Government offices open from 7.00 am or 7.30 am until 1.00 pm or 1.30 pm, Sunday to Thursday. Some banks, private companies and shops open from 8.00 am to 1.00 pm or 1.30 pm, then again from 4.00 pm to 7.00 pm or 8.00 pm from Sunday to Thursday; others work a straight shift until the evening. Shopping centres are open until 10.00 pm or midnight daily.
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 40° 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.
Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Diners Club are generally accepted in hotels and larger stores but some retailers offer better bargains for cash.
The UAE is an Islamic country and Arabic 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 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.
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 electricity is 220/230 volts A/C and most sockets are three-pin square. Although adaptors are usually available in hotels, you may want to purchase one before you arrive.
The standard of health care is high throughout the UAE. However, it is expensive, so it's important to get decent travel insurance.
Arabic is the official language, but English is very widely understood and spoken, as is Hindi and Urdu.
Alcohol is freely available in restaurants, nightclubs and bars in hotels or in member-only places such as country clubs and sports clubhouses. Restaurants outside hotels do not have a licence to serve alcoholic beverages.
Film is readily available, as are processing facilities and colour prints which can be produced in 15 - 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.
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 local people 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 local time in Dubai is GMT + 4 hours. The time does not change in the summer.
Tipping practices are similar to most parts of the world. Where no service charge is included, it is customary to leave 10% tip.
Tap water is considered safe to drink. However you may prefer the taste of bottled water which is available in a range of inexpensive local brands. Imported brands are also available.