Stay Safe & Healthy
Ensure you are fully covered for medical treatment through your travel insurance. In UAE it is generally easy to get medications from pharmacies, but if you end up hospitalized the treatment treatments or getting you back to your own country can be very costly. Hospitals are generally very well equipped and there are specialists in all areas of medicine with many state of the art treatments available.
A successful government immunization 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 to the UAE. No special immunisations are required. Nevertheless, it would be wise to check beforehand if you are travelling from a health-risk area.
It is also recommended to drink plenty of water in the heat to avoid dehydration. Carrying a bottle with you at all times is best.
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.
Check Your Visa Requirements
Will you need to obtain a visa to visit the UAE? Citizens from some countries are allowed to enter the United Arab Emirates by purchasing a tourist visa upon arrival. Others must have a visa in hand at the time of arrival. Check with your country’s embassy before you embark on an international journey to ensure you have the right documents in hand. For more details on UAE visa requirements and regulations, click here.
Be a Responsible Driver
In emirates such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi, there are plenty of public transportation options available. Most of the smaller emirates do not have public transportation options, but are abundant with taxis, so getting around is not a problem.
If you plan on driving, you will need an international driver’s license. In the event, of an automobile accident, the key is to not panic. Simply remain with your vehicle, without moving it from the place where the accident took place, and wait for the police.
Road travel can be dangerous due to unsafe driving practices such as speeding, tailgating, poor lane discipline and reckless overtaking. Roaming animals, careless pedestrians and drifting sands are additional road hazards. Off-road driving can also be hazardous. You should ensure vehicles are well equipped, properly maintained and carrying sufficient water. For driving in desert areas, travellers should consider using a Global Positioning System, as well as ensuring they have adequate supplies of petrol and water.
Think Before You Click
Never take a photograph with a person not in your traveling party in it without asking for permission first. Unless you are in a tourist area where photography is expressly permitted, avoid taking pictures of government buildings, airports, docks, military installations, and other locations of similar nature. Never, ever, take a picture of a Muslim woman without permission.
Avoid Public Alcohol Consumption
Alcohol is banned in most emirates albeit a few like Dubai. Even in Dubai it can only be purchased at a few Duty Free shops on your way into the country. One individual is entitled for no more than four bottle on hand at any time. As a tourist, you will not be able to purchase alcohol in a local liquor store as Dubai residents must have an alcohol license. However, you can purchase drinks in most hotels, restaurants, nightclubs and bars, but be aware of controlling your intake as public drunkenness is strictly prohibited, as is driving under the influence. There are also some public holidays or periods of mourning where alcohol will not be served in public places.
Avoid Drugs & Check Your Prescriptions
There is also zero tolerance for drug offenses – the consumption of illegal drugs and trafficking drugs is strictly prohibited. If you are caught with illegal drugs, you will spend quite a bit of time in jail, most likely much longer than you anticipated your holiday would be.
If you are travelling with any prescription medicine, make sure that they are allowed and verify with the relevant authorities. It is advisable to carry only the necessary amount needed for your travel, and also a letter from your physician.
Avoid Public Displays of Affection
Public displays of affection are considered offensive in the United Arab Emirates, as are displays of homosexuality. Because Dubai falls under Sharia Law, some travel sites even go as far as recommending unwed couples arrange to have separate hotel rooms.
Since the UAE is a prevalent Muslim country, local customs should be respected and clothing should be modest. It is permitted to wear bikinis and regular swim wear on the beach, however they should not be worn openly in public (even on the way to and from the beach). In addition, topless bathing is not permitted, and thongs may also cause offense to the local populace. Men should never walk around without a shirt. . Revealing clothing, like short skirts or spaghetti strap tops, are not considered appropriate in any forum.
Protect Your Valuables
When travelling abroad, it is always best to organize several ways to access your money overseas, such as credit cards, travelers’ cheques, cash, debit cards or cash cards. In the case one option fails, you will always have another and can avoid any inconvenience.
Never, ever have your money exchanged for the local currency on the street. Always have your own currency exchanged to the UAE Dirham in a bank, at a hotel, or at a mall ATM. Exchanging money on the street may open you up to a dangerous situation and you may not get the right amount in return. While travelling, don’t carry too much cash and remember that expensive watches, jewellery and cameras may be tempting targets for thieves.
As a sensible precaution against luggage tampering, including theft, lock your luggage.
Keep your travel documents safe. The worst that could happen on holiday is losing something as important as one of your travel documents. Make two photocopies of valuables such as your passport, tickets, visas and travellers’ cheques. Keep one copy with you in a separate place to the original. Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. If your passport is lost or stolen, you should contact the relevant authorities as soon as possible
Avoid Attracting Crime
The UAE has a low incidence of crime. Petty crime, including pick-pocketing and bag snatching, is rare. Women may be vulnerable to physical and verbal harassment. Incidents of sexual assault against foreign women are rare, but do occur. You should avoid walking alone after dark in isolated places.
Tipping is not compulsory, 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 a tip.
The following items are some of the forbidden imports to Dubai;
- Firearms / dangerous weapons
- Religious propaganda
- Unstrung pearls except for personal use
- Raw seafood (only when visiting Dubai and/or Sharjah) or fruit and vegetables from cholera-infected areas.
Natural Disasters, Severe Weather and Climate
The UAE often experiences extremely high temperatures. During the hottest months of the year, July to September, the temperature can exceed 50˚C. You should take steps to avoid dehydration such staying out of the sun and drinking water. Sandstorms and dust storms occur regularly. Flash flooding may occur in river canyons.
Since Muslim festivals are timed according to local sightings of phases of the moon, the dates for Islamic religious holidays are approximate 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.
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 passes away. Government offices and some private companies will close for the period.
Electrical sockets for 3-pinned plugs of 13 amps each are the standard throughout the UAE. It is, however, a good idea to purchase an electrical adapter just in case you run into a problem.