Dubai and visas
United Arab Emirates offers the option for citizens of the European Union (EU) to travel there and stay without a visa – stay within 90 days. For citizens from another country you can see visa rules here.
Conditions: Passport min. 6 months from date of expiration (at the moment citizens enter the country). You will be allowed to stay for 90 days (visa on arrival), at the airport you will get a stamp in your passport. You can stay for a maximum of 90 days in a row in the country.
Dubai and the time shift
What time it will be once you arrive in Dubai? In the UAE there is no winter and summer time. Just add 3 hours to our winter time or 2 hours to our summer time (for many of EU country’s).
Beware, some devices automatically set the time for you, so do not waste your time trying to set them up. To me 2 or 3 hours are pretty much fine, the problem starts at 6 and more. I believe that such a short time shift will not cause you problems, in any way.
Dubai and the weather – where to spend your holidays?
There are those who like enormously hot weather, but for most of us it will be probably better to go somewhere, where the temperature is around 40 ° C and where you can hide from a direct sunlight. At least in the summer months.
Weather in Dubai in December, January and February
Out of direct sunlight the temperature stays around 20 °C, but it is the average temperature throughout the day, that includes even the night time, and it is mostly affected by the temperature conditions around 3 AM. The reality is that in December you swim in the sea, and if you are not completely unlucky, you will experience temperatures of 30 °C. At Christmas I was in Dubai a couple of times, and I remember myself bathing and spending the days at a temperature of 27-30 °C.
But you need to think about future a little bit. Let us say you arrive at beach around 11 AM and will be there until 5-6 PM, the temperature will be a bit lower, so do not forget some extra clothes. Overall sea temperature will be somewhere around 25 °C at this time. In January, February and March the sea temperature is around 21-23 °C. By those months the time for sea-bathing is ended and so it is the right time to go for a bath in a hotel swimming pool. But in December you can still enjoy yourself in a relatively warm sea.
Weather in Dubai March, April and November
Temperatures slightly below 30 °C, late April and early November often offers temperatures slightly above 30 °C.
Weather in Dubai in May, June, September and October
Temperatures slightly above 30 °C (summer temperature), the sea around 28-30 °C.
Weather in Dubai in July and August
Temperatures often exceed 40 °C out of the sunlight, everything is hot, from June to September the sea is over 30 °C. So it will not cool you down and for many people the beach will be too hot in general. Without a proper protection for your legs, the sea cannot be reached as the sand is really hot.
Dubai – Health and Vaccination
You do not need any special vaccinations in order to head for the Dubai or the Emirates. A lot of sites recommend vaccination for typhoid, hepatitis A and hepatitis B, which is, by the way, recommended for almost any trip.
Especially Dubai + other centers in the Emirates are sometimes so incredibly clean, you could serve food right on the sidewalk. Someone is always on the road, cleaning it. On public toilets is often a person who, cleans the whole thing after every single use. Sometimes it might strike you as an extreme, but a very good one after all. Dubai is a great place for a short holiday mostly because it is safe, very clean and if you pick a direct flight it is relatively close. Risks are therefore minimal. The only risk is that after you make your return, your country will not be clean enough for you anymore.
However there is a danger connected with the local deserts, the street food, and the remote places. Especially in other parts of Emirates. In Dubai you do not need to worry about anything. It has to be said that millions of people from all around the world are heading for Dubai every year, and so there is a risk after all and that is illnesses, someone could bring some illnesses from his home country right to you.
In any case do not forget to get insurance! Health care is very expensive in Dubai! On the other hand, if you get a terrible toothache, you can find clinics on the Internet with a price list and some little emergency treatment will not ruin you. But, of course, there are local pharmacies. The medicine is there more expensive than most thing.
Dubai – telephone and internet
Phoning – roaming is very expensive. The price per minute is almost 12 AED, the roaming data are not cheaper and the price of SMS is around 2 AED. I occasionally use Vodafone package that costs 34 AED and allows me to call or send messages whoever I want and for 24 hours + you get free 100MB of internet data. I always activate it at the beginning and the end of the holiday so I could inform my family, make important phone calls, etc. I activate it around lunch time and thanks to that I can call until the next noon.
Local SIM cards – You will need a passport and pay around 50 AED to purchase a SIM card. But sometimes it is possible to get a free SIM (in case of the company’s sale, or something similar) but let’s count with 50 AED instead. Calling to the EU using roaming will not pay off, so get some kind of a package instead.
WIFI – in Dubai you will get WIFI signal on every corner, even some beaches have WIFI and airports, malls have WIFI too. It is easy to get on the internet from anywhere. Sometimes you need to enter a phone number or e-mail and confirm the code that will be send there. Some WIFIs in public places require a local phone number to be entered in order to let you browse you favorite pages.
Calling via the internet – I do not recommend this option – Maybe your thinking is luring you to call somebody using Skype or other services where the costs are very low, but I need to disappoint you there. Some WIFIs are blocking such communication and when the WIFI does not, you put yourself at risk of getting a fine. In particular, I do not recommend VPNs and other “bypassing” services. Believe me that the UAE monitors everything very well, you may not be happy about it, but it must be added that the UAE is one of the safest countries ever in this direction. Even though it is in a “problematic region” and it employs millions of people from Pakistan, India, etc. A lot of people do not care about it much from what I know, but sometimes someone gets caught, gets the highest fine and serves as a perfect example for others. So respect the law and do not try to bypass anything. You can chat over social networks, send SMS messages, record videos for your loved ones and upload them to Youtube, etc.
Dubai and the security situation
I always feel very safe in Dubai. UAE is a country where local people are much fewer than immigrants. The local people are represented by only around 10% of population! Dominate people from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Africa countries, etc. Yet, UAE is one of the safest countries in the world. There are cameras on every corner, and the internet is also monitored. There are up to 4 cameras installed in local taxis. Just so you could imagine – I had a mobile phone and my wallet on a table on a beach while I went swimming and I was not afraid at all that someone would take it. It is also caused by high penalties for stealing. So enjoy the safest country ever, if you do not go too deep in the desert or go to some really remote place you will feel very safe.
Emirates are very aware of that the tourism they are aiming for requires safety, cleanliness and ample opportunity and they do a really good job overseeing that.
Dubai and what NOT to do
You certainly do not have to worry and overthink anything, just use a bit of common sense and behave well.
For example, you should not walk in swimming suit in public. Public beaches are there for such purposes. And forget about sunbathing with no bra. Happened to me – I went from a beach through a street to a cafe to buy something. In 2 minutes there was a policeman by me and reminded me that I was no longer on the beach and that I should take my shirt on. So I went for my shirt, apologized and everything was OK. Just remember, when you visit a mosque, you have to hide your hair, not have exposed legs, and it is a custom to have longer trousers.
Do not throw cigarette butt on the street = fines.
You can only smoke with ashtrays nearby that are on every corner and by all trash bins.
Internet – do not use internet calls, do not open erotic and casino sites. And do not use VPN, TOR and other “bypassing” matters.
Dubai and electrical outlets
UAE use G-3 outlets of rectangular shape. I recommend that you buy an adapter. The adapter can be bought even at the local market or supermarket. Ideally, with 2 USB ports, so you can charge more devices at once.
Some hotels provide an adapter or offer USB ports but I strongly recommend the usage of adapters. I bought a universal adapter for about 34 AED, which I can use everywhere in the world, best investment ever.
Dubai – how to communicate
Simply, in English. Almost 95% of the time there, you will be talking to people from other countries who work there (in hotels, restaurants, shops …), almost no local citizens work there. These working ones can speak English for sure. I’ve heard that they need to go through a test to get work there, but even so, count with the fact they are going to be using more basic English.
Let me give you an example: you sit in a cafe and say “Hello, may I have a cup of coffee with milk, no sugar and one strawberry tart?” Believe me when I say, that this is quite hard English for them. Or “Hello, may I ask you, is it better to go via subway or via taxi if I want to get to location X?” Use simple English like: Hello, coffee, milk, sugar. Or “Hello how to get there?. What is better, metro or taxi?” Such a global English without any unnecessary words, grammatical phrases, etc. I also had a problem with ordering more than one different things. Something with ice, something without it… It did not go quite well. Speak plainly and use simple phrases and do not try to look like an American. Many workers know the fundamentals of English that are good enough for anything, but grammar and complex phrases are not something they would know. After all, if you do not know much of the English you can at least train and get to know some new words. Just talk and see what happens.
Dubai – money, ATMs and currency exchange
United Arab Emirates use Arabic Dirhams (AED) as a currency. Always find out what the exchange rate is before departure.
Dirhams can also be bought in many exchange offices, I think it is unnecessary, but if you want to be sure, get 200 AED. That will be enough for a taxi from airport to hotel, coffee, basic food, etc. Some hotels, if you book over the internet, want you to pay right when you arrive. Beware of it, you may not have the money needed and that would mean a problem, had one on my own.
ATMs and payment cards
ATMs are almost everywhere. The only thing to worry about is the fee charged when you withdraw money from ATM, I think it is about 20 AED + fees of your bank + your bank’s rates. It’s not the cheapest option, but it’s comfortable. Of course, you can pay in most places by credit card incl. taxi.
They are in a lot of places and so far I have found none that would try to steal from me (just like the exchange offices in our tourist destinations do – hidden fees, double courses, etc.), yet the differences in courses are there- I recommend you to check 3 or more exchange offices and see the bank’s offer before you buy.
How to do I solve the money situation:
I always travel with at least 2 credit cards. The first one goes into a safe in hotel and the second one I carry with me. I take some dollars that can be bought for good prices in our country and there is also a small difference between buying / selling price. Dollars are good for the UAE and can be easily exchanged for local currency, just like the euro, and it’s better than buying a larger volume of Dirhams in my country. All the less widely used currencies exchange offices sell at a very disadvantageous price. And so, in this case, the euro / dollars are the most profitable ones.