"A regional leader for international business, the UAE attracts investment from different cultures all over the World, which co-exist in a society where offering gifts and hospitality in business was traditionally seen as a matter of courtesy. The UAE has had anti-bribery legislation to deal with these challenges since the late 1980s. The current trend is towards proenforcement, as the Emirates promote transparency in business, to maintain their position as a favoured international business hub. Multinationals in the UAE are no longer primarily concerned with extraterritorial foreign legislation, equal consideration must be given to domestic legislation."

Tim Taylor QC

1. What is bribery?

Under the UAE Penal Code bribery is a criminal offence which can be committed by public officers or private individuals.

For public officers, it is an offence to solicit or accept for oneself or for another person any kind of donation, advantage, promise or anything of the like:

  • in order to commit or omit an act in violation of the duties of his function, regardless of the intent of the perpetrator; or
  • after committing or omitting an act in violation of the duties of his function; or
  • in order to commit or omit an act which is not part of his function.

For private individuals, it is an offence to offer a public officer a donation, advantage or promise of any kind in order to commit or omit an act in violation of the duties of his functions, even if the public officer does not accept the bribe. It is also an offence if an individual accepts for himself or another a gift, benefit or privilege for his influence or the use of his power before a public officer.

2. What are the exceptions/defences?

The briber or the middleman will be exempt from prosecution if he reports the offence of bribery to the judicial or administrative authorities, provided that this is before it is discovered.

3. What are the sanctions?

Sanctions range from imprisonment (for a period up to 10 years) to fines, depending on the case.