My memory may be incorrect, but UAE and neighboring countries are quite strict on censorship and from what I remember, even things such as Orkut were blocked and large chunks of magazines blacked out for being offensive (late 90's, early 2000's)

Keeping this is mind, are there any precautions I should take when travelling there? If I have some erotica on on Kindle, would it cause problems? What if its deleted but still on my Amazon account. Or on my laptop, if my browsing history has such sites...

What level (if any) of sanitization is required? Or have the Middle eastern countries liberalized more now? (I presume not since the "No shorts","No shoulders" and "dress decently" type signs are still present at many places)

  • 2
    You do realize that even Dubai is vastly different from Sharjah and that there are pockets of different levels of liberalism through out the region ?
    – karancan
    Commented Aug 17, 2014 at 22:26
  • 1
    Doesn't really matter for the purposes of this question, since you only go through Customs once on arrival, presumably at Dubai. The main difference from the visitor's POV is Sharjah's near-total alcohol ban. Commented Aug 18, 2014 at 2:28
  • @karancan While Dubai and Sharjah are separate cities, both lie in the same country and are relatively close by.. The reason I mentioned both is because I could land at either depending on the airfare...
    – user87166
    Commented Aug 30, 2014 at 20:04
  • @user87166 Yes I know, I lived in the UAE for 18 years.
    – karancan
    Commented Aug 30, 2014 at 20:22

3 Answers 3


If you are traveling to either Dubai or Sharjah wiping your Kindle is not required.

If you are traveling with a non-portable computer (a desktop) they may ask you to turn it on just to make sure it is actually a computer and not something else.

For portable computers (laptops) you don't have to wipe them either.

For printed books it's a different matter, and it varies from country to country.

A universal rule is that any printed media, film (DVD, etc.) that is pornographic or blasphemous religious is restricted and may not be allowed entry - even in a liberal emirate like Dubai.

Further, pirated software may also be confiscated. They don't search your laptop, but if you are carrying a large stack of CDs they might question you.


In theory, nothing has changed: pornography, very broadly defined, remains entirely banned in the UAE. An Internet filter also remains in place, although it's very patchy (playboy.com will be blocked, obscurehotgoatse.xxx probably not) and it's easily circumvented by VPN.

In practice, Dubai gets so many visitors that they don't even attempt to control the entry of digital information at the borders, they're primarily interested in alcohol and drugs. Unless you raise red flags for other reasons, your laptops, Kindles etc are not going to be examined at all.

TL;DR: If your porn is stashed well enough that your mom can't find it, I wouldn't worry about it.


No porn, no religious stuff (bibles and other symbols or jewerly), no pork meat, no drugs. You will be safe in 99% of islamic countries (Dubai included).

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