The UAE is a federation of seven emirates composed of Abu Dhabi (UAE’s capital), Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Ras Al Khaimah, Umm Al Quain and Fujairah. It is geographically located in the southeast of the Arabian Peninsula, in Southwest Asia on the Persian Gulf bordering Oman and Saudi Arabia.
Temperatures are varied and can reach a daytime high of 49°C at the height of summer (Jun-Aug) and a low of around 10°C in winter (Dec-Mar).
The UAE continues to draw a diverse population of migrants from around the globe. Emirati Nationals make up about 19% of the population whilst the populace of the UAE involves a strong expat community.
The most populated city is Dubai followed by Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Sharjah, Ajman and Fujairah.
Local time is GMT +4 hours
220 and 240 volts, 50Hz. The square 3-pin type plugs are commonly used but the 2-pin round type plugs is also in use.
The UAE is an Islamic country and it is Muslim values which govern most decisions that Emiratis and Muslims in general make in their daily lives.
It is best to avoid discussions about religion, the status of women and the politics of the Middle East.
Always bear in mind that you are a ―resident guest of the UAE and you are expected to behave in a way that fits in with your fellow residents.
Forms of aggression and rude behaviour are a rarity in this region as the display of respect towards the community and the authorities is a norm to daily life.
By nature, UAE Nationals are both hospitable and courteous and will always provide you politeness and respect.
In general women clothing should cover the tops of the arms and legs and anything revealing should be kept to the privacy of your home. However in some tourists’ areas such social norms are not followed.
Cohabiting, adultery and homosexual behaviour are considered illegal in the UAE, and it is an offense to swear, make rude gestures or show public displays of affection.
Personal behavior in public should be restrained and respectful – drunkenness and overt displays of affection are offensive to the Muslim culture and illegal.
The UAE is tolerant to other cultures and you will never feel uncomfortable interacting with the residents, but local laws and sensitivities should always be respected.
Arabic is the national language and is spoken in most areas of the UAE.
However English is also the standard language of communication in the majority of hospitals and business environments. You will undoubtedly find English being spoken everywhere.
The UAE offers excellent schooling (primary, intermediate and secondary) and universities which provides almost all teachings in English. These schools are also internationally accredited to some of the best learning institutions in the world.
Fees in the private school vary from school to school but generally compare quite favourably to the prices you would be charged for private schools here in the United Kingdom.
The currency in UAE is the Dirham (AED), which is divided into 100 fils. The Dirham is fixed against the US Dollar.
All major currencies can be exchanged at banks, large hotels and exchange centres which operate throughout the country.
Most major credit cards are accepted at retail outlets and ATMs are located in various areas. Banking hours are generally Saturday to Thursday from 0800 to 1300 hours but some are also open between 1600 to 2030 hours.
They have a great telephone system and both mobile and landlines are readily available. The international code is +971 and the outgoing international code is 00.
The Arabic greeting of ―Salaam Aleikum is advisable and preferred instead of ― Hello as it is seen as a more courteous approach to building greater relationships in an Arabic country.
Most holidays are based on the sighting of the moon, so the dates for public holidays are not fixed. Many of these public holidays are in fact only announced a day before they take place. Also, note that Eid Al Fitr and Eid al Adha move back by about 10 days per year.
- New Year’s Day (Christian)
- Mouloud (Prophet’s birthday)
- Leilat al-Meiraj (Ascension of the Prophet)
- Eid Al Fitr (End of Ramadan)
- Eid Al Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice)
- Al Hijra (Islamic New Year)
- National Day
- Prophets Birthday
Ramadan is a Holy Month for all followers of the Islam religion. During this time, Muslims take time to pray and fast.
Dress and behaviour should be modest, particularly during the month of Ramadan when it is disrespectful to smoke, drink or eat in public between sunrise and sunset. However it is in fact possible to find public areas where you can eat and drink in most non Muslim catering establishments.
UAE Nationals wear their traditional clothing e.g. Abaya, a long flowing black gown worn by female Emiratis and the Kandura which is a long, white cloak worn by male Emiratis.
When coming to the UAE, it is always better to dress conservatively. As in the UK men will tend to wear suits in the office environment but shirts and trousers are also acceptable.
Females should dress as they would in an office in the UK but make an effort not to wear figure hugging clothes or anything that reveals the tops of your arms; short skirts are definitely not acceptable in the work environment.
Alcohol is available in Dubai and Abu Dhabi but only mostly in hotels which are licensed to sell and serve alcohol.
You will require a permit (liquor license) that allows you to buy alcohol; this may be obtained by filling in an application form and submitting supporting documents e.g. salary certificate, housing contract, no objection letter from your employer, passport and visa copies, passport photos and an application fee. Important points to remember:
- The legal drinking age is over 21 it is illegal to offer alcohol to anyone who is younger.
- Alcohol will not be served during official mourning periods and in some cases during major religious festivals.
- Do not be tempted to drive if you have had any alcohol at all, there is zero tolerance to drunk driving. Penalties can range from large fines to imprisonment and even deportation.
- It is illegal to drink in the street or in public most establishments where they serve alcohol will provide an area where you can drink out of view of other customers.
|Common Arabic Phrases Arabic phrase
|Peace be up on you
|The common reply is Wa Alaikum assalaam (and peace be upon you)
|The common reply is Marhabteen (hello or hi)
|Sabah al khair
|The reply is Sabah al noor
|Masal al khair
|Good afternoon/ evening
|The reply is Masah al noor
|Shukran or Mushkoor
|The reply is Aafwaan (you are welcome)
|How are you?
|The usual reply could be Al hamdu Iillah (praise be to Allah) or Ana bikhayr, shukran (I am fine, thank you)
|Where are you?
|What is your news?
|What is your name?
|Ismi Petrus (My name is Petrus)
|Do you speak English?
|Atakullum inglieezi ( I speak English)
|Do you know Arabic?
|Ana la atakellem al arabi (I don’t speak Arabic)
|Fi aman allah or Maasalaamah (Goodbye)
|If Allah wishes
|This phrase is used in reference to a future, since all things are at Allah’s will
|What is this?
|See you tomorrow
|It is normal
|Bring me some tea
|Call me / talk to me
|I don’t know
|I want to know
|Can I help you?