Travel guide to United Arab Emirates

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» United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates are seven small emirates which have entered into a common union. The country is situated at the entrance of the Persian Gulf, and it is a pleasant country with plenty of atmosphere.

Facts

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Local name
Ittihad al-Imirat al-Arabiyah
Capital
Abu Dhabi
Size
83,600 sq km
Principal Languages
Arabic
Principal Religion
Islam
Inhabitants
2,400,000
Government
Republic
Geography
In general, the United Arab Emirates is flat and yellow as a pancake. When going into detail, we see that the Emirates also includes a small part of the mountain range of Hajar, which is otherwise mainly situated in Oman. The country has a number of fertile areas, but is in fact very flat and filled with desert.

Travel preparation

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Best time to visit

From the end of spring until the beginning of autumn the average temperature in the United Arab Emirates is just above 40°C. Some places along the coast are a bit cooler, but inland and particularly in the desert it is often even warmer. If you like such temperatures the summer is an excellent time to go there, but if you prefer temperatures around 25°C, winter will be better for you.

Literature

Lonely Planet Oman & the United Arab Emirates

Local conditions

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Currency

Dirham

Net cafes

The use of internet has gradually become quite widespread in the United Arab Emirates, and getting access to it should represent no problem, in the larger cities, anyway.

In case of emergency

To call for help in the United Arab Emirates, you dial the following numbers: Police and ambulance (999) Fire department (997)

Tipping

Tipping isn't necessary as restaurants and the like work it out themselves. If you get a particularly good service, though, it is customary to round up the bill and pay a little extra.

Timezone

When it is 12.00 in the UK (summer time), it is 15.00 in the United Arab Emirates. When it is 12.00 in the UK (winter time), it is 16.00 in the United Arab Emirates.

Weight and Measures

The following units of measurement are used in the United Arab Emirates: Length: metre. Weight: kilogram

Photography

As in everywhere else, when religion is important to the inhabitants, photographing people practising their religion is a tender subject, so be discrete. Photographing military installations is of course prohibited, and you also should not take photos of women you do not know.

Drinking water

The tapwater in the United Arab Emirates is not good for drinking for the sole reason that it tastes foul. You will not put your intestines in any danger by drinking the water, but you certainly will your tastebuds.

Electricity

The following current is used in the United Arab Emirates: 220/240V AC, 50Hz. The points are three-legged.

Behaviour

As with everywhere else - good manners are appreciated - and that is that. Common respect and consideration regarding the Emirate's religion is quite sufficient.

Business Hours

Shops are open 8.00-13.00 and 16.00-20.00 (Saturday to Thursday). Some shops, however, close at midday on Thursday. Offices are open 8.00-13.00 and 16.00-19.30 (Saturday to Wednesday), and 8.00-12.00 on Thursdays.

Food and drink

Except alcohol, food and drink in the United Arab Emirates are quite inexpensive. Immigrants from China, Lebanon, Pakistan and India still make a number of sublime dishes from their home countries, and these are naturally supplemented by traditional Arabic restaurants and eating places which serve falafels and shawarmas.

Disabled travellers

Generally speaking, the United Arab Emirates is well equipped to receive disabled tourists. You can reserve special arrangements for disabled people at several of the major travel agencies.

Holidays

The United Arab Emirates celebrate the usual Arabic holidays. In addition to this, the Emirates have the common holidays: New Year's Day, 1 January. National Day, 2 December. Additionally, each emirate has a few of it's own holidays.

Accommodation / Hotel

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Camping

There are no organised and official camping sites in the United Arab Emirates, but if you're up to it, the desert represents one big and legal camping site.

Hotels

There are many hotels in the country, most of which are quite expensive. It is possible, however, to find both middle class and cheap hotels.

Hostels

In the major cities you'll find acceptable and relatively cheap hostels, but unfortunately several of them only allow men. Some do allow women, but only if the number of other guests permits the separation of the sexes. If not, the women get the worst of it.

Local transport

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Planes

Domestic flights within the United Arab Emirates are not an option at the moment.

Bus

There are buses between Abu Dhabi and Dubai, but bus transport between the other Emirates is very irregular. The bus networks within the individual Emirates are quite good in several cases .

Taxi

Shared taxis are the most common taxi in the United Arab Emirates, and on the route between Abu Dhabi and Dubai they fill up pretty fast. On other routes, waiting for the taxi to fill can be very testing, and in case of an emergency you can pay for all the seats yourself.

Car rental

For once, car rental is not only a flexible alternative, but also an inexpensive alternative to other means of transport. Naturally, it is more expensive than a shared taxi, but if you want to see the Emirates outside of the major cities, it is a timesaver and also cheaper than organised trips.

Find your travel arrangement to United Arab Emirates here

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