Travelling to the Emirates, a fascinating destination known for its rich cultural heritage, stunning modern architecture, and warm hospitality, can be an exciting experience. Whether you are planning a visit to Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, or any other emirate, it’s essential to be aware of certain factors that will enhance your trip and ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey. In this article, we will explore ten key things to keep in mind when travelling to the Emirates, offering valuable insights to make the most of your time in this captivating part of the world.
1. Respect for Local Customs and Culture:
Emirati culture is deeply rooted in tradition and Islamic values. As a visitor, it’s important to respect local customs and dress modestly, especially in public places and religious sites. Women should cover their shoulders and knees, and it’s advisable to avoid public displays of affection. Understanding and adhering to local customs will help you connect with the locals and avoid any unintentional cultural misunderstandings.
2. The Emirates’ Weather and Climate:
The Emirates experience a desert climate with scorching summers and mild winters. When planning your trip, be mindful of the weather conditions to ensure appropriate clothing and outdoor activities. Summers can be extremely hot, with temperatures soaring above 40°C (104°F), while winters are more comfortable, ranging from 14°C to 23°C (57°F to 73°F). Packing lightweight, breathable clothing, sun protection, and staying hydrated are crucial to staying comfortable during your visit.
3. Ramadan Etiquette:
If you happen to visit the Emirates during the holy month of Ramadan, it’s essential to be respectful and sensitive to local customs. Muslims observe fasting from sunrise to sunset, and many restaurants and cafes remain closed during daylight hours. Avoid eating, drinking, or smoking in public places during this time, as it is considered disrespectful. Embrace the opportunity to learn more about Ramadan and experience the unique atmosphere of this significant period in the Islamic calendar.
4. Language and Communication:
The official language of the Emirates is Arabic, but English is widely spoken and understood, particularly in urban areas and tourist destinations. However, learning a few Arabic phrases and greetings can be appreciated by the locals and help you navigate more easily, especially in non-touristy areas. A simple “Marhaba” (hello) or “Shukran” (thank you) may go a long way towards establishing rapport.
5. Transportation and Getting Around:
The Emirates boasts a well-developed infrastructure, making it relatively easy to travel between cities and explore different attractions. Public transportation options include buses, taxis, and metro systems in major cities like Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Similarly, handy and well-liked are ride-hailing apps like Uber and Careem. If you plan to drive, ensure you have an international driving permit, as it may be required, and familiarise yourself with local traffic rules and regulations.
6. Currency and money matter.
The currency of the United Arab Emirates is the Emirati dirham (AED). It’s advisable to have some cash on hand for smaller establishments and local markets, although credit cards are widely accepted in most places. ATMs are readily available, allowing you to withdraw cash in the local currency. Familiarise yourself with the current exchange rates and notify your bank of your travel plans to avoid any issues with card usage abroad.
7. Dress Code and Beaches:
While the Emirates is known for its stunning beaches and luxurious resorts, it’s important to be aware of the local dress code when visiting public beaches. Swimwear is generally acceptable on private hotel beaches, but it’s advisable to dress more conservatively when using public beach facilities. Additionally, be mindful of local guidelines regarding appropriate swimwear, especially for women, and follow the designated dress code signs at each beach.
8. Respect for Photography and Privacy:
The Emirates offers a myriad of breath-taking architectural wonders, natural landscapes, and vibrant cityscapes that are perfect for photography enthusiasts. However, it’s important to exercise caution and respect individuals’ privacy and local laws. Seek permission before taking pictures of people, especially women and children. Avoid photographing government buildings, military installations, and airports, as it is strictly prohibited and may lead to legal consequences.
9. Health and Hygiene:
Prioritising your health and hygiene is crucial when travelling to any destination, and the Emirates is no exception. Drink bottled or purified water, and be cautious about consuming raw or uncooked food. The sun can be intense, so use sunscreen and protect yourself from dehydration by drinking plenty of fluids. It’s also advisable to have travel insurance that covers medical emergencies to ensure peace of mind during your trip.
10. Local Laws and Regulations:
The Emirates has strict laws and regulations that visitors must adhere to. Possession and consumption of drugs are illegal and can result in severe penalties, including imprisonment. Public displays of affection, including kissing or hugging in public places, are considered inappropriate and can lead to legal consequences. It’s important to be aware of these laws and conduct yourself in a manner that respects local customs and regulations.
When travelling to the Emirates, particularly Dubai, it is essential to keep in mind several key factors to enhance your experience. Respect for local customs, being mindful of the weather, and understanding Ramadan etiquette are crucial. Communicating in English, familiarising yourself with transportation options, and managing currency matters will make navigating the city easier. Following dress codes at beaches, respecting privacy when taking photographs, and prioritising health and hygiene are important considerations. Lastly, being aware of local laws and regulations will ensure a trouble-free visit. By keeping these aspects in mind, your Dubai city tour will be enriched, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the captivating charm of this remarkable destination.