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In this post I give you some practical information and travel tips for Dubai and Abu Dhabi, either if you are planning just to visit these cities for a couple of days or dedicating your trip entirely to the United Arab Emirates.
Dubai and Abu Dhabi are convenient layovers between intercontinental flights.
A lot of people take advantage of their strategic location in the world to have a break from their long flights and visit new cities. Just like I did.
GENERAL INFORMATION FOR DUBAI AND ABU DHABI.
TIME: GMT +4 HRS (no time change during summer).
TIPPING: Not expected.
ELECTRICITY: 220 volts.
LANGUAGE: Arabic. Most people speak and understand English.
LOCAL CURRENCY: United Arab Emirates Dirham (AED).
VISA FOR THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES.
Europeans will get a tourist visa on their passport at the immigration area at the airport in the United Arab Emirates.
The tourist visa will be valid for 30 days.
If you intend to stay longer, you need to apply for a visa before your departure.
In any case, make sure that your passport is valid for at least 6 months after your planned date of departure and that you hold your return ticket.
TRAVEL INSURANCE FOR THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES.
You should never travel without travel insurance that can cover you for medical treatments when you are abroad.
There are many travel insurance companies that offer annual multi-trips plans or just single trip travel plans.
I personally chose Columbus Assicurazione, anyway if you google travel insurance there are many options that you can choose from.
WHEN TO GO TO DUBAI AND ABU DHABI.
In Dubai and Abu Dhabi it’s hot all year around.
In summer the heat can be unbearable, so the best time to visit these cities is winter.
It will still be hot but at least not crazy hot.
So if you live in the Northern Hemisphere and you want a break from the cold winter in your country, the United Arab Emirates can be your option!
Also I would avoid traveling here during Ramadan. In 2018 the Ramadan will start May 16th and end June 14th.
During Ramadan, Muslims can’t eat and drink in the daytime. You as a tourist are expected to do the same.
The opening hours of shops and museums will also be reduced and generally the rules are more strict than in the other months.
WHERE TO STAY IN DUBAI AND ABU DHABI.
I stayed in a hotel in Abu Dhabi for 2 nights and I explored both cities from there.
My hotel was a nightmare though!
I stayed at the Strand Hotel.
First of all I asked them by email to pick me up at the airport and they never showed up!
So I took a taxi and when I arrived I informed the people at the reception about that situation. And they just shrugged. What????
But the worst part was the noise!!! Inside the hotel there is a Night Club and the music goes all night until 3 or 4 am. It’s so loud and you can’t sleep!
So I don’t feel like recommending the hotel I stayed in. Anyway both cities offer good other options. Just make sure you book your hotel in advance or it might be expensive. And read the reviews!
HOW TO GET TO DUBAI AND ABU DHABI.
Etihad Airways is the national airline of the United Arab Emirates. It connects Abu Dhabi to many other destinations around the world.
Emirates is the airline based in Dubai and also operates flights to many cities in the world.
Here you find a pretty good website that researches the cheapest solution from the city you will be flying from:
HOW TO GO FROM ABU DHABI TO DUBAI AND THE OTHER WAY AROUND.
Dubai and Abu Dhabi are well connected by bus. It takes about 2 hours and the buses from Abu Dhabi to Dubai and the other way around are frequent and cheap.
You can buy your return ticket directly at the bus station.
HOW TO GET AROUND IN DUBAI.
In Dubai you can buy a metro day pass at the station for 20AED (around 5€).
The metro stops are all close to the most famous spots so it’s a convenient way to get around.
The only place that is a little far from the metro stop is the beach.
So if you want to go there you can take a taxi. The ride will cost between 20 and 40AED.
If you want to go to Deira to walk around the souks you can take an abra to cross the Dubai Creek.
An abra is a typical Arab boat and the ride costs only 1AED.
HOW TO GET AROUND IN ABU DHABI.
Unfortunately in Abu Dhabi there is no metro and I wouldn’t recommend the bus. The best way to get around is by taxi.
From the city center to the Grand Mosque the ride will be around 60 AED (one way).
Then for a shorter distance within the city center the ride would be about 20AED.
From and to the airport a taxi ride would cost around 100AED.
RULES FOR THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES.
In the United Arab Emirates there are strict rules to follow.
ALCOHOL POLICY IN THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES.
In this country if you want to buy something to drink you must hold a personal liquor license. This license will be given only to non-Muslims with a residence permit in the United Arab Emirates.
If you are staying in a hotel you can buy drinks at their bar, but only if you are regularly registered as a guest of that hotel.
Do not break these rules. You don’t want to be caught in a country like this, trust me. And do not walk around if you are drunk. This country is no joke!
DRESS CODE FOR THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES.
Women should cover their knees and shoulders and wear moderate clothes in general when they walk around.
In Dubai though the dress code is less strict than anywhere else in the country.
If you are at the beach, the swimming suit cannot be worn outside the beach area and it has to be “appropriate”.
For some reasons electronic cigarettes are illegal in this country and will be confiscated upon your arrival at the airport.
So leave your electronic cigarette at home and stick to nicotine gums and patches if you are quitting smoking!
GENERAL BEHAVIOR FOR THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES.
PDA should be avoided. The locals would get easily offended by what they consider inappropriate behavior.
Couples should book separate rooms if they are not married… I know.
Do not take pictures of Muslim women.
Generally keep a low profile and respect their culture.