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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: Dubai is a modern metropolis, has over 202 nationalities residing in the emirate and welcomed over 15.8 million visitors in 2017. Given the array of cultures and religious faiths in Dubai, many forms of attire are generally considered acceptable. For both men and women, shorts and t-shirts are suitable attire in many places, including hotels, the desert, beaches and malls. However, in the more historical quarters of the city, dressing conservatively is appreciated, with nothing too short or revealing. Trousers or longer skirts and dresses are preferable and shoulders covered. In restaurants and shopping malls, as these are cooler air-conditioned environments, it is often best for ladies to carry a pashmina. Also in malls where there are larger populations of locals and visitors from the Middle East, it is advised to refrain from wearing anything too short or revealing.
  • 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. 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. For more info on the daily ritual of Ramadan, read more.
  • Drinking and drugs: Alcohol is served in licensed establishments throughout Dubai such as hotels, restaurants and bars, attractions such as Dubai Opera and some Desert Safari experiences provided by Ground Operators to those over 21 years of age.

    Visitors to Dubai may find the following establishments will not be licensed; cafes/restaurants/food outlets/cinemas in shopping malls with the exception of some restaurants in Souk Al Bahar and Souk Madinat, street cafes and independent Middle Eastern and Asian restaurants in parts of old Dubai and historical locations, as well as and some street-side Downtown Dubai restaurants and food trucks.

    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. Ladies can hire a special pink Ladies Taxi that are especially for women and is driven by a female driver. Taxis mainly accept cash, however credit card machines are currently being installed into taxi’s.

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 = 2.69 AED*

*Prices correct as of Sep 2018 – 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

Given the array of cultures and religious faiths in Dubai, many forms of attire are generally considered acceptable. For both men and women, shorts and t-shirts are suitable attire in many places, including hotels, the desert, beaches and malls. However, in the more historical quarters of the city, dressing conservatively is appreciated, with nothing too short or revealing. Trousers or longer skirts and dresses are preferable and shoulders covered.

In restaurants and shopping malls, as these are cooler air-conditioned environments, it is often best for ladies to carry a pashmina. Also in malls where there are larger populations of locals and visitors from the Middle East, it is advised to refrain from wearing anything too short or revealing.

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

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


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
Twitter @visitdubai
Instagram @visit.dubai

For any Travel Trade enquiries
Dubai Tourism will assist trade partners requiring assistance with training, bookings, famils and campaigns as well as general questions and enquiries.

For more information contact: emily.macdonald@dubaitourism.ae or dtcm_aus@dubaitourism.ae


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