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INTRODUCING UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

One of the world’s biggest (and most beautiful) mosques. The tallest skyscraper ever built. The largest sand desert on the planet. With so many feathers in its cap, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) instantly impresses. Discover traditional culture in the bustling souks and labyrinthine old quarters of gleaming modern cities. Then marvel at the sheer ambition that’s gone into creating some of the most daring buildings and exclusive luxury hotels you’ll ever see. 

Ancient deserts and futuristic cities under endless blue skies.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

  • Capital city: Abu Dhabi.
  • Currency: UAE Dirham (in notes of AED5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1,000).
  • Cuisine: Drawn from Middle Eastern and Asian traditions, with a focus on lamb, rice and seafood. Traditional dishes include stews rich in fragrant spices. Dubai, with its global population, is renowned for the wide variety of different cuisines on offer.
  • Tipping etiquette: Not expected, but tipping roughly 10% for good service is common. Restaurants may automatically add a service charge so check your bill first.
  • Saying hello: Emirati are famously polite. You may be greeted with “salaam aleikum” (“peace be upon you”), to which you would reply “aleikum assalaam” (“and on you peace”). Men commonly greet each other with a light handshake, women with a kiss on the cheek. 

WHEN TO GO

The weather in UAE ranges from warm to very hot. November to March is cooler however, so perfect for exploring the desert. It’s also when most major festivals and sports events happen. Spring and October bring ideal beach weather. June to September can be incredibly hot and humid, so you’ll rarely want to leave air-conditioned hotels and shopping malls. It’s also worth checking when Ramadan will fall. Many hotels cater for non-Muslim guests, but most local restaurants and cafés will close during daylight hours.

Don’t be put off visiting during Ramadan. While daily life slows, sundown sees people gather in iftar tents to eat and socialise – visitors welcome.

Top tip from SLH