I've been on a bit of a sabbatical lately. I didn't want to leave you guys high and dry so here's a great post by Jess from over at Tripelio
, about traveling to the UAE.
There have been some amazing ticket deals lately to the UAE and tons of people are visiting.
If you're one of the lucky ones who come for a visit, please check out this post for some excellent ideas and tips.
Arab Emirates, or UAE, is a bright, modern country situated on the northeastern
coast of the Arabian Peninsula, next to Saudi Arabia and Oman. Whether you’ve
come to the country for the capital city, Abu Dhabi, well-known Dubai, or
somewhere else, you’re guaranteed to have a special and fantastic time. But in
order to ensure a marvelous time, you’ll want to do a bit of research first.
Here are some
tips for first-time visitors:
from the United States, Canada, or one of the EU member countries, you won’t
need to worry about obtaining a visa
ahead of time as long as your
stay will be shorter than 30 days. But when entering the country, you’ll need
to be very careful of what you have in your luggage.
The UAE is a
predominantly Muslim country, and as such, non-Muslim visitors are only
permitted to bring in up to four bottles of alcohol per person. Medications are
highly regulated, with many requiring a signed and notarized doctor’s note—and
if you don’t have the correct documentation, you can be fined or even jailed! Also
important to note is that sometimes even if you believe you have the correct
documentation, it won’t be accepted. Your best bet is to leave all non-vital
medications back home.
where to go depends on what you’re interested in. If you’re looking for some
interesting shopping away from the glitzy malls, Abu Dhabi has actually done
away with most of its traditional souks
or markets—for these, you’re better off visiting Dubai. Still, although both
have beaches, Abu Dhabi’s beaches can’t be beat. But a visit to either city
means you can check out camel racing or head out to the dunes in an SUV. You’ll
need to investigate your options and choose carefully.
looking to get out of the cities, you again have plenty of options. Try heading
to the coast for some lovely beaches or to the wadis in the northern parts of
the country. And the sand dunes to the south of Abu Dhabi are certainly not to
be missed—they’re among the largest in the world!
A major draw
of the UAE is its shopping malls, and there’s a reason for that. Actually, The Dubai Mall
with over 1000 shops for you to choose from, is currently the largest mall in
the world. Worried about getting lost? The mall is big enough to warrant its own app
that includes maps, events, a way to
save your parking location, and more. Make sure to set
up a VPN app on your iPhone
prior to using it abroad, though!
Or if that’s
too overwhelming, visit the Mall of the Emirates
, which is large enough that
it includes the third-largest indoor ski resort in the world. Although at only
five runs and 85m of vertical drop, it’s not the best ski resort in the world,
it is definitely an experience!
Be aware that
at many major malls, you might find salespeople following you around. They’re
partly trying to make sure your every need is seen to—but there’s also a big
problem with shoplifting in a lot of places. Getting followed around can get
annoying at times, but you shouldn’t feel like they’re picking on you. And know
that although bargaining is the norm at most smaller or independent shops, this
is considered rude at many of the larger mall shops or chain stores.
But it’s also
important to know that many businesses take their weekend on Fridays and
Saturdays, with some places also closing early on Thursdays. And if you visit during Ramadan
, expect for shops to keep shorter
hours and for restaurants to be closed during the daylight hours, as the
Muslims will be observing the fast.
Cheap and Free Activities
Of course, all this shopping will add up quickly! Whether
you’re travelling on a budget or have allotted most of your budget for shopping
rather than sightseeing, you’ll likely want to be aware of your cheaper options
for things to do. No matter where you go, you’ll have an intriguing time just
walking around and looking at the architecture or people-watching. Or if you’re
in either Abu Dhabi or Dubai, take a stroll along the waterfront and check out
the local markets.
In Abu Dhabi,
you’ll absolutely want to head to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
—not only can you enter
the mosque for free on your own, but they also offer free guided tours. Or
wander around the Abu Dhabi Heritage Village, where you can watch locals make
traditional handicrafts or take a ride on a camel.
interested in camels, head to the free Dubai Camel Museum, which will tell you
all about this animal’s impact on life in this part of the world and about the
anatomic structure of a camel—it’s a bit quirky, but it can be interesting
before heading out to free viewing of the camel races! For something more
mainstream, check out the Dubai Museum—although not free, the admission fee is
less than $1, so it’s not too bad, and you’ll be able to see tons of exhibits
about life in the area prior to its modern glory.
population of the UAE is mostly Muslim—more than 90%—and that’s clearly
reflected in the societal norms. Most movies and other forms of media and
entertainment are heavily censored, and although visitors aren’t required to
uphold the traditional dress code or to cover their heads outside of mosques,
it is still recommended that you wear loose clothing. Short sleeves are okay,
and so are shorts or skirts, but you should take care to not wear anything cut
above knee-length. And remember to bring clothes made of breathable fabrics
too, as the climate is very warm and sunny, and during the summer, it can get
something of a novelty in the UAE, women needn’t be overly worried about
travelling alone. You may find yourself the subject of some unwanted attention,
but very rarely will this amount to anything serious. Sexual harassment is
considered serious by the police, so if you have any problems, be sure to make
a lot of noise and embarrass the perpetrator.
Some of the
laws or customs that are strictly upheld in the UAE may be very different from
what you’re used to back home, but if you do a little prior research and take
care, you’re in for an excellent trip to this fascinating country. A good rule
of thumb is to act perhaps a bit more conservatively than you might be used to;
a bit of cultural literacy will go a long way! You might find yourself
returning to visit this enchanting nation—or coming
to live there
—for much longer than you had originally thought you