Travel Alert Status
Level 4: Do Not Travel
Safety and Security
U.S. citizens in the United Arab Emirates should exercise a high level of security awareness. The Department of State remains concerned about the global threat of terrorism, including the possibility of terrorist attacks against U.S. citizens and interests in the Persian Gulf and Arabian Peninsula. Both historical and current information suggest that al-Qaida and affiliated organizations continue to plan attacks against Western targets; these attacks may employ a wide variety of tactics including suicide operations, assassination, kidnapping, hijacking, and bombing. U.S. citizens should maintain a low profile, vary routes and times for all required travel, and treat mail and packages from unfamiliar sources with caution. In addition, U.S. citizens should avoid contact with any suspicious, unfamiliar objects and report the presence of the objects to local authorities. U.S. government personnel overseas have been advised to take the same precautions. U.S. government facilities may temporarily close or suspend public services from time to time as necessary to review their security posture and ensure its adequacy.
Taking photographs of UAE military, sensitive civilian sites or foreign diplomatic missions – including the U.S. Embassy or Consulate General – may result in arrest, detention, and/or prosecution by local authorities. In addition, engaging in mapping activities, especially mapping that includes the use of GPS equipment, without coordination with UAE authorities, may have the same consequences.
On several occasions in past years, small groups of expatriate recreational boaters were detained by the Iranian Coast Guard for alleged violation of Iranian territorial waters while fishing near the island of Abu Musa, approximately 20 miles from Dubai. The UAE and Iran have had a long-standing dispute concerning jurisdiction of Abu Musa. Fishing or sailing in these waters may result in seizure of vessels and detention of passengers and crew in Iran. Obtaining consular assistance in Iran is difficult and can only be done through the Swiss Embassy in Tehran, which acts as a Protecting Power, providing limited U.S. consular services.