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According to , "Equipment like ... binoculars, may require a licence for use in the UAE."

Could I get in trouble for using consumer binoculars on the observation deck of Burj Khalifa or at other tourist sites around the city?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Basically to be on the safe side, ask at each place you intend to use them.

As the site you pointed out says, they may require a permit to use.

WorldNomads also cites it as a concern:

Any form of hobby that involves cameras, binoculars or telescopes may well be misunderstood by military or police officials if practiced anywhere near a government building, military site or airport. Of course, by misunderstood I mean they may arrest you, confiscate your equipment and wonder what it was you found so interesting about their military base. So, leave the bird watching or plane spotting for places where you’re less liable to look like you’re up to something dodgy basically.

And the site crazy-travel says almost exactly the same thing:

Hobbies that involve cameras and binoculars, such as bird watching and plane spotting, may be misunderstood - particularly near military sites, government buildings and airports.

Long story short - it's better to ask at your hotel, and at the ticket office or information center for every place you intend to use them.

If you're concerned, there are the built-in binoculars at the top, although they cost US$3 to use - for 2.5 minutes.

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If there are built-in binoculars at the top, it would be rather inconsistent to arrest people with personal binoculars for spying. –  gerrit Jan 20 '14 at 11:44
One would hope so! –  Mark Mayo Jan 20 '14 at 11:48
There are many Digital binoculars available at the top with night vision and real time vision. you will be amazed. –  Kirk Jan 20 '14 at 12:49

I have been living in Dubai for last 7 years (I am an Indian national) and I have never had any issues with using binoculars. You will not have any issues with using binoculars in Dubai. Refrain from directly using it on people specially women and everything will be fine.

I have usually used it in sports events.

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protected by Mark Mayo Jan 21 '14 at 14:51

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