Enjoy all that Dubai has to offer. Familiarise yourself with these facts about one of the world’s most dynamic and exciting destinations:
Dubai is 4,114 km2 (1,588 mi2).
Ruled by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai is the commercial centre of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), formed in 1971 as a federation of seven emirates.
Dubai has a subtropical, arid climate with infrequent and irregular rainfall. Temperatures range from a low of 10°C (50°F) to a high of 48°C (119°F).
Dubai’s population is approaching 1.5 million residents; nearly 80% are expatriates of almost 200 nationalities from across the globe.
While Arabic is the official language, English is very widely spoken, especially in business communications.
The UAE is 4 hours ahead of GMT (+4 GMT) throughout the year, as daylight saving is not observed.
The standard electricity supply is 220/240 volts, so American appliances may need a transformer.
The international dialing code for the UAE is + 971. Roaming mobile phone users will gain access to the Etisalat GSM network.
Money and Credit Cards
The Arab Emirates Dirham (AED or DHS) is the official currency of the UAE. Each dirham is divided into 100 fils and is held constant against the US dollar at an average of 3.67 dirhams to the dollar.
All international credit and debit cards are widely accepted in most restaurants, shops and hotels. However, you will likely need cash to make purchases in smaller shops and restaurants.
Saturdays through Thursdays, all banks operate from 8:00am to 1pm, although some are also open from 4:30pm to 6:30pm; on Fridays, operating hours are from 8:00am to 12:00pm.
As an Islamic country, the weekend in Dubai consists of Friday and Saturday. Government ministries and departments are open Sunday through Thursday from 7:00am to 2:00pm. Commercial offices tend to operate Sunday through Thursday from 8:30am to 6:30pm.
Local taxation does not affect visitors. No taxes are added to retail purchases, and the airport tax is already included in ticket prices.
Tipping is appreciated, but not expected. Taxi drivers do not expect a tip, but rounding up to the nearest dirham is always appreciated. A service charge is often added to bills in hotels and most restaurants; otherwise, a 10% tip would generally be appropriate.
While Dubai has a more relaxed dress code than other parts of the Middle East, care should be taken not to give offence by wearing clothing that may be considered revealing, particularly in places of worship. As a sign of respect to the local culture, shoulders and torsos should be covered, with shorts or skirts acceptable for ladies.
Alcohol is served at restaurants and licenced events; it can also be purchased at the Arrival Duty Free store in Dubai International Airport. Dubai operates a zero tolerance policy to driving under the influence of alcohol.