Dubai: Riskiest place in the world for the unaware traveler

We wrote here on Gadling about Dubai arresting people for having a spec of marijuana on their shoes while transiting through the airport, and then sentencing them to 4-years in Dubai Central Prison.

I’m currently in Dubai and in the 3 days that I’ve been here I’ve heard of 4 stories of acquaintances in jail for having 0.02 grams of hash on them — all that happened at the airport on “Bush Day“.

I don’t know how they manage to sniff out people with 0.02 grams of hash on them. They say that the customs have some high-tech sensors that pick up on it, but there is no security check of consequence on the way out; your hand bag does get screened, but that’s after passport control and there isn’t any walk-through detector.

There’s a lead story in today’s Guardian that talks about the same and how Dubai has the longest list of banned substances, possession of which leads to imprisonment. The list includes: codeine, poppy seeds and many well-known anti-depressants.
Actually, in theory, people traveling through Dubai who have consumed drugs in another city if stopped and questioned can be asked to give a urine sample for a drug test. If the test is positive, the person can still go to jail. This happened to a close friend of mine who went to Goa on holiday and got stoned every night. They picked him up on a random advertising agency drug raid a few years ago, and he was sentenced to 4 years.

I flew here on a resident visa and because of these nonsensical laws, I was paranoid that in the blood test I have to do to validate my resident visa, they might see traces of marijuana that I might’ve inhaled passively in some of Madrid’s bars. However, looks like they don’t test for drugs in this case.

I understand that Dubai wants to be 100% drug-free but some of the arrests they are making are just ridiculous. I could have been walking in Amsterdam before I got onto my flight to Dubai, and a spec of some illegal substance could have remained on my shoe — that would give me 4 years of jail in Dubai. Come on! Besides, you can’t do anything with a spec of any drug!

By implementing such strict laws, the Dubai authorities have definitely scared tourists and residents alike, but I think they need to be more realistic and reasonable about the arrests they make and the subsequent sentences.