Most arrivals looking for a UAE hotel
are processed through the Dubai
and Abu Dhabi international airports
, although some airlines are now servicing Sharjah as well. There are daily services to most major European cities from Dubai and Abu Dhabi, as well as to major Middle Eastern and Gulf cities. There are also connections to the USA, North Africa, the Indian Subcontinent, and Australia. There is no airport departure tax. Unless you are a British or Gulf country citizen, you will require a visa. Your UAE hotel
can sponsor you for a 15-day non-renewable transit visa or a one-month renewable visitor's visa. If your passport shows evidence of travel to Israel, you will be denied entry to the UAE. Find more info on UAE Travel destinations on WIred Destinations' UAE Travel Intro
and UAE Travel Info
The best time of the year to visit the United Arab Emirates
(UAE) is between November and April, when the weather is at its best.
At other times, air-conditioning becomes a priority. During Ramadam
, the Muslim month of fasting (between December and January over the next couple of years) there is no eating, drinking or smoking in public from sunrise to sunset; places that normally serve alcohol stop during this month.
UAE Dirham is legal tender. One Dirham (Dh) is equal to 100 fils.
Moneychangers sometimes offer better rates than banks but they can be fussy about changing traveler’s checks. The best currency to bring is US dollars, followed by British pounds. Credit cards are widely accepted and there are plenty of ATMs connected to one or more of the global ATM systems.
UTC / GMT (+ 4 hours) The UAE is four hours ahead of London, twelve hours ahead of Los Angeles, nine ahead of New York, and six hours behind Sydney. Daylight Savings Time (DST) is not observed.
UAE Business Hours
Normal UAE shopping hours are from 9:00 am - 1 pm and 4:00- 9:00 pm. Many shops, particularly in Dubai and Abu Dhabi stay open all day. Most shopping centers open from 10 am to 10 pm and often, even later. Some supermarkets are open for 24 hours. Shopping centers and most shops are open on Friday, the Islamic day of rest, but they all close for Juma (Friday) prayers from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm. All shops are required to close at prayer times in Ra's al-Khaimah.
Government offices open at 7:30 am and close at 3:00 pm. It is advisable to visit in the morning. Private offices tend to keep longer hours, coming back to work in the evening after an extended mid-day break. Some private businesses open from 8 am to 5 pm. All government offices close for the weekend at mid-day on Thursday, and do not open again until Saturday morning. Some offices outside the public sector are open on Thursday and close on Friday and Saturday.
The telephone network operated by the national telecommunication organization ETISALAT provides free local calls and direct dialing to 150 countries. Cheap rates for international direct calls apply from 9 pm to 7 am and all day on Fridays and public holidays. There is a complete list of rates at the back of each telephone directory. Pay phones, both card and coin operated, are located throughout the UAE. Phone cards for local use (Dh30 or Dh45) are usually available from ETISALAT offices, supermarkets, pharmacies etc. Coin operated phones take Dh1 and 50 fils.
GSM services are available. The mobile phone code within the UAE is 050. 'Speak Easy' is a GSM mobile service for those visitors and tourists who cannot use their own mobile phones in the UAE. You can either buy a new mobile phone and purchase a temporary SIM card or use your own handset with a temporary card. Contact ETISALAT for details. Most UAE five-star hotels offer guests internet access. Email cheap rates are from 7 pm to 7 am. Public internet access kiosks are being established in the UAE, initially at the major airports. The minimum charge for public access is Dh2 and 60 fils per minute. Payment can be made by credit card. Access is also available at the following any number of internet cafes where the rates are in the region of Dh15-Dh20 per hour. If you have brought your laptop with you, along with a modem and browsing software, you can dial 500 5333 to get connected to the internet. A charge of 15 fils per minute is billed to the telephone to which you are connected. For more details call 800 5244.
The General Postal Authority runs an efficient postal system with red post collection boxes dotted throughout the cities and towns. Mail is usually collected morning and evening. Stamps can be purchased and post mailed from your UAE hotel
. Express postal facilities are also available at post offices. Note that there are no telephone or fax facilities at post offices in the UAE and poste restante facilities are not available.
Power supply is usually 220 volts, 50 cycles. Sockets suitable for three-pin 13 amp plugs of British standard design are the norm, however it is a good idea to bring an adaptor with you just in case. Adaptors can be purchased in local supermarkets. Appliances purchased in the UAE will generally have two-pin plugs attached.
The official language is Arabic, which is spoken by almost all of the native population. Persian (Farsi) is spoken widely in the cities. Urdu and Hindi are also spoken. English is used as a second language in commerce.
UAE Dress Code
Lightweight summer clothing is ideal with a wrap, sweater, or jacket for cooler winter nights and air-conditioned premises. Although the dress code in the UAE is generally casual, guests in the larger UAE hotels do tend to dress more formally in the evening. Since you are visiting a Muslim country, bikinis, swimsuits, shorts, and revealing tops should be confined to beach resorts. Women are usually advised not to wear short skirts and to keep their shoulders covered. Note that in Sharjah women are prohibited from wearing swimsuits on public beaches. The sun can be fierce throughout the year so heatstroke and heat exhaustion are always a risk. Adequate sunglasses, hats, and high factor sun creams are essential, especially for children.
Regular bus services operate between both Dubai
and Abu Dhabi
and Saudi Arabia
's Eastern Province, though there are no bus or taxi services to Qatar. There is no inter-city air or bus service between the seven emirates, so if you don't have your own car the only way to travel between emirates is by service taxi. These can be cramped but they are cheap and a great way to meet locals. The main problem is that they take a while to fill up, except on the main Abu Dhabi - Dubai route
. Between these two cities, you also have the choice of slightly cheaper minibuses.
The UAE is one of those countries wher
e having your own wheels can often mean the difference between having fun and spending much of your time planning transport options from A to B. Car rental is only slightly more expensive than in the West, and is relatively easy to arrange in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Main roads are in fair condition and, in theory, you should drive along them on the right. Driving standards are not particularly high and fatalism reigns supreme; if you have the slightest inclination towards self-preservation, be sure to drive defensively - especially at roundabouts.
Only Dubai and Al-Ain have public bus networks useful to travelers. Note that taxis in Abu Dhabi and Al-Ain have meters, as do most in Dubai. The other emirates do not.
UAE Health Facilities