Arabic is the official & national language for the UAE. English is widely spread in UAE that is why traffic and roads signage, stores and supermarkets signboards and restaurant menus are all available in both languages. Spoken and written Arabic is widely used more in streets and shop signboards as you move away out of cities.
According toa reportissued byNationalBureau ofStatistics in which estimates the UAE population 8.19 millions in 2009, indicate an increment up by 125 thousands from 2008 census. In which the population stood at 8.07 millions. The report classifies 1.9 million to age group of 15 to 59 year whereas 1.3 million are 60 or over.
UAE is one of GCC attracting several Arab and Asian nationals as well as Europeans and Americans. It is not overstated to say that all nationalities gather in this magnificent, faith tolerant, law abiding and personal freedom country which encourage residents to stay longer.
Islam is the official religion in UAE. Its rituals are widely practiced. Friday is special religious day in Islam which is based on the testimony "No god but Allah and that Mohamed is the Messenger of Allah. Muslim should pray five times a day in different times depending on location of sun. Call to prayers is held from the mosque Minaret through loudspeakers.
The UAE constitution guarantees freedom of religions which harmonies with the Emirati society traditions.
The local currency is the dirham (Dhs) also known as the Arab Emirate Dirham (AED). The currency is tied to the US dollar 1US$ = Dhs 3.67. Coins include: Dhs 1, 50 fils and 25 fils. Notes are of Dhs 5, 10, 20, 50, 10, 200, 500 and 1,000 denominations.
Local time is GMT + 4 hours, all year round.
The UAE has a sub-tropical climate with warm temperatures, infrequent rainfall and blue skies most of the year. The climate in UAE is idyllic from November to April with warm sunny days, cool evenings and low humidity. Daytime temperatures range from 18°C to 30°C, dropping down to 12°C at night.
Apart from the winter evenings when shawls and jackets may be required, lightweight summer clothing is suitable for most of the year. In order to respect the national customs, conservative dress is advised. In public places ladies should cover their shoulders and the rest of the body down to the knees.
Distinctive and unique to this region men wear the immaculately pressed, elegant long cotton white robe or dishdasha. A gahfiya or small white crocheted skullcap is worn under the headdress or guttrah that is held in place by the twisted black woollen braid known as the agal. For important occasions, the dishdasha is covered by themishlah, a flowing brown or black mantle, edged with gold braid. Women usually wear a black cloak or abaya that conceals the body from head to toe and they cover their hair with a black headscarf or sheyla. Some of the older women still wear a canvas mask called the burqa that covers the eyebrows, nose and mouth.
During a real emergency a hospital will accept you without a referral for treatment, but after initial treatment, may transfer you to a hospital better equipped to deal with your problem.
The standard of medical care is generally regarded as good and visitors can easily obtain medical treatment from either the privately run hospitals or from the government hospitals. Hospitals accept payment in cash and or various credit cards, as well as selected insurance plans.
Private medical care can be expensive so visitors are advised to have this included in their travel insurance package or to arrange private medical insurance cover.
Friday is the weekly holiday and Saturday is usually taken as the second day off.
Government: Sunday to Thursday 7.30 am - 2.30 pm. Closed Friday, Saturday and Public Holidays.
Private Sector: Either split shift 8 am - 1 pm & 3 pm/4 pm - 6 pm/7 pm or straight through from 9 am to 6 pm.
Banks: Saturday to Thursday 8 am - 1 pm or later. Closed on Fridays and Public Holidays.
Embassies & Consulates: From around 8.45 am - 1.30 pm. Closed on Fridays and Saturdays, although an emergency contact number is usually provided on the answering service. Embassies are based in Abu Dhabi and Consulates are in Dubai.
Shops: Malls usually open daily from 10 am - 11 pm, closing later at the weekends. Other shops open from around 9 am - 1 pm and 4 pm - 10 pm.
On Friday all shops close for Prayer Time between 11.30 am and 1.30 pm and the malls open at 2 pm, until late. Petrol stations and hotels maintain their service during the Friday prayers although some petrol station shops are closed from noon to 1 pm.
Cars are driven on the right hand side of the road. Seat belts must be worn in the front and it is recommended that passengers buckle up in the back as well. Speed limits vary from around 70 kmph in built up areas to 120 kmph on the highways. There are plenty of speed cameras and zero tolerance for drinking and driving.
Hiring a Car
The minimum age for renting a vehicle is usually 21. A credit card, valid driving licence and passport copy are required for the rental procedure. Some have representative desks in the main hotels.
A.G.C.C. nationals may drive on their respective licenses within the UAE. Visitors can rent a self drive car provided they hold either a valid international driving license issued by their home country.
Salik is a toll-system implemented in Dubai. Car rental companies charge Dhs 5 every time you pass under the Salik toll gates in Dubai.
Unleaded petrol per litre costs Dhs 1.52. Petrol stations are open 24 hours. Credit cards are not accepted.
Mobile phone reception is excellent throughout the UAE. Overseas roaming charges from your home provider can be expensive so visitors with mobile phones can save money by buying a local SIM card from Etisalat (Emirates Telecommunications Corporation) (www.etisalat.ae) or from du (www.du.ae). Bring your passport along to register the SIM card and to get it activated.
Post and Courier Services
Part of Empost (www.empostuae.com), Post Office branches offer all the usual postal services and collection boxes. The Post Offices are open daily from 8 am to 8 pm, and 5 pm to 9 pm on Fridays.
Empost shops in Emarat petrol stations and other venues offer access to stationary products, postal and courier services. Stamps can also be bought from certain card shops. Courier companies are regularly used for both local and international deliveries.
This is generally permitted apart from photographing military installations. It is courteous to ask permission before photographing people, especially women.
220/240 volts and 50 cycles. UK style, 3 pin plugs are the norm.
Whilst it is safe to drink the tap water, bottled water is reasonably priced and preferable.
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