United Arab Emirates is a popular destination for millions of people from around the globe. But before traveling to UAE,  there are important things to consider to ensure a seamless and enjoyable travel. Here is the list of 9 things you need to know before traveling to this beautiful progressive country.

1.  Best Time to Visit

UAE is a cheerful sunny country with great attractions mostly available all year round. There are some outdoor attractions however, that are available only during the winter months. To enjoy the comfortable winter weather, it is best to visit the country between the months of October and April. The country has a pleasant winter and is crowded by tourists during this time of the year especially from the month of December to February due to festive occasions and shopping festivals. 

While winter is the best time to hang outside, stroll around and enjoy the radiance of the modern cities of UAE, summer season is the time of year where you can get best hotels in Dubai, great offers and tour packages with crazy prices. If your preference is to have a relaxing staycation indoors without burning a hole in your pocket, finding good summer offers is not a hard task.

2.  Accommodations

Before traveling to UAE, it is wise to decide ahead of time where to stay.  Booking accommodation is no longer a cumbersome task. You can either find the best hotels online or contact your favorite travel service provider for a tailor-made holiday package. Popular cities such as Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Al Ain, and Ras Al Khaimah have a wide range of accommodation to choose from with categories from one-star to five-star hotels.

If you are traveling to UAE with your family,  it is wise to choose serviced family accommodation ranging from one, two, three or four-bedroom apartments or villas. 

For honeymooners, many hotels offer great arrangements for a romantic stay. You need to inform the hotel or your travel agency in order to make these arrangements for you. 

For business travelers, it is worthwhile to consider finding an accommodation near to the venue of the exhibition or conference you are attending or at least near to the metro station to get easy access to your destination.  Most business travelers in Dubai prefer hotels in Sheikh Zayed Road for they are near Dubai World Trade Center and major commercial districts. Business travelers in Abu Dhabi prefer staying in hotels near ADNEC.

3.  Transportation

Getting around Dubai is not a problem with modern transportation facilities available in the city. 

The most common and more efficient method of transportation is through the metro which is operating via Red Line (Rashidiya to Jebel Ali/UAE Exchange) and Green Line (Etisalat to Creek).  Getting to your destination via Metro is quick and easy, you just need to know the nearest station to your destination.

Public buses are operated by the Road and Transport Authority (RTA). The buses connect major landmarks and tourist destinations. Buses arrive at a 15-20 minute interval. Bus routes/road maps are available in the air-conditioned waiting sheds/stops.

Taxis are a very convenient mode of transportation and are easily available. If you run out of cash, you can use a credit card for paying taxi fares.

Careem (or Uber) is also available. Quick and easy, you can book a ride via app in minutes.

You need to have a Nol Card to use public transportation in Dubai (bus, metro, water taxi). Cash is not accepted for public transport so ensure to buy the type of Nol Card according to your needs. You can buy a Nol Card from any metro or bus ticket station.

In Abu Dhabi, you need to purchase a Hafilat card in order to use the buses. You can buy the Hafilat from Al Wahda station or from vending machines. Taxi is a more convenient mode of transportation and available in all the emirates. Crossing the borders of each emirate when traveling by taxi may cost you additional fare charges. 

Car rentals are also common and most convenient but you must have an international driving license in addition to your domestic license. As each emirate may have different rules on renting cars, it is best to check first with the transport authorities (800-9090) or with car rental companies when making plans to hire a self-drive car.

4.  Modest Clothing

UAE is a Muslim country and proper dressing must be observed as a sign of respect to the Islamic culture.  Although non-muslims are not required to be covered from head-to-toe, wearing decent and respectful clothing is advisable especially in public places such as malls and parks where wearing revealing clothes is against the law. Within the premises of hotel resorts and beaches, however, holiday attires and swimming outfits are acceptable. Some emirates are more strict than the others, hence it is wise to know the generally  accepted dress codes.

5.  Respect for Religion

Muslim prayer time is observed in all the emirates. Prayer mosques could be found in almost every corner of the country. In malls and parks,  you can also find prayer rooms. As UAE is home for many nationalities practicing their respective religions, you can also find temples and churches in certain parts of the country. UAE is a place where people live and work harmoniously with one another, respecting each other’s religion or belief. 

During the Holy Month of Ramadan, food establishments are closed during the fasting hours and it is prohibited to eat or drink in public. 

6.  Food

If you fear to miss your native food or national cuisine, fear not because almost everything is available in the UAE. If you are a foodie, you will enjoy staying in United Arab Emirates as you explore various international cuisines such as Arabic, Indian, Italian, French, Oriental, and many others. For gourmets and luxury fine diners, it is best to check five-star restaurants for a sophisticated dining experience. If you are in the mood for casual dining in Dubai, you can check the foodiest hotspots in Dubai Marina, Jumeirah Beach Residence and Dubai Bluewaters. Travelers can also enjoy the traditional tasty food of UAE across the country. The traditional Emirati dishes contain meat, fish, and rice. Sheep or goat are the common sources of meat and on large occasions, some people use camel’s meat for festive dishes.

7.  Alcohol Consumption

Public drinking is strictly not allowed in the UAE. There are however licensed bars, restaurants or hotels where people can drink. Only license holders can purchase alcohol. If reported and found drunk, one without a license may end up in jail. 

There is zero tolerance for drunk driving in the UAE.

8.  No to PDA

Couples must take extra care in public display of affection since the country has very strict laws on this. Even for married couples, kissing or petting in public is strictly prohibited and considered an offense to decency.

9.  Customs and Traditions

Greetings with hugs and kisses are common between men but not for women. Unless the woman puts her hand first, one should not try to shake her in order to avoid an awkward situation.

Sitting with the sole of the feet facing an Arab person is considered rude and offensive. 

While you may be overwhelmed with the many Instagram-able spots in the country, caution should be taken while taking photographs. It is illegal to take photos of government facilities. One should be careful not to catch photographs particularly faces of other people even in the background.

Common Words and Phrases 

Now that you learn several things before traveling to UAE, it’s time to know useful Arabic phrases which you would hear most of the time while you are in UAE.   Learning another language is fun, and it’s always good to start with the basics.  Enjoy!

SabaaH alkhayr. Good morning!
Masaa’ alkhayr. Good evening!
Tusbih äalaa khayr. Good night.
Kayfa Haluk? How are you?
Maa ismuk? What is your name?
Ismii Rocky. My name is Rocky.
Anaa bikhayr shukran. I’m fine, thank you.
Naäam. Yes.
Laa. No.
Shukran. Thank you.
Aafwan. You’re welcome.
Min fadlik. Please.
Ana Aseef. I am sorry.
Al Maazera. Excuse me.

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