UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
The United Arab Emirates is an Arabian Peninsula nation settled mainly along the Persian (Arabian) Gulf. The country is a federation of 7 emirates. Abu Dhabi, the island capital, is home to Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, with crystal chandeliers and room for 40,000 worshipers. Dubai is the site of ultramodern Burj Khalifa tower, enormous shopping centers and extravagant entertainment attractions.
- Capital: Abu Dhabi Capital airport:- Abu Dhabi International Airport (IATA: AUH, ICAO: OMAA) is the UAE's second busiest airport (after Dubai) and the home base of Abu Dhabi's flag carrier Etihad.
- Dialing code: +971
- Currency: United Arab Emirates dirham (1 United Arab Emirates Dirham equals 17.57 Indian Rupee)
- Ethnic groups (2015): 27.15% Indian; 12.53% Pakistani; 11.32% Emirati; 7.31% Bangladeshi; 3.13% Sri Lankan; 38.6% others
- Population: 9.157 million (2015) World Bank
- Time Difference: India is 1 hour and 30 minutes ahead of United Arab Emirates (3:35 PM Saturday, in India is 2:05 PM Saturday, in United Arab Emirates)
UAE airports have duty-free shops in the arrivals and departure areas. Allowances are subject to change but at the time of writing visitors over 18 arriving at Dubai International Airport were allowed to bring in the following duty-free:
● 4L of wine or spirits or two cartons of beer at 24 cans each (non-Muslims only).
● 400 cigarettes plus 50 cigars plus 500 g of loose tobacco.
● Gifts up to the value of Dh3000.
Allowances may be slightly different at other UAE airports.
You are generally not allowed to bring in:
● Alcohol if you cross into the UAE by land.
● Materials (eg books) that insult Islam.
● Firearms, pork, pornography and Israeli products.
- All passports must be valid for at least six months from the date of arrival. It is generally not possible to enter with an Israeli passport, but anyone entering the UAE with an Israeli stamp in a non-Israeli passport should have no problem.
- None required for 45 nationalities.
- Entry requirements to the UAE are in constant flux, so all information here can only serve as a guideline. Always obtain the latest requirements from the UAE embassy in your home country.
- At the time of writing, citizens of 45 nations, including the UK, the US, Canada, Australia and most European countries do not require a tourist visa to enter the UAE.
- Everyone else must have a visitor visa arranged through a sponsor – such as your UAE hotel or tour operator – prior to arrival in the UAE. The nonrenewable visas cost Dh100 and are valid for 30 days.
When To Visit UAE
- Nov–Mar Moderate temps, higher room rates, major festivals and sporting events, good for desert and outdoor adventure.
- Mar–May & Oct Hot days, balmy nights, good for beach vacations, desert camping still OK.
- Jun–Sep Hot and humid, steep hotel discounts, life moves indoors, summer sales, best time for diving.
Airports & Airlines
The best price found from India to United Arab Emirates is on July 31st, 2017, travelling with PIA.
Dubai International and Abu Dhabi International are the UAE's main airports. A small number of flights, especially charters, also land at Sharjah International Airport and Ras Al Khaimah International Airport. Passenger flights have also started using Dubai's new mega sized Al Maktoum International. Departure tax is included in the ticket price.
- Emirates Airlines (www.emirates.com) Dubai-based; has extensive route network, excellent service and good safety record.
- Etihad Airways (www.etihad.com) Based in Abu Dhabi; has extensive route network, excellent service and good safety record.
- Air Arabia (www.airarabia.com) Sharjah-based low-cost carrier flying to North African, Middle Eastern, Asian and select European destinations, including Amsterdam, London and Barcelona.
- FlyDubai (www.flydubai.com) Discount carrier with around 50 destinations, mostly within the Middle East, India and Central Asia. Has some flights to and from Dubai's new Al Maktoum International.
Getting around United Arab Emirates
Driving in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is not for the faint of heart. Although it’s not as chaotic as in other parts of the Middle East, drivers tend to cut in front of you, turn without indicating and view roundabouts as a lane-less free-for-all. Out on the freeway, driving in the lane closest to the centre of the road at speeds of less than 160 km/h will invoke some serious headlight flashing from the latest-model Mercedes trying to break the Dubai–Abu Dhabi land-speed record. So it’s no surprise that the UAE has one of the world’s highest rates of road deaths per capita. Inappropriate speed and reckless driving are the major causes, as well as pedestrians crossing against the lights or not at crossings. Thankfully public awareness campaigns are beginning to make an impact. Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah are the only emirates with public bus services. Dubai also has the high-tech Dubai Metro, which links some of the major attractions and malls and is an inexpensive, efficient way to get across town. New in Dubai is the Dubai Tram, which trundles around the Dubai Marina.
Festivals In UAE
Over the last 10 years, the local government has implemented several festivals and events across the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to increase tourism. Sporting competitions, like the Dubai Desert Classic, have added to the visitor numbers and improved exposure on the global scale. United Arab Emirates holidays and cultural events, like the Abu Dhabi International Jazz Festival, highlight the importance of music and art in the country.
In January, the Dubai Marathon takes center stage. There are 1.8 mile (three km), 6.2 mile (10 km), and 31 mile (50 km) races, with the winners receiving large sums of money. Thousands of participants come to the UAE to join, with an increasing number of runners every year.
Dubai Shopping Festival
Dubai Shopping Festival Shopaholics need to remember to breathe because the is a month-long event. Every mall in the city reduces its prices during January and February, attracting thousands from around the globe. There are concerts and entertainment as a backdrop.
Dubai Desert Classic
Every year, the best golfers from around the world make their way to Dubai, where the Desert Classic takes place. The prize money allures the best of the best and spectators if they can get a hold of the highly coveted tickets. The tournament is held at the Emirates Golf Club in March.
Emirates World Series Horse Race
The Emirates World Series of Horse Racing concludes in Dubai, where the world’s richest race takes place. Held in April, the Dubai World Cup Horse Race welcomes thousands of spectators, along with the best jockeys, trainers, and horses from the world over. The event is run from the Nad Al Sheba Racecourse, which provides memorable entertainment and a social atmosphere in the UAE.
Abu Dhabi International Jazz Festival
Huge crowds flock to the most-populated city in the UAE for Abu Dhabi’s International Jazz Festival. This beloved May event lures thousands of music lovers, where amazing performances are given by some of the world’s leading jazz artists. The festival began as a two-day event, but now spans more than a week.
At the end of Ramadan, the cities of the UAE celebrate with parties and feasts. Both visitors and locals can share in the spoils as Dubai and Abu Dhabi throw social events for several days to mark the end of the Islamic fasting period in September.
International Film Festival Dubai
The Dubai film festival takes place in November and attracts not only thousands of cinema enthusiasts from across the Middle East and Europe, but famous producers and Hollywood stars for screenings all over the city.
National Day Festival
Commemorating the formation of the UAE and the independence of the region from Britain, National Day is celebrated across the country in December with performances and events in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Accommodations are hard to come by at this time, so book well in advance.
Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, sits off the mainland on an island in the Persian (Arabian) Gulf. Its focus on oil exports and commerce is reflected by the skyline’s modern towers and shopping megacenters such as Abu Dhabi and Marina malls. Beneath white-marble domes, the vast Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque features an immense Persian carpet, crystal chandeliers and capacity for 41,000 worshipers.
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
Rising majestically from beautifully manicured gardens and visible from each of the bridges joining Abu Dhabi Island to the mainland, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque represents an impressive welcome to the city. Conceived by the first president of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed, and marking his final resting place, the mosque accommodates 41,000 worshippers and is one of the few in the region open to non-Muslims.
HOURS - 9am-10pm Sat-Thu, 4.30-10pm Fri, tours 10am, 11am & 5pm Sun-Thu, additional tours 2pm & 7pm Sat, 5pm & 7pm Fri
Abu Dhabi Heritage Village
This reconstructed village gives an insight into the pre-oil era in the UAE – a life that is still in evidence in many parts of the Arabian Peninsula to this day. The walled complex includes all the main elements of traditional Gulf life: a fort to repel invaders from the sea, a souq to trade goats for dates with friendly neighbours, and a mosque as a reminder of the central part that Islam plays in daily Arabic life. Take a look at the barasti house, designed to catch the breeze through the palm frond uprights, an ox-drawn well without which settled life was impossible, and the ancient falaj (irrigation) system, which still waters the
crops (note the stones for diverting the water) in the plantations of Al Ain and Liwa Oasis today. Most Emiratis proudly claim desert descent and while the nomadic life has largely disappeared from the UAE, many locals still like to return to their roots by camping in goat-hair tents similar to the ones on display in the Bedouin part of the village.
HOURS - 9am-5pm Sat-Thu, 3.30-9pm Fri
Arabian Saluki Centre
You'll probably hear them before you see them as a howl goes up when a visitor approaches this hound pound. A visit here involves entering the kennels, meeting the affectionate and well-looked-after residents, picking up a puppy or two and perhaps watching bath-time. Prized for their hunting skills and speed over distance, salukis have for centuries been man's best friend to the Bedu, and after a visit to this breeding and training centre it's easy to see why. It's in the Falcon Hospital Complex; pre book an appointment. Originating in China, the saluki is thought to be one of the first breeds of dog to be domesticated and their speed, tolerance to high temperatures and intelligence made them the perfect companions for nomadic communities who used them to catch rabbits and other small game.
Abu Dhabi Corniche
The waterfront Corniche, with its white sandy beaches and generous promenade, stretches the entire length of the north-west shore of the city. Giving spectacular views of the iconic high rise tower blocks assembled along the seafront, it also offers one of the city's main recreation opportunities with a dedicated walking and separate cycle path weaving in and out of the Corniche landscaped gardens. Refreshments are available from the public beaches that punctuate the western section of the road.
The best way to explore the whole Corniche is by renting a bicycle from Fun Ride, in front of the Hilton Abu Dhabi at the south-western end of the Corniche. There are several other stations, less consistently open, at Al Sahil gardens, about a third of the way along the 8km cycle track. Towels and sunbeds can be rented from several of the Corniche public beaches, run by Bake UAE.
What the Burj Khalifa in Dubai is to the vertical, the Emirates Palace is to the horizontal, with audacious domed gatehouses and flying ramps to the foyer, 114 domes and a 1.3km private beach. Built at a cost of Dh11 billion, this is the big hotel in the Gulf, with 1002 crystal chandeliers and 400 luxury rooms and suites. You don’t have to check in to check out the Emirates Palace, as it doubles as a cultural hub of the city. Hosting opera and renowned orchestras during the Abu Dhabi Classics concert season, and showing screenings during the Abu Dhabi Film Festival, the Emirates Palace has played its part in the cultural expansion of the capital.
Dubai is a city and emirate in the United Arab Emirates known for luxury shopping, ultramodern architecture and a lively nightlife scene. Burj Khalifa, an 830m-tall tower, dominates the skyscraper-filled skyline. At its foot lies Dubai Fountain, with jets and lights choreographed to music. On artificial islands just offshore is Atlantis, The Palm, a resort with water and marine-animal parks.
Dubai's best museum occupies the sturdy Al Fahidi Fort, built around 1800 and considered the city's oldest structure. The exhibit charts the emirate's turbo-evolution from fishing and pearling village to global centre of commerce, finance and tourism in engaging, multimedia fashion. A walk-through mock souq, exhibits on Bedouin life in the desert and a room highlighting the importance of the sea illustrate the days before the discovery of oil. The last room showcases archaeological findings from nearby excavation sites. Fortified by three towers, Al Fahidi Fort served as the residence of the local rulers until 1896 and went through stints as a prison and a garrison before becoming a museum in 1971.
PRICE adult/child Dh3/1
HOURS - 8.30am-8.30pm Sat-Thu, 2.30-8.30pm Fri
The Burj Khalifa is a stunning feat of architecture and engineering, with two observation decks on the 124th and 148th floors and a restaurant-bar on the 122nd. The world’s tallest building pierces the sky at 828m and opened in January 2010, six years after excavations began. To avoid wait times or expensive fast-track admission, book tickets online as far as 30 days in advance. Note that high humidity often cloaks Dubai in a dense haze, making views less than breathtaking.
The most popular ticket is the one to the At the Top observation deck on the 124th floor (452m), where high-powered telescopes (extra fee) help bring even distant developments into focus (at least on clear days) and cleverly simulate the same view at night and 35 years back in time. Getting to the deck means passing various multimedia exhibits until a double-decker lift whisks you up at 10m per second.
Al Fahidi Historic District
Traffic fades to a quiet hum in the labyrinthine lanes of this nicely restored heritage area formerly known as the Bastakia Quarter. Its narrow walking lanes are flanked by sand-coloured houses topped with wind towers, which provide natural air-conditioning. Today, there are about 50 buildings containing museums, craft shops, cultural exhibits, courtyard cafes, art galleries and two boutique hotels. The quarter was built in the early 1900s by merchants from the Persian town of Bastak who settled in Dubai to take advantage of tax breaks granted by the sheikh. By the 1970s, though, the buildings had fallen into disrepair and residents began moving on to newer, more comfortable neighbourhoods.
Burj Al Arab
The Burj graceful silhouette – meant to evoke the sail of a dhow (traditional wooden cargo vessel) – is to Dubai what the Eiffel Tower is to Paris. Completed in 1999, this iconic landmark sits on an artificial island off Jumeirah Rd and comes with its own helipad and a fleet of chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce limousines. Beyond the striking lobby, with its gold-leaf opulence and attention-grabbing fountain, lie 202 suites with more trimmings than a Christmas turkey. It's worth visiting if only to gawk at an interior that’s every bit as garish as the exterior is gorgeous. The mood is set in the 180m-high lobby, which is decorated in a red, blue and green colour scheme and accented with pillars draped in gold leaf. The lobby atrium is tall enough to fit the Statue of Liberty within it.
One of Dubai’s most attractive developments, Madinat Jumeirah is a contemporary interpretation of a traditional Arab village, complete with a souq, palm-fringed waterways and desert-coloured hotels and villas festooned with wind towers. It’s especially enchanting at night, when the gardens are romantically lit and the Burj Al Arab gleams in the background. There are exquisite details throughout, so if you see some stairs, take them – they might lead you to a hidden terrace with a mesmerising vista of the sprawling complex. Billowing bougainvillea, bushy banana trees and soaring palms characterise the enchanting grounds, which are scrupulously maintained by a small army of gardeners.
All that glitters is gold (and occasionally silver) at this colourful covered arcade where hundreds of stores overflow with every kind of jewellery imaginable, from tiny pearl earrings to giant golden wedding necklaces. Simply watching the goings-on is a treat. Settle down on a bench and take in the colourful street theatre of hard-working Afghanis dragging heavy carts of goods, African women in colourful kaftans and local women out on a shopping spree. Best in the evening.