The UAE dirham (Dh) is pegged to the US dollar at $1:Dh3.67. ATMs are widely available and cash can be exchanged in most malls. Credit cards are widely accepted throughout hotels and retail outlets, although there may be minimum charges.
Requirements for visas vary, so it is advisable to check with your country’s embassy before departure. Sponsorship of a UAE resident is required for many nationalities, though many Europeans, Americans and East Asians can obtain a 30-day tourist visa on arrival, which can be extended easily at an immigration office or by driving to nearby Oman. GCC citizens do not require an entry visa.
Proof of employment and income of more than Dh60,000 ($16,332) a year is necessary for a residence visa. Further information about visa requirements can be found on www.dubaivisa.net.
The easiest and most reliable way to get around Dubai is by taxi, which are strictly regulated. The minimum fare is Dh10 ($2.72) and it will cost about Dh90 ($24.50) to cross the city. The Dubai Metro connects most areas of the city on just two lines at a maximum of Dh8.50 ($2.31) per trip, and is the fastest transportation at peak hours.
Tourists possessing a driving licence from any of 36 government-approved countries can drive without the need to obtain an international or local licence. Uber Taxi, a luxury, chauffeur-driven car service that allows customers to book via a smartphone app, is also available in the emirate.
English is the most widely spoken language in Dubai due to the large number of expatriates working and residing in the emirate. Public signs are in both Arabic and English. Other languages in common use by expatriate communities include Hindi, Urdu, Farsi, Chinese and Tagalog.
The electricity supply is 220/240 V at 50 Hz. The UAE uses the same square, three-pin sockets as the UK, although some outlets are Europlug compatible and adapters are widely available.
Eating and Drinking
Dubai is a metropolitan city with a variety of international cuisines, including Arab, Indian, Asian, and American fare. Alcohol consumption in public is strictly prohibited and punishable by a custodial sentence, but those over 21 can order alcohol in restaurants and hotels. A personal licence is required to purchase alcohol from liquor stores. Alcohol is taxed at 30% and special restrictions apply during Ramadan.
Both Western dress and UAE or Indian national dresses are common. The UAE is more liberal than most neighbouring countries but modesty is still advised. At Dubai’s public and hotel beaches typical Western-style guidelines apply.
Government offices are generally open from 8am to 2:30pm, and most private businesses operate from 9am to 6pm although some are closed from 1.30pm to 4.30pm. Ramadan office hours are generally 9am to 2pm. The UAE operates on a Friday to Saturday weekend, and daylight saving time is not observed.
The UAE national day is December 2. Muslim holidays are observed, moving about 12 days earlier each year with the lunar calendar. Business observance of Ramadan varies so it is best to call in advance for opening hours during the month of Ramadan.
Dubai’s health services are excellent and UAE nationals have access to full medical coverage provided by the state. Tourists without travel health insurance can visit private hospitals where payment is expected upon treatment. In 2014 a new law will make health insurance coverage compulsory for every resident in Dubai.
The UAE’s international dialling code is +971 and Dubai’s dialling code is 04. There are two local telecoms providers, du and Etisalat. Payas-you-go SIM cards can be obtained at most shopping malls upon presentation of a passport and services are competitively priced for both data and voice.
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