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The Travel Finder



Q. Do I need a visa?

A. Visa requirements for entering Dubai vary greatly between different nationalities and it is always advised to check regulations before traveling.  In most cases, US Passport holders can obtain a visa upon arrival.


Q. What is the local currency?

A. Arab Emirates Dirhams (AED or Dh)


Q. Do they speak English in Dubai?

A. The official language is Arabic, Arabic and English are commonly used in business and commerce. Hindi and Urdu are also widely used.


Q. How long does it take to fly to Dubai?

A. From JFK to Dubai, the flying time is 12 hours and 45 minutes.


Q. What are the business hours in Dubai?

A. Banks:          Sunday – Thursday 8.00am – 1.00pm
Shopping Malls: Saturday – Thursday 10.00am – 10.00pm;  Friday – 4.00pm – 10.00pm
Souks:          Saturday – Thursday 10.00am – 1.00pm and 4.00pm – 10.00pm;  Friday – 4.00pm – 2.30pm


Q. What are the duty free allowances?

A. Duty Free Allowances include the following:

Cigarettes: 400
Cigars: 2 kilograms
Tobacco: 2 kilograms
Liquor: 2 liters of spirits OR 2 liters of wine for personal consumptional


Q. Will I have internet and cell phone access in Dubai?

A. GSM services are available and the mobile phone code within the UAE is 050. “Speak Easy” is a GSM mobile service for those visitors and tourists who cannot use their own mobile phones in the UAE. You can either buy a new mobile phone and purchase a temporary SIM card or use your own handset with a temporary card. Contact ETISALAT for details.
Most five-star hotels offer guests internet access. Email cheap rates are from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. At the time of writing public internet access kiosks were being established in the UAE, initially at the major airports. The minimum charge for public access is Dh2 and 60 fils per minute. Payment can be made by credit card.
If you have brought your laptop with you, along with a modem and browsing software, you can dial 500 5333 to get connected to the internet. A charge of 15 fils per minute is billed to the telephone to which you are connected.


Q. What is shopping like in Dubai?

A. Many of the world’s finest goods are available at prices well below what you would pay in other countries. Tax-free open market means bargains galore. Bargaining is commonly practiced and recommended particularly in the souks.

Traditional souvenirs include Arabian coffee pots, silver and brass swords or khanjars, silver and wooden miniature dhows, Arabic chests, soapstone figures, antique silver jewelry, Persian carpets and gold jewelry.


Q. What should I pack?

A. Lightweight summer clothing is suitable for most of the year in cotton or cotton mix is ideal.  Good quality sunglasses; hat and sunblock.  A sweater or jacket may be needed January – March (especially in the evenings).


Q. Do I need any special vaccinations to travel to Dubai?

A. No special immunizations are required, however it would be wise to check beforehand if you are traveling from a health-risk area. Tetanus inoculations are usually recommended if you are considering a long trip. Polio has been virtually eradicated in the UAE and hepatitis is very rare and can be avoided by taking precautions. Hepatitis A is transmitted by contaminated food and water, Hepatitis B, C, D through sexual contact, the use of unsterilized needles and blood transfusions.


Q. What is the main religion in Dubai?

A. Islam is the official religion and there are a large number of mosques throughout the city.  Other religions are respected and there are various places of worship including churches and temples.


Q. Do I need to tip?

A. Tax and service charge are usually included in the bills, otherwise a 5-10% tip is adequate. Airport and hotel porters 2-3 US Dollars depending on the amount of luggage.


Q. What happens during Ramadan?

A. The Holy month of Ramadan is when Muslims commemorate the revelation of the Holy Koran.  During this period, all Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset.  Eating, drinking and smoking in public areas during daylight hours is strictly prohibited, however hotels restaurants can accommodate tourists in covered tented areas.


Q. Can I consume alcohol in Dubai?

A. Wide choices of excellent wines, beers and spirits are available in licensed restaurants and bars.  Dubai has several laws regarding alcohol which tourists should be aware of before visiting: 
Alcohol is only available at licensed premises, usually attached to hotels (most nightclubs and bars are in or attached to hotels, though they may have separate entrances). 
Alcohol is not sold on religious holidays, nor during daylight hours in Ramadan (even to non-Muslims). 
It is illegal to drink alcohol in public places
Remember to carry some sort of identification when visiting a bar if you are young, as you will not be let in otherwise. The law prohibits anyone below 21 to enter.


Q. What type of food is available at the restaurants?

A. Dubai restaurants & hotels offer a remarkably diverse range of food and beverage outlets.  Other than traditional Arabic cuisine, there is a wide choice of British, Chinese, Filipino, French, German, Greek, Indian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mediterranean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swiss and Thai. The traditional food of the Emirates has always been rice, fish and meat.  Some of the most popular include Harees, Machboos and Fareed:

b>Harees is a simple dish created with small pieces of meat, cracked wheat and water.  The meat, wheat and water are placed in a large mud pot and cooked slowly until the meat is tender.  The ingredients are then blended together until it has a thick porridge like consistency
Machboos is a dish made of rice, onions and meat which are seasoned with spices, salt and dried lemons.  Simmered until all the meat is very tender, when rice is added and returned to cook for up to 2 hours.
Fareed is a meet and vegetable stew poured over a bed of very thin bread and served immediately.


Q. Can I use American appliances in Dubai?

A. Voltage used in the UAE is 220V.  Most sockets are 3-pin, although adaptors for 2-pin plugs are available at most hotels.


Q. Can I drink the water in Dubai?

A. Water is usually produced by desalination so it is normally safe to drink, nevertheless you may prefer the taste of bottled water. In any case it is advisable to drink plenty of water in the heat so carry a bottle with you at all times.


Q. What is the weather like in Dubai?

A. The line of the Tropic of Cancer crosses through the UAE, causing the weather in Dubai to be warm and sunny in the winter, with an average daytime temperature of 25 degrees c, nearer the coat 12-15 degrees c, in the desert or mountains 5 degrees c. With the nights being relatively cool. Near coastal areas humidity can average between 50% and 60%.

In the summer, the weather in Dubai is very hot and humid, with temperatures reaching mid 40’s. Even the sea temperature can reach 37 degrees c, with humidity averaging over 90%.

Rainfall in Dubai is infrequent and does not last for a long period. It mostly rains during the winter period in the form of short gushes and an occasional thunderstorm. On average, rain falls only five days a year.

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Travel Tips

  1. Be Careful when withdrawing more from a cash point.
  2. Do not accept any package from a stranger.
  3. Keep your passports, plane tickets, jewellery of value and large sorts of money in safe custody.
  4. Do not go swimming in areas where it is forbidden.
  5. Do not leave anything inside your car.

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