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Useful Information – FAQ

We have included a wide range of travel tips in order to make your trip to the UAE an outstanding success. But do be aware that these are guidelines and some information, such as entry formalities, are subject to sudden changes and should be checked with your nearest UAE embassy before departure.

Currency

There are no currency restrictions and foreign currency of almost any denomination is readily exchanged in the UAE. The dirham is the local currency of the UAE. Dirham notes are in 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1000 denominations.  Coins include Dh1, 50, 25, 10 and 5 fils.

The dirham is index linked to the dollar. The best exchange rates for other currencies are generally available at private moneychangers found throughout the UAE, but especially in the more popular souqs and shopping malls, where you will also find ATMs. The UAE Exchange Centre (associated with Western Union) has branches throughout the UAE. Thomas Cook Al Rostamani (authorised representative of Thomas Cook’s financial division) and Al Razouki International Exchange Company are also well represented.

Passport validity

Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into the UAE. If you hold a residence permit, your passport must be valid for at least 3 months in order to travel into and out of the country.

Duty Free allowances allowed to carry with you.

​Gifts whose value does not exceed AED 3,000.
The Number of cigarettes should not exceed (400) cigarettes, (50) cigars, (500) grams of tobacco (minced or pressed for pipes), minced or pressed tobacco for smoking, tobacco or mild-tasting tobacco. Exceeding the above will be dutiable.
The amount of alcoholic beverages and beers should not exceed 4 liters of alcohol beverages, or 2 cartons of beer (each consisting of 24 cans, not exceeding 355 ml for each can or its equivalent).

Inbound and outbound travellers also need to declare any cash in excess of AED 100,000.

Customs duty in Dubai?

​Five per cent of the value in CIF (Cost Freight Insurance) terms except for alcohol and cigarettes. 50% Duty payable for alcohol while 100% for cigarettes. – So stick closely to your duty free limits.

Personal Safety

The UAE is one of the safest places in the world to visit. In fact, it has been designated the world’s safest holiday destination by the international travel industry on two occasions. Nevertheless, you should always take out travel insurance for any trip and take the normal precaution to safeguard yourself and your valuables against accidental theft or loss.

Inoculations / Vaccines

You can travel to the emirate safe in the knowledge that you do not require any specific vaccines, jabs or health checks.  You may require A vaccine if Dubai or the UAE is not your final destination. Please check with your GP or travel agent if this is the case.

Emergency Numbers

Ambulance     998 or 999

Fire     997

Police  999

Marine Emergencies 996

Non-emergency 901

Tipping

Tipping is not compulsory in the UAE, but is common practice. Gratuities to staff at hotels are at your discretion. Most restaurants add service charges to the bill (Abu Dhabi 16 per cent; Sharjah 15 per cent; Dubai 10 per cent). If this charge is not included, add 10 per cent of the total to the bill. Most establishments who add a service charge would not necessarily expect tips on top of this. Taxi drivers do not expect to be tipped most people tend to round the fares up. Supermarket baggers, bag carriers and windscreen washers at petrol stations are generally given a tip but this is at your discretion.

Photography

Ask permission before photographing people in general, it’s the courteous thing to do. Avoid photographing Muslim women and do not photograph airports, docks, telecommunications equipment, government buildings, military and industrial installations. This can also sometimes include racetracks and stadiums so check beforehand.

Time

The UAE is four hours ahead of GMT. The time does not change during the summer. This means that there is a three-hour difference between UK and UAE local times in summer and a four-hour difference in winter.

Electricity

Domestic supply is 220 volts. Sockets suitable for three-pin 13 amp plugs of British standard design are Standard across the UAE. However, it is a good idea to bring an adaptor with you for non-UK equipment. Alternatively, adaptors can be purchased in local supermarkets and stores. Most of the high-end hotels will also have adapters available for your use during your stay. Appliances purchased in the UAE will generally have two-pin plugs attached.

Telephone and internet

The fixed landline network, operated by the main national telecommunication organisations ETISALAT and Du, is very modern as one would expect: local calls are free and direct dialling is available to over 150 countries. The international dial code for UAE is +971.

UAE Exchange National Access Code International Access Code
Abu Dhabi 02 + 9712
Ajman 06 + 9716
Al Ain 03 + 9713
Dubai 04 + 9714
Fujairah 09 + 9719
Jebel Ali 04 + 9714
Khor Fakkan 09 + 9719
Ra’s al-Khaimah 07 + 9717
Sharjah 06 + 9716
Umm al-Qaiwain 06 + 9716
ETISALAT information service 144
Du information 155
Directory enquiries 180/181

* Sharjah, Ajman and Umm al-Qaiwain share the access code 06 and Fujairah and Khor Fakkan the access code 09

The UAE also has a superb mobile phone network. Pay-as-you-go cards and various sims are available for visitors who do not wish to use their foreign mobile phones and devices.

Most hotels offer guests internet access via free/passcode Wifi and Wifi hotspots are provided at many cafes.

Post

Emirates Post runs a very reliable postal system with red post collection boxes dotted throughout the cities, towns and malls. Mail is usually collected morning and evening. Express postal facilities are also available from post offices, which are generally open Sunday to Thursday.

Weights and Measures

The UAE uses the metric system, although British and US standard weights and measures are understood at most outlets.

Clothing

Lightweight summer clothing is ideal with a wrap, Pashmina, sweater or jacket or suchlike for cooler winter nights and air-conditioned premises. Although the dress code in the UAE is generally smart casual, guests staying or visiting at the larger hotels do tend to dress far more formally in the evenings. As you are in a Muslim country, bikinis, swimsuits, shorts and revealing tops should be confined to beach resorts only and Not worn out in public areas at malls and suchlike. Women are usually advised not to wear short skirts and to keep their shoulders covered. Note that in Sharjah women are prohibited from wearing swimsuits on public beaches.

Health and Hygiene

As with all travel, health insurance for your trip to the UAE is vital to cover all eventualities. However, a successful government immunisation programme, the provision of adequate clean water and high standards of cleanliness and food hygiene in hotels and restaurants virtually guarantees you an illness-free visit. No special immunisations are required. Nevertheless, it’s advisable to check beforehand if you are travelling from a health-risk area or stopping off at one en route.

There are very few mosquitoes in the towns and cities and, since it is not considered to be a risk, malaria tablets are not prescribed for travel to the UAE. It is likely, however, that mosquitoes will find you if you are camping near the mountains or exploring wadis or date groves in the evening, so cover up and use a suitable insect repellent as it is always safer to avoid being bitten as malaria aside mosquito bites can be very aggravating and painful.

Drinking water is usually produced by desalination of the local sea water so it is normally very safe to drink, nevertheless you may prefer the taste of bottled water to filtered water. Dehydration cannot was be a problem in hot countries so please consume adequate water during the day.

Opening Hours

Shopping hours are from 9.00 a.m.–1 p.m. and 4.00 – 9.00 p.m. However, most shops, particularly in Dubai and Abu Dhabi stay open all day and many in tourist areas close later. Shopping malls open from 8 a.m to 10 p.m – frequently 12 p.m. Some supermarkets are open for 24 hours. Although shops and shopping malls are fully air conditioned, the cool of the evening is a favourite time for shopping. Shopping malls and most shops are open on Friday, which is the Islamic day of rest. But they all close for Juma (Friday) prayers from 11.30 a.m. to 1.30 p.m.

 

Public Holidays

Since Muslim festivals are timed by according to local sightings of phases of the moon, the dates for Islamic religious holidays are approximate, flexible and the precise dates are not announced until a day or so before they occur. If a public holiday falls on a weekend, the holiday is usually taken at the beginning of the next working week.

For detailed information goto: http://www.uaeinteract.com  – We highly recommend this official website is detailed and accurate content.

Also check out our Do’s & Don’t page.

PDF Guide from The Dubai tourism board.

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Know Before You Go – pdf version

Last Updated March 2016

PLEASE NOTE: Information is correct at time of publishing and advice contained within this document should be taken as an example of the types of issues you should consider when in the UAE.  It is not an exhaustive list of everything you should be aware of when travelling in the UAE and more widely in the region.  The contents of this page is for information purposes only and should not be deemed as Legal Advice in anyway.  Legal advice is neither supplied nor inferred.  Please click on any relevant UAE governmental links to obtain detailed advice and support.

 

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