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United Arab Emirates Travel Guides

The Basics:


Electricity

Electrical current in the UAE is 220 and 240 volts, 50Hz. The most frequently used plugs are the square three-pin type.

Language

Arabic is the official language of the Emirates, but English is widely used.

Tipping

Tipping practices are similar to most parts of the world. Where no service charge is included, 10% is adequate and many hotels and restaurants add a service charge, so it is best to check the bill.

Safety Information

Most visits to the UAE are trouble free. Crime is not a problem, but there is deemed to be a threat of terrorism against Western interests and gathering points, particularly entertainment venues. It is therefore wise to be vigilant when frequenting these. It is also wise to avoid political gatherings and demonstrations. Al Qaeda continues to issue statements threatening to carry out attacks in the Gulf region, including references to attack Western interests, such as residential compounds, military, oil, transport and aviation interests.

Local Customs

The Emirates states are all Muslim, therefore alcohol is not served except in hotels. It is an offence to drink or be drunk in public and penalties are severe. Some prescribed and over the counter medicines from outside the country may be considered to be a controlled substance within the UAE and will not be allowed into the UAE without prior permission from the UAE Ministry of Health Drug Control Department (DCD). A passenger arriving with such medication without permission may be subject to prosecution. Dress and behaviour should be modest, particularly during the month of Ramadan when it is disrespectful to smoke, drink or eat in public between sunrise and sunset. Women's clothes should cover the tops of the arms and legs. Cohabiting, adultery and homosexual behaviour are illegal in the UAE, and it is an offence to swear or make rude gestures, or show a public display of affection. In general, the country has a tolerant approach to Western visitors, but local laws and sensitivities should be respected.

Business

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Communications

The International code for the United Arab Emirates is +971. The outgoing international code is 00. City/area codes are in use, e.g. (0)2 for Abu Dhabi and (0)4 for Dubai. The Etisalat mobile phone network provides wide GSM 900 coverage throughout the country. Guest starters packs including a SIM card and credit can be bought on arrival at the airport, providing 3 months' of cellular access. Internet cafes are widely available, and most hotels have high speed internet access. The internet is censored to filter out any material and websites deemed undesirable by the authorities.

Duty Free

Visitors to the UAE do not need to pay customs duty on 400 cigarettes, cigars to a maximum value of 3,000 dirhams and 2kg tobacco; and perfume for personal use to the value of 3,000 dirhams. Alcohol allowances vary. Dubai: 24 cans of beer or 4 litres of any other alcohol; Abu Dhabi and Fujairah: 4 litres of alcohol provided traveller is not Muslim; Sharjah: 2 litres of alcohol and 1 case beer. Fruit and vegetables from cholera infected areas are strictly prohibited.


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