Ever asked yourself is it illegal to carry pepper spray in Dubai and the UAE? Here is what you need to know as an expatriate.
12 January 2021| Last updated on 7 October 2022
Pepper sprays are a portable and easy self-defence tool, but is it allowed?
The threat of assault is a terrifying feeling, one that many women living abroad may be familiar with, especially if you're a new expat in a new country. It's important for everyone to be aware of some protective and self-defense measures when moving about.
Most expats will already be familiar with a variety of ways to practice self-defence, such as carrying pepper spray. But before you order one online or bring one with you into the UAE from abroad, you must ask yourself: is pepper spray allowed in Dubai?.
Here we look at what is pepper spray, why it's popular as a defence method in other countries, and what the UAE law says about using pepper spray.
What is pepper spray?
Pepper spray is an irritant spray that contains an active inflammatory ingredient called 'capsaicin'. When it comes into contact with someone's eyes, it can cause strong burning sensations, pain, tears, and redness.
The same capsaicin is found in the spicy heat of chili peppers, which makes pepper spray a very effective defensive tool as it typically contains higher concentrations of capsaicin.
Pepper spray is popular in several European countries, the United Kingdom and North America as a method of self defence for women due to its non-lethal effects, small size, and ease of use. It also helps protect the user from attacks without resulting to physical force.
Law enforcement in some countries such as the USA use pepper spray for policing and crowd control as well.
Is pepper spray legal in Dubai?
According to UAE law, owning and using pepper sprays in Dubai is illegal.
In fact, pepper spray is one of the most commonly seized items at Dubai International Airport, which also includes counterfeit goods, restricted medicines, narcotics and weapons (as per a Gulf News article).
Under UAE Federal Law No. 3 of 2009 regarding Weapons, Ammunition and Explosives, a weapon is defined by authorities as:
- Air guns
- Sound guns
- Flare guns
- Hunting gus
- Vintage gun
- Stun guns
Any firearm parts, components or spare parts will also be considered firearms by the law. Pepper sprays are considered a weapon by authorities due to the physical harm it may cause another person.
Only UAE nationals are allowed to carry weapons, but are required to have a licence or permit to own one (such as guns). Emirati citizens are also permitted to carry a limited amount of firearms ammunition, but are prohibited from presenting or using one in a public space.