Planning to Visit UAE ? 10 Things you must know

About UAE

The United Arab Emirates or UAE as it is shortly called is a constitutional federation of seven Emirates- Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm al Qaiwan, Ras al Khaimah and Fujairah.  This country emanates  beautiful images of deserts, perfumes and sky scrapers. It stretches across 83,000 sq km and is surrounded by neighbouring countries Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Oman. UAE is a blend of both modern architecture,  technology, tradition and culture and has always been a favourite destination among tourists.  The country rich in culture and heritage has it all- Sun, Sand , Sea, Shopping Malls, Impressive buildings, World Class Hotels and above all the pride of being ranked as one of the safest country’s in the world.


At a Glance

Country name: United Arab Emirates (UAE)

Capital: Abu Dhabi

Dialing Code : +971

National Day: 2 December

Time: Four hours ahead of GMT Currency


Weather and Best time to Visit

The UAE has a subtropical, arid climate with sunny blue skies most of the year. Humidity tends to get higher between the months of June and August.

The UAE draws sunseekers from all corners of the globe due to the fact that it is blessed with year-round sunshine, blue skies and very little rain. The best time to visit is between October and April, when temperatures hover at a pleasant 25-28°C (77-82°F) and the Gulf is perfect for swimming. The hottest time of year is during the sweltering summer months of June to September, when humidity can seem unbearable and temperatures can skyrocket to 45°C (113°F). The country is well prepared for hot weather, however, with temperature controlled swimming pools and permanently air-conditioned hotels, malls, taxis and metros. Rain and wind can occur in the months of January.


Money and Costs

The local currency is the UAE Dirham divided into 100 fils. Notes are in denominations of AED1,000, 500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5. Coins used are in denominations of AED1, 50 and 25 fils. Most retail outlets, hotels and car hire companies accept internationally-recognised credit cards. However, some retailers offer better value for cash and discounts may not be so readily negotiated if payment is by credit card. Cash may be drawn on credit cards in most banks and in some hotels. Cash can be exchanged at your hotel, specialist exchanges and banks. As with most countries, the rate that you will receive at your hotel will not be as good as at the exchanges which are there in plenty on the street and in the malls, and it is perfectly safe to exchange your money there. In most cases you do not need any ID.


Public Holidays in 2016

January 1 – New Year’s Day

May 5 – Al Isra’a Wal Mi’raj – Ascension Day

July 7 – Eid Al Fitr

September 10 – Arafat Day

September 11 – Eid Al Adha

October 2 – Al Hijri – Islamic New Year

November 30 – Commemoration Day

December 2 – UAE National Day

December 12 – Prophet Mohammad’s (PBUH) Birthday


Visa Information

Visit Visas

A visit visa applies to tourists who wish to spend more than 14 days in the UAE, whether it is to visit relatives or for business purposes. The categories given below identify whether an individual requires a visit visa before arrival or whether one can be issued to them at the airport or entry point.

AGCC Citizens

Citizens of the Arab Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) member states (Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia) do not need a visa.

AGCC Residents

Who are not GCC nationals but who have a high professional status such as company managers, business people, auditors, accountants, doctors, engineers, pharmacists, or employees working in the public sector, their families, drivers and personal staff sponsored by them, are eligible for a non-renewable 30-day visa upon arrival at the approved ports of entry.

Exempted Countries

Citizens of the following countries ( holders of Regular Passports ) are exempted from UAE visa:

3- Netherlands 2- Italy 1- United Kingdom
6- Norway 5- Austria 4- Luxemburg
9- France 8- Greece 7- Portugal
12- Switzerland 11- Belguim 10- Germany
15- San Marino 14- Iceland 13- Monaco
18- Andorra 17- Vatican 16- Spain
21- Sweden 20- Slovenia 19- Poland
24- Finland 23- Ireland 22- Denmark
27- Lithuania 26- Czech 25- Slovakia
30- Estonia 29- Latvia 28- Hungary
33- Croatia 32- Cyprus 31- Malta
36- USA 35- Bulgaria 34- Romania
39- Japan 38- New Zealand 37- Australia
42- Brunei 41- Hong Kong 40- Singapore
45- Canada 44- South Korea 43- Malaysia

It should be noted that this list may change vary slightly from time to time and it is therefore best to check with your local UAE embassy or the airline that you are using to fly to the UAE. If you do NOT fall into one of the above categories, you will require a visa and a sponsor for your visit. The sponsor normally applies for the visa on your behalf.

Transit Visas

This type of visa is a 4-day (96 hour) visa, which is issued by sponsorship of an airline operating in the United Arab Emirates. A transit visa can only be issued if a visitor has a valid ticket for an onward flight and the issuing of transit visas are normally free of cost.

Valid Sponsors

Hotels & Tourist Companies can apply, on your behalf, for a Tourist Visa (valid for 30 days); or a Service Visa (valid for 14 days); or a Visit Visa (valid for 30 days and can be extended for other 30 days).

Airlines & Airlines Handlers apply on behalf of their crew members for a 96-hour Transit Visa.

Other Organizations based in the UAE may only apply for Visit Visas and Service Visas.

Individuals (Relatives or Friends) already resident in the UAE may, subject to guidelines, also apply on your behalf for a Visit Visa.

Essential Information for Tourists Arriving in UAE

Appropriate Dressing : Tourists would fall in love with Dubai beaches and enjoy what the country has to offers in terms of white sandy beaches and warm sun. But please bear in mind that one has to be appropriately dressed out of respect for local culture and religion. Bikinis can be worn at the beach or a swimming pool but while in public places which include malls, markets, cinemas,streets etc one has to be covered from shoulders to the knees.

Public Display of Affection : Bear in mind, that unlike other countries, UAE does not tolerate kissing or any other form of display of affection  in public and can warrant jail time.

Ramadan :  During Ramadan, the holy month, Muslims do not eat or drink between suast is broken after which the streets are a hive of activity, which lends a carnival atmosphere to the towns.

Prohibited Materials : All International  magazines and newspaper sold in the UAE are nrise and sunset. Visitors are requested not to eat, drink or smoke in public places during this time. Many restaurants are closed during the day, although food will be served in your hotel, either in your room or in a secluded area of the hotel. Alcohol is served in some emirates after sunset.Iftar is the meal after sunset when the fcensored. Drugs, firearms, erotic materials and pornographic material are strictly banned in UAE

Alcohol : Drinking alcohol is not a part of Muslim culture and drunken behavior or drunk driving are both punishable offences by law, some of which may land you behind bars.

Clothing, Culture and Food

The young Emarati men prefer wearing thawb or a dishdash, an ankle-length white shirt woven from wool or cotton while the women wear abaya, black over-garment covering most parts of the body. This attire is particularly well-suited for the UAE’s hot and dry climate. Western-style clothing is also fairly popular, especially among the youth.

Etiquette is an important aspect of UAE Culture and Tradition. The visitors, whilst in the UAE are expected to show manners and etiquette.

Emirati cuisine is a blend of many Middle Eastern and Asian cuisines.

The modern diet of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is cosmopolitan, featuring dishes from around the world. A lot of people confuse Levantine food as being Emirati, but shawarma, hummous, tabbouleh, and mixed grill are all recent additions and do not do justice to the “soul food” that makes up the Emirati menu.

Due to harsh desert conditions, the traditional food of the United Arab Emirates uses a lot of meat, cereals and dairy. Vegetables are difficult to grow and are not strongly featured in the diet. Traditional dishes include Ma’louba, Margooga, Harees, Machbous, Arsee’ah, Fireed, Jisheid and Mishwy. Meats traditionally used were chicken or small fowl, such as Houbara bustards, and goats. As camels are highly prized for their milk and transporting ability, the eating of camel meat is normally reserved for special occasions.

The dishes are usually like stews, as everything is often cooked in a single pot. Saffron, cardamom, turmeric and thyme are the core flavors used in Emirati cookery. The introduction of rice to the diet came when the traders moved to the region. Leaves from indigenous tress, such as the Ghaff were also used to stuff small birds, releasing their flavor during the cooking process.

Breakfast in the UAE usually features breads like ragag, khameer and chebab, served with cheese, date syrup, or eggs. These were made over a curved hot plate, resembling a stone, which would have been used by the Bedouins. Balaleat is another dish, but its advent again with the traders, who introduced pasta.

Sweet options include luqeymat, a deep fried ball of pancake batter that is rolled in sesame seed and then drizzled with date syrup. Other desserts include khabeesa, which is flour bread crumbs blended with sugar, cardamom and saffron or bethitha, a semolina blended with crushed dates, cardamom and clarified butter.

At the close of the meal it is usual to be served with a red tea infused with mint, which aids the digestion. Other traditions to the meal include a welcome with dates and gahwah (Arabic coffee).

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