UAE

While four-fifths of the country is desert, the UAE is a country of contrasting landscapes, from awe-inspiring sand dunes to rich oases, precipitous rocky mountains to fertile plains. One of the world’s fastest growing tourist destinations, you’ll find some of the world’s most luxurious hotels, amazing shopping, delectable cuisine and traditional culture all within the main cities of Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

When to Visit

The Arabian Peninsula is best visited between November and March, when the temperatures are milder. Between April and October the desert temperatures can be oppressive.

Highlights

SHEIKH ZAYED GRAND MOSQUE As a testament to its founder, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque sits majestically at the entrance to Abu Dhabi City island. Not only is the mosque an important place of worship, it is also a work of architectural art.

SHOPPING IN DUBAI Dubai is renowned as a shopping mecca and each mall is an experience in itself. Haute couture and the latest gadgets sit alongside traditional souks, where gold, spices and jewellery are traded with the spirit of the past.

ARABIAN WILDLIFE PARK Taking up approximately half of Sir Bani Yas Island, Abu Dhabi’s Arabian Wildlife Park is home to more than 10,000 free roaming animals including Arabian oryx, gazelles, giraffes, hyenas and cheetahs. Decades of conservation work and investment went into making this authentic environment.

HERITAGE AND DIVING VILLAGE Though there is no city in the world more modern than Dubai, the Heritage and Diving Village near the mouth of Dubai Creek is living testimony to its past. A traditional heritage village, Dubai's architectural and cultural heritage is showcased here.

DESERT DREAMING An overnight safari will make you feel like you’re part of Arabia’s many fables. Enjoy Arabic feasts under a starry sky and sleep in a tented camp in the desert.

ATOP THE UAE The best views of the UAE are from above. See Dubai from the 124th floor of Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world; The Observation Deck at 300 is the highest vantage point in Abu Dhabi with views across the city and Arabian Gulf.

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Useful Information

Health

The following information is intended as a guide only and in no way should it be used as a substitute for professional medical advice relative to a travellers individual needs and vaccination history. No guarantee is made as to its accuracy or thoroughness. For further information, please contact The Travel Doctor on (+64) 9 373 3531.

Vaccination against Hepatitis A is recommended for travellers to the UAE. Depending on a travellers itinerary and activities, vaccination against Hepatitis B and Typhoid may also be considered. All travellers should be up-to-date with their routine "background" vaccinations. 

Please consult a medical practitioner or contact The Travel Doctor for your specific risk to these preventable diseases and the appropriate avoidance measures. New Zealanders travelling to Jordan should ensure that they have adequate travel insurance to cover the length of their stay. Medications that are legal in New Zealand may be illegal in other countries. 

Electricity

Electrical Plug Type: British (European in some areas)

Voltage: 220-240 volts (same as New Zealand)

Modem Plug: British and American 

Communications

Country Code for UAE: 971

Offical Travel Advice: Visit www.safetravel.govt.nz

Emergency Services: 999 Ambulance: 998 Fire: 997 The number 999 can be called from any telephone. The operator will speak English. Describe the nature of the emergency and follow instructions given.

Shopping

Normal shopping hours are from 9am to 1pm and 4pm to 9pm. However, many shops, particularly in Dubai and Abu Dhabi stay open all day. Most shopping centres open from 10am to 10pm – 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 Juma (Friday) prayers from 11.30am to 1.30pm. All shops are required to close at prayer times in Ras al-Khaimah.

Tipping

Tipping is not expected, but is commonly practised in the UAE. Gratuities to hotel and restaurant staff are at your discretion. If you are very happy with the service, it is not expected but common to leave a tip on top of the already included (16%) fees & service charges. If these charges are not included, then you may like to add a 10-15% tip to the total bill.

Getting Around

Most tourists visiting the UAE on package trips will base themselves at one or more hotels in the UAE, using inexpensive taxis for sightseeing and shopping, and local tour companies for more extended trips. The Metro in Dubai is also an excellent way of getting around that city. The road network is excellent and there are intriguing places to visit far from the cosmopolitan cities.

Language

Arabic is the official language, but English is widely used as a second language.

Visas

New Zealand passport holders can obtain a 30 day tourist visa on arrival at the airport, free of charge. Applicants must hold a passport that is valid for 3 months or if applying on arrival, the passport must be valid for 6 months at least. 

Customs

An Islamic greeting (al-salam alaykom) is the most appropriate, and men follow this with a quick nose-to-nose touch while shaking hands. Women greet each other by kissing several times on both cheeks. Men normally do not shake hands with women in public. It is customary to ask about the health of a person and his or her family several times before beginning conversation. Refreshments usually are served before serious matters are discussed. Respect and courtesy are shown to elders, and in their presence young men are expected to listen more and speak less. Gender segregation is still evident in some social settings. Men are entertained in majlis (large living rooms, often with a separate entrance), while women entertain friends in the home. It is customary to take off one's shoes before entering a private house. Emiratis stand close to each other when interacting. It is acceptable for men or women to hold hands. The presence of many ethnic groups has led Emiratis to be tolerant of other social customs, yet they remain conscious of their own customs as markers of cultural identity.

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