Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins in the UAE? NOT allowed

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If you are a fan of baking cookies, muffins, or cakes, you may find that some of your baking ingredients may be missing from the shelves of supermarkets in the Middle East. Then while on a holiday trip back home you decide to stock up and bring back some of these ingredients back into the UAE. Then you are stopped at the airport. Next thing you know, you are in jail. Your charge? Bringing in “poppy seeds”. The poppy seeds you deemed harmless, the ones you enjoyed with your family and children on a Sunday afternoon with tea are banned. True story.

On Monday November 2, 2015 a traveler was detained and arrested Dubai airport for bringing in poppy seeds for personal cooking and consumption. She was unaware that poppy seeds were on the banned list of substances to bring into the UAE.  Due to the availability of poppy seeds in supermarkets throughout Canada and the USA , this news came quite as a shock to avid poppy seed users.

In addition, some medical drugs which are over the counter (OTC) in some countries are considered controlled drugs in the UAE and can result in criminal charges being laid. Many common cold and cough remedies, which you might assume to be harmless, must be accompanied by a prescription even though many of these drugs are available over-the-counter (OTC) in other countries.  Betel leaves and betel nuts as well as all kinds of sexual stimulants are also banned; in addition to selected sleeping tablets, painkillers, anti-depressants and hormone replacement therapy drugs (Remember Samantha in the “ Sex and the City film 2 Abu Dhabi” as she tried to smuggle in her hormone replacement therapy drugs ? – She was promptly asked to leave them with airport security)

To avoid an embarrassing situation like Samantha’s or worse yet be arrested for palate pleasure of poppy seeds; it is best to be informed of what you can and cannot bring into the country prior to your move. The UAE has identified a group of drugs prohibited in the country, we urge you to take a look at the full list by visiting here:


For additional information on other prohibited items visit