Last Updated: Friday, 27 November 2015, 12:04 GMT

U.S. Department of State 2003 Trafficking in Persons Report - United Arab Emirates

Publisher United States Department of State
Author Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Publication Date 11 June 2003
Cite as United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2003 Trafficking in Persons Report - United Arab Emirates, 11 June 2003, available at: [accessed 28 November 2015]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

United Arab Emirates (Tier 1)

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a destination country for trafficked persons. Foreign nationals comprise about 85% of the population, and guest workers make up 98% of the country's private sector workforce. Women trafficked into domestic servitude come primarily from Sri Lanka, Indonesia, India, and the Philippines. Victims trafficked as domestic male servants, laborers, and unskilled workers in construction and agriculture come mainly from Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, and Bangladesh. Many low-skilled foreign workers have their passports withheld, contracts altered, and suffer partial, short, or long-term non-payment of salaries. Women from Central Asia and Eastern Europe have reported being lured with the promise of legitimate jobs and then forced into commercial sexual exploitation. Boys from Pakistan and Bangladesh have been trafficked to the United Arab Emirates to be camel jockeys.

The Government of the United Arab Emirates fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. Given the new ban on child camel jockeys, the government should emphasize enforcement until each of the Emirates has completely eliminated it. It should expand cooperation and coordination with source countries in the rescue of trafficking victims and investigation and arrest of traffickers.


The Dubai Police Human Rights Department conducted an outreach program to foreign embassies to advise of programs and services available to residents and visitors. The Dubai Tourist Security Department operates a 24-hour hotline to assist visitors with inquires or problems. Information about the hotline is distributed to tourists, who are potential trafficking victims, at points of entry. The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs distributes an information booklet to foreign workers outlining their rights under the labor law, describing how to pursue labor disputes, and providing contact information for assistance. The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs contacted source country foreign ministers asking for their cooperation in combating trafficking. The Ministry of Information and Culture supported a public awareness campaign in English and Arabic about the law banning the use of child camel jockeys. The Ministry of Health requires annual physical exams for foreign employees and medical personnel with specialized training to look for signs of abuse.


The penal code specifically prohibits trafficking; cases of trafficking can also be prosecuted under other statutes. Law enforcement actively investigates trafficking cases and complaints of abuse. The government recently criminalized the use of child camel jockeys. It conducts DNA and medical tests to investigate "parents" of camel jockeys. The Ministry of Labor created a task force to inspect all industrial establishments in the private sector and added 54 labor inspectors. After being found guilty of labor violations, 215 companies were blacklisted from submitting applications for work permits or sponsorship transfers and were fined. The Institute for Judicial Training and Studies at the Ministry of Justice has mandatory courses for prosecutors and judges on human rights, sex offenses, immigration, and labor violations. The Department of Naturalization and Residency at the Ministry of Interior established a central operations room to track the arrival and departure of individuals in the Emirates. To combat document fraud, the government instituted the use of retinal scan to add biometrics identification information to its databases.


The government provides assistance and protection to victims; they are not detained, jailed or deported. Victims are not prosecuted for violations of other laws, such as immigration or prostitution. Counseling services are available in public hospitals. The Ministry of Health maintains social workers and counselors in all public hospitals to which medical personnel refer patients when abuse is suspected. The Human Rights Department of the Dubai Police developed a Crime Victims' Assistance Program, which included the creation of Victim Assistance Coordinators at each police station and police training in victim protection and assistance. Police departments provide shelter for victims who are separate from jail facilities. The government works with foreign governments and NGOs on trafficking in women when cases are brought to their attention. The Government is working closely with the Governments of Bangladesh and Pakistan on the repatriation of camel jockeys.

Search Refworld