The United Arab Emirates (UAE) quickly rose to prominence as a top vacation destination within the early 21st century. The seven Emirates combined to earn $18.7 billion in travel and tourism revenue in 2016. 

The World Travel and Tourism Council projects this revenue to increase five percent each year between 2017 to 2027, earning $31.6 billion in tourism money by that year. For the natural wonderland of the Emirate Ras Al Khaimah, tourism is expected to triple within a decade, reaching three million annual visitors by 2025.

With the millions of tourists flooding the United Arab Emirates each year, knowing how to respectfully navigate this nation is important. If you’re thinking of traveling in the UAE, we have compiled a list of practical tips and etiquette reminders to set you up for a memorable visit.

Know Your Emirates

The United Arab Emirates gets its name from the seven Emirates, which act like states or provinces. These Emirates are Sharjah, Umm Al Quwain, Ajman, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, Dubai, and the capital city of Abu Dhabi. This nation lies at the east end of the Arabian Peninsula, sharing a border with Saudi Arabia and Oman. 

The Emirates of Abu Dhabi and Dubai contain most of the tourist attractions and population of the United Arab Emirates. Landmarks like the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, and cultural institutions like The Louvre Abu Dhabi reside here.

Sharjah offers many notable educational institutions, making this Emirate a flourishing area for technology and engineering. Ajman stands as the smallest Emirate, offering a charming and traditional atmosphere. Umm Al Quwain and Fujairah are known for their agricultural power and bustling seaports.

Ras Al Khaimah is one of the fastest-rising Emirates within the UAE. This exciting location offers a deep understanding of the historical journey of this part of the world. Explore natural wonders like Jebel Jais, the highest mountain peak in the UAE, as well as: 

  • Terracotta-hued sand dunes
  • 64-kilometre coastline 
  • Mangrove forests
  • Mountain ranges including the UAE’s highest mountain peak Jebel Jais

Visit attractions like the world’s longest zipline Jais Flight atop Jebel Jais for an adrenaline-packed afternoon or the National Museum of  Ras Al Khaimah to better understand the history of this Emirate. Relics from the Bronze Age and ancient Chinese pottery displayed in the National Museum of Ras Al Khaimah show the prominence and bustling trade of this ancient Mesopotamian culture.

Practice Proper UAE Etiquette

The United Arab Emirates is located within the Middle East and follows Muslim traditions. Therefore it is essential to follow the traditions and customs of this country, not only to remain respectful but also to avoid unnecessary confusion or consequences during your stay.

Religious Customs

Followers of Islam hold a few beliefs which influence the daily experience of visiting the UAE. If you are visiting a mosque or holy building, men must wear pants and women must cover their heads with a scarf. While items like a traditional burqa are not required, visitors to the UAE are expected to maintain reasonable modesty in their appearance.

Visitors to the UAE must not practice excessive public displays of affection. Holding hands in public is fine, but modest behavior is the tradition. 

Strict licensing requirements dictate the sale of alcohol, so don’t expect to be offered wine at any restaurant you visit. Public intoxication is strictly outlawed in the United Arab Emirates.

Tipping

In some locations around the world, offering a tip or gratuity in restaurants and hotels is considered unnecessary or even offensive. However, it is welcome to tip hospitality workers within the United Arab Emirates. Because tourism is such an important industry, tipping for excellent service reflects a custom similar to the United States.

Bring Correct Travel Documents

For the latest visa and passport requirements please consult your country’s website for information on traveling to the UAE. Alternatively the Emirates airlines website has an easy to use tool to determine the most up to date visa and passport information for your country https://www.emirates.com/us/english/before-you-fly/visa-passport-information/

Remember the Heat

The United Arab Emirates is located in the desert. Temperatures soar in the summer, with sustained temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit throughout April to September. The heat is so oppressive, that being a pedestrian within the UAE is not recommended. If visiting during the summer months consider traveling via taxi or public transportation to avoid heat exhaustion.

We recommend visiting the UAE between November to February. These winter months provide a welcome respite from the desert heat, and the evenings can even feel chilly. Locations like Dubai provide sensational celebrations for Western holidays, like Christmas and the new year. 

Because this location offers a limited time frame for pleasant travel weather, the winter months are crowded within the UAE. Consider visiting Emirates off the beaten path, like Ras Al Khaimah, for a lower-traffic experience overflowing with UAE charm. 

Conclusion

There is nowhere on Earth like the nations of the United Arab Emirates. From jaw-dropping modern architecture and unbeatable shopping in Dubai to stunning landscapes you can only find in Ras Al Khaimah, a visit to the UAE is sure to be memorable.

 

Be sure to conduct extensive research before visiting this unique wonderland to avoid any uncomfortable or potentially illegal activity. Respecting and participating in the culture of the UAE will make your visit even more rewarding.

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