Is it safe to visit Dubai? Latest UAE travel advice

Dubai, United Arab Emirates
The FCDO has not issued any blanket advisories against travel to the UAE - Stone RF/Getty

Dubai, one of the seven emirates of the UAE, attracts more than a million heat-seeking British holidaymakers every year.

However, following the outbreak of war in Israel and Gaza, the recent drone attack carried out by Iran on Israel and tensions with Houthi rebels in the southern Red Sea, some people may be concerned about the safety of travelling to the Middle East right now.

Here’s everything you need to know about travel to Dubai and the rest of the UAE, whether it is safe to visit, and your rights if you do decide to cancel your upcoming holiday.

What does the FCDO say about travel to the UAE?

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has not issued any blanket advisories against travel to the UAE. This means that travel insurance will be valid when visiting the country.

The FCDO has recently updated its advice to say: “On 13 April 2024 Iran carried out military action against Israel. On 19 April, there have been reports of explosions in Iran, and unconfirmed reports of explosions in Syria and Iraq. Monitor this travel advice and other media as the situation is changing fast. Follow and contact FCDO travel on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also get email notifications when this travel advice is updated.”

You can see its full UAE travel advice here.

Has the UAE been affected by the conflicts in the Middle East?

To date, the UAE has not been directly impacted by the conflicts in the Middle East. As the crow flies, Dubai is more than 1,200 miles from Israel. To put that into perspective, parts of Italy are closer to Gaza than Dubai.

However, the FCDO has issued a warning regarding the conflict with Houthi rebels in the south Red Sea: “Military activity is currently underway in response to attempts by Houthi militants to prevent movement of international shipping in the Red Sea.

“While the area of activity is limited to the Red Sea and Yemen, there is a possibility that travel advice for nearby countries could change at short notice. You should continue to monitor travel advice and follow any relevant instructions from local authorities.”

Is there a risk of terrorist attacks in the UAE?

The FCDO warns: “Terrorists continue to issue statements threatening to carry out attacks in the Gulf region. These include references to attacks on western interests, including against UK citizens. Maintain a high level of security awareness, particularly in public places and at public events.”

Are flights still operating as usual to the UAE?

Yes, although some airlines have adjusted their flight routes to avoid flying over Iran and Israel as a result of recent tensions. This means that some flights may take longer than usual – something to be aware of, given that the UAE is home to some of the world’s major airport transit hubs.

Is it safe to visit the UAE after the recent storms?

On April 16, Dubai was hit by heavy storms that caused widespread flooding around the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. Shopping centres including the Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates suffered flooding, and water was ankle-deep at least one Dubai Metro station. Dubai Airport closed and cancelled more than 50 flights due to the weather. Normal service has now resumed.

What if I want to cancel my holiday?

If you have booked a package holiday to Dubai, Abu Dhabi or anywhere else in the UAE and want to cancel your trip for any reason, contact your tour operator and they might offer flexibility with alternative dates.

But bear in mind that, because the Foreign Office has not issued any formal advice against travel to the UAE, there is no guarantee you will receive a refund, nor will you be able to claim money back with your travel insurance company.

If you have booked flights and accommodation independently, and wish to cancel your holiday, contact your travel providers as soon as possible to see if you can rearrange your plans. Note, however, that given the circumstances, it is unlikely you will receive a full refund.

This story was first published in October 2023 and has been revised and updated.