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Dubai: Know before you go

Once in Dubai the possibilities for exploration are limitless. But when you’re planning a trip, however, or looking for essential information, it’s helpful to have everything you need in one place and be prepared before the holiday.

Dubai is a cosmopolitan and liberal city, but there are a number of things to keep in mind with regard to dress code and behaviour so that you know what to pack:

  • Dress: People dress conservatively in most public areas, including the malls. Swimwear is acceptable at the beach or around the swimming pool, but not in other public places. Shorts and t-shirts are common in many areas, but when visiting mosques, religious sites, or older parts of the city, loose-fitting clothing that covers shoulders, arms, and legs is more appropriate. Women are usually required to wear a headscarf in mosques.
  • Etiquette: When greeting local Emirati members of the opposite sex, it’s important not to offer to shake hands unless they extend their hand first. If you’re invited to a majlis — a private place where guests are received and entertained — remove your shoes at the entrance. It’s customary to accept and eat food and drink with your right hand. Avoid showing the soles of your feet or pointing your foot at anyone. Public displays of affection should be minimal. Holding hands is acceptable, but kissing and hugging in public is not.
  • Ramadan: The month of Ramadan is considered the most sacred month in the Islamic calendar. Residents and visitors must refrain from eating or drinking in most public areas during daylight hours. Non-Muslims may eat and drink in designated areas, and many hotels and shopping malls have restaurants that remain open during Ramadan.
  • Drinking and drugs: Alcohol is generally only served in establishments that have licences, such as hotel restaurants and bars. Dubai enforces a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to drinking and driving, and the use or possession of drugs is illegal and strictly prohibited.


Essential tips before you travel

Local Time

The local time is -6 hours AEST in winter and -7 hours AEST in summer (GMT + 4 hours). Dubai’s weekend is Friday and Saturday.

Electricity

The electricity supply in Dubai is 220-240 volts at 50 cycles. Plug points are the same 3-pin plugs as in the United Kingdom.

Water

Dubai’s water supply is desalinated and is safe to drink. However, many people choose to drink bottled mineral water, which is readily available. Food hygiene is exceptionally high in the emirate.

Taxi

Taxis are a reliable and relatively inexpensive way to get around Dubai. The minimum taxi fare is 12AED, with starting meter fares of 3AED from a street pickup, 6AED for a booking and 20AED from airport. The meter fare per kilometre is 1.75AED. Ladies can hire a special pink Ladies Taxi that are especially for women and is driven by a female driver (prices as of June 2015).

Credit cards

All major international credit cards such as American Express, MasterCard or Visa are accepted in shopping malls, larger supermarkets and stores, hotels and restaurants. Smaller retail shops and small restaurants however, prefer to deal in cash. Taxis only accept cash.

Currency

The local currency in Dubai is the United Arab Emirate Dirham, which is divided into 100 fils. The currency is held constant against the US dollar at a rate of approximately 1$ = 3.67 Dhs*. 

Approximately 1$AUD = 2.76 Dhs*

*Prices correct as of May 2017 – N.B. exchange rates may fluctuate.

Dirhams are available at Bureaux de Changes and are also widely available from cashpoint machines in Dubai.

Dubai SIM Card

A Dubai SIM card can be purchased from Dubai airport after immigration. Passports are required in order to purchase a Dubai sim card and telephone number.

Shopping

Most of the major shopping malls are open from 10am to midnight on weekends (Friday and Saturday) and 10am – 10pm on weekdays (Sunday – Thursday.

Language

Arabic is the official language of the United Arab Emirates, though the use and comprehension of English is widespread in both business and tourism sectors. That said, it is always useful to know a selection of Arabic phrases, and many Emirati will appreciate visitors who try to understand their culture by speaking their language.

  • Hello/Welcome > MarHuba
  • Goodbye > Ma’assalaama
  • Please >Min fadlak (to a man); min fadliki (to a woman)
  • Thank you > Shukran
  • Yes > Na’am
  • No > La’

What to pack

Lightweight summer clothing is suitable for most of the year. Pashminas or light scarves are recommended for cooler air conditioned spaces such as restaurants. Protective wear - hats or some form of protection for the head, sunglasses for the eyes and sunscreen - are advised when in direct sunlight.

Although Dubai has a liberal attitude, it is always wise to respect the religion and culture of the city by wearing appropriate, more modest clothing in public places or places of worship. Care should be taken by wearing clothing which may be considered revealing, for example low-cut dresses, very short skirts, or tight jeans. Men should always wear a shirt or top in public. At the hotel pool or on the beach however, trunks, swim-suits and bikinis are acceptable.

Tipping

Although it is optional and entirely at personal discretion, it is common practice to tip service staff between 10% only if a service charge hasn’t already been added. This includes drivers, tour guides, bell boys, wait staff etc.

Medication

Some medicines appear on the list of restricted and controlled medicines in the United Arab Emirates. This includes some over the counter medicines such as Codeine. If you are carrying any medications which appear on this list it is necessary to;

  1. Carry an accompanying doctor’s note or prescription to authenticate its use,

  2. Take the medicines in their original packaging and
  3. Only carry an appropriate quantity for the length of stay

For a full list of restricted and controlled medicines in Dubai visit the following Government of the United Arab Emirates, Ministry of Health website here. 


Travel Visa

The kind of visa needed to enter the UAE can depend on several different factors such as nationality, the purpose of the planned visit and the duration.

For those on an Australian passport you do not require pre-entry visas to enter the UAE, you are able to enter, on arrival with 30-day visa granted.
The UAE authorities have taken many steps to make this process as straightforward and easy as possible. Citizens of 39 countries — GCC nationals plus nationals of listed countries — do not require visas prior to arrival.

Citizens of the following countries also do not require pre-entry visas to enter the UAE:

 AndorraHong Kong
Poland
 AustraliaHungary
Portugal
 AustriaIceland
Romania
 BelgiumIreland
San Marino
 BruneiItaly
Singapore
 BulgariaJapan
Slovakia
 CanadaLatvia
Slovenia
 CroatiaLiechtenstein
South Korea
 Cyprus
Lithuania
Spain
 Czech Republic
Luxembourg
Sweden
 DenmarkMalaysia
Switzerland
 EstoniaMalta
United Kingdom
 FinlandMonaco
United States of America
 FranceNetherlands
The Vatican
 GermanyNew Zealand
 
 GreeceNorway
 

Note: If your country is not listed above, please check with your nearest UAE Embassy/Consulate for any updates.

UAE Passport & Visa Info >

UAE Embassy Info >

For more information please visit our website Visit Dubai


Tools to plan your trip

Travellers to Dubai can get the latest information on what to do with the Dubai Tourism app. With this mobile inspiration engine, it includes different ideas of what and where to explore based on the time of day, location, and interests.

It has categorical listings of events, attractions, and deals, a customisable ‘My Trip’ itinerary tool, helpful info about Dubai culture and etiquette, and the ability to order a taxi and even call for emergency assistance with a single click.

This is one app that makes sure your smartphone lives up to the title.

Get the app on iOS >>

Get the app on android >>

Never been to Dubai? Check out our interactive map here.

Interactive Map of Dubai



Contact Us

Follow the social media platforms on

Facebook VisitDubai.ANZ and VisitDubai
Twitter @visitdubai_AU and @visitdubai
Instagram @visit.dubai and @mydubai

Book in training with our Regional Sales Managers (booked in advance for training to take place in-store):

Sheree Pekovich (WA/QLD): 04975 50068 

Jodie Collins (VIC/SA/TAS): 04982 20035 

Sarah Pollard (NSW/ACT): 0428 600 028


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