The best time to enjoy the United Arab Emirates is from October until May. You are advised to avoid June to September, due to the temperature rising to 40C plus and the very high humidity. Car hire is a great way to explore, with the distance between most cities not as large as you may expect. The modern and ever expanding landscape of the United Arab Emirates will certainly make a break or longer holiday memorable.
Dubai Tourist Board: The official website for the Dubai Tourist Board – a useful resource for planning your trip to Dubai.
Abu Dhabi Tourist Board: The official website for the Abu Dhabi Tourist Board – a useful resource for planning your trip Abu Dhabi.
Know Before You Go: Travel advice for the United Arab Emirates from the FCO.
Things to see and do
- Visit the oasis city of Al Ain containing archaeological sites and palm plantations.
- Take a trip to the Bateen Shipyard in Abu Dhabi and view the traditional Arab method of ship building.
- The Abu Dhabi Heritage Village allows visitors to trace the dramatic transformation of the city.
- Bask in the luxury of the beaches of Dubai, such as Palm Beach and Jumeriah Beach.
- Fancy a spot of shopping? Visit one of the shopping centres in Dubai.
- A hot air balloon ride over Dubai gives you a breath-taking view of the city.
- Go out with an experienced driver and try dune bashing in Dubai. A great way to explore the sand dunes and desert.
- For a really fun day out, visit Wild Wadi, Dubai’s own water park.
- Cruise along the Dubai creek also known as Khor Dubai.
Etiquette can be considered rather strict in the UAE, especially when compared to what you may be used to back home. Read these helpful etiquette tips before you arrive so you know what is considered acceptable behaviour.
Meeting and greeting
- If you are greeted with the phrase ‘Salaam aleikum’ (Peace be upon you), you should respond with ‘Aleikum assalaam’ (and on you, peace).
- Greet each man individually with a light grasping of hands, starting with the host.
- Men do not shake hands with women unless the woman initiates the handshake.
- Only shake hands with your right hand as the left hand is considered unclean.
- Some restaurants, hotels and bars will add a service charge.
- If this is not the case or you feel the service warrants it, you can tip 10%-15% more in restaurants.
- When tipping bell boys, valet parkers and porters, a tip of 5-10 Dirhams is accepted. Tip cleaners of your room in the region of 20-30 Dirhams.
- Bear in mind that some staff are paid very low wages and work very long hours.
- Always tip in cash and give it directly to the person you wish to tip.
- Do not offer alcohol to a Muslim unless you are positive they drink it.
- When sitting do not cross your legs but keep your feet flat on the ground to avoid showing the soles of your feet.
- Always use your right hand, for eating, giving and shaking hands.
- If someone is in prayer, refrain from staring at the person and do not step on their prayer mat.
- Do not enter a Mosque without prior permission.
- Do not eat, drink or smoke in public during Ramadan.
- Do not engage in public displays of affection including kissing or holding hands.
Festivals and events
- Visit the Abu Dhabi International Pearl Festival which looks back at the past and aims to consolidate the image of the pearl for generations to come. (January)
- The Dubai Jazz Festival celebrates jazz artists and music from across the United Arab Emirates. (February)
- Sharjah Biennal is designed to promote art productions throughout the Emirates. (April – June)
- Dubai Summer Surprises and the Dubai Shopping Festival are celebrated with events held over a ten week period. (Summer)
- The Dubai International Film Festival showcases films from around the United Arab Emirates. (December)