The UAE has become one of the most visited travel destinations in the world. People visit places like Dubai throughout the year, and Dubai Airport handles more than 12 million tourists a year. Although it is an Islamic country, it is much different than you might think.

There are many misconceptions about the country, and you should learn a few things about it. If you decide to visit the country, you should check out the flights by Qatar Airways – which are one of our favorite airlines. And of course – don’t forget to also learn a bit about Emirati cuisine.

So without further ado, here are the things you should know about the UAE before you land there:

  • The country follows Islamic traditions, and therefore you should respect the culture by dressing modestly. Men and women should wear clothing that covers the top parts of the legs and the arms. Cities like Abu Dhabi and Sharjah are more conservative than Dubai. If you are visiting a holy place, you should completely cover your legs and arms.
  • The country follows strict zero-tolerance anti-drug laws; therefore, you should always carry a doctor’s prescription for any medication you carry in the country. Medicines that are over-the-counter in some countries are not allowed and can get you arrested if you carry them.
  • You can get arrested if you go beyond holding hands in public places. If you make people uncomfortable, then you might get a warning from the cops.
  • The currency of the UAE is dirham, but credit and debit cards are accepted everywhere. However, you will have to carry cash if you intend to shop in smaller shops or souks. 
  • Most restaurants add a service charge to the bill, but you should tip them. If the staff is particularly good, then you should tip them extra. Taxi drivers do not expect to be tipped, but if you do, it is appreciated. At hotels, the bag carriers should be tipped.
  • Only hotels are allowed to serve alcohol, and Emirates like Sharjah are completely dry. There are licensed shops in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, but you cannot buy alcohol unless you have a license yourself. You can buy alcohol at the duty-free shops at the airport. It is illegal to be under the influence of alcohol in public. 
  • If you hire a car and drive, be careful of the rowdy drivers in the fastest lanes. You can stay in slower lanes if you are not comfortable. You should not drink and drive, as there is a zero-tolerance policy for drinking and driving. The cities are well connected with the Metro and taxis, and you can choose to travel by them.
  • One of the things that you need not worry about while traveling in this country is crime. Dubai is one of the safest cities in the world and has an amazing nightlife. The places are well connected with Metros, and there are ample taxis available.
  • Make your bookings in advance if you plan to travel during the peak season. Book your ticket to ‘At the Top’ of Burj Khalifa in advance. Buying tickets at the last minute will be more expensive and may also get sold out.

Watch this video to learn more:

  • It is not recommended that you visit the country during Ramadan. You cannot eat or drink in public places during the daytime until the evening prayers. Most restaurants are closed, and alcohol is not served in the bars until sunset prayers. Entertainment such as loud music and dancing is prohibited. You are expected to dress conservatively during this period.
  • The weather is warm throughout the year, and sometimes it can get really hot. All the malls and indoor places are air-conditioned. The months from December – January can get chilly in the evenings, so you should carry light, warm clothing.
  • Authentic Emirati cuisine is full of flavor with cinnamon, nutmeg, and za’atar (a spice blend with sesame seeds). You should not miss an opportunity to try the Emirati cuisine. 

Watch this video to learn more about Emirati cuisine:

  • Muslims pray five times a day, and there are no expectations from non-Muslims. During the prayer times, the smaller shops may close.

The UAE has a desert climate, and even the winters are warm. The hottest months are July and August. The best time to visit the country is from December to February, when the temperatures are low but the flights and hotels are the most expensive. The months of May and September are less hot, and the prices are affordable.