Marijuana grinders, knuckle dusters and stun guns were just some of the items Emirates 24|7 had a close encounter with this week.
And no, it’s not what you think! Emirates 24|7 was fortunate enough to view the vast array of forbidden and illegal items that were confiscated by Dubai Customs, all kept inside a special room at Dubai International Airport.
Items confiscated by Dubai Customs
Speaking to Emirates 24|7, Ahmed Bin Lahej, Director of Passengers Operation at Dubai Airport said: “In the UAE, as like most other countries, we have rules on forbidden and restricted items. These items require approval from other authorities in allowing them to be imported or even to pass by, whereas the forbidden list include drugs, weapons and anything that can harm peoples’ lives.”
Ahmed bin Lahej – Director of Passengers Operation and Dubai Airport (Pic: Dubai Customs)
He added that more than hundreds of thousands of passengers pass through Dubai International Airport every day, a number that’s steadily increasing.
And when working in one of the world’s busiest airports, you’re guaranteed with more than a few unexpected surprises.
Nevertheless, Dubai Customs continuously manages to foil numerous attempts by passengers trying to smuggle in illegal items, thanks to the highly skilled and vigilant inspectors and their sophisticated detection methods.
And yet, passengers are still trying to sneak them into the country.
Inspectors checking luggage contents
Bin Lahej added that people try, and they keep trying to bring things to the UAE, but he is very proud of his team.
“They have all the experience, knowledge, information, and skills to stop all the restricted and illegal items or anything that would harm our society,” he explained.
Huda Mohamed Abdulla, Senior Inspector at Dubai Airport added, “The prohibited list includes certain kinds of medicines."
Huda Mohamed Abdulla - Senior Inspector
She continued: “If you bring them in, you should at least have a doctor’s prescription, especially if it's restricted here.”
One is also inclined to question how passengers walk through detectors from their country of origin before arriving in the UAE.
“You need to know which country they’re coming from, and based on that we understand how things will pass through from our side,” explained Ahmad.
Ahmed bin Lahej with his senior team members, Hassan Ibrahim and Huda Mohamed Abdulla
That was exactly the case in question during a search performed by Hassan Ibrahim, Senior Inspection Officer at Dubai Airport.
He said: “One passenger was carrying a live bullet and said he crossed three countries without ever being stopped, but he was once he arrived here.”
(Hassan Ibrahim and Huda Mohamed Abdulla)
The Dubai Customs team then confiscated the live bullet before he was forwarded to the Police for further investigations. And, although the passenger was surprised, he had no ill feelings towards the crew.
Hassan continued: “That passenger praised our good qualifications and experience, he was happy and said it made him feel safe even more because he was planning to stay in the UAE.”
Hassan Ibrahim – Senior Inspection Officer
He added: “When we’re dealing with any passenger, even if he’s done anything wrong, even if they’re caught with drugs, we’re never rude to them, we treat them with respect.”
With the prohibited list including swords, counterfeit designer products and laser pointers, there are some exceptions.
Counterfeit Designer Products
Huda said, “For example, handbags having a ring boxer as a handle at the top, these kinds of items are OK if they’re attached, but not if they’re sold separately, and it depends on who is carrying the items.”
“It’s mostly the teenagers that bring ring boxers, with the main purpose of fighting,” added Hassan.
What’s more, if a passenger brings in a new dangerous item that has not yet been mentioned on the team’s forbidden list, the item will surely be confiscated, as the Dubai Customs team are constantly updating themselves with the latest information that’s circulating in today’s market.
Ahmed bin Lahej concluded, “They try to be 10 steps ahead of us but we are ready for them.”
All photos: Awatif Ahmad