A handshake is usually the first introduction in a business setting. 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.
Arabic is the official language, but English is also widely spoken, particularly in the business community. Legal documents, however, must be written in, or translated into, Arabic before they can be submitted to government agencies in English.
Business Hours & Public Holidays
The weekend falls on Friday and Saturday. The UAE National Day is on December 2. Government offices are open Sunday through Thursday from 8.00am until 2.30pm, but during the month of Ramadan office hours can vary, so it is advised to check business schedules in advance. 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. The time zone in the UAE is GMT + 4.
Citizens of the US, Canada, Australia, Western Europe and some Asian nations, like Japan, Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong, can receive a free-of-charge visit visa on arrival at the airport. Citizens of GCC countries do not require a visa. 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.
UAE nationals have access to full medical coverage provided by the state, and health cards are available at a cost of Dh500 ($136) for expatriates to access state hospitals for subsidised treatment. However, it is advisable to obtain travel and medical insurance. Pharmacies can be found widely in RAK.
The local currency is the UAE dirham. The exchange rate between the US dollar and the UAE dirham is pegged at $1 to Dh3.67. In 2015, the exchange rate with the euro was around €1 to Dh4.01. 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 writing.
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.
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 traffic conditions. RAK International Airport is serviced by regular flights from the GCC, the wider Middle East and Asia.
Environment & Climate
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, and can often reach highs of 45°C and above during the summer months.
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 Euro-plug compatible and adapters are widely available.
The UAE’s international dialling code is +971, and RAK’s dialling code is 07. SIM cards can be purchased from any licensed distributor, and phone credit can be added in amounts of Dh25 ($7), Dh50 ($14 and Dh100 ($27). Data plans are also sold in various deals and packages. Wireless internet is widely available in business centres, hotels and cafes.