Air travellers warned of dangers of carrying prescription drugs into the UAE

Passengers told they must have medical certificate when entering or leaving the country or risk prosecution

A picture take on September 14, 2017 shows people walking at Dubai's International Airport . / AFP PHOTO / GIUSEPPE CACACE
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Air travellers have been warned they could land in jail if they are found carrying prescription drugs without a medical certificate.

Officials at Dubai International Airport say they expect to welcome 90 million passengers by the close of the year - and are eager for passenger not to get grounded and risk being arrested.

Under UAE law, people caught with prescription drugs face prison terms of between six months and two years, and a possible fine of Dh10,000.

“Individuals travelling from this country carry prescription medicine from time to time," said Brig Mohammed Ahmed Al Mazrouei, assistant director general of Operations at Dubai Airport, who handles passengers travelling from the UAE. "They are required to show medical certificates."

Among prescribed medications that requires medical certificates is tramadol, a pain medication. “Tramadol is among the medications that requires medical certificates,” said Brig Al Mazrouei.

Anyone coming to the UAE carrying tramadol or other prescribed medications without a medical certificate will be questioned and their case will be transferred to Dubai Public Prosecution.

While millions of people passing through Dubai International Airport each and every month, many are still unaware of the laws governing their travel.

Around 39 million passengers used Dubai Airport in the past five months, Dubai Police said.

As well as awareness of medication requirements, airport staff and police often deal with unruly behaviour from drunken passengers.

“Police are well trained to deal with passengers who behave unpleasantly due to consuming alcohol," said Brig Al Mazrouei. "Strict procedures might be taken against those who lose control due to their alcohol consumption, such as conducting a blood test for them."

Meanwhile, Maj Gen Ahmed Mohammed bin Thani, assistant to the Dubai Police Chief for Port Affairs, urged travellers to ensure their passports were valid and had at least six month remaining before expiry.

"This is a huge mistake and results in their trip being cancelled,” said Maj Gen bin Thani.

At the launch of an awareness campaign for travellers, Maj Gen bin Thani, along with officials from Dubai Police, Customs, General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) and Emirates Airlines, urged people to abide by the rules.


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Officials said passengers are taking less time to pass through the airport due to new technologies and smart gates. More than 120 smart gates have been installed at the airport.