Customs and Duties
Customs regulations in Dubai generally follow standard expectations, but there is zero tolerance for pornography and drugs. Many over-the-counter and prescription medicines are banned in the UAE (including over-the-counter cold and flu tablets with codeine, commonly sold in Europe and Australia). The Embassy of Abu Dhabi (another emirate in the UAE) maintains a list of restricted medications on its website. All forms of opiates are completely banned in the UAE, even poppy seeds (commonly used elsewhere on rolls and bagels). You may be allowed to bring restricted drugs into the UAE if they are prescribed to you by your doctor, but you must carry a copy of the prescription with you. Although the authorities may be understanding and simply confiscate the items (if you can't prove they were prescribed to you), they can decide to detain you or arrest you for drug smuggling. In addition to pharmaceutical products, there are heavy penalties for bringing recreational drugs into the country, even small amounts for personal use. If found guilty of smuggling, you'll be liable for a jail sentence of three years minimum.
You can only bring pets into the country if you have a residents' visa. A permit must be obtained from the Ministry of Water and Environment (Vet Quarantine Section) before the animal will be allowed into Dubai. Apply for this before you arrive.
You'll be allowed to bring the following items into the country duty-free: gifts to the value of AED3,000; up to 400 cigarettes, plus 50 cigars and 500 grams of tobacco (for visitors over 18 years old only); four liters of alcohol (four bottles of spirit, five bottles of wine, or 48 cans of beer) or a combination of (for visitors over 21 only); cash not exceeding AED100,000; and items for personal use such as laptops, cameras, and sports equipment.
Information in Dubai
Dubai Customs. 800/800--80; 4/417--7777; www.dubaicustoms.gov.ae.
Embassy of Abu Dhabi. Embassies District, Plot 38, Sector W59--02, Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi. 2/414--2200; https://abudhabi.usembassy.gov.