A new law has made it illegal to carry sharp tools and knives in the UAE unless they are required for a professional job.
The country revised its penal code and introduced Article 405 in September 2021, making it illegal to carry sharp tools and knives. The rule came into force this month.
The article covers cutting, piercing, smashing or stabbing tools. Anyone flouting the rule will be sentenced to jail, fined or both.
Before the law was issued, a person found in possession of sharp objects such as knives, meat cleavers or axes, did not break the law unless the objects were used to harm someone.
In 2020, Dubai Criminal Courts heard 135 cases that involved the use of sharp weapons including knives, swords, metal bars, crowbars and hammers.
Experts believe the new legislation will help in reducing the number of assault cases in the country.
“Carrying sharp weapons was not considered illegal according to UAE laws unless the person carrying them was involved in a crime such as assault or armed robbery,” said Dr Hasan Elhais, from Al Rowaad Advocates in Dubai.
“But the new article of the penal code criminalised the act and restricted carrying such objects to people whose professions require them to do so, like carpenters or butchers.
“This is a natural progression of the country’s legal system that is focused on providing a safe environment for all and working towards preventing crime.”
Ahmed Ibrahim Saif, senior judge at the Dubai Civil Court and former chief justice of Dubai's Criminal Courts, said the new law was a “precautionary measure” to help prevent serious crime.
“It will contribute to a drop in the number of cases such as assaults and armed robberies,” he said.
He said it had been easy for young people, in particular, to carry sharp tools because it was not a crime. But the new law will deter people from acting in the heat of the moment and committing crimes.
“They will consider that if any incident of physical assault takes place involving the use of sharp weapons, they will be prosecuted not only for the assault but for also carrying the weapon,” he said.
During his 10 years of service at Dubai Criminal Courts, Mr Ahmed said he saw numerous unfortunate incidents of assaults and thefts that involved young men carrying weapons.
“This change in the law will help in crime prevention and protect people and it's the legislator's role to enact laws that prevent crimes from happening, not just penalising offenders,” he said.
Now, police officers can stop and question people if they are found with any sharp tool and this will help in stopping crimes from taking place, Mr Ahmed said.