APH highlights and laws and customs of top 14 most visited “culture-clash” countries

With several countries adopting a more conservative attitude towards visiting tourists, including the Egyptian government’s announcement that they were banning alcohol licensing in new developments outside of Cairo, Airport Parking and Hotels (APH) is helping UK holidaymakers to understand the lesser-known laws of certain holiday destinations.

 

Location

Alcohol and food

Dress-CODE

GOING-OUT

RElationships

ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR

RELIGIon

Abu Dhabi
(United Arab Emirates)
Food

  • Importing pork products is illegal

Alcohol

  • Legal age: 18

Alcoholic drinks are served in licensed hotels and clubs but hotels can only serve alcohol to those over 21 years old

  • It is a punishable offence to drink or to be under the influence of alcohol, in public

Punishment

  • Offenders can be fined, jailed or deported
Women

  • Must dress modestly when in public areas
  • Clothes should cover the upper arms and legs, and underwear should not be visible
  • Swimming attire should be worn only on beaches or at swimming pools

Punishment

  • Offenders can be jailed or deported
Dancing

  • Dancing is allowed in residential homes or licensed clubs but is considered indecent and provocative in public

Punishment

  • Deportation
  • Homosexuality of any sort is illegal, as is cross-dressing
  • Public displays of affection are considered rude and disrespectful
  • Sexual relationships outside of marriage are illegal and non-married couples cannot cohabit in hotels

 

Punishment

  • If any offenders are brought to the attention of the UAE authorities they run the risk of prosecution, imprisonment and/or a fine and deportation
  • Spitting, swearing or making rude gestures is considered an obscene act and is viewed very seriously. This includes “road rage”
  • Care should be taken when dealing with the police and other officials

Punishment

  • Offenders can be jailed or deported
  • All UAE countries are Muslim. Respect should be given to their traditions and places of worship
  • During the holy month of Ramadan; pay attention to religious and cultural sensitivities. Do not eat, drink or smoke in public view during the daytime as this is considered disrespectful

 

Punishment

  • Offenders can be jailed or deported
Bahrain No unusual laws regarding this Women

  • Bahrain is the most liberal of the Gulf States, however women should be respectful and not wear see-through clothing or dress overly provocatively in public

Punishment

  • None
No unusual laws regarding this
  • Homosexual behaviour is not illegal but the Bahrain penal code does give broad discretionary powers to law enforcement agents and the courts to punish people for engaging in activities deemed to be immoral or a danger to public order. The lack of clear definition of terms such as “immorality”, gives tremendous discretionary power to police and judges regarding sexuality
  • Public displays of affection are considered rude and disrespectful

 

Punishment

  • Offenders can be jailed or deported. There have been cases of tourists being arrested for kissing in the street
No unusual laws regarding this
  • During the holy month of Ramadan and Shia religious festivals, visitors should pay attention to religious and cultural sensitivities. Note that Bahrainis observe some religious anniversaries that may not be celebrated in neighbouring Gulf countries.

 

Punishment

  • None
China No unusual laws regarding this No unusual laws regarding this Drugs

  • Zero tolerance attitude to drugs, as with most of the countries surveyed

Punishment

  • There are severe penalties for drugs possession and use in China, including the death penalty

Gambling

  • Suspects are usually arrested and detained
No unusual laws regarding this No unusual laws regarding this No unusual laws regarding this
Cuba Food

  • Cuba prohibits the import of all meat products and fruit

Punishment

  • Items will be confiscated and destroyed
No unusual laws regarding this No unusual laws regarding this No unusual laws regarding this No unusual laws regarding this No unusual laws regarding this
Dubai
(United Arab Emirates)
Food

  • Importing pork products is illegal

Alcohol

  • Legal age: 18

Alcoholic drinks are served in licensed hotels and clubs but hotels can only serve alcohol to those over 21 years old

  • It is a punishable offence to drink or to be under the influence of alcohol, in public

Punishment

  • Offenders can be fined, jailed or deported
Women

  • Must dress modestly when in public areas
  • Clothes should cover the upper arms and legs, and underwear should not be visible
  • Swimming attire should be worn only on beaches or at swimming pools

Punishment

  • Offenders can be jailed or deported
Dancing

  • Dancing is allowed in residential homes or licensed clubs, but is considered indecent and provocative in public

Punishment

  • Deportation
  • Homosexuality of any sort is illegal as is cross-dressing
  • Public displays of affection are considered rude and disrespectful
  • Sexual relationships outside of marriage are illegal and non-married couples cannot cohabit in hotels

 

Punishment

  • If any offenders are brought to the attention of the UAE authorities they run the risk of prosecution, imprisonment and/or a fine and deportation
  • Spitting, swearing or making rude gestures is considered an obscene act and is viewed very seriously. This includes road rage
  • Care should be taken when dealing with the police and other officials

Punishment

  • Offenders can be jailed or deported
  • All UAE countries are Muslim. Respect should be given to their traditions and places of worship
  • During the holy month of Ramadan, visitors should pay attention to religious and cultural sensitivities. Do not eat, drink or smoke in public view during the daytime as this is considered disrespectful

 

Punishment

  • Offenders can be jailed or deported
Egypt Alcohol

  • Drinking alcohol in the street and anywhere other than a licensed restaurant or bar is not allowed

New alcohol laws

  • Egyptian authorities recently announced plans to ban alcohol sales in new developments outside Cairo
  • Existing licences will not be renewed in towns beyond the capital city

.
Punishment

  • Unlikely but may include arrest, fine or jail
  • New laws could mean much stricter punishments

 

Women

  • Must dress modestly when in in rural areas, mosques and souqs (markets)
  • Clothes should cover the upper arms and legs, and underwear should not be visible

Men

  • Must cover their chests

Punishment

  • None
No unusual laws regarding this
  • Public displays of affection are frowned upon. What may be acceptable in the tourist resort areas is not necessarily permitted in other areas
  • Homosexuality is not illegal under Egyptian law, however public homosexual acts are illegal and homosexuals have been convicted for breaching laws of public decency

Punishment

  • Due to public decency laws; some offenders may be jailed
No unusual laws regarding this
  • During the holy month of Ramadan, visitors should pay attention to religious and cultural sensitivities. Do not eat, drink or smoke in public view during the daytime as this is considered disrespectful
  • The government does not interfere with the practice of Christianity but encouraging conversion to the Christian faith is illegal

 

Punishment

  • None

 

Gambia No unusual laws regarding this, though many of the locals do not drink
  • Clothes should cover the upper arms and legs, and underwear should not be visible

 

Punishment

  • None
No unusual laws regarding this
  • Although there are no laws specifically covering homosexuality in the Gambia, the Gambian Criminal Code states that any person who has or attempts to have, ‘carnal knowledge’ of any person ‘against the order of nature’ is guilty of a crime; this is subject to wide-ranging interpretation

 

Punishment

  • Possible imprisonment. It is worth nothing that any private citizen has the power of arrest for these offences. The police have recently been actively enforcing this code
No unusual laws regarding this  
India Alcohol

  • During elections, bans on the sale of alcohol are often imposed
No unusual laws regarding this No unusual laws regarding this No unusual laws regarding this
  • Maiming or killing a cow is an offence

 

Punishment

  • Up to five years imprisonment
  • The country’s religion and customs must be respected

 

Punishment

  • None
Israel No unusual laws regarding this; although Islam abhors alcohol so it is suggested tourists should not carry alcohol in Islamic neighbourhoods and only drink at hotels and bars
  • Dress modestly in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza
  • Local residents in ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighbourhoods can react strongly to anyone dressed inappropriately

 

Women

  • Women should not wear trousers

Punishment

  • None
No unusual laws regarding this No unusual laws regarding this No unusual laws regarding this
  • Tourists should avoid going into ultra-orthodox Jewish areas of Jerusalem on Shabbat (from sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday). If foreigners attempt to drive into these areas local residents may stone their vehicle
  • During the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, only drink alcohol in hotels and restaurants. Drinking alcohol elsewhere may cause offence. As a courtesy, avoid drinking, eating, and smoking in public places in the Occupied Palestinian Territories during Ramadan

 

Punishment

  • None
Jordan No unusual laws regarding this
  • All visitors must dress modestly

 

Punishment

  • None
No unusual laws regarding this
  • Jordanian law does not explicitly prohibit homosexual acts, however it is a conservative society and public displays of affection between homosexual couples are not generally tolerated

 

Punishment

  • Same-sex couples who publicly display affection may be arrested under other Jordanian laws
  • Visitors should behave courteously and respect differences in culture

 

Punishment

  • None
  • Jordan is an Islamic country. Local traditions, customs, laws and religions should be respected and visitors should be aware of their actions especially during Ramadan or if intending to visit religious areas
  • The Jordanian government does not interfere with the practice of Christianity but encouraging conversion to the Christian faith is illegal

 

Punishment

  • None
Kenya No unusual laws regarding this
  • No strict dress codes, but guests should dress conservatively away from tourist resorts and hotels, especially in Mombasa Town, during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas

 

Punishment

  • Not specific
  • Smoking in all public places (except designated areas) is prohibited throughout Kenya. This applies to areas such as hotel grounds, lounge areas and entrances. Smoking outdoors in any public street or on the beach is not banned, but tourists should check first

 

Punishment

  • Offenders can be fined up to three million Kenya shillings or imprisoned for up to three years
  • Homosexual activity is illegal

 

Punishment

  • Five to 14 years in prison
No unusual laws regarding this
  • Jordan is an Islamic country. Local traditions, customs, laws and religions should be respected and visitors should be aware of their actions especially during Ramadan or if intending to visit religious areas

 

Punishment

  • Not specific
The Maldives
  • It is an offence to import pork and pork products, and alcohol
  • Alcoholic drinks are only available on resort islands. Tourists should not take alcohol away from a resort
  • No strict dress codes, but guests should dress conservatively away from the tourist resorts and hotels
No unusual laws regarding this
  • Same sex relations are illegal and convicted offenders could face lengthy prison sentences and fines
No unusual laws regarding this

 

 

 

  • Public observance of any religion other than Islam is prohibited.
  • Respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and be aware of actions to ensure that they don’t offend, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas
  • Serious violations of local laws may lead to a prison sentence
Oman Alcohol

  • Legal Age: 21
  • Residents can get a license to drink alcohol at home, and licensed hotels and restaurants also sell alcohol
  • It is an offence to drink, or be drunk, in public

Punishment

  • Possible arrest and fine
  • Clothes should cover the tops of the arms and legs, and underwear should not be visible. Visitors should not wear swimming attire in public areas, except on tourist beaches or swimming pools

 

Women

  • Wearing shorts, or tight-fitting clothes, is likely to attract unwanted attention

Punishment

  • Generally these laws are related to the respect and comfort of the tourist rather than any punishable offence
  • If a tourist wears extremely offensive attire, arrest is possible
  • The penalties for possession, of even residual amounts, of drugs are severe

 

Punishment

  • In some cases, the death penalty could apply
  • There is no distinction in Omani law between ‘soft’ and ‘ hard’ drugs; both are treated with equal severity
  • Homosexuality is illegal in Oman

 

Punishment

  • Up to three years in jail
  • Use of bad language, rude gestures or public displays of affection are not acceptable

 

Punishment

  • Possible police detainment, fine or prison sentence
  • Oman is an Islamic country. Local traditions, customs, laws and religions should be respected at all times, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if intending to visit religious areas

 

Punishment

  • Generally these laws are related to the respect and comfort for the tourist rather than a punishable offence
Turkey No unusual laws regarding this
  • Tourists should dress modestly if visiting a mosque or a religious shrine however Turkey is much less strict regarding dress than other Islamic countries

 

Punishment

  • Generally these laws are related to the respect and comfort for the tourist rather than inflicting any punishment
  • Smoking is prohibited on public transport and in other public areas like stadiums, playgrounds, cafes, bars, and restaurants

 

Punishment

  • Fined if smoking in a designated smoke-free area
  • Homosexuality is not illegal, but is not widely tolerated
  • Public displays of affection could result in prosecution for public order offences

 

Punishment

  • Fine or prison sentence
No unusual laws regarding this
  • Turkey is a mostly Islamic country. Local traditions, customs, laws and religions should be respected at al timesl, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if intending to visit religious areas

 

Punishment
Generally these laws are related to respect and comfort for the tourist rather than inflicting any punishment

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