THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
As you can see it on the map, the United Arab Emirates are part of the Arabic peninsula. Its neighbouring countries are Saudi Arabia to the West, The Sultanate of Oman to the South, and the Islamic Republic of Iran across the small stretch of the Persian Gulf.
Speaking of water, Abu Dhabi, Dubai and the Northern Emirates are bordered by the Persian Gulf. The Persian comes out into the Oman Gulf, and then to the Arabian Sea, which is a part of the Indian Ocean.The only exception being the emirates of Fujairah has a direct access to the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean.
The United Arab Emirates are an union of 7 distinct Emirates :
The UAE has a subtropical, arid climate with sunny blue skies most of the year. Between the months of November and March a moderate warm climate prevails during the day and a slightly cool climate throughout the night. Humidity tends to get higher between the months of June and August.
Most retail outlets, hotels and car hire companies accept internationally-recognised credit cards. However, some retailers offer better value for cash and discounts may not be so readily negotiated if payment is by credit card. Cash may be drawn on credit cards in most banks and in some hotels.
Currency & Exchange
The local currency is the UAE Dirham divided into 100 fils. Notes are in denominations of AED1,000, 500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5. Coins used are in denominations of AED1, 50 and 25 fils. Approximate exchange rate: USD1= AED3.65.
Most international currencies are accepted in banks, hotels and by many licensed money changers in major shopping centres and souks. Exchange houses operate during normal working hours and offer more competitive rates. There is no exchange control and the UAE Dirham is fully convertible.
The United Arab Emirates has a reasonably relaxed dress code but being an Islamic country modest clothing is recommended, particularly in rural areas. Beachwear is acceptable at beach clubs, in the hotel, at the pool or on the beach except in Sharjah and Khor Fakkan.
Light weight summer clothing is suitable for most of the year. Sweaters or jackets may be needed during the winter months, especially in the evenings. Hats, sun block and good quality sun glasses are advisable when in direct sunlight.
Hotels offer a diverse range of food and beverage outlets from coffee shops to fine dining and speciality outlets. Outside of the hotels, small and often inexpensive eating places are available. The enormous variety of restaurants ensure an equally wide range of prices. Traditional Arabic cuisine and a wide choice of international cuisine are available.
The official language is Arabic although English is widely spoken and understood. Most hotels and retail outlets employ English-speaking staff. Hotel staff may also speak additional languages.
A number of locally published English and Arabic dailies and magazines. Foreign newspaper and magazines, especially British and Asian are available in bookshops and large supermarkets. A wide variety of English television and radio channels. Most hotels receive international news and broadcast via satellite networks.
Most hotels have in-house nurses or doctors on call. Pharmacies are comprehensively stocked and addresses of those on night duty are given daily in the local newspapers, radio and television. Medical treatment is available at private and government hospitals which are modern and well equipped in the major cities.
Varied and lively nightlife ranging from bars to cafes and discotheques, many with live bands and DJs. Hotel bars range from sophisticated cocktail lounges to the informal British and Irish pubs and discotheques. There are a number of excellent Middle Eastern nightclubs featuring live entertainment.
Please note : In Fujairah after-dark entertainment is restricted to the hotel bars and nightclubs.
Photography of palaces, government institutions, military installations and oil and gas refineries is prohibited. Always ask before taking pictures of Emiratis and do not photograph ladies dressed in the traditional attire.
Taxis are readily available and metered. There is a surcharge on taxis from Dubai International Airport. There are fixed rates for different zones on taxis hired from Abu Dhabi International Airport. Within the city, fares would vary slightly depending on the taxi company.Ramadan
Public transport in Fujairah is not as easily available as in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Most hotels in all three emirates operate courtesy buses into the city centre or beach on a regular basis. Guests can check with the front desk for details regarding these shuttle services.
Ramadan is the holy month in which Muslims commemorate the revelation of the Holy Koran and all Muslims are required to fast from dawn to dusk. Eating, drinking and smoking in public areas during daylight hours is strictly prohibited throughout this month. Live entertainment, loud music and dancing is prohibited and conservative dress is expected to be worn in public. Alcohol is not served during daylight hours but it is available in licensed bars and restaurants after sunset for non-Muslims.
Most businesses and shops open only for a few hours in the morning and re-open after sunset until well after midnight. Many of the shops and retail outlets run special promotions and sales during Ramadan.
Sunset marks the breaking of the Iftar (fast) when families and friends get together to break the fast with water and dates. Iftar tents is a common sight and most restaurants within and outside the hotel offer Iftar specials.
All Arabian Adventures featured hotels make concessions for their clients and keep a restaurant open during the day for resident guests.
Note: The dates for Ramadan are not fixed as they are based on the Gregorian dates of the Islamic calendar, which is as per lunar observations. Ramadan goes back approximately 11 days each year and is expected to start around 10 August 2010.
Islam is the official religion of the United Arab Emirates and there are a number of mosques through-out the country. However, other religions are respected and there are various places of worship including churches and temples in major cities.
United Arab Emirates has one of the lowest crime rates in the world and it is quite safe for visitors to venture out, either by taxi or on foot.
In the United Arab Emirates guests are spoilt for choice - from the elegant shopping malls that are dotted all across the cities, to local souks or outdoor shopping areas.
Tax and service charges are usually included in bills, otherwise a five to 10 per cent tip is adequate. Hotel and airport porters should be given USD2 to USD3 dependent on the amount of luggage. Taxi drivers do not expect to be tipped.