If you have not traveled to the United Arab Emirates, the chances are that you know someone who has visited the country a couple of times. Yes, that is the first thing most people do not really pay close attention to – the UAE is a country. It is located on the coast of the Persian gulf and demarcated by seven emirates.
The Abu Dhabi emirate serves as its capital, but Dubai is the most popular with tourists. There are several other misconceptions about traveling to the glitzy country, and we want to debunk some of them.
Traveling To The Country
Regardless of your country of origin, the UAE is very hospitable to visitors but make sure that you have all the necessary paperwork to avoid getting held up at the airport on arrival.
The DXB (Dubai International) airport is amongst the busiest in the world, and you should be ready to brave quite long queues even at 2 a.m. Keep in mind that the same applies to departing the country, you should check in the least three hours ahead of time to get through the check-in process and passport control.
Language and Culture
The Emiratis are the UAE natives, but Dubai, in particular, is highly populated by expats. You will be able to communicate with almost everyone in English, but you might encounter a few lost-in-translation moments.
The people are very accommodating and always ready to help. While dressing conservatively is recommended, there really are no restrictions about it except when visiting predominantly muslim areas.
The UAE transport system is widely praised as being one of the most efficient globally. You will find a selection of transport options including regular taxis, buses, water taxis, and an above-ground driverless metro system.
While the cost of taxis is fair, make sure to use only those with a meter to avoid getting ripped off. If you choose to get around by bus or the metro, get a Nol card (a contactless transport smart card) if you will be staying for long but daily passes will work just fine.
Make sure to skip the swig of water and chewing gum while using public transport because it comes with an AED 200 fine.
Any foodie will love the experience of sampling the different dishes the UAE emirates have to offer. You will find restaurants dedicated to world-global cuisines including Asian, Persian, continental, and your regular fast food restaurants. However, the vast array of street food provides the authentic experience most people prefer.
Be careful of the prices when dining at restaurants, because while they may seem relatively affordable, every single additional item (including the drinking water you find on the tables) comes at an extra cost.
You will not be short of exciting attractions to visit and fun things to do around the country. There are malls to visit, theme parks, and the beach just to mention a few things you can do. You can travel from one emirate to the next by bus to see what they have to offer.
Several emirates allow drinking in nightclubs and hotels. Interestingly, most nightclubs are attached to hotels. However, it is not permitted to drink out in public, and you should also avoid disorderly conduct after drinking which might get you in trouble with the authorities.
The other thing that Dubai is well-known for is the opportunities it provides for shopping. Almost everything is available at a bargain from the scores of AED 1 to 10 stores to the malls that house globally recognized brands.
Best yet, most establishments remain open 24 hours allowing you to roam around at night after the temperatures go down. Look out for the discount markets where you can find some of the most exquisite and affordable and trinkets.