The local time in Dubai is GMT + 4 hours. The time does not change in the summer.
Arabic is the official language, but English is very widely understood and spoken, as is Hindi and Urdu.
The official currency is the UAE dirham (AED). One dirham is divided into 100 fils. Notes come in denominations of five, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000. Coins are AED 1, 50 fils, 25 fils, 10 fils and 5 fils.
• Country dialling code:+971
• Dubai area code:(0)4
• Fire: 997
• Ambulance: 998
• Police: 999
Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Diners Club are generally accepted in hotels and larger stores but some retailers offer better bargains for cash.
Global links, including GSM mobile telephones, pagers and Internet connections are world-class and inexpensive. Local and foreign television, radio, newspapers, magazines and books are readily available.
Tap water is considered safe to drink. However you may prefer the taste of bottled water, which is available in a range of inexpensive local brands. Imported brands are also available.
The electricity is 220/230 volts A/C and most sockets are three-pin square. Although adaptors are usually available in hotels, you may want to purchase one before you arrive.
The standard of health care is high throughout the UAE. However, it is expensive, so it's important to get decent travel insurance. The Emirate is clear of all epidemic diseases and is largely mosquito free. No specific vaccinations are required to enter the country however it would be wise to check beforehand if you are travelling from a health-risk area.
The UAE enjoys extremely pleasant weather during its winter months, from October to May. The rest of the year, temperatures are in the low to mid-40º range. Lightweight summer clothing can be worn for most of the year but temperatures can drop quite sharply at night during the winter months of November to March. Do pack a pair of sunglasses and a hat and sun block no matter what time of year you are visiting.
Government offices open from 7:30am or 8am until 2pm or 2.30pm, Sunday to Thursday. Some banks, private companies and shops open from 8am to 1pm or 1.30pm, then again from 4pm to 7pm or 8pm from Saturday to Thursday; others work a straight shift until the evening. Shopping centres are open until about 10pm daily.
The UAE is an Islamic country and Arab traditions influence the lifestyle, yet considerable tolerance is shown towards the Eastern and Western practices of the large expatriate community. There are a number of Christian churches throughout the country as well as Hindu and Sikh temples in Dubai.
Safety & Lifestyle
The UAE's low crime rate makes it one of the safest places in the world to visit – even for women travelling alone. It is however advisable to take the normal precautions to safeguard yourself and your valuables. Dubai is the most liberal place in the UAE and people here are used to Western dress and ways. However, modest dress is recommended in public places. Beachwear is acceptable at beach clubs and hotel pools.
We recommend you ask permission before photographing people in general and Muslim women in particular. Airports, docks, telecommunication equipment, government buildings, military and industrial installations should not be photographed.
Ramadan is the month during which Muslims fast from dawn to dusk. During these hours eating, drinking or smoking in public is prohibited. Bars, pubs and some restaurants are closed until sundown. However, many restaurants offer discreet dine-in facilities and takeaway service. Ramadan is dependent on the lunar Islamic Hejira calendar, so dates vary from year to year. In Dubai, the official work day is reduced to five or six hours during this month.
Conferences and events can be held during Ramadan, and with careful planning, most elements of an event can be accommodated.
Tipping practices are similar to most parts of the world. Where no service charge is included, it is customary to leave 10% as a tip to the service staff.
Alcohol is freely available in restaurants, nightclubs and bars in hotels or in member-only places such as country clubs and sports clubhouses (which often admit paying guests). Restaurants outside hotels do not have a licence to serve alcoholic beverages.