The UAE is a very different place compared to the Western side of the world. Depending upon where you’re coming from, you might have to adjust to more than just the change in time zones. Moreover, the kind of life you can expect here can have a profound impact on the type of culture you witness.

While the outdoors is all subject to public legislation, private establishments and residences have laws of their own. For example, you can’t walk around in a bikini even if you’re on a beach in Dubai. Whereas, if you’re paying for a private beach at a resort, you can do anything you want.

However, not all of us are born in the emirates and most of us aren’t aware of the type of things the UAE has in store for us. So, to make things easier, let’s take a look at some important legal information that will surely help you during your stay in the country. Especially if you are hoping to be employed in the UAE, make note of the following points of the UAE Labour law

Annual Holidays

As per the law, you have roughly 14 national holidays that are mandatory for private as well as public firms. These include New Year’s Eve, Islamic New Year, Eid ul Adha and Eid ul Fitr, Arafat Day, National Day and Commemoration Day.

Other than this, your annual leaves will be 2 days per month if you’re completed at least 6 months in the company. After you’ve completed your first year, you will have a total of 30 annual leaves that you can take throughout the year.

Working Hours

As per Article 65 of the UAE Labour Law, the normal working hours for the private sector is set at 8 hours per day or a total of 48 hours per week. Whereas, if you’re working for the government sector, you will have a total of 7 hours per week. It’s crucial to note that the government sector isn’t governed by the UAE labour law. Any more than the specified number of hours and the government will take the employer to court.

Can Your Employer Keep Your Passport?

No. Your employer does not have the right to keep your passport without having you sign a written contract granting your consent. So, never hand in your passport to your employer unless they need it for copies and documentation processes. Even if your employer says that you can have your passport back at your termination of employment in the UAE, don’t hand it in. They can’t keep your passport under any circumstances.

Moreover, if you’ve been granted a residency visa, your employer can not charge you for it even if they offer you a monthly payment plan for it. As per the law, it’s the responsibility and burden that the employer needs to shoulder. It doesn’t matter even if your contract is terminated. You are not going to be required to pay anything for your visa.

These were some of the important aspects of the UAE labour law that you needed to know. Coming over to the customs and traditional laws of the country, here’s what you should know:

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Public display of affection is strictly prohibited. You are not allowed to kiss your partner in public, even if you’re married. Not only will this result in significant fines, but it can also get you deported and locked up in jail.


Drinking alcohol in public is illegal. You can face serious charges for loitering the streets in an intoxicated state. That also means that you can’t appear in public if you’re under the influence. While other countries may just stop you from driving, the UAE will prosecute you for misdemeanour for even walking drunk.

You can’t drink even in verified hotels unless you have a permit which doesn’t work if it’s not signed by the officials of the emirate. Similarly, the legal drinking age is 21 and if you’re a Muslim, you can’t drink.

Residential Laws

Almost all tenancy related issues are handled by departments such as DLD and RERA through apps like Ejari. Therefore, you can seek legal counsel and aid in all your tenancy disputes if you just install the application that connects you to officials.

All agreements made between landlords and tenants need to be submitted to the government for verification and records. Any party/parties found violating the law will be prosecuted and will serve severe sentences for their crimes.

Other than this, the common issue that people are facing today concerns the force majeure clause of the residential agreement. This law states that your tenancy agreement is subject to change should unforeseen circumstances prohibit you from completing the term of the contract. Given the pandemic situation, people are seeking help in this regard.

As it’s clear now, you need legal help in the UAE and that’s why it is recommended that you get in touch with top law firms that can offer their services. So, make sure that you’re well protected and don’t do anything to cause trouble.