ^ Lawrence M. Salinger (2004). Encyclopedia of white-collar & corporate crime. SAGE. p. 45. ISBN 0-7619-3004-3.
  9. ^ a b c United Arab Emirates The World Factbook
  10. ^ a b Lawrence M. Salinger (2004). Encyclopedia of white-collar & corporate crime. SAGE. p. 46. ISBN 0-7619-3004-3.
  11. ^ United Arab Emirates Archived 2008-09-01 at the Wayback Machine Foreign and Commonwealth Office
  12. ^ "RAK drug traffickers sentenced to death by firing squad". 12 February 2010.
  13. ^ "Report describes Dubai real estate as money-laundering haven". ABC News. Retrieved 12 June 2018.
  14. ^ "UAE Faces Risk of Inclusion on Global Watchlist Over Dirty Money". Bloomberg. Retrieved 3 January 2022.
  15. ^ "Anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing measures in the United Arab Emirates" (PDF). Middle East and North Africa: Financial Action Task Force. Retrieved 1 April 2020.
  16. ^ "UAE Faces Risk of Inclusion on Global Watchlist Over Dirty Money". Bloomberg. Retrieved 4 January 2022.
  17. ^ "United Arab Emirates placed on money laundering 'gray list'". International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. 4 March 2022. Retrieved 4 March 2022.
  18. ^ England, Andrew (4 March 2022). "Financial crimes watchdog puts UAE on 'grey list'". The Financial Times. Retrieved 4 March 2022.
  19. ^ "Global study on homicide".
  20. ^ Fikree, Sawsan (October 30, 2007). "Fight human trafficking". Archived from the original on 18 September 2008.
  21. ^ Richard Giulianotti, David McArdle (2006). Sport, Civil Liberties and Human Rights. Routledge. p. 15. ISBN 0-7146-5344-6.
  22. ^ "Sharp fall in human trafficking cases in UAE". Retrieved December 4, 2014. [needs update]
  23. ^ a b c Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (2021). 2021 Trafficking in Persons Report: United Arab Emirates (Report). United States Department of State. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  24. ^ Atul Aneja (6 December 2007) "Dubai declares war on human trafficking" The Hindu [needs update]

External links[edit]