Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Trip Start Oct 16, 2008
3Trip End Oct 25, 2008
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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) consists of seven Emirates' and Dubai is the most popular destination of them all. It is situated on the southern shore of the Persian Gulf on the Arabian Peninsula. Dubai is the second largest Emirate after Abu Dhabi and is usually recognised as the 'Pearl of the Persian Gulf'.
Dubai's population is estimated at 1.5 million, a huge difference from 183,200 in 1975. Dubai is one of the most multicultural cities in the world with the expatriate community covering most of the population, with less than 10% of the total being national Emiratis.
The state of Dubai is commonly referred to as a city because it has been distinguished as the most modern and cosmopolitan environments in the Emirates, especially due to its rapid technological transformation over the past few decades.
Dubai is a landmark for innovation; some might even compare it to the computer game Sim-city where expansion has no limit. The city boasts remarkable skyscrapers, such as the world's current tallest building, the Burj Dubai, and is also in the process of developing one of the most technologically advanced buildings in the world - The Pad. This is based on the idea of an iPod; this residential tower is set to be embedded with the latest gadgets that will have the power to change interior design and window views to almost anything imaginable.
Sheikh Mohammed is the ruler of Dubai. It is said that he is primarily responsible for making Dubai what it is today; a modern high flying city thriving from commercial investments. Sheikh Mohammed's most significant business proposal was the introduction of Dubai's world class airline, the Emirates.
The city of Dubai gains higher returns from its tourism unlike many of the other Emirates, as revenue from oil only accounts for around 6% of Dubai's gross domestic product. The city's oil is decreasing by the year and therefore cannot be depended upon. That is partly the reason why there has been a construction boom in order to diversify its economy in the expansion of commercial and corporate activity. Dubai has therefore become a world famous city through innovative real estate projects, sports events, conferences and Guinness records.
Although Dubai has been transformed into a man-made hi-tech city, it still has a strong Islamic culture with a stretch of historical buildings by the Creek. Whilst some may view this as a conflict of old meeting new, it is also considered to be a captivating city that offers both extremes; a traditional past interlinked with modern day.
Culture in Dubai is rooted in Islamic traditions that form UAE National's lifestyles. It is highly important that when tourists visit Dubai they must respect and behave suitably, as the minority group of Emiratis are very protective over their culture and traditions.
Dubai is famously known as the entertainment capital of the Middle East which attracts many party lovers from all over the world, especially those who are wealthy enough to splash out on the most expensive bars and clubs in the city. With Dubai promoting such an image, it still forbids the nationals that practice Islam to indulge in any of the entertaining services offered. In that respect these services are often located in the more touristy areas rather than in residential parts.
Alcohol is not forbidden in Dubai, as long as it is confined within an area like a hotel or sporting arena. Residents are free to drink in their own homes as long as they have an alcohol licence issued by the municipality. It is illegal to drink in the street or in public places. Pork is also available for the consumption of visitors and expatriates.
It is advised that visitors and expatriates do not flaunt their Western culture habits in the streets, where they can be viewed by nationals who may find it offensive. There have been various complaints in the past by nationals who have expressed their views through the media about their home-land being taken over by the Western world.
Having said this, it does not mean the locals are against foreigners visiting Dubai, it is just common courtesy to respect your hosts. Emiratis are traditionally known for their warm hospitality and they are very generous when offering refreshments to guests.
Emiratis tend to dress in their traditional clothes influenced by their Islamic belief. Most men prefer the traditional dishdasha or khandura (a long white shirt-dress), with ghutra (a white headdress) and agal (a rope worn to keep the ghutra in place). The Emirati women tend to wear an abaya (a long black cloak), which is worn over conservative clothes, with a sheyla or hijab (a scarf used to wrap around the face and head).
Expatriates and visitors are advised to dress appropriately; trousers or a dress should be worn to cover below the knee, when circulating the city, especially at historical sites. However, they can wear what they wish when they are in a hotel, bar or club and swim wear is tolerated by the pool or at the beach.
Normally tourist photography is acceptable and expected with all the beauty Dubai has to offer. Photographs of government buildings, military installations, ports and airports should not be taken. Like anywhere, it is polite to ask permission before photographing people, especially an Emirati woman.
The most religious time of the year in Dubai, is the fast of Ramadan, which lasts approximately for one month. This is when Muslims fast during day-light hours to fulfil the fourth pillar of Islam. Tourists must be aware that during this period, eating, drinking and smoking is not permitted in public during the day, although some restaurants blackout their windows to allow people to consume in private. Also bars will not serve alcohol before 7pm and clubs are shut as no loud music is allowed.
The UAE is tolerant and welcoming to foreigners who do not practice the religion of Islam. For example, the huge Arab population in Dubai includes many from Lebanon that can be of Christian faith and they are freely allowed to follow their own religion as long as they do not publicly distribute their literature. This also applies to any other non-Muslim expatriates.
Once in the city of Dubai you are surrounded by many mosques and the call of prayer will be heard frequently. The city also accommodates other religious places of worship, such as churches and Temples.
The government follows a policy of tolerance towards non-Muslims and Polytheist and in practice, interferes very little with their religious activities.
Dubai is the only emirate that has Hindu temples and a Sikh gurudwara. The Meena Bazaar area of the city has both a Shiva and Krishna temple. Both are believed to be sanctioned by the late ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum. There is an electric crematorium run by a group of Indian expatriates. Furthermore, in early 2001, ground was broken for the construction of several additional churches on a parcel of land in Jebel Ali donated by the government of Dubai for four Protestant congregations and a Catholic congregation. Construction on the first Greek Orthodox Church in Dubai (to be called St. Mary's) is due for completion in 2008/9, with the help of General Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince and UAE Defence Minister, who donated a plot of land in Jebel Ali.
The official language of the country is Arabic, however most people in and out of the workplace communicate in English. There are so many different nationalities in Dubai and therefore English finds common ground with most people. The majority of road, shop signs, and restaurant menus etc. are in both English and Arabic.
Geographical coordinates: 25° 15' 8" North, 55° 16' 48" East
Dubai is located on the Persian Gulf, in the northeast of the United Arab Emirates. Dubai is the second largest emirate with an urban area of 3885 sq km and the city is roughly 35 sq km. However it will expand to twice that size with the addition of the man-made islands; the Waterfront, the three Palms, the World, the Universe, Dubailand, as well as the construction in the desert.
One of the most fascinating geographical aspects of Dubai, is its Creek, which divides the city into two regions. Dubai Creek is made up of a natural 9.5 mile inlet in the Persian Gulf, around which the city's trade developed. North of the Creek is called Deira, and Bur Dubai refers to the south where it joins the tourist and residential developments of Jumeirah along the coast.
Dubai also has the highest population, sharing its borders with Abu Dhabi in the south, Sharjah in the northeast and the Sultanate of Oman in the southeast.
Due to the city's unique geographical location it enjoys a strategic position which allows it to connect to all local Gulf States, as well as to East Africa and South Asia.
The line of the Tropic of Cancer crosses through the UAE, causing the weather in Dubai to be warm and sunny. In the winter it has an average daytime temperature of 25°C , nearer the coast 12-15°C , in the desert or mountains 5°C. With the nights being relatively cool. Near coastal areas humidity can average between 50% and 60%.
In the summer, the weather in Dubai is very hot and humid, with temperatures reaching mid 40's. Even the sea temperature can reach 37°C , with humidity averaging over 90%.
Rainfall in Dubai is infrequent and does not last for a long period. It mostly rains during the winter period in the form of short gushes and an occasional thunderstorm. On average, rain falls only five days a year.
Dubai's population stands at an estimation of 1.5 million, with three quarters of the population being male. The city of Dubai is made up of a multicultural society; with only 5% of local Emiratis, the rest are expatriates from all over the world. The expatriate population comprises of mostly Indians supplying the city with cheap labour as well as filling professional positions, other nationalities are from various Arabic countries. There is also a significant amount of Iranians, especially after the Islamic revolution in 1979 where more wealthy and educated Iranians settled in Dubai. Furthermore, because of the high demand in workers primarily in the tourism sector, many people from the Philippines, China, Indonesia and Malaysia have become residents in the city.
Dubai's population has been growing by around 7% a year and the city is set to have a population of 2 million by 2010.
Dubai is an important tourist destination and its port (JebeL Ali) operates at the centre of the exporting trade in the Middle East. With the introduction of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) in 2004, it has allowed Dubai to develop as a global hub for service industries such as IT and finance.
The government has set up industry-specific free zones throughout the city in order to attract foreign businesses and this has been Dubai's greatest economic achievement. The economy has benefited from new technological advances of information and communication by the introduction of The Dubai Internet City and Media City. Dubai has tempted many established media companies, such as CNN, to base their Middle East operations in the city.
Dubai is the second wealthiest emirate in the UAE, after Abu Dhabi which is the capital state. Most tourists believe Dubai's revenues came primarily from oil but in fact it only used a moderate amount of oil reserves to generate the infrastructure for trade, manufacturing and tourism, in order to build up its economy.
About 95% of Dubai's Gross Domestic Product is not oil-based. It is expected that by 2010, oil will account for less than one percent of Dubai's GDP and tourism to produce 20% of the GDP. These figures explain why Dubai has had to become a more dynamic and diversified economy in order to survive the decay of fossil fuels.
In the early 1990's there were only a handful of hotels available for tourists and Dubai never had high oil revenues like Abu Dhabi so something had to change. The Burj Al Project in 1994 (Burj Al Arab Hotel) gave hope to the economy, as a long term strategy, an ambition to become the world's top tourist destination.
Since then, Dubai has never looked back; it has rapidly changed into an investor's playground with tourism rocketing sky high. Dubai city hopes to accommodate 15 million visitors in 2015.
Citizens of the Following Countries no longer need to obtain a visa prior to entry if the duration of stay is less than one (1) month:
United States, UK, France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Austria, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Portugal, Ireland, Greece, Finland, South Korea, Spain, Monaco, Vatican, Iceland, Andorra, San Marino, Liechtenstein,Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong.
Visa requirements for entering Dubai vary greatly between different nationalities and it is always advised to check regulations before traveling. Currently, every nationality entering the UAE needs a visa except citizens of GCC countries (Gulf Cooperation Council: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia) expatriate residents of the GCC (certain nationalities and professions) and British citizens with the right of abode in the UK. The following citizens of Europe also receive visas on arrival: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the Vatican.
In addition, nationals from Australia, Brunei, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and South Korea in Asia, as well as those from the United States of America and Canada also now receive Visas on arrival.
GCC nationals can stay more or less as long they like. British citizens can stay for a month and then apply for a visa for a further two months. European, American, South African and Australian citizens may obtain a visit visa from the UAE embassy in their respective countries before departure. Please note that Israelis and travelers whose Passports bear Israeli stamps will be denied a visa.
For all other nationalities, a visa must be applied for before the visitor enters the country either through their respective embassy, a local UAE sponsor or a local hotel.
VISAS THROUGH HOTELS
Tourists can get a visa from a tourist company or a hotel by first making a reservation for at least one night. They must fax/courier the hotel a copy of their passport along with the reason for the visit (tourism is an acceptable reason) and their arrival date. You must also make sure that the hotel faxes you a copy of the visa when it is ready. Airlines may require confirmation (preferably a fax copy of the document) that a visa is held before check-in at the airport. The original is held at Dubai Airport for collection before passport control.
SERVICE VISA ENTRY APPLIED THROUGH A HOTEL:
Standard process of application, but please check with your hotel first.
The visa is valid for 14 days from the date of issue and 14 days from the date of entry. The visa fees and security deposit will vary from country to country. The security deposit is also required per person and will be refunded once the visa holder leaves the country. It is advisable to contact your nearest Dubai Embassy or the hotel for more details.
Please be aware that once the visa is applied for, charges for the cost of the visa will not be refunded in such cases as Expiration, Booking cancellation, Rejection.
For the visa to be processed by the hotel, the visitor must remain a guest in that hotel for the entrire duration of their stay. Port of entry and exit of the visitor must be Dubai only. Three working days are needed to process the visa excluding, Friday, Saturday and Public Holidays.
Visa Charges and Security Deposit. An authorisation letter with the signature of the cardholder, as well as a copy of the credit card used (front and back side). Passport copies of card holder and visitors.
Please note all document copies, passport copies and credit card copies must be scanned clearly and with colour when sent, otherwise they will be rejected by Dubai Immigration.
This visa is issued through tourist companies and it is valid for 30 days. You cannot renew it or extend it. If the Visa holder of the tourist visa stays more than the 30 days, that person has to pay a fine per day plus some charges for an out pass.
This Visa is issued through DNRD. It is stamped for 30 days validity but it is valid for 60 days and can be extended for 30 more days by paying an extra amount. The extension needs to be done before the 60th day. If the visitor stays more than 60 days or more than 90 days (after the extension) they will have to pay a fine per day plus some charges for an out pass.
Certain passport holders can enter the UAE without obtaining a visit visa prior to arrival and stay up to 30 days.
Photocopy of the visitor's passport
Visit Visa Application form, completed and signed by the sponsoring company.
Photocopy of the trade license of the company
A Guarantee letter from the company stating its responsibility of the visitor during his visit.
These visas are issued for people who want to work or do business in UAE. It is valid for 60 days only, during this the work residence visa has to be processed. If the person delays in stamping the residence he will pay 25 AED fine for each day.
There are different types of Work visas:
Private companies or Establishments employees (Issued from labor Office)
Governmental institutions and Ministries (Issued from DNRD) and the person can only work in governmental institutions.
TRAVELING WITH CHILDREN
The UAE is a family-oriented environment and small children are welcome and appreciated everywhere. The larger hotels have a good selection of kids' meals, especially in room service. Very small children do not normally eat out at night, but are often welcome. Phone ahead to check. In any case baby-sitting services are available in the main hotels.
There are lots of activities for children, both in and around the five-star hotels, special amusement parks and many green areas. Children under 12 usually qualify for discounts on admission fees to most museums, amusement parks, swimming pools and entertainment centres.
The UAE is extremely safe for women travellers, nevertheless women travelling alone are a novelty and you may find yourself at the focus of unwanted attention. You will probably have a more relaxed visit if you stay in one of the four or five star hotels, especially if you can use the hotel's private beach facilities.
Women in the UAE have a much more liberal lifestyle than many of their Gulf counterparts (i.e. women are permitted to drive, work etc) however, women travelers should be aware that they are visiting a society which has strong traditional roots.
If you wish to avoid hassle or risk causing offence, do not wear tight or revealing clothes away from the beach clubs and resorts. You will also find that clothing suitable for the more cosmopolitan cities may not be comfortable or convenient for independent travel in rural areas. Loose trousers and a long sleeved cotton shirt will suit a wide range of situations.
When socializing in local company wait until a hand is offered to you for a handshake, some devout Muslims prefer not to shake hands with a woman.
Remember that one advantage of being a woman in the UAE is that women are normally served first at banks and post offices, police stations and other government offices frequently have separate queues for women.
Several five-star hotels have specially-adapted rooms and other facilities for handicapped people.
The airport and major shopping malls have good access and facilities, as well as Dubai's Transport Taxis are fitted to accommodate wheelchairs.
There are also designated disabled parking spaces in nearly all of the city's car parks, though you will need a disabled window badge in order to use them
In June 2001 Emirates airline designated a special handling area at departures and arrivals for passengers with special needs. As a result, wheelchair passengers will receive a more personalized service.
Dubai contains well equipped public and private hospitals.
Remarkably, the UAE was one of only two countries with no reported cases of holiday illnesses recorded in a survey by the leading British consumer magazine, Holiday Which? This is a tribute to the success of government immunization programs, the provision of adequate clean water and high standards of cleanliness in hotels and restaurants.
No special immunizations are required, however it would be wise to check beforehand if you are traveling from a health-risk area. Tetanus inoculations are usually recommended if you are considering a long trip. Polio has been virtually eradicated in the UAE and hepatitis is very rare and can be avoided by taking precautions. Hepatitis A is transmitted by contaminated food and water, Hepatitis B, C, D through sexual contact, the use of unsterilized needles and blood transfusions.
There are very few mosquitoes in the towns and cities and, since it is not considered to be a risk, malaria tablets are rarely prescribed for travel in the UAE. However, 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. If you are in any doubt consult your doctor or your nearest tropical medical centre before your trip.
The sun can be fierce throughout the year so heatstroke and heat exhaustion are always a risk. Adequate sunglasses, hats and high factor sun creams are essential, especially for children.
Only emergency cases at the A&E Public hospitals can be seen free of charge.
Public hospitals, where the medical facilities are very good, will deal with emergencies free of charge, however it would be wise to take out medical insurance to cover all eventualities, especially if you need to attend a private hospital or clinic where treatment can be quite expensive. In all instances, medical procedures, including the use of sterilized needles and the provision of blood transfusions are very reliable.
If you need a doctor, ask at your hotel, or at the General Medical Centre, as well as ringing your embassy for recommendations. If you need emergency treatment and are unable to contact a doctor, try one of the major hospitals listed below.
Most medicines are readily available at pharmacies. Each emirate has at least one pharmacy open 24 hours a day. Check in local newspapers for information. In some emirates a 24-hour municipality emergency number (Abu Dhabi 02 777 929; Dubai 04 2232323) lists the locations of open chemists.
Good dentists are readily available, including orthodontists.
Chinese medicine is readily available. There is also a homeopathic hospital.
Ambulance service 998 or 999
Main Public hospitals in Dubai
Al Wasl Hospital - Qud Metha Road
New Dubai Hospital - Near the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Deira
Rashid Hospital - Oud Metha Road, Bur Dubai
Main Private hospitals in Dubai
American Hospital Dubai - Bur Dubai
Emirates Hospital - Jumeirah Beach Road
Welcare Hospital - Garhoud, Deira
COMMUNICATIONS AND MEDIA
TELEPHONE AND FAX
The telephone network operated by the national telecommunication organization ETISALAT is superb: local calls are free and direct dialing is available to 150 countries. In 2006, a rival telecommunications company, Du, was launched offering competitive rates.
The international dial code for UAE is +971. Cheap rates for international direct calls apply from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. and all day on Fridays and public holidays. There is a complete list of rates at the back of each telephone directory. You do not need to use the emirate access code when dialing a local number in that emirate. In other words to ring a number in Dubai from Abu Dhabi you must use the 04 prefix. If you are dialing a number in Abu Dhabi from another location in that emirate you will not need to use a prefix.
Yellow page directories are available for each emirate (see also 'http://www.emirates.net.ae'). These can be purchased at ETISALAT offices.
Pay phones, both card and coin operated, are located throughout the UAE. Phone cards for local use (Dh30 or Dh45) are usually available from ETISALAT offices, supermarkets, pharmacies etc. Coin operated phones take Dh1 and 50 fils.
LOCAL AND INTERNATIONAL AREA CODES:
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
Raï al-Khaimah 07 + 9717
Sharjah 06 + 9716
Umm al-Qaiwain 06 + 9716
Sharjah, Ajman and Umm al-Qaiwain share the access code 06 and Fujairah and Khor Fakkan the access code 09
All hotels offer fax facilities. Faxes can also be sent from ETISALAT ('http://www.etisalat.co.ae') offices throughout the Emirates. The offices are
recognizable by the distinctive 'golf balli' structures on top of each building.
The main ETISALAT office in Abu Dhabi is on the corner of Zayed the Second and Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum St. It is open 24 hours a day. ETISALAT's main office in Dubai is on the corner of Beniyas and Omar ibn Al Khatab roads. It is also open around the clock. In Sharjah the main office is located in Al Manakh, close to the dhow roundabout. Opening hours are Saturday to Wednesday 7 a.m.- 3 p.m., however you can send and receive fax and telex messages 24 hours a day.
Shops advertising typing and photocopying services often have fax facilities.
GSM services are available and the mobile phone code within the UAE is 050. "Speak Easy" is a GSM mobile service for those visitors and tourists who cannot use their own mobile phones in the UAE. You can either buy a new mobile phone and purchase a temporary SIM card or use your own handset with a temporary card. Contact ETISALAT for details.
Most five-star hotels offer guests internet access. Email cheap rates are from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. At the time of writing public internet access kiosks were being established in the UAE, initially at the major airports. The minimum charge for public access is Dh2 and 60 fils per minute. Payment can be made by credit card.
If you have brought your laptop with you, along with a modem and browsing software, you can dial 500 5333 to get connected to the internet. A charge of 15 fils per minute is billed to the telephone to which you are connected. For more details call 800 5244.
The General Postal Authority runs an efficient postal system with red post collection boxes dotted throughout the cities and towns. Mail is usually collected morning and evening. Stamps can be purchased and post mailed from your hotel. Express postal facilities are also available at post offices.
In general, post office opening hours are from 8 a.m.- 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. - 7 p.m. Saturday to Wednesday. Closed Thursdays and Fridays. 8 a.m. - 12 noon on Public Holidays, but closed on the first day of Eid holidays. Note that there are no telephone or fax facilities at post offices in the UAE and poste restante facilities are not available.
The main post office in Dubai is on Zaïsabeel Road, Bur Dubai (8 a.m. - 11.30 p.m. Saturday to Wednesday, 8 a.m. - 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. - 8 p.m. Thursday and closed Fridays). There is also a smaller post office in Deira on Al Sabkha Road. Other post offices are located in Satwa, Karama and Jumeirah.
OPENING HOURS AND HOLIDAYS
Normal shopping hours are from 9.00 a.m. - 1 p.m. and 4.00 - 9.00 p.m. however many shops, particularly in Dubai and Abu Dhabi stay open all day. Most shopping centres open from 10 a.m to 10 p.m - frequently later. Some supermarkets are open for 24 hours. Although shops and shopping centres are fully air conditioned, the cool of the evening is a favourite time for shopping. Shopping centres and most shops are open on Friday, the Islamic day of rest, but they all close for Juma (Friday) prayers from 11.30 a.m. to 1.30 p.m.
All shops are required to close at prayer times in Raï's al-Khaimah.
Government offices open at 7.30 a.m. and close at 3.00 p.m. but you would be wise to visit in the morning. Private offices tend to keep longer hours, coming back to work in the evening after an extended mid-day break. Some private businesses open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. All government offices close for the weekend at mid-day on Thursday and do not open again until Saturday morning. Some offices outside the public sector are open on Thursday and close on Friday and Saturday.
Since Muslim festivals are timed according to local sightings of phases of the moon, the dates outlined below for Islamic religious holidays are approximate. 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.
A three-day mourning period is usually announced when a member of the ruling families or a government minister or the head of a neighbouring state dies. Government offices and some private companies will close for the period.
1 Jan New Year's Day.
2 Dec National Day.
Al-Hijra (Islamic New Year).
Mouloud (Birth of the Prophet).
Leilat al-Meiraj (Ascension of the Prophet).
Eid al-Fitr (End of Ramadan).
Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice).
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, it is a good idea to take out travel insurance and to take the normal precaution to safeguard yourself and your valuables.
Police Headquarters Abu Dhabi 02 4461461
Dubai 04 2292222
Sharjah 06 5631111
Ajman 06 7436000
Umm al-Qaiwain 06 5656662
Ras al-Khaimah 07 2333888
Fujairah 09 2370000
Dubai Police hotline (Al Ameen service) 8004888
Ambulance 998 or 999
Coastguard 04 3450520
East Coast Coastguard 09 2380380
If you dial 999 or 04 2821111, Dubai Police guarantee that in an emergency a police helicopter will be with you within 8 minutes
Tipping is not expected, 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. Taxi drivers do not expect to be tipped. Supermarket baggers, bag carriers and windscreen washers at petrol stations are generally given Dh2.
Film is readily available, so too are processing facilities and colour prints are produced in record time. Ask permission before photographing people in general. Avoid photographing Muslim women and do not photograph airports, docks, telecommunications equipment, government buildings, military and industrial installations.
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.
Domestic supply is 220 volts. Sockets suitable for three-pin 13 amp plugs of British standard design are the norm, however it is a good idea to bring an adapter with you just in case. Adapters can be purchased in local supermarkets. Appliances purchased in the UAE will generally have two-pin plugs attached.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
The UAE uses the metric system, although British and US standard weights and measures are understood.
Lightweight summer clothing is ideal with a wrap, sweater or jacket for cooler winter nights and air-conditioned premises. Although the dress code in the UAE is generally casual, guests in the larger hotels do tend to dress more formally in the evening. Since you are visiting a Muslim country, bikinis, swimsuits, shorts and revealing tops should be confined to beach resorts.
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.
Most shopping centres, public gardens, museums etc have clean, well-maintained public toilets. Public toilets in souqs and bus stations are usually just for men. Outside of the cities, you can find public toilets at restaurants and petrol stations, however they may not be in good condition and will generally lack toilet paper.
FOOD AND WATER
The standard of food hygiene and water quality is extremely high, especially in all of the larger centres, as is evidenced by the Which survey. You should take the time to investigate conditions in smaller cafés in remote areas, although again standards are usually good. Raw salads and shawarmas (meat cooked on a spit and served in a pittta bread sandwich) are to be avoided if you have any doubts.
Water is usually produced by desalination so it is normally safe to drink, nevertheless you may prefer the taste of bottled water. In any case it is advisable to drink plenty of water in the heat so carry a bottle with you at all times.