Being an expat in a foreign country can sometimes feel like navigating a maze of support options. Who do you turn to for what, and when? That’s where the British Embassy steps in as your lifeline in the UAE. Whether you’re facing a challenge or just need some guidance, they’re here to assist you in times of need and offer essential services to ensure your safety and well-being.

There is a British Embassy in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi that can help us as British nationals navigate life in the UAE. While we hope you never need their services, it’s reassuring to know they’re there to lend a hand if you face challenges.

​In case of emergencies, like being a victim of crime or falling ill, the Embassy can provide invaluable support, offering local information and can connect you with legal and medical services. Additionally, if you or someone you know ends up in police custody or prison, the Embassy can offer support over the phone or in person.

Lost your passport and need to fly urgently? The British Embassy can issue emergency travel documents, and if you’re unable to contact family or friends yourself, they can make those calls for you. Plus, they offer notarial services like written statements of marriage and no objection letters.

Key Guidelines for Navigating Life in the UAE as an Expat

In the UAE, the British Embassy reminds us that it’s important to respect the local laws, customs, traditions and religions as it is a predominantly Muslim country.

Be mindful that actions like swearing, posting abusive messages online, or road rage can be taken very seriously if they cause offence. When speaking with authorities, including the police, it’s crucial to be cautious and avoid behaviour that may be deemed disrespectful.

Dressing modestly in public areas such as shopping malls is advised and it’s worth remembering that fundraising and charitable activities are subject to heavy regulation.

In case of domestic abuse, there are shelters available in different Emirates, and the British Embassy can provide further information and assistance.

If you find yourself at risk of destitution, don’t hesitate to reach out to the British Embassy to explore your options. Worried about a potential travel ban? Visit the official website for initial checks to ease your concerns.

Staying Street Smart in the UAE

It’s important to keep a few things in mind to stay safe and out of trouble here. Dubai is one of the safest cities in the world but the British Embassy’s advice is to always keep an eye on your belongings and stay aware of your surroundings. If you’re walking around solo, especially at night, it’s a good idea to use to licensed taxis and sit in the back seat, especially if you’re female. Also never accept drinks from strangers or leave your drink unattended.

Another big no-go is drinking or being under the influence of alcohol in public places, and the same goes for drugs – the UAE has a zero-tolerance policy here, and the penalties are no joke. Even the presence of drugs in your bloodstream can be classed as possession. Some herbal highs, including CBD oils are also illegal.

Also, be careful with taking photos – some buildings are off-limits for photography, and be careful who is in the background. Lastly, a reminder that same-sex activity and marriages aren’t recognized here and are illegal.

Resources and support

If you are in need of support, The British Embassy in Dubai and Abu Dhabi can be reached at +971 4 309 4444 and +971 2 610 1100 respectively. Additionally, the British Community Assistance Fund (BCAF) at 04 337 1413 can also help with financial aid, repatriation, but are also there as a bit of a listening ear.

For women and families in need, Dubai Women and Children Foundation and the Himaya Foundation extend their services, not limited to just domestic abuse situations. Moreover, local churches and mosques often provide aid through food banks and other provisions.

We hope that helps, as a go-to page for help and resources. We’ve also put together a list of useful phone numbers and links, which we’ve listed below.

Useful Contacts and Links

  • British Embassy Dubai 04 309 4444
  • British Embassy Abu Dhabi 02 610 1100
  • If calling from the UK +44 (0)20 7008 5000
  • British Community Assistance Fund (BCAF) 04 337 1413
  • Police 999
  • Ambulance 998
  • Fire 997
  • Coastguard 996

Help and services in the UAE