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Country Reports

United Arab Emirates Country Report

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Risk Level

Low
Moderate
Elevated
High
Very High
Severe
Extreme

Overview

Executive Summary

The crown prince's consolidation of power will increasingly centralise policy-making and prioritising establishing the UAE as the US's most reliable regional security partner. The Emirates is unlikely to face a serious internal threat over the coming year. The UAE has invested heavily in its domestic security apparatus and improved its counter-terrorism capabilities. The risk of militant attacks is moderate, despite the federation's staunch opposition to Islamist groups. Militant attacks, should they occur, will probably be restricted to small -scale shooting or crude IED attacks in public spaces.

Last update: March 27, 2018

Operational Outlook

The UAE has an advanced transportation infrastructure and local governments rely on large-scale infrastructure investments to stimulate growth. Bureaucracy can be an obstacle, although it is reduced if businesses are located in the free-trade zones and also if partnered with influential local actors. The UAE is highly dependent on foreign labour and the risk of sporadic labour unrest is most often linked to non-payment of wages and, occasionally, poor working conditions. The threat of deportation remains a significant deterrent strike action.

Last update: March 27, 2018

Terrorism

Elevated

UAE's participation in the anti-Islamic State coalition makes it a target for jihadists, with well-secured airports, ports, and energy facilities likely aspirational targets. Well-paid security forces, stringent selection criteria, an extensive civil surveillance network in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, as well as minimal tolerance for religious extremism reduces the probability of jihadists establishing themselves in the country and the risk of successful attacks. The risk of militant attacks is moderate, with the most likely scenario being a small-scale low-capability attack targeting Western expatriates or security forces in public spaces.

Last update: March 27, 2018

War Risks

Moderate

The UAE lacks the military capability to defend itself in a conventional interstate conflict. Diverging priorities for GCC members, along with the GCC's minimal collective combat experience, will ensure the United States remains a considerably more important security guarantor for the UAE than other Gulf states. Interstate war risk in the Gulf has increased to moderate given the United States' more aggressive posture against Iran. Despite the decline in Iranian naval harassment of US and Arab Gulf naval vessels, there is an elevated risk of contained naval incidents near undemarcated waters with the UAE. Escalation into a broader conflict is unlikely and contingent on US support.

Last update: March 27, 2018

Social Stability

Moderate

The state's zero-tolerance for dissent, including online, presents a low risk of business disruption from political or social activism. The government has adopted a tough stance, classifying all forms of dissent against the state as acts of terrorism. Cash hand-outs and a generous welfare system reduce the risk of economically motivated unrest taking hold. Political activists instead are likely to concentrate on lobbying the government through tribal Majlis' and Diwaniyas (traditional social public gatherings hosted by tribal leaders including senior officials and rulers), with a portion of Islamist opposition supporters opting to adopt jihadist causes instead.

Last update: March 27, 2018

Health Risk

Moderate

Vaccinations required to enter the country

No vaccinations are required to enter the country.

Routine Vaccinations

Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.

Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.

Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).

Other Vaccinations

Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).

Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).

For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.

Last update: November 28, 2013

Natural Risks

High

Finally, it should be noted that dehydration is a significant risk during the summer due to extreme temperatures. Summer also often brings sand storms and floods, such as the floods that struck Abu Dhabi in April 2011. This severe weather is not rare. In 2014, several cities in central and northern UAE were hit by floods, mostly due to insufficient or failing drainage infrastructure.

Last update: February 13, 2018

Transportation

Moderate

Dubai international airport is considered to be one of the most important in the world, with one of the highest number of yearly passengers (80 million in 2015). It serves 260 destinations on all continents, thanks to Emirates Airline.

Al Maktoum airport is the secondary airport in the city and mainly serves Cargo flights.

Abu Dhabi international airport is expanding with Etihad airways, Emirates Airline's rival.  

All flights to and from Qatar have been suspended since June 6, 2017, until further notice due to a diplomatic rift.

The US government has announced that passengers flying non-stop to the United States from the UAE will be banned from transporting any electronic device larger than a standard-sized smartphone (16 cm x 9.3 cm x 1.5 cm / 6.3 in x 3.5 in x 0.6 in) in carry-on luggage. This includes laptops, tablets, e-readers, cameras, DVD players, and video games, which will have to be stowed in checked luggage for the duration of the flight.

Luggage is strictly controlled at the airport. French diplomatic authorities recommend to their citizens that Emirati authorities have the power to accept or decline entrance to foreigners. Many French nationals have been declined entrance to the UAE (even in Dubai) by border police and have been sent back to their country of origin. No explanation is provided to travelers sent back to their country of origin. However, it is part of preemptive counterterrorism measures taken by local authorities. The road network is very good, however driving could be dangerous. Car accidents are frequent due to bad habits of drivers and dangerous driving, especially by youth on Thursday and Friday evenings due to speeding   and animals crossing the road. Authorities are very strict with regards to traffic laws. Automatic radar traps are widely used and fines can be expensive. The UAE has a "zero tolerance" policy on drinking and driving.

If going off-road in the desert, it is advised against going alone. Inform someone of your itinerary, check your vehicle, be sure to have means of communication, mechanic tools, and enough fuel and water. In general, rental cars do not have insurance for going off-road.

Taxis are available in major cities and are trustworthy. They all have a metric system. Uber is available throughout the country.

Emirates Express buses connect Dubai and Abu Dhabi, with departures every 40 minutes between Al-Ghubaibah (Dubai) and Hazza bin Zayed terminal (Abu Dhabi). The travel time is around 2 hours. The Al Ghazal bus company also connects Dubai to Sharjah.

Travel by sea is possible, however the waters in the Gulf are politically sensitive. Some areas are forbidden to access. Coast Guard patrols are frequent. It is important to have your passport at all times. 

Last update: February 13, 2018

Practical Information

Climate

The UAE has an arid-subtropical climate and is characterized by high temperatures and low levels of rainfall.

Summers are very hot and humid and winters are generally mild. From December to March temperatures range between 10°C and 30°C and can climb as high as 48°C with humidity rates of 100% in the summer.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +971
Police: 999
Fire Dept.: 999
Ambulance: 999

Electricity

Voltage: 220 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

Last update: January 31, 2014