The UAE is an Islamic country and Arab traditions influence the lifestyle, yet considerable tolerance is shown towards the Eastern and Western practices of the large expatriate community. There are a number of Christian churches throughout the country as well as Hindu and Sikh temples in Dubai.
The UAE enjoys extremely pleasant weather during its winter months, from October to May. The rest of the year, temperatures are in the low to mid-40º range. Lightweight summer clothing can be worn for most of the year but temperatures can drop quite sharply at night during the winter months of November to March. Do pack a pair of sunglasses and a hat and sun block no matter what time of year you are visiting.
Global links, including GSM mobile telephones, pagers and Internet connections are world-class and inexpensive. Local and foreign television, radio, newspapers, magazines and books are readily available. Pre-paid GSM mobile telephone SIM cards are available at the airport, and at Etisalat offices and business centres throughout the country.
The official currency is the UAE dirham (Dh). One dirham is divided into 100 fils. Notes come in denominations of five, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000. Coins are Dh 1, 50 fils, 25 fils, 10 fils and 5 fils. The government has issued new coins that are smaller than the old ones. Both types remain legal tender.The UAE dirham is fully convertible and pegged to the US dollar at a current exchange rate of US$ = Dh 3.67.
Government offices open from 7am or 7.30am until 1pm or 1.30pm, Saturday to Wednesday. Some banks, private companies and shops open from 8am to 1pm or 1.30pm, then again from 4pm to 7pm or 8pm from Saturday to Wednesday; others work a straight shift until the evening. Shopping centres are open until about 10pm daily.
Safety & Lifestyle
The UAE's low crime rate makes it one of the safest places in the world to visit – even for women travelling alone. It is however advisable to take the normal precautions to safeguard yourself and your valuables.Dubai is the most liberal place in the UAE and people here are used to Western dress and ways. However, modest dress is recommended in public places. Beachwear is acceptable at beach clubs and hotel pools.
The standard of health care is high throughout the UAE. However, it is expensive, so it's important to get decent travel insurance.The Emirate is clear of all epidemic diseases and is largely mosquito free. No specific vaccinations are required to enter the country however it would be wise to check beforehand if you are travelling from a health-risk area.
Film is readily available, as are processing facilities and colour prints which are produced in 15 to 30 minutes. We recommend you ask permission before photographing people in general and Muslim women in particular. Airports, docks, telecommunication equipment, government buildings, military and industrial installations should not be photographed.