Thursday, June 10, 2010

Tourists and medication

Dubai's authorities have scored many own goals over the past five or six years, actions which have helped to create the climate for what's been called 'Dubai bashing'.

Some of it has been nothing more than Dubai bashing. Often, exposure of serious shortcomings has been mixed up with untrue and hugely exaggerated stories and rumours. Some have simply been absolute rubbish, presenting rumours and dinner party gossip as facts.

But some have been true and fully justified, many of them caused by inexplicable laws or the way the laws have been administered.

One in that category has been the detention of people for carrying medication prescribed by their doctor.

There haven't been reports of this happening for a while, perhaps explained by a piece in Gulf News:

"Passengers who fail to present prescriptions for certain listed medications will not be detained at Dubai International Airport, Dubai Police said.

Dubai Police Deputy Chief Major General Khamis Mattar Al Mazeina said: "There are no detention cells for passengers carrying listed medications by the Health Ministry without prescriptions.

"We keep the medications with us until the person presents a prescription from the doctor who prescribed it."

I assume that, realising the damage to Dubai's reputation that was being done by over-zealous interpretation, someone on high has had words with the officials involved.

It's a move in the right direction but it needs to go further of course.

Dubai aggressively promotes tourism in many countries, as does Emirates Airline, but there's no information to help potential visitors stay within the laws.

So many of us have said it so many times - information needs to be given to travellers before they begin their journey.

It's not hard to give a list of banned medication, such as codeine. And to list medication which requires a prescription from the prescribing doctor, to advise travellers to keep all medication in its original packaging.

Simple, and it would avoid all the problems.

From the police statement it seems any listed medications are confiscated, which is far from good for the patient who relies on it.

And if they're only here for a few days, I wonder whether they're allowed to leave the country before the original prescription arrives.

The Gulf News report is here.


hopshackles said...

I remember looking around for the ministry list for medications (this is going back two years) and had no luck - even at their website.

It was only Gulf News that had a PDF...

Doug said...

It's part of the usual hypocrisy here - not issuing a ban list seems very much like a case of the authorities being more interested in punishing people for breaking the law, rather than preventing them from breaking the law in the first place.

Whereas sharing an villa is banned, because there's a risk it might make you commit adultery.

Tainted Female said...

Myself finally being properly diagnosed for an emotional condition I suffer and have for years (even while in Dubai), and medicated here in Canada, I find this is one of my worst fears of going back to Dubai.

I have a choice of risking breaking the law with my prescriptions or risking simply not taking them - both of which could be catastrophic in the end.

I'd love to know where I can find a list of meds that are allowed or not. Would anyone happen to have a URL?

Susan said...

Such a great way to ruin someone's holiday. I would assume if you take your meds on holiday it's because you NEED them. Just another reason for tourists to choose somewhere else to spend their money.

Seabee said...

Tainted, the UAE Ministry of Health has it at:

There's also a list from Fair Trials International at:

(BTW, I'm pleased to see you've got the right diagnosis at last. That took a while didn't it.)