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The United Arab Emirates is a federation of the formerly independent seven sheikhdoms of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah and Umm Al Quwain. It has a total population of 3.2 million and has an area of about 84,000 square kilometers - three quarters of the population are "foreigners". The country is known for its openness, tolerance and hospitality which attract visitors from all over the world.
Another important factor is security - the UAE is amongst the countries with a very low crime rate which is nearly zero. The UAE offers a unique tourist infrastructure which meets even the highest requirements:
  • White sand beaches with crystal clear water
  • Undiscovered desert
  • Innumerable shopping centers
  • Historical places and museums
  • Magnificent choice of hotels in all categories from luxurious to low budget
  • Excellent restaurants
  • Daily multiple flight connections from different airlines to various cities of the world
The economy plays a vital role to the UAE, which is why it is constantly growing. More and more international companies are attracted by the excellent business conditions, which make them set up branches here. As a proof, Dubai Internet City were established in the last 4 years. In the area of conferences and conventions as well as for individual events, the hotels and suppliers provide the best location, perfect service and the most modern technology. So whatever your ideas are, there is nothing you won't find in the UAE.
Arabic is the official language of the UAE while English is the language of business, though it competes with Urdu as the lingua franca. You will have little trouble making yourself understood, though when you venture out to the rural areas you will find that English is not as widespread. Knowing the Iranian language, Farsi, will help you get by.
Urdu and Malayalam (the language of Kerala in India) can both be reasonably useful because of the large number of Pakistani and Indian expats.
The UAE Dirham (Dhs) is divided into 100 Fils. Notes come in denominations of Dhs 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000. There are 1 Dhs, 50 Fils, 25 Fils, 10 Fils and 5 Fils coins (although the latter two are rarely used today)
Over 33 nationalities can get their visa directly at the Dubai International Airport free of charge.
Dry and hot humid summer with comfortably soft winter.
Plus four (4) hours GMT.
Open daily from 10:00 a.m. till 10:00 p.m., Lunch break from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
This is the month during which Muslims fast from dawn until dusk. Bars and Pubs are closed for serving the alcohol in a day time throughout the month. Those with a liquor license can still buy alcohol for consumption at home. Everyone, regardless of their religion, is required to observe the fast in public. That only means not eating and drinking but no smoking as well. Although it is unlikely you will be arrested for breaking these rules, as you would be in Saudi Arabia, you may stopped by the police and told to get rid of your sandwich or put your cigarette out.
In Sharjah, alcohol is strictly prohibited
in taking photographs of places or people, ask for permission from the concerned people in a very polite manner before taking the shot. Military facilities must not be photographed at all.
Most of UAE Muslim population are Sunni Muslims subscribing to the Maliki or Hanbali schools of Islamic law. Many of the latter are Wahhabic, though UAE Wahhabic are not nearly as strict and puritanical as the Wahhabic of Saudi Arabia. There is also a smaller community of Shiite Muslims, descendants mainly from merchants and workers who crossed to the Trucia Coast from Persia in the late 19th or early 20th century.
Tips are not generally expected since a service charge is added to your bill (this goes to the restaurant, not to the waiter, however). If you want to leave a tip, 10% is sufficient.
Bargaining in Souks can be exhausting. Hang in there, be firm and be prepared to spend some time at it. Prices probably wont come down by more than about 20%, but if you are at Souk in the country, you will find that prices will come down by about 50%.
The UAE has an efficient telecommunications system. The state telecommunications monopoly is Etisalat, recognizable by the giant, sparkling golf ball on top of its Headquarter building on the corner of Beniyas and Omar bin al-Khattab roads. It is open 24 hours a day.
If you need to make a call from the airport, there are telephones at the far end of the baggage claim area where local calls (i.e. within Dubai) can be made free of charge. Some of the lounges at the gates in the departures area also make free local calls. Coin phones have almost completely taken over by card phones. Phone cards are available in denominations of Dhs 30 from grocery stores, supermarkets, petrol stations and street vendors.
To phone out from the UAE, dial 00 followed by the country code. If you want to call the UAE, the country code 971. The area code for Dubai is 04 and mobile phones 50, and 55 though if you are calling from outside the UAE you just dial 4. The following is a list of area codes in the UAE.
Abu Dhabi
Khor Fakkan                
Ras Al-Khaimah           
Umm Al-Quwain  
Mobile numbers begin with 050  and 055 in the UAE.

The following are some useful telephone numbers

Time check                   
Directory Enquiries    
The weekend there is Saturday and Friday. Government offices start work at 7.30am and finish at 1 or 1.30pm from Sunday to Thursday.
Local Shops are open from 8am to 1pm and from 4.30pm or 5pm to 8 or 9pm everyday except Friday morning.
If you decide to hire a car to get around the city, remember that traffic congestion in the UAE can be a real problem in peak hours, which occur three times a day: between 7 and 9am, 1 and 2pm and most of the evening from 6pm onwards up to 09:00 pm
It is compulsory to wear seatbelts in the front and it is illegal to use a hand-held mobile phone while driving. As you can well imagine, UAE is not short on petrol stations. Petrol is sold by the imperial gallon (an imperial gallon is just over 4.5 liters). Regular petrol costs Dhs 0.80 per gallon and premium is Dhs 1.00
Drive on the right in the UAE. The speed limit is 60km/h, and 100km/h on the highways with a maximum of 120km/h. If you are caught speeding, you will be fined, but in some cases you will simply be sent a bill by police .
The traffic situation in UAE has improved immensely since the government started forcing people to pay for the privilege of parking throughout the core of the city. For years the flow of traffic within the city had always been congested, but now with a strictly enforced four-hour limit on parking the level of overcrowding has lessened. Tickets must be purchased from one of the numerous ticket-dispensing machines. Rates are 2 Dhs for the first hour, 5 Dhs for up to 2 hours, 8 Dhs for up to 3 hours and 11 Dhs for up to 4 hours. Place the ticket on top of your dashboard. Parking in the center is free on Friday and holidays
Scores of Abras constantly cross the Creek from early morning until around midnight. On the Deira side of the Creek, the dock is at the intersection of Al-Sabkha and Beniyas Road. On Bur Dubai side, the dock is at the west end of the souk. Abras, like service taxis, leave when full, but it never takes more than a few minutes for one or them to fill up. The fare of  100 fils is collected once you are out on the water.
The starting fare of Dubai Transport taxis is Dhs 3. this goes up to Dhs 0.50 after 10pm. There are also private taxis which come in all sizes and colors and do not have meters. This presents you with a choice: negotiate the fare in advance (and perhaps pay too much) or get in, tell the driver your destination, pay him what you think is an appropriate fare once you get there and hope that it is accepted without an argument. 50% premium after midnight.
Should you go for the latter option, expect to pay a little less than the metered taxis (i.e. around Dhs 5 for trips around the center of Dubai that do not involve crossing the Creek). Crossing the Creek immediately runs the standard fare up to about Dhs 8 or Dhs 9. For a trip from the Clock Tower roundabout to Satwa you should pay Dhs 12; a trip to Jumeirah will cost about Dhs 15.
Australia 04 331 3444
Canada 04 352 1717
Denmark 04 222 7699
Egypt 04 397 1122
France 04 332 9040
Germany 04 397 2333
Italy 04 331 4167
Japan 04 331 9191
Jordan 04 397 0500
Kazakhstan 04 224 2462
Kuwait 04 222 1900
Lebanon 04 397 7450
Netherlands 04 352 8700
Norway 04 353 3833
Oman 04 397 5000
Qatar 04 398 2888
Romania 04 394 0580
Russia 04 223 1272
Saudi Arabia 04 266 3383
Spain 04 331 3565
Sweden 04 345 7716
Switzerland 04 331 3542
Syria 04 266 3354
Turkey 04 331 4788
Uzbekistan 04 394 7400
UK 04 397 1070
Ukraine 02 632 7586
USA 04 331 3115
Food is cosmopolitan, from roadside “shawarmas” (traditional Arabic meat, bread, salad, pickle and spices) to haut cuisine in top hotels
American cuisine  
Billy Blues (Rydges Hotel)                       
Champions (JW Marriott Hotel)              
Scarlett’s (Emirates Towers Boulevard)
04 398 2272
04 262 4444
04 319 87 67
Arabic/ Lebanese Cuisine  
Al Khayal Jumierah Beach Hotel
Al Iwan (Burj Al Arab)                                
Al Khaima (Le Royal Meridien)              
Al Lebnani (Ajman Kempinski Hotel)    
Al Qasr (Dubai Marine Beach Resort)   
Mawal (Al Bustan Rotana Hotel)            
04 284 5000
04 268 8888
04 301 7600
04 395 5555
06 745 1555
04 346 1111
04 282 0000
Argentinean Cuisine  
La Parilla (Jumeirah Beach Hotel)         04 348 0000
Chinese Cuisine    
Hai Tao (Ajman Kempinski Hotel)          
Long Yin (Le Meridien, Dubai)                
06 745 1555
04 282 4040
Continental/ International Cuisine  
Al Dawaar (Hyatt Regency Hotel)          
Antigo (Le Meridien, Dubai)                    
Brasserie (Le Royal Meridien)               
Café Kranzler (Ajman Kempinski Hotel)   
Fontana (Al Bustan Rotana Hotel)         
Jules (Le Meridien, Dubai)                      
Japengo (Palm Strip Shopping Mall)    
Rendezvous (Marbella Resort, Sharjah) 
The Terrace (Sheraton Deira Hotel)      
Waves (Le Meridien Mina Seyahi)         
04 209 1100
04 282 4040
04 395 5555
06 745 1555
04 282 0000
04 282 4040
04 345 4979
06 574 1111
04 268 8888
04 399 3333
Japanese Cuisine  
Benihana (Al Bustan Rotana Hotel)       
ET Sushi (Emirates Towers)                   
Kiku (Le Meridien, Dubai)                         
Miyako (Hyatt Regency Hotel)                  
ShoCho (Dubai Marine Beach Resort)  
Tokyo@Towers (Emirates Towers)       
04 282 0000
04 330 0000
04 282 4040
04 209 1222
04 346 1111
04 330 0000
Mediterranean Cuisine  
Al Muntaha (Burj Al Arab)                         
Il Paradiso (Sheraton Deira Hotel)        
Prasino’s (Jumeirah Beach Club)         
Vu’s (Emirates Towers)                          
04 301 7600
04 268 8888
04 344 5333
04 330 0000
Al Mahara (Burj Al Arab)                            
Club Joumana (Jebel Ali Hotel)              
Marina (Jumeirah Beach Hotel)              
Mi Vida (Le Royal Meridien)                     
Seafood Market (Le Meridien, Dubai)
04 301 7600
04 283 6000
04 348 0000
04 395 5555
04 282 4040
Spanish Cuisine  
Bodega (Le Meridien, Dubai)                  
Seville’s (Wafi City)                                   
04 282 4040
04 324 4777
Steakhouses and Grills  
JW’s Steakhouse (JW Marriott Hotel)      
M’s Beef Bistro (Le Meridien, Dubai)       
Rodeo Grill (Al Bustan Rotana Hotel)     
Western Steakhouse (Crown Plaza Dubai)
04 262 4444
04 282 4040
04 282 0000
04 331 1111
Thailand Cuisine  
Blue Elephant (Al Bustan Rotana Hotel)  
Fusion (Le Royal Meridien)                         
Sukhothai (Le Meridien, Dubai)                  
Thai Bistro (Dubai Marine Beach Resort) 
Thai House (Sheraton Deira Hotel)          
04 282 0000
04 395 5555
04 282 4040
04 346 1111
04 268 8888

Dubai ‘s nightclubs tend to be segregated into Arabic, western, Filipino and Indian clubs. This is just the way people socialize in Dubai – apart, Thursday and Friday nights are the biggies, with music rocking until 3 am.
Kasbar (Royal Mirage)

Madinat Jumierah wide range of clubs and pubs
The Apartment (Jumeirah Beach Hotel)
Cavalie Fairmont Dubai
Century Atlantis
Pubs and bars in Dubai are open until 1 or 2am. They are well stocked with spirits and all the  major beers are available. The wines are invariably the same as the wines at licensed restaurants – mostly table wines from France, Italy, Australia and California. At most places, Tuesday and Sunday are “Ladies’ Night”, which means those of the right sex get not one, but two free drinks. Not surprisingly ladies’ night tends to attract more men than women.
Al Maktoum Hospital 04 222 1211
Al Wasl Hospital 04 324 1111
American Hospital 04 336 7777
Dubai Hospital 04 271 4444
Rashid Hospital 04 337 1111
Welcare Hospital 04 282 7788
Dubai International Airport   
General Information 04 224 5555
Flight Inquiry 04 206 6666
Abu Dhabi International Airport      
General Information 02 575 7500
Flight Inquiry 02 575 7611
Sharjah International Airport  
General Information 06 558 1111
Flight Inquiry  06 558 1000
Company Reservation Confirmation
Air France 04 294 5899 04 294 5899
American Airlines 04 393 3234 04 393 3234
Aeroflot 04 222 2245 04 222 2245
British Airways 04 307 5555 04 307 5777
Cathay Pacific 04 282 2013   04 295 0400
Emirates Airlines 04 221 8555 04 221 8555
Dubai Mall 04 263 0000
Al Ghurair Center 04 223 2333
Bur Juman Center 04 352 0222
Deira City Center 04 295 1010
Mall of The Emirates 04 335 9999
Marina Mall 02 681 8300
Mercato 04 344 4161
Mirdef City Center 04 339 5459
Reef Mall 04 346 1462
Wafi Center 04 344 0111
    DOS & DON'T
Though alcohol is legal in the UAE, you should never ,ever drive while under the influence of alcohol consumption. If you are caught doing so there will be, at the very least, a steep fine to pay and you may wind up spending a month or more in jail.
  • It is impolite to photograph people without asking their permission. Avoid pointing your camera at police stations, airports and palaces.
  • When two men meet it is considered polite for them to inquire after each others families but not each others wives.
  • If you are in a frustration situation, be patient, friendly and sensitive. Never lose your temper.
  • Men should never appear bare-chested in public, except when at the beach or at the swimming pool. Emirates in Dubai are used to seeing westerners in shorts and they are seen as something comical rather than offensive. If you do wear shorts they should be relatively long – all the way to the knee if possible- but don’t wear them into someone’s home.
Women should wear loose-fitting clothing that is not revealing. Even in the UAE, where you see exposed midriff, short skirts and tight pants, you should still consider the impression you are making. Bathing suites are OK for the beach, though women may want to cover up more at public beaches to avoid the ogling of men.  

Gold Souk
Even if you have no plans to buy anything, it is worth a visit to the Gold Souk simply to take in the atmosphere, and to ogle at the size of some of the jewellery on offer.

Spice Souk
Also known as the Deira Old Souk (since it doesn’t just sell spices), this is one place you must wander around for a real taste of  traditional Dubai. The spices are mainly found at the souk’s eastern end, in the area closest to the Creek.

Satwa Souk

This area, which lies to the south of Al-Dhiyafa Road near the Satwa roundabout, is the place to buy shoes, textiles, tacky souvenirs, imitation brand watches and sunglasses.
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