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Welcome to U.A.E

A guide to middle east arab countries

Introduction

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) was formed as a federation of seven emirates (Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Ras Al Khaimah, Fujairah, Umm Al Quwain), which came together as one state on the 2nd of December 1971.

There are no railways across the sand, although the Emirates are served by six international airports.

The UAE is a country of contrasting landscapes. The western interior of the federation, most of which is Abu Dhabi territory, consists mainly of desert interspersed with oases. One of the largest oases is Liwa, beyond which is the vast Rub al-Khali desert, or Empty Quarter.To the east lie the Hajar Mountains chain which reach north into the Musandam peninsula at the mouth of the Arabian Gulf. The rocky slopes rise to 1300 meters within UAE territory, falling steeply to the UAE’s East Coast on the Gulf of Oman where a fertile alluvial gravel plain separates the precipitous mountains from the ocean. To the north-east, a fertile gravel plain also separates the mountains from the coast around Ras al-Khaimah.

The Palm in Dubai

The Palm in Dubai

Dubai - Water Taxis

Dubai - Water Taxis

Dubai - Gold souk

Dubai - Gold souk

Ajman

Ajman

Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi

Sharjah

Sharjah

Fast Facts

Official name: United Arab Emirates

Capital: Abu Dhabi

Population: 4.5 million (864,000 Emirati, 3.6 million expatriates)

Location: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is situated along the south-eastern tip of the Arabian peninsula ,Qatar lies to the north-west, Saudi Arabia to the west, south and south-east, and Oman to the south-east and north-east

Monetary Unit: UAE Dirham.

Language: Arabic (official), English, Farsi, Hindi, Urdu

Religion: Islam 96% , Christian, Hindu and other 4%

Time difference: +4 hours from GMT (+3 during Daylight Saving Time)

Telephone: Country code: 971. Main area codes: Abu Dhabi 2; Ajman, Sharjah and Umm al-Quwain 6; Al-Ain 3; Dubai 4; Fujairah 9; Jebel Ali 4; and Ras al-Khaimah 7.
Telephone calls within each state are free.

Electricity: 220/240 volts AC, 50Hz. Square three-pin plugs are widespread.

Tipping: Tipping is not compulsory, but is common practice. Gratuities to staff at hotels are at your discretion. Most restaurants add service charges to the bill (Abu Dhabi 16 per cent; Sharjah 15 per cent; Dubai 10 per cent). If this charge is not included, add 10 per cent of the total to the bill. Taxi drivers do not expect to be tipped.

Clothing: Lightweight summer clothing is ideal with a wrap, sweater or jacket for cooler winter nights and air-conditioned premises. Although the dress code in the UAE is generally casual, guests in the larger hotels do tend to dress more formally in the evening. women are prohibited from wearing swimsuits on public beaches. Since you are visiting a Muslim country, bikinis, swimsuits, shorts and revealing tops should be confined to beach resorts. Women are usually advised not to wear short skirts and to keep their shoulders covered. Note that in Sharjah

Opening hours: Normal shopping hours are from 9.00 a.m.–1 p.m. and 4.00– 9.00 p.m. However, many shops, particularly in Dubai and Abu Dhabi stay open all day. Most shopping centres open from 10 a.m to 10 p.m – frequently later. Some supermarkets are open for 24 hours. Although shops and shopping centres are fully air conditioned, the cool of the evening is a favourite time for shopping. Shopping centres and most shops are open on Friday, the Islamic day of rest, but they all close for friday prayers from 11.30 a.m. to 1.30 p.m.

All shops are required to close at prayer times in Ra’s al-Khaimah.

Government offices: open at 7.30 a.m. and close at 2.30 p.m. but you would be wise to visit in the morning. Private offices tend to keep longer hours, coming back to work in the evening after an extended mid-day break Some private businesses open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. All government offices close for the weekend on Friday and Saturday. Many private companies also recognise this two-day weekend. Some offices outside the public sector close only on Friday.

Climate: The UAE lies in the arid tropical zone extending across Asia and North Africa. Climatic conditions in the area are strongly influenced by the Indian Ocean, this explains why high temperatures in summer are always accompanied by high humidity along the coast. There are noticeable variations in climate between the coastal regions, the deserts of the interior, and mountainous areas.

From November to March daytime temperatures average a very pleasant 24° C (75° F). Summer temperatures are high, and can be as high as 48° C (118° F) inland, but it is lower by few degrees in coastal. Humidity in coastal areas averages between 50 and 60 per cent, touching over 90 per cent in summer and autumn. Inland it is far less humid. Local north-westerly winds (shamal) frequently develop during the winter, bringing cooler windy conditions. Prevailing winds, which are influenced by the monsoons, vary between south or south-east, to west or north to north-west, depending upon the season and location. Average rainfall is low at less than 6.5 centimeters annually, more than half of which falls in December and January.

Water temperatures: in the Gulf exceed 33°C in summer, falling in winter to 16°C in the north and 22–24°C in the south.

Driving: There is an extensive high quality road network throughout the Emirates and unleaded petrol is cheap. Driving is on the right. The speed limit in built-up areas is 60 to 80kph (37 to 50mph) and 100 to 120kph (62 to 74mph) elsewhere.
A passport and either a valid international or national licence are necessary. An International Driving Permit is recommended, although it is not legally required. A local driving licence can be issued on presentation of a valid national driving licence, two photos and a passport.

Taxi: Available in all towns. In Abu Dhabi and Al-Ain, urban journey fares are metered, whilst fares for longer journeys should be agreed in advance. There is a surcharge for air-conditioned taxis. Many travellers find taxis to be the quickest and most convenient method of travel from Abu Dhabi to Dubai.

Buses: Intercity buses are available only within Abu Dhabi emirate. The main bus station is on East Rd. Buses to Oman depart from Madinat Zayed Shopping Centre (East Road on the corner of Zayed the Second St)Although most tourists travel long-distance by taxi, buses are air-conditioned, clean and efficient. Minibuses (located beside the main bus station) with a seating capacity of 14 also travel to the same places as the large buses.Buses travel from Al Ain to Abu Dhabi approximately once every hour from the bus station behind Al Ain souq.

Dubai Municipality: operates a reasonable public bus service, from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Three types of bus pass are available. Routes and bus numbers are posted in both Arabic and English. Passes, timetables and bus maps are available from the main bus stations at Bur Dubai on Al Ghubaiba Rd and in Deira near the Gold Souq.

Intercity buses only operate within Dubai emirate. Air-conditioned buses depart every hour for Hatta and twice a day for Muscat, Oman (5-6 hours). Interemirate travel is run by Dubai Transport minibuses, however you can only pick these up in Dubai.

There are no bus services in the other emirates.

Water Taxis: One of the nicest things to do in Dubai is to take a motorized water taxi or abra across the Creek. The main abra dock on the Deira side of the Creek is at the intersection of Al Sabkha and Bani Yas Roads. Bur Dubai dock is located at the end of the souq, near the waterfront houses. Abras depart when full, which doesn’t take long. You can also hire a private abra for a cruise along the creek.

Dubai Mall Aquarium

Dubai Mall Aquarium

Ajman

Ajman

Eagle Roundabout in Fujairah Downtown

Eagle Roundabout in Fujairah Downtown

Places to visit

Abu Dhabi is both the capital and Federal capital of the United Arab Emirates,and is the second largest of the seven emirates. This city is a perfect combination of tradition and modernity that welcomes. everyone with respect and warm hospitality.

The Heritage Village,where you can journey to the past and experience traditional life in Abu Dhabi ,in addition to bedouin tents, there are reconstructions of palm ('arish) and other houses, old fishing villages and traditional souqs.

The famous Liwa oasis in the south is home to some of the largest and most beautiful sand dunes in the world.

The garden city of Al Ain – lying near the Oman border - is home to one of the famous peaks of the majestic Hajar Mountain and the highest point in the Emirat of Abu Dhabi (Jebel Hafeet), which rises about 1,340 metres.

Ajman is the smallest Emirate of the United Arab Emirates and lies between Sharjah and Umm Al Quwain. It has a few good fast food resturants, a City Centre (shopping mall) and cinema, and a traditional Islamic designed souq.One is Masfut, at the western edge of Hajar mountains, and the other is Manama, in the interior on the road from Sharjah to Fujaira.

Dubai The main sightseeing circuit in Dubai is split between Bur Dubai and Deira which lies on opposite sides of the water, and the gently curving Dubai Creek is an attraction in itself.

Deira's many attractions include the historic quarter of Bastakia, as well as old souks and covered marketplaces. You can explore the Spice Souk and the Gold Souk. The Dubai Museum is housed within the beautifully restored Al Fahidi Fort, and is a must-see for first time visitors to Dubai.

On the Bur Dubai side, Heritage Village, located in the Shindagah area, is a family destination where you can watch potters, weavers and artisans at their crafts. The adjoining Diving Village offers a cultural microcosm of pearl diving and fishing. Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum House, a museum restored from the house of Dubai's former ruler and dating back to the late 1800s, is within the same complex.

If you drive west from the city centre, you will reach the popular suburb of Jumeirah, home to some of Dubai's finest luxury hotels and resorts, unspoilt stretches of sunny beaches and water sports complexes. In Jumeirah is the Grand Mosque, re-built in 1998, with the city's tallest minaret, nine large domes and 45 small domes -

About 115 Km south east of Dubai, in the heart of the rocky Hatta Mountains, is the 3000 year old Hatta Village, an important historical site for the region. The two towers overlooking the village used to be defense fortresses against hostile invaders, and during a relaxed day at the Village, you can visit the Houses of Traditional Handicrafts and Palm Products, The Castle Centre, and the 200 year old Sharia Mosque.

Sharjah is a city of learning and the arts, as confirmed by its 1998 UNESCO designation as the Cultural Capital of the Arab World. The city of Sharjah is home to more than 20 museums with splendid collections of artifacts and art as well as exhibits on science and natural history. Sharjah has beautiful beaches on the shores of the Arabian Gulf in the West, and the Gulf of Oman and Indian Ocean in the East. Sharjah is the only emirate to have land on both the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean.

Fujairah holds a unique position in the UAE. It is the only emirate that lies on the eastern side of the UAE, along the Gulf of Oman, while other six emirates are along the Arabian Gulf. Sun-kissed beaches, majestic mountain ranges and convivial weather conditions conspire to present Fujairah as an exotic land, ripe for discovery by tourists and business persons alike. Fujairah is rightly known as the jewel of Middle East.

Ras Al Khaimah is the most northern Emirate of the United Arab Emirates which nestles at the foot of the Al Hajjar Mountains and is divided by a natural creek into the old town on one side and the new business centre of Al Nakheel on the other.

The Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah has an impressive archaeological heritage and a very rich history. Perhaps the greatest insight to the archaeological wonders and the long standing history of Ras Al Khaimah can be gained by a visit to the National Museum, formerly the fort and once the residence of the Ruler of the Emirate.

Mussandam Peninsula is dramatic and un-spoilt, with breathtaking natural scenery. It is called the ‘Fjords’ of the Middle East with good reason, a trip to Mussandam, is a trip your not likely to forget in a hurry.

The Emirate of Umm al-Qaiwain is located on the Arabian Gulf coast of the UAE, between Sharjah to the southwest, and Ras al-Khaimah to the northeast. The town of Umm al-Quwain is built around a lagoon formed by a narrow peninsula on the west side and a few islands on the east. This lagoon,called Khor al-Baydah , offers some of the best sailing and birdwatching in the Emirates. It has a long tradition of dhow building and fishing. The town boasts no less than seven forts, one of which has been renovated and now houses the museum.

Camel Racing in Dubai

Camel Racing in Dubai

Things to do

The Emirates on the Gulf coast are blessed with long stretches of sandy beach where residents take part in sports such as jet-skiing, surfing, swimming and kitesurfing. Snorkeling and diving are popular within the region. Numerous water sports like swimming, yachting, water surfing and deep sea fishing take place all year round and attracts enthusiasts and sportsmen from all over the world.

Camel Racing.

No visit to the Emirates would be complete without a trip into the desert.The majesty and tranguillity of the desert can be experienced in a choice of exciting half-day, full-day And overnight safaris. Particularly popular are safaris that culminate in the evening with spectacular sunset views followed by a traditional Arabian barbecue under the stars.

Driving in sand is an adventure in itself, combining the excitement of a roller-coaster ride with the Challenge of remaining mobile on the shifting surface. The United Arab Emirates has been acknowledged as one of the top four destinations in the whole of the

Middle East for bird-watching tours. The fact that it is a meeting point for migration routes means that it is visited by several million birds every year.

Dubai

Dubai

The Tallest Building in the Wolrd; Burj Khalifa Dubai

The Tallest Building in the Wolrd; Burj Khalifa Dubai

University City Hall, Sharjah, UAE

University City Hall, Sharjah, UAE

Visa Requirements

The main entry requirement of obtaining a visa in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and its seven emirates (Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah, and Fujairah) are that your passport is valid for at least 2-6 months before your arrival. Information about the various UAE visa categories are explained in detail below..

Visit Visas

A visit visa applies to tourists who wish to spend more than 14 days in the UAE, whether it is to visit relatives or for business purposes. The categories given below identify whether an individual requires a visit visa before arrival or whether one can be issued to them at the airport or entry point.

AGCC Citizens

Citizens of the Arab Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) member states (Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia) do not need a visa.

AGCC Residents

AGCC expatriate residents may obtain a non-renewable 30-day visit visa upon arrival.

British Citizens

Residents of the UK, with the right to abide in the United Kingdom, may obtain a free visa on arrival, which is valid for 60 days and can be renewed for an additional 30 days for Dhs. 500 (US$ 137). Holders of the British Overseas Citizens Passport, who dont have the right to abide in the UK, will also obtain the free visa.

33 Privileged Countries

There are 33 countries that are given the same on arrival free UAE visa on arrival similar to UK citizens. These countries include citizens of France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Austria, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Portugal, Ireland, Greece, Cyprus, Finland, Malta, Spain, Monaco, Vatican City, Iceland, Andorra, San Marino, Liechtenstein, United States (US), Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong. A new law was passed on March 31st 2003, where the citizens of these 33 countries can only obtain a one-month non-renewable visit visa on arrival, which costs Dhs. 100 (US$ 28). Though the government officially passed this law, it does not seem to be always implemented.

Other Nationalities (Tourist Visas)

Citizens of countries that are not mentioned above require the sponsorship of a UAE resident (relative or friend), hotel, travel agency, or company, in order to obtain a visit visa. This type of visit visa is also known as the tourist visa. For a relative or friend to sponsor a tourist visa, he or she must earn over Dhs. 4,000 per month and hold a valid residence visa. A hotel can sponsor a tourist visa, only if the visitor stays at the hotel, and they will hold your passport until all hotel payments are cleared. Procedures involved in issuing a tourist visa require that the visitor fill out a visa application form and submit it to the sponsor along with a first few pages of their passport. With these details, the sponsor can apply for a tourist visa, which will cost Dhs. 650 (US$ 178) and take a maximum of 7 days to issue. The sponsor must deposit the visitor's tourist visa at the airport immigration atleast one hour before the visitor's flight arrivals, which will cost Dhs. 10 (US$ 3) for processing.

Transit Visas

This type of visa is a 4-day (96 hour) visa, which is issued by sponsorship of an airline operating in the United Arab Emirates. A transit visa can only be issued if a visitor has a valid ticket for an onward flight and the issuing of transit visas are normally free of cost.

Other Visit Visas

There are two other types of visit visas issued by the UAE government. The first is a 14-day visa, also known as an Entry Service Permit. This visa must be sponsored by a United Arab Emirates company or hotel and will normally take 2-3 days to issue. The second is a Multiple Entry Visa, which is useful for individuals who are continously visiting the UAE. This visa has special privileges for visitors from Germany and the United States. More information and requirements about these two visas can be found to your right.

Residence Visa

For individuals planning to live in the United Arab Emirates, you have to obtain a residence visa, which is also reffered to as an employment visa. A residence visa will be issued by the Immigration department of the emirate you will be staying in and provided to you by your sponsor (the company or person you are working for). If you have entered the country on a visit visa, you can transfer to a residence visa by either re-enter the country or else make the transfer at the Immigration department.

If you are coming to the UAE with family members, you should obtain a family visa, which will allow you to sponsor your parents, spouse, daughters, and sons under the age of 18. Family visas are only possible if you earn more than Dhs. 4,000 (US$ 1,100) a month.

Residence visas are normally issued for 3-years and in order for it to be processed, you will need to take a medical test and obtain a health card. Individuals who test positive for AIDS will not be permitted to obtain a residence visa. A health card costs around Dhs. 300 (US$ 82) and should be renewed yearly. It can be issued at the Ministry of Health or else at a recognized private hospital.

Overstaying

A penalty charge of Dhs. 25 (US$ 7) - Dhs. 100 (US$ 28) per day is imposed on visitors who overstay. If the overstay extends to a significant amount of time, then a court hearing is issued and the judge will decide what penalties will occur.

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