Image used for illustrative purposes only. Source: Flickr

Dubai amped its fight against drugs and narcotics in the emirate throughout 2019, newly released statistics by Dubai Police revealed on Thursday.

Authorities were able to arrest 166 suspects charged in over 71 drug-related cases and block 15 websites involved in the trafficking and sale of drugs last year. A statement released by the police force also declared that its General Department of Anti-Narcotics recorded 15 cases of drugs sold on social media channels within a 12-month time frame. 

The statistics were made public during the department's annual inspection, which is carried out by Major General Abdullah Khalifa Al Marri, Commander-in-chief of Dubai Police, according to Arabian Business

Al Marri stressed that there's a need to increase efforts to combat drugs and protect youth from it, adding that Dubai Police officials are keen on promoting prevention efforts in collaboration with anti-drug institutions. He also urged the public to take part in campaigns aiming to spread awareness on the matter. 

The city's focus on protecting young people from narcotics has already been paying off, as the latest figures show.

The now-published numbers revealed that there was a 6.8-percent decrease in people between the ages of 18 and 25 who were arrested in drug-related cases. 

The UAE continues to work on combatting its drug problem

Under the UAE's new National Cybersecurity Strategy, drugs are strictly forbidden and offenses in drug sale or distribution cases carry heavy punishments

"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."

Despite these strict regulations, a 2014 study reported by The National revealed that drug use in the UAE rose by 526 percent over the last three decades. 

Drug addiction costs the UAE some 5.5 billion dirhams ($1.5 billion) each year. This has led the nation to intensify its efforts to address drug use. Police have jointly collaborated with various institutions to combat substance abuse. 

In 2016, Dubai Police's Anti-Narcotics Department launched a six-minute video titled "A Soul's Tale" on social media, with its purpose to combat the use of controlled substances. 

That same year, the narcotics law in the UAE was amended. The changes saw prison sentences reduced to two years, down from four. Judicial authorities were also given other options when dealing with drug users, including issuing fines to violators and sending them to rehabilitation facilities instead of prison.

Last year, Dubai's Ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum solidified these rules further by issuing a new law that allows local courts to refer drug addicts to government-owned drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers "without the fear of prosecution."