Ultimate UAE Travel Guide: Essential Tips for a Memorable Journey to the Emirates (2024)
Planning a trip to the UAE? This United Arab Emirates Travel Guide will help you.
Leaving the rest of the world on wait, the United Arab Emirates has quickly begun to top many travelers’ bucket lists. Planning a perfect trip to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is an adventure filled with awe-inspiring skyscrapers, pristine beaches, and a rich blend of traditions. UAE is a year-round tourism destination that attracts people from all across the world. The vibrant atmosphere of this Asian region comes alive with a desert climate and diverse landscape.
The majority of tourism opportunities in the UAE are concentrated in Dubai. This global tourism icon incorporates outdoor adventures and some of the best finds from the modern world. Whereas the Emirate of Sharjah and the Emirate of Abu Dhabi focus on the history and culture of the Arabian Peninsula, drawing their fair share of tourism. Offering a kaleidoscope of experiences, UAE has a lot to explore and experience. However, choices can get overwhelming if you are a first-time UAE visitor. Therefore, to simplify your experience, we have a complete United Arab Emirates Travel Guide. Have a look:
United Arab Emirates: Visa and Entry Requirements
The United Arab Emirates offers Visa on Arrival to many countries/territories. From Visa on Arrival for 30 days to 90 days, UAE welcomes visitors directly at Dubai International. Further, the passports are stamped for a 30-day (or 90-day) visit visa free of charge.
The UAE introduced e-visas, which allow you to apply for a visa online. This provides a more straightforward application process. Some Visas can be extended for an additional 30 days (before the initial visa expires) without leaving the country. Overall, the UAE has some of the easiest laws for tourist visas.
For up-to-date information, either browse Emirates Online or visit your nearest UAE embassy/consulate.
United Arab Emirates: Currency
The currency used in the United Arab Emirates is the UAE Dirham, abbreviated as AED. The symbol د.إ or DH often denotes it. Currency exchange services are readily available at airports, banks, and exchange offices nationwide. Most major credit and debit cards are widely accepted in the UAE, making it convenient for travelers.
ATMs are found at almost every corner of the cities in UAE.
NOTE: Be sure to check the current exchange rates before your trip.
United Arab Emirates: Best Time to Visit
UAE is a year-round tourist destination, but winter months from November to March is perhaps the best time to be here. It is when the daytime temperature ranges from 20°C to 25°C. It is an ideal time for beach trips, outdoor activities, sightseeing, and some major events.
Visiting the UAE during summer, from May to September, can be slightly difficult in terms of rising temperatures and high humidity, especially in the southern parts. It is when the temperature can be expected to climb up to 50°C. However, it is the best time for discounted deals on hotels and to enjoy indoor fun.
The Spring and Autumn seasons are the transition periods with mild temperatures. It is a good time to enjoy both indoor and outdoor fun with smaller crowds.
United Arab Emirates: Language
Arabic (Gulf Arabic dialect) is the UAE’s official and widely spoken language. Although Arabic is commonly used in official work and daily communication due to the UAE’s multicultural nature, English is widely spoken and understood. It is only in rural areas and less touristy destinations where language can become a barrier for fewer people with less to no knowledge of the Gulf Arabic dialect.
United Arab Emirates: Getting Around
With its modern infrastructure and several transport options, getting around in the UAE is a breeze.
- Ride-hailing and Taxi services (Uber and Careem) with meters for fare calculation are conveniently available across major cities.
- UAE boasts an extensive public bus system/ network for covering short to medium distances within cities. It is also one of the cheapest modes of transportation here.
- For tourists who may choose to self-drive, there are multiple car rental services and clear English signage on roads to support the choice.
All types of public vehicles in the UAE are usually clean and well-maintained.
United Arab Emirates: Power Plugs
In the United Arab Emirates, power outlets are of types C, D, and G. The standard electrical voltage is 220 V with a frequency of 50 Hz.
To ensure compatibility with your electronic devices, investing in a universal adapter that includes surge protection is recommended.
Or, if you plan to use appliances such as hairdryers and hot tools that may not support the 220 V voltage, consider using a voltage converter to avoid any electrical issues during your stay.
United Arab Emirates: Hotels and Accommodations
Hotels and accommodations in the United Arab Emirates offer a wide spectrum of choices, ranging from affordable options to some of the world’s most luxurious establishments.
Travelers can find a range of affordable hotels, hostels, and guesthouses to mid-range and business hotels readily available. UAE, especially Dubai, is world famous for its iconic luxury hotels with world-class service to private villas in the desert. Not only that, but there are also a plethora of beachfront resorts with luxurious rooms, private beaches, water sports, and all-inclusive packages. Or, if that isn’t enough, Desert Glamping is quite enjoyed in the UAE. It offers a chance to stay in luxurious tents in the heart of the desert while enjoying traditional Emirati hospitality, stargazing, and desert activities.
United Arab Emirates: Cultural Etiquette
While the UAE welcomes and accommodates people from different cultures, it also expects travelers to respect the local cultural beliefs/etiquette. Here are a few things you must know about before vising any part of UAE:
- Islam is the national religion of the UAE, and therefore, dressing with modesty is expected here. Visitors (regardless of gender) must dress in modest clothing without much skin show. Swimwear is acceptable at the beach and pools only.
- When in UAE, shaking hands or greeting via As-salam alaikum (peace be upon you)- Wa alaikum as-salam (and upon you be peace) is pretty normal. However, when greeting the opposite gender, especially amongst traditional Emiratis, always wait for the other person to initiate the handshake. Avoid greeting Emirati women with any kind of physical contact.
- Both culturally and Islamically, the Emirates (or UAE locals) have a strict separation of genders and expect visitors to respect the same.
- The UAE is a Muslim country with Islamic customs and a lot of religious places. Before visiting any landmark of spiritual beliefs in the UAE, dress modestly, covering your shoulders and knees.
- When visiting the UAE during Ramadan, remember that eating, drinking, and smoking in public during daylight hours is prohibited. Ramadan is a month of fasting, prayer, reflection, and community in Islam. Most restaurants are closed until sunset, and non-Muslims are expected not to consume food or beverages in public. In fact, avoid carrying any food item openly in public.
- Public displays of affection, such as hugging and kissing, should be kept private.
- Swearing and rude gestures are considered offensive.
- Although photography is common across the UAE, before taking pictures of government buildings, local individuals, especially women, ask for permission.
- Remember, in Arab culture, the right hand is used for eating, greeting, and giving and receiving items. The left hand is considered impolite.
- Gifting alcohol or pork products isn’t appreciated in the UAE, especially among the locals.
- NEVER engage in offensive or disrespectful behavior towards Islam and Arabic people.
- NEVER disrespect the Royal Families in front of locals, not even try to criticize them.
United Arab Emirates: Safety and Security
Under most circumstances, the UAE is safe for tourists and travelers. UAE is ranked as the 21st Safest Country in the World, but like any other destination, exercise common-sense precautions here.
UAE maintains a low crime rate and high security measures. It has strict anti-drug laws, and public intoxication and drinking is illegal in the unlicensed area. In all the major tourist places, UAE’s security staff is readily available and is there to closely monitor.
Apart from security, people visiting the UAE must also practice some form of personal safety measures. Given the extremely hot weather, wear sunscreen, avoid prolonged exposure to the sun, and stay hydrated.
United Arab Emirates: Food
The traditional food of UAE is all about Arabic flavors and Emirati cuisine. However, the international influences now offer a delicious blend of Arabian, Persian, and Indian in the local food here. Al Harees, Machboos, and Al Madrooba are some of the popular Emirati dishes to try.
UAE also boasts a thriving street food culture that is full of kababs, shawarma, falafel, etc.
Sweet tooth lovers in the UAE must try the local offerings, including luqaimat (fried dough balls soaked in date syrup), baklava, and kunafa. Also, do not forget to try and buy back dates.
Traditional Arabic coffee (gahwa) and sweet tea are commonly enjoyed for beverages.
If in UAE during Ramadan, enjoy a unique culinary experience by attending suhoor (pre-dawn meal) and iftar (the meal to break the fast).
Due to UAE’s coastal location, seafood is also quite popular here.
United Arab Emirates: What to Pack?
When preparing for a trip to the United Arab Emirates, here are a few things you must pack along:
- Given the hot climate, lightweight and breathable clothing, perhaps loose-fitting clothes.
- Emirati culture values modesty; therefore, pack clothes that at least cover your shoulders and knees.
- Pack your swimwear when planning to visit a beach location or swimming pool.
- Sunglasses, wide-brimmed hats, and sunscreen with high SPF are a must when visiting any part of the UAE.
- Comfortable and breathable sandals or flip-flops are suitable over closed shoes.
- A lightweight scarf to keep it handy in windy areas, during sunny days, and while visiting any conservative area. Also, even during the peak of summer, all indoor facilities and even the public transportation in UAE seem to be permanently set to freezing; thus, a shawl/scarf will help.
- The UAE uses Type C, D, and G power plugs.
- Your passport, visa, and other important documents.
- Reusable water bottle since you will need a lot of it.
- When packing your regular medicines, check online for medicines that are banned in the UAE. Carrying any banned medicines can land you in trouble.
We hope our detailed guide on a trip to the United Arab Emirates will help you plan yours’ perfectly.