A modern and developed country, the UAE is a mix of Western style venues and lifestyles and local conservative values that any traveler must navigate.
As a business hub, Dubai is much more cosmopolitan than other Emirates and is less strict concerning life-style, dress, religion, and alcohol. Emiratis are a friendly, hospitable people and proud of their culture. Travelers should be aware of and respect the locals’
conservative culture. Many behaviors considered normal in the West can result in arrest. Alcohol is widely available, but foreigners require a license, showing they are not Muslim, to buy alcohol in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Ajman. Alcohol is banned in the Sharjah Emirate however.
UAE weather is extremely dry and hot, with summer temperatures reaching 50°C (85°F) or even higher. When rain does occur between November and February it can cause driving hazards.
English is very wide spread and nearly all road or other information signs are in English and Arabic.
The weekend in the UAE for most government and business employees is Friday and Saturday. Travelers should be aware that during the month of Ramadan, which varies based on the Islamic calendar, the daily routine of the country changes drastically. Because this is a month of fasting, many businesses, especially restaurants, are closed during the day.
The UAE policy is extremely strict concerning medicines. Many common drugs are not allowed into the country unless you have a notarized and authenticated doctor's prescription. Violations can result in being jailed or deported.
The main hub for air transport in the UAE is Dubai airport, which is served by several major airlines, providing direct flights to many major cities around the world. After Dubai, the airport at Abu Dhabi also offers many international connections.
The UAE has a modern road system and the highways are in excellent condition, but roads are often congested. Renting a car or driving in the UAE requires an international driver's license, which is a translation of your standard license. If you have UAE residency status, you must obtain a local driver's license. Emiratis are notoriously aggressive drivers and caution should be used when driving, especially in urban areas.
Public transportation in urban areas is rudimentary; however the Dubai Metro can be used to get to most areas of the city. Intercity bus services are fast, comfortable and reasonably frequent. In the cities of Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah, relatively cheap taxis are widely available.
ATMs are widely available and accept all the major cards. Credit cards are widely accepted throughout the Emirates. Cash and travellers' checks can be changed at exchanges located at the airports or in all the major shopping malls.
Dubai is ranked as the 25th most expensive city to live in. Hotels rates are expensive, especially in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Rents in Dubai are also on the rise. Low-cost accommodations are available but, as anywhere, vary alarmingly as to their condition.
Supermarkets offer European and U.S. products and Western store and restaurant chains are common.
The crime rate is extremely low in the UAE, though travelers should of course be cautious.
High quality medical care is found in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah, where there are general and specialized clinics widely available. The water is safe to drink in the UAE. Most restaurants maintain Western standards of hygiene.
The weather in the UAE is extremely hot and dry, with temperatures reaching 50°C in the summer. Outdoor activities are best avoided during the hottest hours of the day. Drink plenty of fluids and be aware of signs of heat stroke. When traveling to more remote areas, be sure to carry a sufficient water supply with you in case of a vehicle breakdown.