The Emirates has been breaking the barriers of human perceptions of what is achievable. They have made cities from the sand, and towering ones at that. They have reached for the heights, looked down on the entire world from the tallest of their structures and has bathed in luxury.
The United Arab Emirates is also home to millions of global citizens, offering endless opportunities to mankind to improve in every aspect. The bling of the luxury and the glitz of the lifestyle is surely enticing for the expats and tourists alike. While they have been taking these commendable steps to help reach for a better future, there is one thing every single Emirate country has been holding dear; their culture and tradition.
As a traveler, one of the very first things you need to know before you visit any Emirati is the same thing, about how to respect their cultural attributes as that is the most important aspect and absolute rule that you have to adhere to. While a few cities might be lenient in some ways, there are still many roots that hold the ground throughout the soil of UAE.
If you are visiting the popular destinations of UAE, these international travel tips will tell you what you need to know beforehand.
UAE culture, in general, leans towards the conservative side. Cities like Dubai is often perceived as a city with a liberal mindset. But even there, it is necessary that you follow their culture without any questions. After all, you are only a guest there. Men and women are expected to dress modestly, wear cover the shoulders, upper arms and legs upto knees.
If you do anything more intimate than holding hands, you might actually get arrested. Yes, it could go just like the Sex and the City scenes in Abu Dhabi. You do not want to risk it right? It is even against the law to share a hotel room with someone other than your marriage partner or a close relative. Homosexuality is illegal, and if you are caught, then there could be penalty, imprisonment or even deportation. You will have to choose a hotel room with separate beds and make the request explicitly.
Being an Islamic country, every city follows the prayers customs. Muslims pray five times a day and before each prayer, a call is made from the mosques. It is beautiful to listen to; however, non-Muslims do not have to pray any further part in that. Friday especially is a very auspicious day for Muslims, and you might see smaller shops close during the prayer times.
The UAE has very strict policies about what you bring to the country. their anti-drug are of zero tolerance, and could get you arrested. Even the medicines available over the counter in your country might not be allowed in UAE. The best approach is to check for the banned-substances list from a UAE Embassy or Consulate from your country. If you are carrying medicines, make sure to take the doctor’s prescription with you.
No amount of precaution should actually prepare you for the heat in UAE countries. Whether you are visiting smashing Dubai or the UAE capital city, the situation is the same. The hottest months are July and August. And the best time to visit would be in winter when the temperature is moderate. In cities, however, taxis and buildings are always air conditioned. So unless you get out and decide to take a walk, you should be safe from the scorching sun.
The most comfortable months to visit the capital of UAE and other cities are from December to February. In this window, the travel expenses are also doubled or even tripled depending upon your choices. The shoulder season between May and September is the next best option. Discounts are still open, and the heat is tolerable.
The most common currency in the cities of UAE is the United Arab Emirates Dirham(DH). Credit and Debit cards are accepted everywhere, but if you are shopping in the old souk area, cash is more preferred.
Though tipping is not expected, it is common courtesy. Restaurants often add a service charge to the bill, if not, add a 10 percent to the total amount.
The Emirates have influences from many countries especially due to the high expat population. Nevertheless, do not miss out on the authentic Emirati cuisine while there. Filled with the aromas and flavors of spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, and za’atar, the flavor will last with you. Dinner time is usually after 8.30 pm. The places could receive crowd even after 10 pm, as is the usual practice.
Another important point to note is about alcohol. It is only served in the licensed hotels and clubs and is expensive too. It is not advised and is illegal to be under the influence of alcohol in public. Inebriation could get you arrested in public places, so stick to your hotel if you plan to drink.
Though Arabic is the official United Arab Emirates language, English is widely spoken. Communication would not be an issue particularly while staying in hotels and public places. If you are planning to visit more than one city in UAE, make sure to plan the transport. Few cities are possible to be accessed via the road itself. For example, Abu Dhabi to Dubai is only about an hour on the road and has a few attractions on the way too.
Here are our exclusive Dubai travel tips for your visit.
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