Thursday, January 5, 2012

Drug restrictions in the UAE

A couple of weeks ago I got an email from my cousin, who was very alarmed by an article he had read recently regarding the UAE drug laws and several arrests that had been made in the country over tiny quantities of drugs and over-the-counter medications.  



For those of you travelling to the UAE, I’ll repeat what I said to him:

Yes, it is true. The UAE has a very strict, zero-tolerance drugs policy and possession of even the tiniest amounts of illegal drugs will get you into trouble.

Not really a surprise, since most countries also have similar rules and regulations in place when it comes to drugs, right?

Well, the difference is in what the UAE considers as illegal drugs…

Some medicines that you buy freely and with no control in pharmacies back home might be in the black list over here.

Possession of painkillers like codeine and even some cold and flu medication could mean trouble. And in this case, trouble means years behind bars.

With all this in mind, my advice to you is:

If you need to bring any medication into the country, contact the UAE embassy to check if these drugs are prohibited or controlled.

In any case, even if you are told your medications should present no problem upon entry in the UAE, I would recommend you bring the original prescription from your Doctor with you, just to be on the safe side…

I found a list of controlled medications on the internet (click here to see it). Although I am not 100% sure of its accuracy, it won’t hurt to have a look. It might give you an idea of the kind of restricted substances in the UAE.

I have tried contacting the Ministry of Health here in Abu Dhabi to see if I could get hold of an official list of restricted medications, but so far I had no luck. Once I finally do, I’ll post it here.

Meanwhile, if you’d like to give it a try, here is the contact info: drugcl.csc@moh.gov.ae / +971 2 6117239.

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