In this guide you will find everything you need to know about smoking in Dubai. Are you planning your trip and wondering if you can smoke in Abu Dhabi or Dubai? When traveling, it becomes crucial to familiarize yourself with the laws, regulations and cultural norms of the country you intend to visit. This becomes even more significant when traveling to the Middle East. While Dubai and Abu Dhabi are generally perceived as open-minded destinations, it is important to note that local laws are rigorously upheld, and any breach could lead to severe consequences.
Therefore, it is essential to gain an understanding of the smoking laws of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. If you are a smoker, you will surely have to deal with these rules. You need to ascertain whether and where smoking is permitted – for instance, whether smoking is allowed in restaurants, hotel rooms, on the beach, and in public areas. This comprehensive guide will provide you with all the necessary answers, along with a wealth of additional information that will undoubtedly prove invaluable to fellow smokers.
Can You Smoke in Dubai & Abu Dhabi?
The short answer is: yes, you can smoke in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. However, when it comes to smoking in the UAE, there are certain rules and nuances that every visitor and resident should be aware of. Whether you’re an avid smoker or simply curious about the local smoking scene, this insider’s guide will provide you with the essential information you need.
Just to clarify, when we refer to smoking, we are specifically discussing smoking cigarettes. This also encompasses e-cigarettes, well-known shishas, and pipes, as long as they are used solely for tobacco. In the UAE, you can legally smoke tobacco as long as you adhere to local regulations, but you absolutely cannot smoke drugs. The UAE has stringent drug laws, and even possessing a minimal amount could result in imprisonment and substantial five-figure fines.
Moreover, while the topic is subject to debate, the import and usage of chewing tobacco, snus, paan masala, gutka, and other tobacco-based products are considered illegal. It’s worth noting that since 2008, all forms of smoking in public areas, including shisha smoking, have been prohibited in the Emirate of Sharjah. Presently, the UAE’s National Tobacco Control Committee aims to enforce a comprehensive ban on smoking in public areas, underscoring the importance of staying well-informed about swiftly evolving laws.
Smoking Rules in Dubai and Abu Dhabi: A Unified Approach
Dubai, along with its neighboring emirate Abu Dhabi, maintains a consistent approach to smoking regulations. Both cities adhere to the same rules, ensuring that visitors can navigate the local smoking culture without confusion. While Dubai exudes cosmopolitan flair and Abu Dhabi embraces its heritage, their stance on smoking remains harmoniously aligned.
Cigarettes, E-cigarettes, Vapes and Shisha: What’s Allowed?
When it comes to smoking in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, adults above 18 years have the green light for cigarette, e-cigarette, vape, and shisha usage. Streets, private homes, personal cars, designated hotel rooms, bars, and nightclubs welcome smokers. However, malls, taxis, and parks have a strict no-smoking policy.
Traditional cigarette smoking remains the prevalent form of tobacco consumption in Dubai. There is no legal age limit for smoking, but you are required to be at least 18 years old to purchase cigarettes or tobacco products. Lighting up in non-smoking zones or carelessly discarding cigarette butts can result in fines.
The global rise of e-cigarettes and vaping is evident in Dubai, where these alternatives are embraced without reservation. Unlike some countries that ban e-cigarettes due to health or economic concerns, Dubai’s approach is progressive. You’ll encounter people confidently puffing away on their e-cigarettes while strolling along the city streets. Vape enthusiasts will find an array of dedicated shops dispersed throughout Dubai.
Shisha, or hookah, represents a significant cultural facet of smoking in the Middle East, and Dubai is no exception. Embracing this heritage, the city allows individuals aged 18 and above to partake in the communal ritual of shisha smoking. No formal license is required, making it accessible to both locals and visitors. From traditional cafes to upscale restaurants and desert safari tours, shisha experiences are readily available. However, pregnant women are prohibited from entering cafes that serve shisha.
Smoking Laws in Dubai and Abu Dhabi
When it comes to smoking in Dubai, there are specific rules and regulations to be aware of. The use of normal cigarettes, e-cigarettes, vape pens, and other tobacco products is legal, but only within designated areas where smoking is allowed. These areas often include outdoor smoking cabins strategically placed to minimize inconvenience to non-smokers.
One must always exercise caution and avoid smoking in prohibited zones to avoid fines. Government buildings, malls, schools, offices, parks, and shops are strictly smoke-free areas. Anyone caught smoking in these restricted locations could face fines of up to AED 500 (approximately $136).
Smoking is generally allowed on the streets. However, smoking in public places is prohibited during Ramadan, the holy month observed by Muslims. To respect local customs, it’s courteous for non-Muslims to refrain from smoking, eating, and drinking in public during daylight hours. Enjoying a smoke within a mall is a no-go. However, outdoor smoking cabins are conveniently located in parking lots, providing a designated space for smokers. Smoking in closed public spaces is prohibited, and shisha cafes are restricted from operating within 150 meters of residential areas, schools, and mosques.
Smoking is strictly prohibited in government buildings, houses of worship, educational institutions, health and sports facilities. To accommodate smokers, outdoor smoking cabins are typically positioned near entrances and parking areas. Smoking within airports is strictly banned, but designated smoking areas are available, often located near main gates.
Smoking in the car is allowed, but there’s a restriction when traveling with children under 12. For the wellbeing of young passengers, smoking is not permitted in such cases. If you are traveling in a rental car, ask the car rental company (and read the contractual conditions carefully) to find out if smoking is allowed in the car. Often car rental companies do not allow smoking in the car, out of respect for customers who will come after you, as the cigarette smell would be difficult to remove. This could lead to hefty fines and extra cleaning costs. Read our Dubai Car Rental guide here.
Can you smoke on the beach in Dubai? Currently, you can smoke on the beaches in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, as long as you are outdoors and in an area where it is not clearly prohibited (there are no prohibition signs). However, it is forbidden to smoke shisha on the beach, and you shouldn’t smoke if there are children around. Of course, you must not dispose of cigarette butts on the beach. Be cautious, as some beaches may be designated as non-smoking areas.
Can you smoke in Dubai restaurants? Smoking is generally prohibited in restaurants, except in special cases where there are areas specifically set up for smokers. Many restaurants have outdoor seating areas where smoking is permitted.
Respecting Ramadan and Local Customs
During Ramadan, the fasting month observed by Muslims, smoking in public places is prohibited between dawn and dusk. However, smoking is permitted in private spaces like homes, designated hotel rooms, and indoor cafes within hotels during fasting hours. It’s a gesture of respect to refrain from smoking in public areas during this holy period.
FAQs on Smoking in Dubai
Where to Buy Cigarettes and Tobacco in Dubai and Abu Dhabi?
Tobacco products, including cigarettes, are available for purchase at supermarkets and small convenience stores.
What are the cigarette prices in Dubai and Abu Dhabi?
If you’re wondering about cigarette prices, Dubai’s stricter regulations have caused a significant price increase. The Dubai Health Authority has implemented measures to curb the habit. A 100 percent excise tax on tobacco sales implemented in 2017 effectively doubled the price, a pack of cigarettes now costs around 21 Dirham. This regulation has not only aligned Dubai with international anti-smoking trends but also significantly impacted the cost of smoking in the emirate.