Dubai Police posted a message on Twitter last month stating; “filming or taking photos of others without their consent is punishable by law”.
It was not the first time police issued this warning to the public. In 2015, the force announced it was stepping up beach patrols to help maintain the safety of residents and tourists in the city. Among some of the steps taken to deter people from taking sly pictures without a person’s consent included the deployment of plain clothes officers on public beaches, as well as the addition of more security cameras on site.
Last year, 289 people were arrested for taking photos of women on the beach without consent, according to Dubai Police statistics. The laws pertaining to the privacy of an individual are taken very seriously in the UAE.
While this latest warning from Dubai Police hones in on “beachgoers”, Article 378 of the UAE Penal Code (Federal Law 3 of 1987) and Article 21 of the UAE Cyber Crime Law (Federal Law No. 5 of 2012) refers to any photo or video taken that may breach the privacy of individuals. Those who break the law can face hefty financial penalties. In some cases — depending on how a picture and/or video is used — jail time or deportation can be handed down too.
This year, a person was arrested in Dubai after uploading a video that quickly went viral across the UAE. The incident showed a hotel worker on the bonnet of a moving car. Although the person behind the camera was not directly involved in the incident, they were arrested for breaching the law by uploading the video to a social media platform.
People have even faced prosecution for uploading to social media photos of cars that were selfishly parked.