The UAE has a zero-tolerance policy for recreational use of drugs. Federal Law No. 14 of 1995 criminalizes production, import, export, transport, buying, selling, possessing, storing of narcotic and psychotropic substances unless done so as part of supervised and regulated medical or scientific activities in accordance with the applicable laws. The UAE police has dedicated departments to deal with drugs' issues.
With that said, Modafinil is a prescription medication that treats and/or assists in the treatment of a number of conditions. Hence, it is legal for those who are prescribed the medication.
If you are travelling out of or into Dubai Airport (or any other Airport in the UAE for that matter), and have Modafinil in your possession, it wouldn't be an issue as long as you have a prescription of it. Otherwise you could get in trouble and though it may sound silly, can end you up being facing a charge of smuggling illegal drugs (for personal use if the amount is reasonable, and for the intention of trading if the amount is large).
Both are pretty serious charges that are not worth risking simply for carrying modafinil. So you are highly advised to either get a prescription for it (which shouldn't be hard assuming you require it). You are much better off staying safe and looking into an alternative such as Adrafinil.
If you don't have a prescription or looking for an alternative to it, browse to and read about Adrafinil, the precursor to Modafinil, which is not a prescription medication nor distributed in the United Arab Emirates, and is unregulated.
There is a number of supplements and nootropics you could explore as an alternative to Modafinil if you can't get a prescription for it. Most people lean towards Adrafinil given its the precursor to Modafinil, and is converted to Modafinil once the body metabolizes it. Other nootropics such as Phenylpiracetam also provide quite similar effects of Modafinil – perhaps better than Modafinil depending on who you ask. If you are looking for those and other alternatives, browse to Nootropix to see all the different nootropic supplements that are available within the UAE and shipped locally. Both Adrafinil and Phenylpiracetam can be found there.
Drug Prevention & Rehabilitation
Abu Dhabi Government focuses on strong familial ties, close bonding within family members and the responsibility of parents to instil values in children as a way to prevent people from turning to abusing drugs. Read more on the official website of Abu Dhabi Government.
National Rehabilitation Center (NRC) in Abu Dhabi undertakes research on issues related to drug-abuse and offers rehabilitation and treatment to drug abusers.
The UAE is a signatory to several international conventions on narcotic and psychotropic substances (PDF).
The conventions involve applying internationally valid control measures to ensure that narcotic and psychotropic substances are not freely available to layman.
The conventions aim to: make narcotic and psychotropic substances available only for medical and scientific purposes prevent their diversion into illicit channels eliminate drug trafficking and abuse.
Federal Law No. 14 of 1995 describes how these conventions are applied in the UAE and Federal Law No. 4 of 1983 describes the basic requirements for prescribing and supplying prescription medicines.
Controlled drugs are those that, if not used responsibly, can lead to addiction and have the potential to be abused by individuals.
Narcotic and psychotropic (controlled drug – Class A or CDa) drugs are controlled.
Controlled medicines are administered to patients of acute and chronic diseases in accordance with modern medical practice. They are mostly administered to in-patients.
Controlled drug – Class B (CDb) are semi-controlled.
Majority of medicines which are used worldwide are available in community pharmacies and hospitals in the UAE.
However, narcotic, psychotropic and other controlled drugs/medicines of class A or B are neither freely available in the UAE, nor can they be freely imported into the country. They fall under the controlled/restricted items' category.
You may bring in other prescribed medicines for personal use in normal quantity. To import some medicines, you are required to receive permit from Ministry of Health and Prevention.
Prescription of controlled medicines
In the emirate of Abu Dhabi, a narcotic can be prescribed only by a physician licensed by HAAD for an in-patient and must be written on the approved narcotic prescription form.
Private sector prescriptions for out-patient narcotic supply are not usually allowed. However, exceptions will be considered following a request from a medical director.
In the emirate of Abu Dhabi, a psychotropic for an out-patient can be prescribed only by a HAAD-licensed physician. There are special requirements for the psychotropics known as CDa, previously known as ‘Registered Prescription (RP)' or ‘Group 4' drugs.
These must be prescribed on the official psychotropic prescription form. Currently, there are UAE federal restrictions on the duration of prescription supply of CDa and CDb drugs and this depends upon the status of the prescribing physician.
In accordance with Federal Law No. 4 of 1983, there are special requirements for an out-patient prescription written for a CDa.
There are no special prescription-requirements for ordering psychotropic CDb drugs for in or out-patients and therefore these are ordered using a normal medical prescription.
By prohibiting the use of drugs and restricting the use of controlled medicines, the UAE aims to strengthen the prevention and treatment of substance abuse, including narcotic drug abuse.