United Arab Emirates


UAE is a union of 7 Emirates (states), which were united in 1971 after gaining independence from British. Each Emirate is ruled by a Sheikh and Rulers of all seven Emirates form a Council and President &Prime Minister are elected by this Council to govern the country as a whole. Each Emirate has its own Revenue system though most of the other departments are common to the entire country.

Usual business hours are from 8.00 am till 1.00 pm and 4.00 pm till 7.00 pm. Shops usually open till at least 9.30 pm late even on public holidays and malls are open till 11.00 pm. There are a few restaurants open till 3.00 am and some even 24 hours.

During Ramadan, Muslims fast for 30 days from sunrise to sunset and during this time, no one is allowed to eat, drink or smoke in public. There are restrictions on live entertainment (like belly dancer’s performance etc.). Hotels operate normally but they close the restaurants which are directly in view from the lobby area and operate it elsewhere. After sunset feast, life comes back to normal till the following morning. Please plan your trip to Dubai keeping Ramadan dates in view, if you wish to avoid any kind of inconvenience.

Destination Info

This information has been compiled for your reference in good faith but please use this only as a general guide. We advise you to check with relevant authorities with regard to the latest requirement for passport, visa, travel advisory, entry restrictions, health requirements, local currency etc as these are subjected to change with without prior notice and our information given below may not be as updated.

Best time to go: Dubai is year- round destination. It has warm, sub-tropical and dry weather with almost daily bright and sunny days. It may experience a rare shower or two, between December and February. Temperature between October and March can vary between 41 deg Celsius during day to about 25 deg Celsius at night. Summer from April to September is very warm and July & August can be extremely hot and humid.

The above ground metro station opened in Dubai 2009. It consists of 42 stations and was built in just 18 months.

Visa: New Zealand passport holders do not require a Visa for UAE. Entry Permit for a 30 days’ stay is granted on arrival free of charge. Your passport should be valid for at least 6 months from the expected departure from UAE.

Every year, in spring and autumn, over 300 bird species migrate through Dubai. 

Currency: Currency of United Arab Emirates is Dirhams. Dirham comes in denomination of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000 AED. UAE Dirham is pegged with US Dollar and has a fixed exchange rate of USD1 = AED 3.65. Foreign currency can be changed into Dirhams at your Hotel or from any money changer. ATMs are located in all shopping areas and Malls. Most stores, malls and even taxi drivers can accept US Dollars but if are carrying NZ Dollars; it is advisable to change them into Dirhams at your Hotel.

In 1991, there was 1 skyscraper in the city. Now there are around 400

Health: Due to warm weather, conditions in UAE are a little different from here and you need to be prepared in advance for a comfortable trip. It is advisable to consult your doctor well in advance as you may experience major change in climate, environment, food and water and general hygienic conditions. Your doctor will be able to help you prepare better. It is advisable to take re-hydration drinks when going out during day. One needs to drink a lot of water as well.

Food and drinks: UAE being a multi-cultural and truly cosmopolitan society comprising about 150 nationalities, there is a huge variety of cuisine available at very reasonable costs. Food in Hotel is generally very expensive but there are a number of restaurants in the city where excellent variety is available at a third of Hotel’s cost. Standard of hygiene in the restaurants is very high as the Health Department conducts regular checks in all the restaurants.

UAE being an Arab country has a strict control on alcohol. Alcohol is available in all Hotels (no alcohol is served in Hotel Apartments) and a few selected Clubs and restaurants. Alcoholic drinks are not available in stores or markets but you can bring in your Duty-Free stuff to be consumed in your Hotel room (you are not allowed to carry it while out in the city). 

It is advisable to drink a lot of water. Please avoid tap water or even the water kept in the flasks of your room – drink only mineral water. It is very expensive in Hotels but it is available at all stores, petrol stations, malls etc at a fraction of Hotel price.

With more than 42 million trees, UAE is home to the most date palm trees in the world

Safety & security: Like in any other part of the world, a few precautions need to be taken to avoid any problems. Please do not leave your bags unattended at any times. Please use safe deposit in your hotel room or Reception to keep your money or valuables including passport. When you leave the room, it is recommended that you lock your suitcase. It is also recommended to carry a copy of your passport including the visa page.

Clothing: UAE is a very liberal country and due to warm weather, you can wear light t-shirts and shorts. Swim wear should be restricted only to beaches and swimming pools. Ladies should avoid wearing overly casual or revealing clothes and men should not go bare-chested in respect of the local traditions. Some Hotels prefer smart casual attire in their restaurants during Dinner.

In Dubai, there are no taxes on income and there are no personal taxes.

Language: Arabic is the official language of UAE but English is widely spoken and used, keeping in view over 150 nationalities who live there.

Gratuities: Most of the restaurants include service charge in the bills, hence you do not need to tip the waiters. Hotel Bell Boys, guides and your driver would expect some gratuities. Tipping is not mandatory but it is highly appreciated by the people who serve you. Some suggested guidelines could be: AED10 per piece of luggage on arrival or departure at Hotel; 8%-10% of the total bill for your lunch or dinner (provided Service Charge is not included). No tip required for taxi driver but you could give AED25 per half day each to your car driver as well as local guide.

Eighty percent of the residents of Dubai are foreigners

Airport tax: Generally your international air ticket should include airport tax on international departure.

Internet: Internet is common in hotel rooms and a lot of hotels also have internet facilities at their Reception or Business Centre for use by guests at a small fee. Cyber cafes are available in the city in main shopping streets at very reasonable costs.

Dubai is the Middle East supply hub for the jewellery market

Telephone: UAE has a dialling code of +971 from New Zealand. Telephone numbers of Hotels arranged by us will be supplied to you in your itinerary. While calling New Zealand from UAE, you will need to dial +64. Calling Booths (you need to buy Calling Cards from supermarkets) are easily available and calling New Zealand is rather expensive; calls made from Hotels are almost 8-10 times more expensive. You also have to pay a charge to the Hotel for collect calls as well. UAE has an excellent mobile network and most of the roaming mobiles can function here.

Time Difference: UAE is 8 hours behind New Zealand from April to September and 9 hours from October to March.

Christian churches stand a mere few blocks from Muslim mosques, Hindu temples, and  Jewish synagogues.

Photography: Taking photos of airports, government buildings and military establishments are prohibited. Please avoid taking photos of local ladies in traditional dresses as some of them can take an offence to it, which may have serious consequences.

Electricity: Voltage supply in UAE is 220 volts and 2-pin or 3-pin (round pins and square pins) are used in UAE. Few Hotels have adapters available which you could borrow free of charge during your stay but it might be a good idea to carry one from home. Visit this link for more information:http://kropla.com/electric2.htm

Postage: Sending letters and post-cards from UAE is cheap. Post offices and letter boxes are centrally located in each city but the Concierge at Hotels keep stamps and they can post the letters/cards for you at no extra charge.

Cities of interest:


Dubai is a cosmopolitan city and the second largest emirate in the United Arab Emirates after capital Abu Dhabi. A century ago, it was a tranquil town whose coral-and-gypsum huts housed Bedouin traders and pearl divers. Today the merchants have gone international and science-fiction skyscrapers stand alongside the mosques and wind towers of Old Dubai. Dubai's enormous constructions and developments in various industries through innovative real estate projects, sports events, shopping festivals and conferences has attracted world-wide attention for Dubai City, establishing it as the world's leading business hub.

Dubai is surrounded by mysterious deserts, sand dunes and the stunning Hajjar Mountains; it is divided by the Creek which is essentially an inlet from the gulf splitting the commercial centre of Dubai in two parts – Diera and Bur Dubai. In the city you'll find amazing beach resorts, incredibly high tech buildings all side by side with old traditional houses and mosques giving you a small glimpse of what to expect in Dubai.

Dubai has a rich cultural scene with art museums, film festivals and performing arts centres, hosting the annually held Dubai Shopping Festival. Dubai is a city of excitement waiting to be explored holding the potential for one of the most significant international cities of the 21st century. Known as a “shopper’s paradise”, many of the world’s finest goods are available at prices well below what you would normally pay in other parts of the world.  Dubai’s Gold Souk is famous for its jewellery.  The basic gold price is fixed, however as the jewellery making charges are flexible, bargaining is recommended, particularly in the souks, and usually fetches a discount of 15 to 25 percent on some goods.

Besides its beautiful beaches and loads of shopping opportunities, Dubai is also famous for its desert & mountain safaris, cruises on Dubai Creek and sporting activities like Dubai Classic Golf Tournament, Rugby Sevens, Dubai World Cup (world’s richest horse race), camel races to name a few.

Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi, capital of UAE, is one of the most modern cities in the world, sometimes called the 'Manhattan of the Middle East'. Abu Dhabi was inhabited about 250 years ago when the BaniYas (a nomadic tribe) discovered water on the Island of Abu Dhabi in 1760 and it remained a small fishing village until oil was discovered. The transformation from small village to modern city was made possible by the large amounts of revenues from oil. Abu Dhabi City is now a modern and sleek city, filled with skyscrapers. It is located on an island connected to the mainland by two bridges. It is the centre of government and business life in the United Arab Emirates, headquarters of the emirates oil operating companies and embassies are all based here.

It is often called a city without character being a city of skyscrapers. However, there is lot to do here as well - the Petroleum Exhibition and the Heritage Village, the beautiful Corniche (beach), the Al Hisn Fort, the old souk (market), the Breakwater Island and Sheikh Zayed's palace. The most picturesque place is undeniably the Batin, the oldest part of the town, where the small harbours receive the daily catch brought by the fishing dhows.

Large gardens and parks, green boulevards lining all the streets and roads, sophisticated high-rise buildings, state-of-the-art communication services and transport, the presence of all the international luxury hotel chains, rich shopping malls, cultural centres and events provide visitors a one-of-a-kind experience all the year round.

Sharjah is adjoining Emirate to Dubai and third largest in UAE. A thriving industrial town that has retained much of its Old World charm, it is one of the oldest towns in the United Arab Emirates. The Emirate of Sharjah built its first airport and school in the 1950's and it wasn't until 1967 that a paved road linked Sharjah with Dubai. Now with the current development, the demarcating boundaries between the two Emirates have vanished.

Sharjah is an important port for trade and commerce in the Gulf region. The modern airport and sea port make it one of the largest cargo hubs in the world and a key commercial center in the Middle East.Sharjah gained popularity as one the best facilities for cricket tournaments. It is also considered to be cultural capital of UAE with Heritage buildings, traditional souqs, old forts and palaces and various Museums. The Sharjah Arts Museum is the largest in the Gulf region with a permanent collection that has been added to by donations from Ruler His Highness Dr. Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qassimi.

Al Ain
Al Ain, also known as "The Garden City of the Gulf", is the largest city the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. Al Ain is surrounded by red sand dunes and overlooked by an impressive Hajjar mountain range.The city of Al Ain offers old traditions such as the last remaining camel market while allowing visitors to experience present day Arabia. Families can enjoy a visit to the Al Ain Zoo, home to one of the largest animal collections in the world or an Olympic sized ice rink. Hili Fun City and Garden is the largest theme park in the Gulf Region and a popular family attraction.Archaeological discoveries indicate the first settlement of Al Ain dates back to 3,000 BC. HiliArchaeological Park features restored tombs. For travellers looking for adventure, a driving tour of Hafeet Mountain road or four-wheel drive through the desert is a must. Dune buggy rides, caving or hang gliding are also available for the really adventurous.

Fujairah is an attractive town that is rapidly developing as a commercial and tourist centre. The town of Fujairah is worth visiting for various attractions in town as well as a number of archaeological and historical sites in the surrounding area.The beaches of Fujairah offer some of the best snorkelling and scuba diving in the United Arab Emirates. The mountains provide the opportunity for off-road adventure and magnificent scenery. The Hajar Mountains separate Fujairah from the rest of the country.

Hatta is an ancient village in the Emirate of Dubai. Nestled in the foothills of the Hajar Mountains, Hatta is guarded by many disintegrating watchtowers on the nearby slopes. Today Hatta is a popular getaway from Dubai or Al Ain and also an important part of the Mountain and desert Safaris. The humid-free climate appeals to the many tourists, as does its convenient location to the mountains. Another desirable sight for day tourists is the natural rock pools of Hatta. People generally have a refreshing swim in these pools during their mountain safaris.

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