Teenage Issues

Information on some of the issues which affect young people including teen pregnancy, alcohol and drug use and the laws surrounding them in Dubai...

There are very strict regulations regarding drug use and pregnancy in Dubai, and it is illegal to drink as a teenager.

Teenagers and Alcohol

The legal drinking age is 21. It is strictly prohibited to let anyone under the legal drinking age consume alcohol, even if they are with their parents and/or at home.

Foreign parents may obtain licences to buy alcohol, but children may not use this licence to purchase alcohol.

Should families encounter problems with alcohol abuse, there is a branch of Alcoholics Anonymous in Dubai.

Teenagers and Drugs

Controlled substances such as cannabis, opium and heroin are banned in Dubai. In addition, the UAE's tough anti-narcotics programme also includes poppy seeds on its list of controlled substances, which are commonly used for culinary purposes in many cultures. It is not permitted to import or possess poppy seeds in any form. There are heavy penalties for the possession and use of illegal substances, as well as trafficking in illegal substances in Dubai.

Foreign residents of all ages need to be aware that a number of drugs usually taken under a doctor's supervision (such as codeine) are classified as narcotics in Dubai. It is essential that a doctor's prescription is carried along with any medication which is being used while in Dubai. A maximum of three months supply of medication is allowed. Anyone suspected of being under the influence of drugs, can be asked to submit blood and/or urine for testing.

The minimum age for buying cigarettes in Dubai is 21.

  • For information from Dubai Government on banned items: Click here

Teenage Pregnancy

The rate of teenage pregnancy in Dubai is extremely low and it is an offence to be unmarried and pregnant in Dubai. Unmarried expatriate women are expected to either get married or return to their home country for the delivery. A marriage can take place in the UAE if both parties are at least 18 years old, but for those under the age of under 18 a judge decides if the marriage can take place.

  • For information on pregnancy laws in Dubai: Click here

Sex education is not a widely covered topic in state schools, although schools in the private sector may address the subject more openly.


Abortion is illegal in the UAE. An exception can only be made if the pregnant woman's life is endangered. In this case permission is only given if a gynaecologist performs the abortion with the approval of a doctor who specialises in the condition that is threatening the woman's life. In addition, the doctor must draw up a report stating the circumstances when an abortion is justified and this must be signed by the woman's husband or guardian to indicate his approval of the abortion.