UAE legal Q&As: What does the law say with regard to taking photos or shooting video

What happens to someone hosting a party in their home if their alcohol licence has expired and the police show up?

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Q: What are your rights and what does the law say with regard to taking photos or shooting video in Dubai when there are no signs indicating that filming or photography are prohibited but a police officer stops you anyway?

A: Taking photos or shooting video in public places isn't prohibited unless explicitly stated. However, critical installations, strategic and military locations, for instance, can't be photographed for security reasons.

When there is no sign and no security fears, taking photos is permissible as long as the action does not infringe on the privacy and the freedom of others, or if people are photographed or filmed against their will. Regardless, you must comply with police orders to stop taking photos in a given place, even if photography isn't banned, for police can use their discretion to make such decisions to protect someone's privacy or for any other reason.

As for your rights, as long as you don't commit any illegal act, you can't be arrested or charged. Should you disregard the police order to stop taking photos, you may be taken to the police station, where you would have to sign a pledge.

Q: If I'm hosting a party at my home and serving alcoholic beverages and then the police show up to conduct a surprise inspection and find out that my alcohol licence has expired, would I get arrested?

A: Home searches are not conducted without a proper warrant from public prosecution and only following investigations proving that a crime has taken place.

If there was a warrant and your home was searched and you had an expired alcohol licence, you would be charged with abusing alcoholic beverages without a licence. Article 3 of Dubai's alcoholic beverage control law of 1972 stipulates: "No person, except in cases and under conditions set out herein, shall import, export, produce, obtain, abuse or provide any alcoholic beverages."

If the licence is only a few days expired, the police would give the person a few days to renew.

Q: I've never seen handcuffs on a policeman; do they carry them?

A: Policemen always have all the necessary tools and equipment they need to apply the law. Not seeing them does not mean they don't have them. Officers do not carry their tools in their hands, they are kept in designated places in their uniform until they are required.

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