Qantas is just a week away from rerouting all of its Europe-bound flights through Dubai and Aussies are being warned about playing it safe due to the strict laws of the the United Arab Emirates.
Drinking in public, cavorting with members of the opposite sex or even sharing a taxi or hotel room with someone you’re not married to is an inprisonable offence.
The Muslim state is similarly tough with drug offences and active homosexual activity is illegal according to Sharia Law.
Eating or drinking anything and smoking in public during Ramadan – July 9 to August 7 in 2013 – is also forbidden.
In 2009, it was reported that more that 6,000 people had been stopped on Dubai’s beaches by police enforcing ‘decency laws’. Kissing, swimming in your underwear and leering at women are offences that could lead to trouble with the law.
“We have serious concerns about the safety of Australian travellers,” Radha Stirling, founder of Detained in Dubai told News.com.au.
“There are numerous dangers to westerners staying in or transiting through Dubai, and Qantas has yet to communicate how it intends to mitigate these.”
“It’s time Qantas was pressed to respond to these concerns to guarantee the safety of Australian citizens travelling on our national carrier.”
Qantas has moved its hub base from Singapore to Dubai following its partnership with Emirates airlines. However, 2 million Australians are estimated to be travelling through Dubai before the merger.
Travel Editor Helen Elfer, who lived in the UAE for two years says: “The majority of expats and holidaymakers have a problem-free stay, but that can give them a false sense of security in terms of their legal rights.
“For example you could run into trouble on a night out and need the support of the police – but if you’ve broken the law already (by drinking in public or going home with a member of the opposite sex) you might forfeit your right to their help.”
Here’s a video warning Aussies of the potential pitfalls of not observing local laws in Dubai (via News.com.au)