May 16, 2012

Visiting Dubai for the first time

Located in the Middle East on the Arabian Gulf, Dubai is one of the seven emirates; Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm Al Quwain – and shares borders with Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and the Sultanate of Oman. Dubai is the largest and most populated emirate and seems to be the new babe on the block for vacations and business. Collectively known as the UAE, Dubai is the most popular place to visit. Hot, with an arid desert heat, and in the cooler months, November to March the temperatures are a comfortable twenty degrees. The planes getting you back and forth are Emirates Airlines, a luxury in itself.

Consumption of alcohol Dubai is one of the most liberal emirates in the Middle East, but it is still a Muslim country and there are certain observances to take cognizance of. The first thing you will be made aware of is that alcohol cannot be purchased in supermarkets unless you have a license and can only be purchased at a duty free shop – four bottles only – on your way into the country. Alcohol cannot be consumed on the street and there is zero tolerance if you are caught, especially if you are drinking and driving. On certain holidays and for mourning no alcohol will be allowed.

Dress code in Dubai Bikinis and swimwear are allowed on the street but you will be well advised to cover up on the street. Topless bathing, nudity, and thongs are regarded as offensive to families on the beach. You don’t have to wear a robe, but you should take care not to show your bosoms and your legs; in another country you should follow the rules.

Drugs and medication There is zero tolerance if you are caught with any drugs. If you are carrying Tylenol because the doctor prescribed it, it would serve you well to carry a letter from the doctor stating you are on these medications. Do not carry more than a three month supply of medications you need. Codeine in medicine or drugs is also restricted.

Behavior Act modestly in Dubai and do not have public displays of affection. Same sex couples are not permitted in any part of the UAE. Unwed couples should not sleep in the same room.

Hospitals and medication Hospitals are well-equipped and have all the modern technology and the best specialists, but make sure you are properly covered with insurance.

Miscellaneous Don’t even think of bringing firearms and religious propaganda into the country, or even fruit and vegetables from cholera infected areas. Also make sure you understand the visa requirements to enter the country. Local currency is the UAE Dirham. Do NOT change money on the street. Dubai has many banks.

Driving If your visit is for less than two weeks, use taxis instead of driving a car. If you have an international driver’s license you can drive. Remember that penalties are strict in Dubai and can range from fines to imprisonment which can include a lashing. Respect local laws.

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