United Arab Emirates is a federation of seven emirates along the eastern coast of Arabian Peninsula. Located in Middle East, UAE is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the west and south, Oman to the east and north east. Abu Dhabi is its capital city. The total land area is 83,600 Km2 (32,278 sq. miles). UAE is largely an arid land with vast sand deserts, but is also characterized by sand dunes, oases, rocky mountains, valleys, marshes and mangroves and salt plains.
The estimated population of UAE is about 9.8 million (as of July 2020). There are more than 200 nationalities living and working in the UAE. The expatriate community outnumbers the population of UAE nationals. Indians form the largest foreign community in the UAE, followed by Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, other Asians, Europeans and Africans. Islam is the largest and official state religion. Practice of other religion is allowed by the government. Besides mosques, the UAE is also home to several churches and temples where worshipers practice their religions in an atmosphere of safety, security and mutual respect. The official language of the UAE is Arabic. English is also widely spoken in the country. All road and traffic signs and signs on commercial outlets are in Arabic and English.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit UAE is between the months of October and February. The weather at this time of the year is cool and neither too hot or humid. This makes a perfect time to visit some sites and do some travelling.
When visiting UAE remember to dress modestly, particularly in public places like shopping malls and conservative areas. Both men and women might feel more comfortable wearing loose-fitting clothes that cover shoulders, arms and legs. Avoid wearing transparent clothing, sleeveless tops and short skirts or shorts. Any form of nudity is strictly forbidden.
When visiting a mosque, women will be asked to respect the Muslim tradition and wear an abaya and cover their heads. Often, these would be provided at the mosque.
Health & Safety
UAE is a very safe country to travel. In fact, it is among the safest countries in the world. In tourist areas, petty crime, such as pickpocketing and bag snatching, occurs but is rare. Avoid walking alone after dark in isolated places, including pedestrian underpasses. Be prepared for extreme weather. Between June and September, temperatures can exceed 50°C. Sand and dust storms are also common. In extreme heat, stay out of the sun and drink plenty of water.
Healthcare facilities in the UAE are generally adequate. However, services might not be available in remote areas. You may have to pay up-front before treatment. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.
The local currency in UAE is Dirham (AED or Dh) which is divided into 100 fils. Coins are in 5, 10, 25 and 50 fils and AED1. Notes are in denominations of AED5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000.
Currency exchanges and banking facilities are available at most major airports and many are open 24 hours a day. But exchange rates might not be favorable at these outlets. More competitive rates can be obtained from city-centre financial establishments. ATMs can be found in all shopping malls, major supermarkets, most petrol stations and the airport.
Tipping is not expected, but is commonly practiced in the Emirate.
For restaurants, taxes and service charge are already in the bill. If you feel being generous or you were given an excellent service the usual amount is between 10-15 percent of the bill.
For hotelier or front liners, normal amount is AED 5-10. But, tip is not expected, staff will not be insulted if you don’t give any.
For Tour guide/driver, 5-10 percent of the tour price per person.
For taxi drivers, usually you round up your fare to the nearest note and let the driver keep the change.
Taking photos of people, especially women and families, in public places shall not be taken without their permission. Taking photos of people is sensitive issue in UAE’s local culture. Taking photograph of government buildings and military installations are not allowed. Photographing aircraft and plane spotting is illegal as well.
Most of the hotels offer free Wi-Fi to their guests. Public places such as mall also provide free access to Wi-Fi.
Etisalat and du telcom provide mobile phone and internet services in the UAE. Mobile phone reception and internet speed are excellent throughout the UAE. Both providers offer visitor line plan or either tourist plan with various options for making local and international calls, sending text messages and surfing the internet. Visitors need to provide a copy of their passport and UAE visa in order to obtain a local SIM card.
It is punishable offense to drink alcohol without a license. Drinking in public or being under the influence of alcohol in public is punishable offense. In emirate of Sharjah, drinking alcohol is illegal.
The climate in UAE is hot and humid. Rainfall is sporadic, falling mainly during winter time (November-March). The hottest months are July and August with maximum temperature of 45°C (113°F). Average minimum temperatures in January and February are between 10 and 14 °C (50 and 57 °F).
Within the United Arab Emirates, including Dubai, the associated plug type is C or the standard European plug, type D that are mostly used in India, Pakistan and Nepal & last is type G, the plug that has three rectangular pins in a triangular pattern. Dubai operates on a 220-230V supply voltage and 50Hz.
The Seven Emirates
Abu Dhabi – Abu Dhabi is the largest emirate in the United Arab Emirates occupying about 84 percent of the national landmass territory. Abu Dhabi City is the federal capital of UAE. It is rich in natural wonders, where the famous Liwa oasis and Al Ain Garden city can be found. Abu Dhabi is also a centre for world-class sporting event such as: the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the prestigious Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge cross-country rally and the Formula One Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Dubai – Dubai is the second largest emirate. It was called ‘Pearl of the Gulf’ and ‘Jewel of the world’ because of its heritage and history. Dubai City is the capital of the emirate. Dubai boasts of world-class hotels, modern architecture, entertainment and dining venues, traditional markets, shopping centers and sporting events. Some of the major tourist attractions in the emirate are the wadis of Hatta, the sail-shaped Burj Al Arab hotel, which is also the world's only seven-star hotel and Burj Khalifa, which is the world's tallest skyscraper.
Sharjah – Sharjah is the third largest emirate. It is well known for its beautiful landscapes and seascapes. Sharjah also known for its architectural and cultural wealth. Its touristic sites include historical areas like Heart of Sharjah and modern sites like Al Qasba and Al Majaz waterfront.
Ajman – Ajman is the smallest of the seven emirates. It is located along a central creek with a beautiful 16-kilometer-long stretch of white sandy beach. It is famous for its stunning beaches, Masfout Mountains, nature reserves and parks, Masfout Castle, Red Fort and the 18th century Ajman Fort which was converted into Ajman Museum.
Umm Al Quwain – Umm Al Quwain is the second smallest and least populated emirate. Umm Al Quwain is situated between Sharjah to the southwest and Ras Al Khaimah to the northeast. The city of Umm Al Quwain is built on a narrow peninsula called Khor Al Bidiyah. The emirate is known for its numerous recreational activities; from sailing to diving. Traditional activities such as dhow building and sports such as falconry and camel racing are also popular in the emirate. Dreamland Aqua Park, the UAE's largest water park and resort attracts several visitors.
Ras Al Kahimah – Ras Al Khaimah is the capital and fourth largest emirate. Currently, Ras Al Khaimah is reinventing itself as a tourism hub. It is often described as the most scenic of all the emirates because of its diverse landscape consisting of sandy deserts, coastal strips with salt flats areas, mangroves and mountains.
Fujairah – Fujairah is the only emirate that is situated on the eastern coast of the UAE along the Gulf of Oman. Its economy is based on fishing and agriculture. Its land is irrigated by rainwater from the Hajjar Mountains. Fujairah is distinguished with its rugged mountains, valleys, waterfalls, oases and wide sandy beaches. It has several hot, cold and mineral springs. Fujairah is distinguished with its rugged mountains, valleys, waterfalls, oases and wide sandy beaches. It has several hot, cold and mineral springs. Wadi Al Wurayah waterfalls and Ain Al Madhab Gardens are major touristic attractions. And so are the historic Al Bidya Mosque and the Heritage Village.
-Sight-seeing tours are operated and led by a local guide and/or local drivers.
-We encourage clients to buy handmade artifacts from the local producers like Persian carpets and rugs, gold jewelries, milk chocolates, dried dates, Arabic attar, Arabic coffee and spices.
-Help in conserving resources such as water and energy. Keep in mind that most cities in UAE is surrounded by desert and there is a lack of fresh water.
-Littering and spitting in public places are considered offence and subjected to fines.
-When camping at the desert, avoid causing pollution or throwing waste, as these are also subject to fines. This also applies with marine environment.