Your rights being an ex-pat in UAE

UAE is home to people from different nationalities. Its maximum population is ex-pats. People from Arab states, Asian countries, and the West come here in search of quality life experiences. People come here with the dream of getting settled. Hence, they need to be aware of the rules and regulations for living here.

As 80% of the population of UAE is expats, the rights and rules in UAE are mostly designed for them. Before moving to UAE, you should know the conservative laws in UAE. Knowing the laws, you will be able to clearly understand your rights as a citizen of the UAE.

Being an Islamic State, UAE has strict laws for its citizens as well as ex-pats. It follows strict Islamic laws and binds its citizens to them as well.

Ownership of Property:


People who leave their country, seek a proper residence in the country they are moving to. They want a place to settle in. When people move to other countries, they put their struggle into owning property there.

Expats get two types of ownership in the UAE.

  • Leasehold property ownership allows buying a property on the lease of 99 years. In such ownership, the buyer gets full rights on the property except for getting the property.
  • Freehold property gives full ownership of the property to the buyer. He has the authority over the property and structure built on it.

UAE does not allow ex-pats to buy freehold property ownership in all the areas of the state. There are some restrictions and restricted areas.

Expats are also not under tax obligations in UAE but must consider the tax obligations imposed by their own country.


UAE gives some of the most favorable inheritance laws for ex-pats. As it is an Islamic state, it follows Islamic Shariah laws strictly. These laws apply to all whether Muslims or non-Muslims. But UAE allows ex-pats to request for applying for personal law status in dealing with inheritance issues. You have the right to claim your case dealing according to the law followed in your country or your religion. Other than that, it follows the laws set by Islamic shariah. Also, for ex-pats, UAE takes the ownership of the property without any successor to it. So, ex-pats should be fully aware of their rights in such cases.

Laws on public drinking:

UAE is a Muslim state, it does not allow drinking in any case. As an ex-pat, if you are non-Muslim, you can get special permission for alcohol consumption.

Non-Muslims can get a license for buying alcohol in specific restaurants and bars, under particular circumstances.

Non-Muslims are allowed to drink only in licensed hotels and restaurants.

Alcohol consumption in public is strictly prohibited. If you are caught drinking you can directly land behind bars.

Driving after drinking is also a criminal offence. You can end up stuck in serious problems if caught drunk driving or travelling drunk in public transport (and that vehicle gets into some sort of accident).

Expats can purchase alcohol with permission. For this, you need to have a minimum salary of AED2000. The quantity is fixed for purchase based on your income. This is so you cannot buy in bulk amounts.


Relationships are a serious matter in UAE. You should be aware of the strict law and rights available to you in this matter.

You cannot have a relationship or live in a relationship with someone. This is strictly prohibited and can get you into Jail. Also, if you are caught living with someone without marriage it is considered a sin and will be punished. You can get a three-year jail sentence. This law is for ex-pats as well.

Homosexuality is also a crime in UAE.

Divorce and Custody issues:

As an ex-pat in UAE, you can avail of some specific rights in the cases of divorce and custody. Being a woman ex-pat, if you file for a divorce in  UAE, you have the right to get custody of your kids. This is possible if you are earning well. Otherwise, you will be dealt with according to Islamic law, or your case will be dealt with in the court of your country.

A woman can even divorce the husband if he is not supporting the family financially or is abusive.


If an ex-pat dies in UAE, his/her visa ends there and then. The same will happen with his family if he is the sponsor of his family. The whole family will get a period of at least a month to leave the country. They can return to UAE, by applying for a visa again or on a tourist visa.

After death, all the properties and accounts of the ex-pats are ceased, until all the loans and debts are cleared. Also, ex-pats can design a will for their family to avoid these complicated circumstances.

Rape and Exploitation:

Rape is a crime and is punished by the death penalty. Similar is the case with sexual crimes as well. Being an Islamic state, such practices are strictly not allowed, and crimes can result in irrevocable punishments.

Labour laws:

People move to UAE in search of better job opportunities. But many of them are not aware of the frauds that can hit them. To avoid this, ex-pats must be aware of their rights as an employee or workers in UAE.

Get a clearly defined contract, its terms, and conditions. Make sure that the employment is strictly under the rules set by the UAE government. Further, ensure that you are getting the wage following the minimum wage rules declared by the government. Expats should be aware of their judicial rights in employment.

High working conditions should be maintained for both employer and employee. You have the right to work in a safe environment without threats. Moreover, you can do a case against your employer if he unreasonably fires you or files an absconding report against you just to not pay you the income.

People prefer to get a driving license as early as possible to ease their travelling. An ex-pat has the right to get a car and a driving license as well. Though you can get a license, you need to drive very carefully. Slight disobedience can get you in trouble. You can also get deported if you are found breaching any rule.

Hence, UAE may seem fascinating but is a different culture to set in. It gives many rights to ex-pats, who is its major population chunk. But it is also very strict about its laws, rules, and demands. Full obedience to laws is required to survive in the state.

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