Facts for visitors: Useful information for business and leisure travellers

Etiquette

A handshake is usually the first introduction in a business setting and is used as a greeting and farewell. In any greeting between men and women, the woman must extend her hand first. If she does not, a man should bow his head instead. Accepting or offering anything with the left hand is considered to be impolite. Visitors are expected to show their respect toward religion, culture and local values.

Language

Arabic is the official language of the UAE, although both English and Arabic are commonly used in the business community. There are sizeable Indian and South-east Asian (especially from the Philippines) communities as well, but in general you will not have any trouble communicating in English.

Business Hours 

Government offices are open Sunday through Thursday from 8.00am until 2.30pm. Operating hours for private businesses are generally from 9.00am to 6.00pm. Retail outlets, shopping malls and supermarkets are open seven days a week, usually from 10.00am to 10.00pm. However, during Ramadan, normal business hours usually run from 8.00am until 2.00pm or 3.30pm. The time zone in the UAE is GMT+4.

VISA: Most visitors do not require visas and can remain for 30 days after entry. Citizens of GCC countries do not require a visa. In all cases, passports must be valid for at least six months from the date of entry. If you need to stay longer than 30 days, you may travel to a neighbouring country and come back, or you may choose to extend your visa for 30 more days at a cost of Dh500 ($136). There is a penalty of Dh100 ($27) per day for overstaying in the UAE with no valid visa.

Transport

The most common means of transportation in Ras Al Khaimah is the car. Hiring a car is easy and affordable, but taxis are a convenient option as well. No international driving licence is required to hire or drive a car in the UAE, and one drives on the right side of the road. The trip from RAK to Dubai by car takes about one hour, depending on the traffic. If you choose to fly, RAK International Airport is serviced by regular flights from the GCC, the wider Middle East and Asia.

Currency

The local currency is the UAE dirham. The exchange rate between the US dollar and the UAE dirham is pegged at $1:Dh3.67. As of early 2013, the exchange rate with the euro was around €1:Dh5.02.

Bank notes are available in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000 dirhams, and the notes include both English and Arabic.

Financial Services

ATMs accept most international cards and are widely available in RAK. However, if you are going to travel throughout the desert or mountains in the emirate, be sure to bring enough cash with you.

Credit cards are widely accepted in most hotels, restaurants and local retail outlets.

Health 

Public and private hospitals, clinics and specialists are available in RAK. Health care is free for UAE citizens, and health cards are available at a cost of Dh500 ($136) for expatriates to access state hospitals.

However, obtaining travel and medical insurance is advised. Pharmacies are widely available, and pharmacists speak English, so getting the right medicine in case of emergency should not be a problem.

Environment

RAK is surrounded by sea, mountains and desert. The tallest mountain in the UAE, Jebel Jais, with a height of around 1930 metres, is located in the emirate. Temperatures fluctuate from 16°C to 25°C in December and 30°C to 40°C in July, often reaching 45°C and above during the summer months.

Electricity

The UAE operates on the three-prong, 130-V British system, although you can easily find adaptors and/or transformers in any electronics store. Hotels will also provide these in most cases.

Communication

The international calling code for the UAE is +971, and the code for RAK is 7. Pre-paid SIM cards can be easily purchased from any licensed distributor, and phone credit can be added in amounts of Dh25 ($6.80), Dh50 ($13.60) and Dh100 ($27.20).

Data plans are also available in a number of packages and deals, ranging from Dh5 ($1.36) per day to Dh249 ($67.79) per month. Wireless internet is widely available in business centres, hotels, cafes, and restaurants.

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