United Arab Emirates – Travel tips

The United Arab Emirates is an Islamic country with its own norms and values. Please find below some useful tips in order to make your stay in the UAE as pleasant as possible, without disrespecting local values.

Best travel period
– The best travel period to the United Arab Emirates is from October until April. In case you enjoy the heat, May is still an option as well. Avoid the summer months from June until September. In summer it is hot and sweaty with temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius and a humidity between 70 and 90 percent.
– Check if it’s the Ramadan period (fasting month). During this period most of the shoppingmalls are open, however a lot of food and drink facilities are closed between sunrise and sunset. It is also expected from tourists that they don’t eat and drink in public during sunrise and sunset.

Safety
– The United Arab Emirates are one of the safest places in the world. Don’t panic in case you have left your mobile phone, wallet or purse somewhere on a table or in a taxi. Usually you will find it back at the spot where you have lost it or it is handed over to the  ‘lost and found’ department.
– As a woman you can travel here all by yourself. The locals are very much respectful to women. Women even have their own seating in the metro or bus.

Children
– The United Arab Emirates are very childfriendly. Especially in Dubai there are plenty of  options inside and outside the mall to entertain your children.

Clothing
– Please wear a skirt or trousers which reaches at least to your knees when you are in shoppingmalls. Also the shoulders need to be covered. Since the temperature in the malls is quite ‘freezy’, I recommend you to bring a vest or shawl.
– During wintertime (mid November until mid February) I recommend to bring along a vest for the evenings. Temperatures can drop until 16 degrees Celsius.
– See-through clothing is not accepted.
– On the beach it is ok for a woman to wear a bikini. However, it is not allowed to sunbathe topless or in a thong. Not complying with local rules can end up in undesirable and unwanted situations.

Transport
– Dubai has an extensive and advanced bus and metro system. Both bus and metro are cheap transport options.
– Taxi’s are the most used means of transportation to get from A to B.
– Taxi’s are cheap and work on meter (start tariff AED 3). Minimum tariff to pay AED 10.
– It is common to give the taxi drivers a tip of 10 percent.
– In case restaurants have mentioned in their menu’s or on their bills that 10 percent  service charge and municipality charge is already included in the price, then you don’t need to give any tip. Of course you may.
– In case you know how to drive abroad and can cope with the Asian driving style, you can rent a car. Don’t forget to bring along your international driving license.

Food and drinks
– The UAE offers excellent food and drink facilities. Restaurants and top-chefs from all over the world are settled here.
– Most of the restaurants offer also vegetarian dishes.
– Check up front if you can get a discount at a restaurant at https://www.groupon.com/.
– In case you want to stay for a longer period in the UAE, you might want to consider (depending on your planned activities) to buy the entertainer voucher. Check https://theentertainerme.com/

Need to know
– Vaccinations are not necessary.
– With a Dutch passport you will get a free tourist visa for 90 days upon arrival at the airport. Other nationalities, please check http://www.dubaiairports.ae/before-you-fly/procedures/immigration-visas.
– You are allowed to bring alcohol into Dubai. There is a duty free shop where you can buy this after you have passed immigration. Please note that alcohol is not allowed in every state of the UAE. For example it is forbidden in Sharjah. In the entire UAE it is forbidden to consume alcohol in public.
– At the airport you can withdraw dirhams from the ATM. In case of Euro’s, the rate is in general divided by 5. Which means AED 1 is € 0,20. Since a while the rate is divided by 4. Which means AED 1 is € 0,25.
– The shops are open daily from 10:00 am – 23:00, but between 10:00 am -14:00 it’s the most relaxed time for shopping.
– The working week in the UAE is from Sunday until Thursday. Friday and Saturday is the weekend. Although a lot of local companies work on Saturday as well.
– Only drink bottled water (local brands like Masafi, Aquafina, Al Ain and Arwa are good and cheap).
– It is ok to brush your teeth with tap water.
– In case you want to greet someone from the other sex, wait with giving a hand until he/she gives you a hand first. Nod kindly.
– In case you get invited for a Majlis – a private room where guests are invited and entertained – take off your shoes in front of the entrance.
– Eat and drink with your right hand (in case you are in the company of Arabs and Indians (India)).
– De dirham is since 1997 pegged with the US dollar against a rate of AED 3.67.
– Voltage is 220/240 volt (threeleg).

Don’t do
– For the honeymooners amongst you and other couples in love: don’t show any affection in public. You can get a warning from a security guard or a trip to the police station.
– Homosexuality is forbidden.
– Don’t promote any other religion except the islam.
– Don’t photograph local people (Emirati).
– Despite the fact that in indicated hotelbars and restaurants in Dubai and Abu Dhabi alcohol may be consumed, please don’t walk under influence on the street or sit under influence in a taxi. You can get rapported to the police. In Sharjah (neighbor emirate of Dubai) alcohol is forbidden.
– Drugs are forbidden.
– Don’t pull the middle finger.
– Don’t argue with a security guard or the police where rude language is being used.
– Don’t show the bottom of your feet (when in company of Arabs).
– In case you are in the presence of an important person or official: don’t cross your legs.

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