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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a federation of seven states that has grown from a quiet backwater to one of the Middle East’s most important economic centres.

Although traditionally conservative and authoritarian in government, the UAE is one of the most liberal countries in the Gulf, with other cultures and beliefs generally tolerated.

In 2020 it became the first Gulf state to establish diplomatic relations with Israel.

Relations with neighbouring Iran have been tense because of an ongoing territorial dispute over Gulf islands. The UAE was one of only three countries to recognise Taliban rule in Afghanistan.

Before oil was discovered in the 1950s the UAE’s economy was dependent on fishing and a declining pearl industry. But since oil exports began in 1962, the country’s society and economy have been transformed.

The UAE has diversified and has become a regional trading and tourism hub. UAE firms have invested heavily abroad.

  • Capital: Abu Dhabi
  • Area: 83,600 sq km
  • Population: 9.2 million
  • Language: Arabic
  • Life expectancy: 66 years (men) 72 years (women)

United Arab Emirate Placeholder
United Arab Emirate
DubaiAbu DhabiFujairahSharjah
AjmanRa’s al KhaymahUmm al Qaywayn 

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Currency & banking

Current exchange rate:$1USD = 3.67 Driham

The official currency of Dubai is the United Arab Emirates Dirham (AED, Dhs or Dh). The AED is divided into 100 fils. The currency has been in circulation since 1973 when it replaced the Qatar and Dubai riyal.

Credit Cards
Credit and debit cards are widely accepted in the city, and most establishments accept Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Union Pay. Mobile payment apps and digital wallets such as Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay are also gaining popularity in Dubai.

ATM machines & Banks
ATMs are the most convenient way to withdraw cash in Dubai. Most ATMs have an English language option and accept international debit and credit cards. However, there will be withdrawal fees that your bank charges per foreign transaction and eventual ATM fees if your home bank does not operate it. Be prepared to pay an average bank transaction fee ranging from 0,5 to 1,5%. Additionally, some ATM machines may have a daily withdrawal limit, so checking with your bank before you travel is important.


Tipping is not mandatory in Dubai, but it is appreciated for good service.

  • It is customary to tip between 10-15% of the total bill at restaurants and cafes, for hairdressing and spa treatments.
  • For taxi rides or food delivery, you can round off the amount.
  • Tour guides and drivers will appreciate any amount you give if you wish so.
  • Tipping hotel concierges and bellboys is not obligatory, but anything from AED 3 to 5 will be great.
  • It is important to note that some establishments may include a service charge in the bill, so check before tipping.

Electronic Devices

You can charge your cameras, phones and other electric items in most accommodations. If you bring more than a couple of chargeable items you might consider bringing an extension with extra outlets since the amount of outlets is often limited. We advise bringing extra batteries for your camera since many lodges generate power with solar or generators and power cuts might occur. Solar-generated lodges will often only have power available in the rooms at certain hours of the day, but you can always use the charging ports in the main lodge area.

The Internet

Hotels across the country offer free WiFi as do many bars and restaurants.

Getting Around?

Public transport in Dubai includes taxis, metro, monorail, buses, tram and abra.


Dubai Metro is one of the most technologically advanced rail systems in the world. It is a great way to explore the city quickly and cheaply, and in this article I will share with you all you need to know for a seamless journey. You can take the metro to easily get around the city and reach many popular attractions in Dubai, like Burj Khalifa, Dubai Marina or the Dubai Gold Souk. The metro in Dubai was opened in 2009 to address a growing demand for public transport, and it is future-proof. Actually, all modern trains are fully automated and driver-free; the cabins are comfortable, air-conditioned and equipped with Wi-Fi.

Dubai Bus is one of the most convenient ways to get around the city. It’s an efficient transportation system that’s been designed to meet the needs of the city’s residents and visitors alike. Dubai bus is considered one of the main types of public transport in the city and is widely used along with the metro. It is good to know that the Dubai metro does not cover several areas, so buses are a great way to supplement it.

Public Transport Agency (PTA) operates almost 120 routes in Dubai serviced by 1,500 buses, including intercity buses to Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Hatta.

Dubai Tram & Palm Monorail
Dubai Tram is a modern 15 km tramway that is connected to the Dubai Metro network and runs from Dubai Marina to Al Sufouh along the Persian Gulf coastline. It is a comfortable and cheap way to move around, saving you money and time.

The Palm Monorail in Dubai is a scenic ride that takes passengers on a journey through the man-made island of Palm Jumeirah. Often referred to as the Palm Jumeirah Monorail, this fully-automated train travels at a leisurely pace, stopping at several stations along the way to allow riders to take in the views of Dubai’s stunning skyline and sparkling ocean.

Boats and Ferries
Unlike many other cities, the Dubai Ferry is mainly a sightseeing boat service, often chosen by tourists. Since daily rides are not frequent, and several routes operate on a loop basis, ferry boats in Dubai are not the best pick for local commuters. But for travellers, a ferry tour is a pocket-friendly way to see some of Dubai’s best attractions and gain unique experiences.

Dubai has an extensive network of waterways, and one of the best ways to explore some of them is by using the Dubai Water Bus. The Dubai Water Bus is a public transportation service operated by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) in Dubai Marina. You can hop on one of the vessels to quickly navigate between the shores of the man-made Dubai Marina and enjoy stunning views of the skyline dominated by glimmering high-rise buildings, luxury yachts and modern bridges.

Abra in Dubai is a traditional wooden boat that can transport up to 20 people. This water taxi is considered one of the oldest local modes of transport. Riding a Dubai abra boat is a fantastic way to discover the city, and enjoy the view from the water.

What to pack?

  • Good quality sunglasses; if you wear contact lenses,
  • Sun hat
  • Swimsuits
  • A small daypack to carry essentials around
  • Sunscreen, moisturiser and lip balm
  • Basic first aid kit.
  • Clothing should be lightweight, loose-fitting and of “breathable” fabrics, such as cotton

Health advice

The US Center For Disease Control maintains an updated list of medical advice for those travelling to the United Arab Emirate

The CDC recommends being up to date with all your regular shots. These vaccines include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot

They also suggest being vaccinated for hepatitis A. There is also some advice about protection for hepatitis B and rabies – but this depends to some degree on where you are heading and what you are doing.

Health care

Modern medical care and medicines are widely available in Dubai and the U.A.E.’s other principal cities, but may not be in outlying areas. Your hotel concierge or consulate is also a good place for a list of recommended doctors and specialists.

Dubai’s healthcare network includes four government hospitals that provide care at relatively low costs and a number of expensive private hospitals and medical clinics. Emergency care in government hospitals is free regardless of nationality.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 999 and ask for an ambulance.

Food safety

Food is generally safe throughout the UAE. Be cautious about eating raw salads and shawarmas (meat cooked on a spit and served in a pita) in older cafes and restaurants. Tap water is potable, but many people prefer to drink bottled water.


Terrorism is a concern in the United Arab Emirates. Travelers should exercise caution when coming to this country. There is a possibility of terrorist attacks on travelers to the UAE and areas of the Gulf. ISIS is another group that are currently planning attacks. Avoid drawing attention to yourself and avoid contact with people who look suspicious.

Photography is not allowed in military and civilian sites. The punishment is arrest, detention, and prosecution by authorities. Mapping activities are prohibited as well and will result in the same punishments.

Crime doesn’t happen that much in the United Arab Emirates. Car break-ins are not common, but travelers should still take their valuables with them.

Women shouldn’t bring attention to themselves while riding a taxi.

Useful phone numbers

  • 999 for Police.
  • 998 for Ambulance.
  • 997 for Fire Department (Civil Defence)
  • 996 for Coastguard.
  • 991 for electricity failure.
  • 922 for water failure.

Local Laws and Customs

Importing goods
Importing pork products and pornography into the UAE is illegal. Videos, books, and magazines may be subject to scrutiny and may be censored.

There is zero tolerance for drugs-related offences. The penalties for trafficking, smuggling and the possession of drugs (including residual amounts) are severe. Sentences for drug trafficking can include the death penalty. Possession of even the smallest amount of illegal drugs can lead to a minimum three-month prison term or a fine of between AED 20,000 and AED100,000. 

Many people stop off in UAE airports on their way to other destinations. UAE airports have excellent technology and security, so transiting passengers carrying even residual amounts of drugs may be arrested.

Some skincare products and E-cigarette refills may contain ingredients that are illegal in the UAE such as CBD oil. If found in possession of such products, they will be confiscated and you may face criminal charges. 

UAE Residents can drink alcohol at home and in licensed venues. Liquor licences are still required for Residents in Dubai but are no longer required for Residents in Abu Dhabi and other Emirates

In Dubai, tourists are able to obtain a temporary liquor licence for the duration of a month from the two official liquor distributors in Dubai. However, you should be aware that it is a punishable offence under UAE law to drink or be under the influence of alcohol in public. In Dubai and all other emirates besides Sharjah, the drinking age is 21. Drinking alcohol in Sharjah is illegal.

Dress code
Women should dress modestly when in public areas like shopping malls. Clothes should cover the tops of the arms and legs, and underwear should not be visible. Swimming attire should be worn only on beaches or at swimming pools.

Cross-dressing is illegal.

It is normal practice for hotels to take a photocopy of your passport or Emirates ID. You can’t stay in a hotel if you’re under 18 years old and not accompanied by an adult.

Offensive behaviour
Swearing and making rude gestures (including online) are considered obscene acts and offenders can be jailed or deported. Take particular care when dealing with the police and other officials.

Sexual Relationships
Public displays of affection are frowned upon, and there have been several arrests for kissing in public.

All homosexual sex is illegal and same-sex marriages are not recognised.

Photography of certain government buildings and military installations isn’t allowed. Don’t photograph people without their permission. Men have been arrested for photographing women on beaches. 

Posting material (including videos and photographs) online that is critical of the UAE government, companies or individuals, or related to incidents in the UAE, or appearing to abuse/ridicule/criticise the country or its authorities, or that is culturally insensitive, may be considered a crime punishable under UAE law.


Current Weather Forecasts

clear sky
Abu Dhabi
clear sky
clear sky

The peak tourist season is December through March; this is when tourist crowds flock to Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Although all of the UAE experiences a hot and arid weather almost all through the year, the temperature does go down during the winter months. The best time to visit UAE can be considered to be during the months of November to March, when the weather is neither too hot nor too humid, making it perfect for sightseeing and travelling. It can’t really be called winter since the temperature rarely drops below 12° C.

Summers in the UAE are pretty hot and very humid. The temperature, sometimes, rises above 55° C, making it impossible to leave the confines of an air-conditioned room. Summers are definitely not the best season to visit UAE, especially if you are going for sightseeing and vacation purposes. Rains are non-existent during the summers, making the weather even hotter. It does get cooler during the nights, as the desert winds blow in, but the days are dusty, humid and extremely hot.

Winters in the UAE last from December to February, and is the only time of the year when the tourists and locals can breathe a sigh of relief when leaving their homes. The day temperature remains around 21° C, whereas by night it drops to nearly 12° C, which is as cold as it gets in the UAE. This is considered the best time to visit UAE for holiday, since most of the fairs and festivals, especially the shopping festivals are held during this time. Given the fact that most weddings take place during this time, this can also be considered the best time to visit UAE for honeymoon, especially if you want to completely explore your destination within a few days.

Visa requirements

UAE visa on arrival

30‑day visit eligibility

If you are a passport holder of the below country or territory, no advance visa arrangements are required to visit the UAE. Simply disembark your flight at Dubai International and proceed to immigration, where your passport will be stamped with a 30‑day visit visa free of charge.

CanadaChinaHong Kong, China
JapanKazakhstanMacau, China
New ZealandRepublic of IrelandSan Marino
SingaporeUkraineUnited Kingdom and Northern Ireland
United States of AmericaVatican City

90‑day visit eligibility

If you are a passport holder of one of the below countries or territories, your passport will be stamped with a multiple entry 90‑day visit visa that’s valid for 6 months from the date of issue, and for a stay of 90 days in total. Citizens of the below European countries are also entitled to apply for a pre‑arranged visit visa if their 90‑day visa on arrival has been fully utilized.

ArgentinaAustriaBahamas Islands
Costa RicaCroatiaCyprus
Czech RepublicDenmarkEl Salvador
PortugalRomaniaRussian Federation
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesSan MarinoSerbia
Solomon IslandsSouth KoreaSpain

180‑day visit eligibility

If you hold a Mexican passport you’re eligible for a multiple entry 180‑day visit visa that’s valid for 6 months from the date of issue, and for a stay of 180 days in total.


In the United Arab Emirates, the power plug sockets are of type C, D and G. The standard voltage is 220 V and the frequency is 50 Hz.

Which power plugs and sockets in the United Arab Emirates

In the United Arab Emirates, the most common of power plug sockets are of type G. 

  • Type G: this type is of British origin. This socket only works with plug G.
Power plug sockets type G are used in the United Arab Emirates
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