Travelling to Dubai? Here’s an A-Z of essential information.
Connected to more than 260 destinations across six continents through 140 airlines, Dubai International is the world’s busiest airport in terms of international passengers. Comprising three terminals, and three concourses (with a fourth under construction) and including the world’s first and largest purpose-built A380 facility, Dubai International is one of the world’s most exciting gateways.
Dubai’s second airport, Al Maktoum International at Dubai World Central (DWC), opened to passengers in 2013. DWC will eventually become the world’s largest airport with a capacity of 160 million passengers.
Leading cruise operators Princess Cruises, Van Gogh Cruise Line, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Silversea Cruises, Seabourn and many more have made Dubai their regional port of call. It also serves as a home port for Costa Cruises, Aida Cruises, Royal Caribbean International and TUI Cruises.
Alcohol is available in licensed hotels and restaurants.
All major international banks have branches in the city. Working hours are 8am-2pm Saturday to Thursday. ATMs are widely available.
Most businesses are open from 8am-6pm Saturday to Thursday. Embassies, consulates and government offices operate from 7.30am-2.30pm Sunday to Thursday. Friday and Saturday are official holidays for all government departments as per the Islamic weekend.
Major credit cards such as American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa are accepted in most hotels and shopping malls.
A subtropical, arid climate ensures clear blue skies almost throughout the year. Winter may see a few infrequent rain showers. Temperatures vary from season to season: January can fall to a low of 15°C, while July can rise to a high of 48°C.
Visitors to the United Arab Emirates must obtain a visa prior to travel unless they come from one of the visa exempt countries or one of the countries whose citizens are eligible for visa on arrival – as listed below. Visas for citizens of other countries should apply for visas at the UAE Embassy nearest to them and follow the criteria stated.
Nationals of the following 46 countries and territories who are holders of normal passports are eligible to obtain a UAE visa on arrival valid for 30 days. Extension is possible for an additional fee.
- All EU citizens
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand
- San Marino
- South Korea
- United States
Nationals of the following countries may enter the UAE without a visa
- Saudi Arabia
Duty free allowances
Two litres of spirits (non-Muslim adults only)
Two litres of wine (non-Muslim adults only)
10 cartons of cigarettes
A reasonable amount of perfume
For details refer to: mofa.gov.ae
The UAE currency is known as the Arab Emirate Dirham denoted by AED or more commonly Dhs. One dirham is divided into 100 fils. The dirham is pegged to the US dollar at a mid-rate of approximately US$1= Dhs3.679.
Accommodation options vary from luxurious five-star hotels to budget-friendly hotel apartments. Conference, convention, meeting and banqueting facilities are available in most hotels.
Arabic is the official language of the UAE. English is widely spoken and understood.
Dubai Health Authority (DHA) regulates all medical services in the emirate. Rashid, Latifa and Dubai Hospitals are operated by DHA itself and all emergency services here are free for both residents and visitors. There are many private hospitals in the city and fees vary.
English: Gulf News, Khaleej Times, The Gulf Today and The National.
Arabic: Al-Bayan, Al-Ittihad, Al-Khaleej and Emarat Al-Youm.
Ramadan is the holiest month of the Islamic lunar calendar during which Muslims commemorate the revelation of the noble Qu’ran to the holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him). See pg62 for more.
Islam is the official religion of the UAE. The UAE, and especially the emirate of Dubai, offers great tolerance for all other faiths.
Malls: 10am-midnight Sunday to Wednesday, 10am-1am Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Independent retail outlets: 10am-1pm and 4pm to 10pm Saturday to Wednesday, 4pm-midnight Friday
Telecom services are provided by Etisalat and du. Direct dialing is available to most countries. Calls made from one fixed line to another within Dubai are free. The country code is +971 and the area code is 04.
This is not essential but a tip of 10 per cent is appreciated.
Electricity: The electricity supply in the UAE is 220/240 volts at 50 cycles. US-made appliances may require a transformer.
Water: Bottled mineral water is served in hotels and restaurants and is also available in supermarkets.
DOS AND DON’TS
As a sign of respect for local customs and traditions, a modest dress code is strongly advised. Wearing revealing clothing in public places should be avoided at all times. Swimwear is acceptable only at hotel pools, resorts and beaches. Before leaving those areas, change into casual wear.
The acceptable male greeting on meeting a Gulf Arab is to stand up and shake hands. However, for a man to shake the hand of a Muslim woman (and vice versa) is, in most circumstances, considered unacceptable. Local women will usually not offer their hand to a man and will nod and smile instead and some local men prefer not to shake hands with women. If in doubt, wait until a hand is offered when meeting someone for the first time.
Personal conduct and etiquette
Rude and arrogant behaviour is unacceptable. Public displays of affection between a man and woman are considered disrespectful. There is zero tolerance for drunken driving and inappropriate behaviour while under the influence of alcohol. Swearing is considered very offensive. During the holy month of Ramadan, eating, drinking and smoking in public are strictly prohibited.
Avoid taking photographs of women as it is considered intrusive and rude. Photographing military installations, government buildings and private premises is strictly prohibited.