Below are a few hints that may help you when planning for your trip to Dubai:
A Tourist Visa is required for individual tourists from South Africa. The Tourist Visa requires the sponsorship of hotels and tour operators who bring in visitors to Dubai. For nationalities that require a sponsor, airlines may seek confirmation that the sponsor is holding a valid visa for the incoming visitor.
The UAE has a sub-tropical, arid climate. Rainfall is infrequent and irregular, falling mainly in winter; it amounts to some 13 centimetres a year. Temperatures range from a low of about 10 degrees Celsius to a high of 48 degrees Celsius. The mean daily maximum is 24 degrees in January rising to 41 degrees in July.
Lightweight summer clothing is suitable for most of the year, but sweaters or jackets may be needed for the winter months, especially in the evenings. Compared with certain parts of the Middle East, Dubai has a very relaxed dress code. However, care should be taken not to give offence by wearing clothing, which may be considered revealing. At the pool or on the beaches, trunks, swimsuits and bikinis are quite acceptable. Good quality sunglasses are advised, and photo-chromatic lenses for those who wear spectacles. Hats or some protection for the head are advisable when in direct sunlight.
Tap water is quite safe to drink but visitors usually prefer locally bottled mineral water and this is generally served in hotels and restaurants.
LANGUAGE & RELIGION
The official language is Arabic but English is widely spoken and understood. Both languages are commonly used in business and commerce. Islam is the official religion of the UAE and there are a large number of mosques throughout the city.
The monetary unit is the dirham (Dh), which is divided into 100 fils. The Dirham is linked to the Special Drawing Right of the International Monetary Fund.
The Dubai Government introduced a new tourism fee that has to be paid directly by the client at the hotel.
This fee is applied per occupied room, per night, according to the type of accommodation (see below – 19 March 14 subject to change):
Fee per occupied room per night
5-Star or Higher Rated Hotel or Resort – 20
4-Star Hotel or Resort – 15
3-Star Hotel or Resort – 10
2-Star Hotel – 10
1-Star Hotel / Budget Hotel – 7
Deluxe Hotel Apartament – 20
Superior Hotel Apartament – 15
Standard Hotel Apartament – 10
Guest House – 7
Deluxe Holiday Home – 15
Standard Holiday Home – 10
Visa and MasterCard are generally accepted in the main hotels and larger shops but some retailers offer better bargains for cash. Some passengers have reported difficulties using American Express and Diners Cards to pay for their meals etc. in their hotels, shopping malls and souks. These credit cards are not as widely accepted as Visa and MasterCard’s.
The weekend has traditionally been Thursday afternoon and Friday, but some organizations now close on Friday and Saturday, working through Thursday afternoon instead. Private sector office hours vary, but are generally from 8.00am–1.00pm, re-opening at either 3.00pm or 4.00pm and closing at 6.00pm or 7.00pm. Shopping hours are similar in their opening times, but most shops in shopping malls and souks remain open until 9.00–10.00pm. Department stores, boutiques, souks and many food shops remain open on a Friday, apart from prayer times (between 11.30am and 1.30pm), while larger shops re-open on a Friday afternoon at around 4.00–5.00pm. Bank operation hours are 8.00am to 1.00pm, from Saturday to Wednesday, although some also open from 4.30–6.30pm. On Thursdays, banks operate only from 8.00am to noon. Exchange houses are open from 8.30am–1.00pm and 4.30–8.30pm.
You will generally find that the UA Nationals are helpful therefore we urge you to conform to worldwide trends in this regard. Hotel porters should receive a small tip (approximately $ 1.-), for carrying your luggage (unless travelling in a group in which case this may be included in the tour cost). Guides and drivers should also receive a gratuity and the customary 10 % is recommended for restaurant visits and room service.
Due to regular patrols of the UAE / Oman borders by the Omani Armed Forces, please ensure you carry your original passport whilst joining the following scheduled tour/safaris:
· Grand CanyonSafari
· Up The Wadi Safari
· Starlight Express Safari (Overnight Safari)
· All Points East (East Coast tour)
· A Wealth of History (Ras Al Khaimah Tour)
Normal tourist photography is acceptable but it is considered offensive to photograph Muslim women. It is also courteous to ask permission before photographing men. In general, photographs of government buildings or military installations may not be taken.
MANNERS & CUSTOMS
Alcohol is available in hotel and club restaurants and bars. However, restaurants outside the hotels are not permitted to serve alcoholic beverages. Never drink alcohol in public. During Ramadan, do not eat, drink or smoke in public during daylight hours.
Taxis: Taxis are the most common way of getting around. Metered cabs from Dubai Transport Corporation, recognised by their cream colour, are efficient and have well-trained and courteous drivers. The fare is +- Dh3.00 for pick-up (Dh3.50 from 10.00pm to 6.00am), followed by +- Dh1.00 per kilometre. The fares of non-metered taxis are negotiated between driver and passenger, starting at a minimum of around Dh5 for short local journeys, while Dh10 to Dh15 is the rule of thumb if you cross the Creek from one side of the city to the other. Driving in the UAE is on the right-hand side.
Water taxis: An interesting way to travel between Dubai and Deira is by water taxi across the Creek. The cost of this experience is 50 fils.
Passengers should restrict themselves to one suitcase each, in addition to hand luggage. Please pack necessary medication in your hand luggage, as well as a change of clothing in the event of any delays.
Recent press reports concerning people entering Dubai with banned substances have highlighted the need for passengers to be aware that, in addition to controlled drugs, several medicines & complementary therapies, available both on prescription & over the counter in many other countries, may not be brought into the UAE without a prescription.
In the case of controlled drugs, a prescription must be held. In the UAE, controlled drugs can only be dispensed upon production of a registered, health authority-approved, prescription. These include some common sleeping tablets, painkillers, anti-depressants & hormone replacement therapy.
In the case of controlled medicines, possession must be accompanied by a prescription. Many of these medicines are freely available over-the-counter in other countries, however travellers to or through Dubai should ensure they obtain a prescription before carrying any of these medicines, which include many common cold & cough remedies.
The UAE has a very strict, zero-tolerance anti-drugs policy & conducts extremely thorough searches through its airports, using highly sensitive equipment. How a drug will be treated & the penalties for possession depend on its classification. It is therefore advisable that passengers check their medication with the UAE embassy or consulate, prior to travel.
RE-CONFIRMATION OF RETURN FLIGHTS
Please remember that it is imperative to re-confirm your flight at least 72 hours prior to departure. Failure to do so may result in the automatic cancellation of your flight.
IF FLYING EGYPT AIR
If you are flying Egypt Air, please note that it is a “dry” airline, i.e. no alcohol is served on board.