Luckily for us in the UAE, we are safer than in many other countries. In fact, in 2021 the Gallup Global Law and Order report ranked the UAE as the number one country for walking safely at night, scoring an amazing 95%.  In addition Abu Dhabi was ranked as the safest city in the world for the sixth consecutive year, with Sharjah placing fourth and Dubai eighth, by the Numbeo Safety Index 2022, out of 459 cities worldwide.  But if you tend to have an over active imagination, or like to be prepared in any situation, which may include defending yourself…then this how to guide is for you!


It is worth noting that in January 2018 a survey of 1,000 women nationwide (in the US) found that 81% had experienced some form of harassment, assault or both in their lifetime.  With many women (and men) travelling through or around the UAE, it is wise to keep your wits about you, particularly if you are in a country that you are unfamiliar with. Always listen to your gut.  If something feels off, chances are, it is! And if everything turns out fine, you have lost nothing.  Never feel like you are being rude or impolite if you refuse to take someone upon an offer of a ride or drink.  The choice is yours, and yours alone, to ensure your personal safety.



Active Mile is always looking out for you, so we have compiled some basic self-defense pointers whether you are at home or away, designed to empower you in any situation where you might feel a little vulnerable, or you are under attack.


Aim for the soft spots

If you are taken unawares by an attacker, you will have very little time to think, but a good starting point is aim for their soft spots: Groin, throat, eyes and nose, will most likely stun your attacker for long enough for you to get away from them.


Avoid the harder body parts

The chest and knees are unlikely to provide you with the protection that you need, you might miss your intended target, throwing yourself off balance, or cause yourself an injury in the process.  Use your full force and be aggressive, even if you don’t feel it.


Be Vocal

Use your voice.  Scream and shout!  Be loud.  Draw attention to yourself.  Hopefully this will be enough to scare your attacker off!


The University of Oregon found in a study that women who participated in self-defense classes: Were more equipped to deal with both people the knew and strangers, if an assault was to take place; they planned more effective safety strategies in case they were ever needed, along with increased self-confidence, and improved body positivity. We have put together a pocket-sized combination of some basic self defense moves that we hope you will never need to use.


Groin Kick

If someone is attacking you face on, a groin kick will be very effective in temporarily paralyzing your attacker.

To successfully employ this move:

Ground yourself with strong footing.

Lift your stronger leg and push your knee upwards.

Extent this leg, driving your hips forwards, lean back slightly for balance and power.

Kick forcefully.

You should aim to make contact between your lower shin or ball of your foot and your attacker’s groin area.


Elbow Strike

Use this if your attacker is close to you.  You might not have enough room to throw a punch or kick, so use them elbows instead.

elbow strike


Actioning the elbow strike:

Try to pull in your core and stabilize your legs if you can

Bend your arm at the elbow, shift your weight forwards

Strike your elbow into your attacker

Aim for the jawline, temple, chin or neck

The aim is to get your attacker to loosen their grip so you can run away (and of course cause them pain in the process!)


Heel Palm Strike

This will cause damage to your attacker’s throat and/or nose. 

palm strike


To execute this move:

Flex the wrist of your dominant hand.

Aim for your attacker’s nose.

Jab your hand upwards, making contact with the nostrils, or under the chin.

Pull your arm up quickly for momentum to thrust your attackers head backwards.


Hammer Strike

Turn your car or house keys in to a weapon if needed.  You shouldn’t have to, but if you are feeling at all threatened, or that you are being followed, have your keys to hand.  Literally!

To defend yourself:

Spread your keys between your fingers

Make a fist

Aim a punch at your attacker with some force behind it


Escape Maneuvers


If you find that your attacker grabs you from behind, try to remember these escape maneuvers to be able to get away quickly.


Bear Hug Attack

The attacker will have grabbed you from behind, in the form of a bear hug.

To escape:

Bend forwards at the waist (this will bring your weight forwards which makes you more of a dead weight), making it harder for your attacker to pick you up.

Raise your elbow, turn into your attacker and strike them with an elbow strike.  Keep striking until they release their grip. This can be your opportunity to make some space to use the groin kick, further hindering your attacker, giving you a small window to run away.

bear hug



If an attacker locks their arms around your head, side on, you need to avoid being choked.

To escape:

Turn into your attacker’s side, to avoid choking.

With your far hand, strike your attacker’s groin using your open hand.

Repeat this and find some movability so you can run away.


Hands Trapped

Your attacker might approach you from behind and trap your arms, your movement will be restricted. Be aware that your attacker might try to move their arms into a headlock with the aim of choking you.

To escape:

Move your hips to one side, this gives you some space to strike their groin using the open hand slaps.

Bring your hand up, raise your opposite elbow and turn into the ‘hug’.  Keep your arms tight into your chest.

Keep counterattacking with your knees until your attacker releases you.


Safety Tips


Follow Active Mile’s safety tips below, to make it harder for an attack to occur.



Avoid walking late at night on your own.

Stay in well-lit public areas.

If you begin to feel uneasy go into the nearest shop, store or public place to ask for help.

Call the police.

Develop boundaries even with people you know.

Find your voice.  If someone is making you feel uncomfortable, tell them!  Ask them why they think their behaviour is appropriate?  Be clear on what your boundaries are.

Did you know?

 70% of sexual violence cases are committed by people we know.  Friends, family partners, co-workers etc.


Walk with purpose (even if you don’t feel confident inside).

Practice awareness – Be aware of your environment.

Limit engaging with your phone when out walking.

Avoid listening to music (this makes it so much easier for someone to attack you from behind, and you would never see it coming).


We hope this is one guide that you never need to use, but take confidence in knowing that we have your back if ever you need to protect yourself from an unwanted attacker.