United Arab Emirates

United Arab Emirates

“There’s always room for another shawarma.” – Dubai Proverb

Dubai Mall

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Getting In

  • Currently, 45 countries (including the US) may enter Visa free for up to 30 days.
  • Unlike other Arab countries, you may enter the United Arab Emirates if you have an Israeli stamp in your passport. You may not use an Israeli passport however.
  • Numerous international airports service the UAE. Check here for a full listing. 
  • Dubai has an efficient and cheap metro system connected to the airport. You can get around city quickly, and even transfer to other systems that can take you other cities within the country. Abu Dhabi is currently constructing a similar metro, expecting completion in 2018.

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Money

  • Although perceived as an expensive nation, the actual costs are up to your lifestyle. Eating local, and spending reasonable will be on par with a standard developed country.
  • Purchasing from the Gold Souks will be cheaper than the many places – but you’re still buying gold, so it’s not cheap.
  • Salaries match the cost of living, so while rent can be high, you needn’t worry if you’re working and staying long-term.
  • ATMs are plentiful within the cities.

$1 USD = 3.60 AED (Dirham)

local meal will cost 30 AED

mid range meal for 2 will cost 150 AED

A 1 bed apartment in the city-center will cost $1,800 a month

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Climate

  • The United Arab Emirates is a subtropical arid climate. It is characterized by hot summer and warm winters.
  • Summer averages can easily exceed 115F, though in the winter temperatures can drop to 50s.
  • The region does not receive much rain, but when it does – it is in torrential outbursts that can lead to flooding in normally dry Wadi beds.
  • Dust storms known as Haboobs can occur. These are violent storms that can reduce visibility and make breathing difficult while outside.

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History

 

Human presence has been evident in the UAE for over 140,000 years. However, due to the harsh desert climate, the region has primarily been inhabited by nomadic herdsmen. Beginning around 622 CE, the region came under the rule of the Umayyads. By the 16th century, the region fell under Ottoman rule. Portuguese and English traders referred to the region as the pirate coast due frequent raids from the region.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the pearl industry propped up the region. However, India imposed a pearl tax that crippled the industry. With help from the British after World War II, seven Emirates came together to form a council to consolidate matters within the region.

Oil was discovered in the 1950s, though the reserves were not as substantial as neighboring nations. In 1966, Britain began looking for a way to relinquish control of the region due to cost. In 1971, the Emirati Kingdoms gained their independence.

By 1969, the Sheik decided to focus what revenue they could get from oil into creating a modern nation that could support itself. This led directly to the extreme development in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Today, the United Arab Emirates operates as a federal absolute monarchy.

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Need to Know

  • The Burj Khalifa is – as of writing this – the tallest building in the world. Take a trip to the top and watch the sunset for a spectacular view.
  • The United Arab Emirates is made up of 7 different Emirates, each with their own set of laws and customs. Some are more strict than others.
  • The UAE is very diverse, with only 20% of the population being made up of locals. As such, there is a wide variety of food options.
  • The UAE observes Ramadan, the Islamic holy month. During this time, businesses close down, alcohol is not served, and things become slower in general. If you want to do a lot, consider scheduling your visit outside of this time.

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Warnings

  • The United Arab Emirates is a safe country to travel within. However, the region is a hotbed of conflict, and the risk for terrorism is real. Travelers should exercise caution and be aware of their surroundings.
  • Be sure to check up on local customs, and etiquette. The UAE is a very conservative nation abiding under Sharia Law, and takes it’s image very seriously. PDA, dancing, and public intoxication – and other actions – can result in heavy sentences including fines and prison.
  • Do not take pictures of government or military buildings or personnel – you will be subject to arrest.
  • During summer months, temperatures can reach 130F with heat indexes into the 160s. Drink plenty of water, stay cool, wear sunscreen, and stay out of the sun when possible.

We recommend reviewing safety guidelines by various state departments: – we make no guarantees to your safety!

US State Department – Moderate to High bias, with moderate levels of broad information. We advise checking against other sources to confirm veracity of statements.

British State Department – Low bias, and very thorough information. We recommend checking with the FCO for tourist warnings.

Canada State Department – Low bias, with thorough information. We advise using as an additional resource for tourist warnings.

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Explore

We were only in the U.A.E. for 15 hours but made it to the gold souks, the Dubai mall, the Burj Khalifa, and watched a fountain show (October 2015).

15 Hour Layover in Dubai
Video: Our Dubai Layover