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March 19, 2017
Question: My husband and I are from Africa and he has been arrested for having khat in his bag at the airport. What is the legal status of khat in the UAE and what is likely to happen to my husband?
Answer: Possession of khat, a plant native to the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula which when chewed acts as a stimulant, is illegal in the UAE. In the Drugs Law No 14 of 1995 and its amendments, the punishment for possession of such material is a jail sentence of not less than two years. However, the judge has discretionary power under article 42 of the law, so the above sentence could be replaced with one of the following penalties: he could be placed in an addiction treatment unit or rehabilitation centre, set out in Article 4 of the drugs law; he could be fined anything up to Dh10,000; he could be sentenced to do community service. You should note though that it is very likely that his sentence will include deportation.