The United Arab Emirates consists of seven independent city-states: Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Umm al-Quwain, Fujairah, Ajman and Ra’s al-Khaimah. Four-fifths of the UAE is desert but has contrasting landscapes—from the towering red dunes of the Liwa to the rich palm-filled oases of Al Ain, from the precipitous Al Hajar Mountains to the more fertile stretches of its coastal plains. Though small in size (similar to the State of Maine), the UAE has become an important player in regional and international affairs.
Dubai is a fashionable, modern, and cosmopolitan city where a majority of the population is made up of expats from all over the world. Tolerance is one of the pillars of Emirati society and culture and no, you do not have to wear the traditional dress. Women don’t have to cover their heads with a headscarf either.
The standard of food hygiene and water quality is extremely high, especially in all of the larger centers. You should take the time to investigate conditions in smaller cafés in remote areas, although again standards are usually good. Raw salads and shawarmas (meat cooked on a spit and served in a pita bread sandwich) are to be avoided if you have any doubts.
Water is usually produced by desalination so it is normally safe to drink, nevertheless, you may prefer the taste of bottled water. In any case, it is advisable to drink plenty of water in the heat so carry a bottle with you at all times.
The United Arab Emirates dirham, also known as simply the Emirati dirham, is the currency of the United Arab Emirates. The term dirham is officially abbreviated “AED”, while unofficial abbreviations include “DH” or “Dhs.”. The dirham is subdivided into 100 fils.
Lightweight summer clothing is ideal with a wrap, sweater or jacket for cooler winter nights and air-conditioned premises. Although the dress code in the UAE is generally casual, guests in the larger hotels do tend to dress more formally in the evening. Since you are visiting a Muslim country, bikinis, swimsuits, shorts and revealing tops should be confined to beach resorts.
Women are usually advised not to wear short skirts and to keep their shoulders covered. Note that in Sharjah women are prohibited from wearing swimsuits on public beaches.
No special immunizations are required; however, it would be wise to check beforehand if you are traveling from a health-risk area. Tetanus inoculations are usually recommended if you are considering a long trip. Polio has been virtually eradicated in the UAE and hepatitis is very rare and can be avoided by taking precautions. Hepatitis A is transmitted by contaminated food and water, Hepatitis B, C, D through sexual contact, the use of unsterilized needles, and blood transfusions.
Wall outlets in the Emirate of Dubai are Type G (BS-1363) and supply electricity at 230 volts AC / 50 Hz frequency.
US citizens with a US passport that is valid for more than six months do not need to obtain a visa prior to entry to the UAE if the duration of their visit will be less than one month. This includes US citizens with visas or entry stamps from other countries in their passports.
GSM services are available and the mobile phone code within the UAE is 050. “Speak Easy” is a GSM mobile service for those visitors and tourists who cannot use their own mobile phones in the UAE. You can either buy a new mobile phone and purchase a temporary SIM card or use your own handset with a temporary card. Contact ETISALAT for details.
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