Information on the United Arab Emirates
Temperatures UAE Dubai – London
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) comprises seven emirates: Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Um al-Qawain, Ras al-Khaimah and Fujairah.
Abu Dhabi (approx. 1.2 million inhabitants).
System of government:
The United Arab Emirates is a federal constitutional monarchy comprising seven autonomous emirates. The highest federal body is the Supreme Council made up of the rulers of the seven emirates. They elect the head of state and his representative from among their number, each of whom holds office for five years. Comprising 40 delegates, half of whom are elected indirectly and the other half are appointed by the emirs, the parliament has an exclusively advisory function. Political parties are not permitted in the UAE.
Islam is the state religion (80 per cent Sunni, 16 per cent Shiite). Resident foreigners practice their religions without hindrance (e.g. Christianity, non-native Islam religions, Hinduism).
The official language is Arabic. English is also spoken and understood in business transactions and in hotels.
Subtropical to tropical desert climate with very low annual rates of precipitation (mostly in winter); extreme heat and humidity from May to October (max. daytime temperature of over 45 °C); average temperature in January 18 °C, in August 34 °C.
220-250 volt AC, 50 Hertz. Three-pin plugs are the norm here. Adapters can be obtained from any electrical store and all larger supermarkets.
Central European Time (CET) +4 hours. During European summertime, the time difference is +3 hours.
Making telephone calls:
The country code for international calls from the UK to the Emirates is 00971. When phoning the UK from the Emirates, the country code to dial is 0044, dropping the zero before the area code.
Country and people:
Islam restricts the consumption of alcohol in the UAE. A strict general ban on alcohol prevails in the Emirate of Sharjah in particular where alcohol is not offered in any hotel while it is served in the other emirates. During the fasting month of Ramadan, restrictions in everyday life (e.g. restaurants outside the hotels are closed during the day, shorter opening hours at official authorities) and increased sensitivity concerning religious matters and regarding the observation of Islamic traditions can be anticipated.
Eating, drinking and smoking in public, including in vehicles, is also forbidden for non-Muslims from sunrise to sunset. During this period, women should wear respectable clothing with long sleeves and men should refrain from wearing short leisure clothes.
Tips are customary in the UAE. Similar to the US, tips represent a portion of income in the service sector. They also symbolise acknowledgement of the service provided. Hotel chambermaids can be tipped approx. £1 to £2 per night. Approx. 10% of the invoice sum is customary in restaurants or taxis. Tips are not given in shops. For group tours, we recommend tipping approx. £2 per day and person for the tour guide and £1 to £2 per day and person for the bus driver. But it goes without saying that it is up to each individual to decide how much of a tip they wish to leave, if any.
Entry requirements for British citizens:
Adults and children must hold a valid passport to enter the UAE. Passports must be valid for at least six months from the date of entry. British citizens do not require a visa before their arrival in the UAE and will be given a 30-day visa on arrival. Single parents or other adults travelling alone with children should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country.
Your tour guides are eminently qualified and will provide you with extensive information on the country, people, history, culture etc., and assist and advise you in all organisational matters. They will help you when allocating rooms and look forward to meeting you for preliminary information over a welcome drink, whereby you will find out everything you need to know about your travel itinerary. What you can look forward to: We have compiled a varied itinerary for you with numerous highlights enabling you to experience the culture and diversity of landscapes offered by the United Arab Emirates as well as discover plenty of interesting facts about the country and its people. Your trip already includes extensive all-in benefits. If you wish, you can select additional benefits.
„Discoverer“ excursion package: The package includes 3 excursions: “Great Dubai tour, including museum”, “Dubai boat tour, including dinner” and “Abu Dhabi tour, including lunch”.
The currency is the UAE dirham (AED). 1 dirham = 100 fils (as at January 2019): 1 GBP = 4.74 AED, 1 AED = 0.21 GBP.
Currency can be exchanged at banks during opening hours and at your hotel. Bank opening hours: Sat. – Wed., 8 a.m. – 3.30 p.m., Thurs. 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.; some banks also open from 4.30 to 6.30 p.m. The weekend in the United Arab Emirates is Friday and Saturday. International credit cards are accepted by hotels, car hire companies and several shops. Cash withdrawals using a PIN code can be made at ATMs. Travellers’ cheques are almost universally accepted.
Severe penalties will be imposed on anyone bringing weapons, drugs, forged currency or pornographic items into the country. Even the cover pages of some, more “permissive” magazines, may be construed as pornography. Video cassette recordings may be checked and even confiscated. E-cigarette imports are also prohibited and will be confiscated on arrival. Should you require more detailed information about customs regulations governing the goods which may be brought into the United Arab Emirates, please contact the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates directly. Only there will you be able to obtain legally binding information. Information on customs regulations governing the importation of goods into the UK is available on the Web site: www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk
In view of the general political situation in the Middle East, you are also advised to exercise caution in the United Arab Emirates. Strict Islamic moral values prevail in the UAE.
Homosexuality and extra-marital sexual relations are prohibited and punishable by a prison sentence if reported to the authorities. Tourists sharing rooms in hotels do not generally experience any difficulties in this regard. Likewise, expressions of mutual affection (e.g. kissing, physical contact) in public can lead to fines or prison terms in accordance with Islamic law. Consideration of customs and traditions in the UAE is therefore recommended. Travellers should exercise restraint in public, and their behaviour should take consideration of the religious, political, cultural and social traditions of the country, as well as staying clear of any demonstrations or protest events. The possession and consumption of even the smallest quantities of drugs will also result in prison sentences.
Even consumption of soft drugs some days beforehand can be established through blood tests and subject to correspondingly tough punishment.
The UAE is one of the safest countries in the Middle East with an extremely low crime rate. Nevertheless, individual incidents of pick pocketing, e.g. in larger shopping centres, can not be ruled out. It is a criminal offence to photograph/film the following facilities: military facilities, ports, airports, imperial palaces, public buildings, industrial plants, crude oil / natural gas plants. In the event of a violation, at least the camera/film/chip will be confiscated.
Vaccinations: Please contact your GP around 8 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. Country-specific information and advice is published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre, and useful information about healthcare abroad, including a countryby- country guide of reciprocal health care agreements with the UK, is available from NHS Choices.
Medical care: Healthcare facilities in the UAE are generally comparable with those in the UK, but visitors may be prevented from using them without travel insurance or without the means to settle any medical fees. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation. If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 999 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.
All information subject to change – last updated January 2019