The International Travel and Health Insurance Journal, ITIJ.com, published a story about several surprising arrestable offenses in Dubai, such as certain posts on social media, dancing and engaging in public displays of affection. Surprised? This isn’t just a Dubai phenomenon. Every country has its share of unusual laws that could get you in trouble or arrested, whether you’re being careless or you just get caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.
- Feeding fish in Phuket: Phuket, a region of Thailand, is home to some of the world’s most beloved beaches and the sea’s most magnificent marine animals. An unsuspecting Chinese tourist got into hot water by feeding the fish on a trip to one of Phuket’s surrounding islands. Remember: regional wildlife, especially endangered wildlife, is an important part of every country’s national identity and tourist industry. Under no circumstances should you bother, feed or buy the local fauna.
- Being extremely insensitive in Berlin: There are some things you should generally never do, no matter where you are, or you could be arrested or fined. A Canadian tourist threw up a “Heil Hitler” salute outside the Reichstag in Berlin, Germany in a Monty Python type joke. It’s not funny. He was promptly handcuffed, his camera chip removed and submitted as evidence. It is best to maintain a low profile and be respectful.
- Wandering off in Indonesia: A French tourist in Indonesia was arrested after he accidentally jogged into a military base while playing Pokemon Go. The Guardian reported: “A spokesman for West Java police said Romain Pierre, 27, was caught at a checkpoint on Monday evening after initially running away when challenged by security guards at the military complex in Cirebon.” Anyone traveling abroad should ‘have their head in the game’ and know their surroundings.
- Taking a selfie in a scenic spot: Selfies and selfie sticks have become a pretty standard part of our culture. Laws banning selfies in iconic locations have been under consideration since last year. These thirteen landmarks have already banned selfies: Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Sistine Chapel in Vatican City, Garoupe Beach in France, the Palace Museum in Beijing and the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City, to name a few. Copyright laws are the primary considerations behind many of these bans.
- Being sexually assaulted in Qatar: A Dutch tourist in Qatar was jailed for months and fined $845 for having sex out of wedlock when she reported being drugged and raped. The man she accused was also convicted, and sentenced to 140 lashes for adultery and public drunkenness. Travelers need to know whether it is safe to report to police, especially in guilty until proven innocent countries. Having a trusted travel insurance policy can help.
Don’t be caught on the wrong side of the law. You can find helpful information on country specific safety information at www.travel.state.gov or by doing an Internet search for OSAC Crime Report for the country you are visiting. Locked up abroad is something no one wants.
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