Unlocking the Wonders: Essential UAE Travel Tips for First-Time Visitors

UAE travel tips for visitors


When traveling to the Emirates for the first time, you may be surprised by all that there is to see and do. The UAE has so much going on, from incredible museums and art galleries to delicious street food markets. From desert safaris in Dubai and Abu Dhabi to relaxing beach vacations in Ras Al Khaimah or Fujairah, there’s something for everyone!

Book your flights as soon as possible:

The sooner you book, the more likely it is that you’ll get a good deal on flights. Plus, if you wait until the last minute and there are no seats left on any of the airlines flying from your city, then your trip will be ruined! You should also book Dubai attraction tickets in advance too! Because you never know, on reaching there what hurdles you would face! It’s best to get ready beforehand! 

Plan ahead for Ramadan, the holiest month 

Ramadan is the holiest month in usually falls between May and June. During this period, fast from sunrise to sunset–a total of 30 days–and refrain from eating or drinking during that time. It’s important to note that public observance may vary depending on your location in the UAE.

During Ramadan, you might find that shops are open later than usual (some even stay open until midnight), but restaurants will be closed before sunset; hotels might serve meals at unusual times; some banks won’t process transactions after midday; and even places like malls can have different operating hours during this time.

Check out the great museums and art galleries of Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah:

If you’re a history buff, it’s worth checking out Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Built on a massive scale and with ornate architecture that rivals the Taj Mahal, this mosque is one of the most significant landmarks in the UAE. It’s also one of several places where can practice their faith freely without fear or oppression.

If art museums are more your thing, then Sharjah has plenty of options for you as well! The National Museum of UAE History offers visitors an interactive look at how this country was formed through artifacts like old coins and photographs from its early days; meanwhile Al Qasimi Fort houses some pretty spectacular pieces from Dubai Emirate’s past–including weapons used during battles against invaders from Persia (modern-day Iran).

Look into a desert safari in Dubai, Abu Dhabi or other emirates.

If you’re visiting Dubai, Abu Dhabi or any other emirate for the first time, a desert safari should be on your list of things to do. These tours give visitors an opportunity to see what makes these locations so special: breathtaking landscapes and wildlife that can only be found in the desert environment. If you’re looking for something extra special, try renting a 4×4 vehicle and driving through some of the most remote parts of these countries by yourself!

Learn some Emirati phrases before you go.

The UAE’s culture is unique, and its language can be difficult to understand. Here are some phrases that will help you get by:

  • “Mabruk” (“Congratulations”) – This word is used when someone has just given birth, graduated from university or landed a job. It’s also used when two people are engaged or married. If a woman offers you mabruk on behalf of herself or someone else, it means she wishes you good luck with whatever it is that you’re doing!
  • “Takbir al-Ihram” (“Prayer phrase”) – Before entering into prayer, recite Takbir al-Ihram while raising both hands up to shoulder level with palms facing outwards then bringing them down again so the forefingers touch their thumbs at chest level (this action symbolizes submission).

Consider renting a car to explore the country’s natural beauty more easily:

If you’re looking to explore the beauty of Abu Dhabi and Dubai, consider renting a car. You’ll have more freedom than if you were to rely on public transportation, and it can be less expensive than taking taxis everywhere.

As with any other country, there are laws that apply specifically in the UAE:

  • Seatbelts must be worn at all times while driving or riding as a passenger in any vehicle.
  • All passengers should use seatbelts when they’re available (even if they aren’t using them). Drivers who fail to do so may get fined or even lose their license!

The Basics:

  • You can’t go wrong with the Dubai Mall. The largest mall in the world, this indoor complex has shops and restaurants galore, as well as a huge aquarium and an ice rink. It’s also home to an Olympic-size skating rink and a theme park called Dubai Parks & Resorts which includes Legoland, Bollywood Parks and Motiongate Dubai.
  • If you want to see some of the world’s most famous buildings without leaving town, head for the Sheikh Zayed Road Museum District: here you’ll find Burj Khalifa (tallest building in the world), Emirates Towers (tallest hotel) and Souk Al Bahar (Arabian markets).
  • For shopping on a budget check out Deira City Centre or Karama Shopping Centre–both are great places to pick up souvenirs or everyday items like clothes or electronics at lower prices than elsewhere in Dubai.

Visas and Passports:

The UAE is a member of the Schengen Agreement, which means that citizens of UAE are able to travel freely within the 26 countries that are part of this agreement. The visa requirements for each country vary depending on your nationality and purpose of travel but you can check out more information here. It’s important to note that if you’re planning on staying in Dubai for longer than 30 days then it’s recommended that you apply for a residence permit (also referred as an Iqama).

If you plan on traveling frequently between different countries within Europe or Asia then getting an e-visa might be better than getting multiple visas because they are easier to obtain and cheaper too! 


  • Taxes are not included in the prices of products and services.
  • Restaurants, hotels, taxis and other businesses will add a 10% service charge to bills. This is sometimes also known as a “goodwill fee”.
  • Hotels will often add an extra 5% tax on top of that for ‘room occupancy’. This means you’ll pay an extra 5% if you stay in a hotel room.
  • Alcoholic beverages are taxed at 100%, so make sure you ask for the price before ordering your drink!


The UAE is a cashless society. Even though you can use credit cards at most places, we recommend you bring enough cash to last your entire stay. If you want to withdraw money from an ATM, make sure that the card reader has an EMV chip (the little square on the front). Otherwise, it will not work in UAE ATMs or point-of-sale machines.

If you’re flying into Dubai International Airport and plan on taking public transit or hiring an Uber/taxi straightaway, consider getting some dirhams beforehand so that there aren’t any delays when paying fares with cash later on.

What to pack:

  • Pack your sunscreen and bug spray. The UAE is hot and humid, so make sure to pack plenty of sunscreen–it’s easy to forget how much sun you need when it’s 100 degrees outside! Bugs can be a problem as well, especially if you’re staying near the coast or in rural areas (like Dubai). If this is your first time visiting the UAE, it may be worth bringing bug repellent just in case.
  • Pack light clothing that covers up most of your skin (especially arms). While Westerners are used to wearing shorts or miniskirts in public places like malls and grocery stores, Emiratis tend toward longer dresses for women as well as long pants for men–and they won’t appreciate seeing foreigners wearing revealing clothes either! It’s best not to take any chances: bring some long-sleeved shirts that cover everything below the neckline; plus, skirts or dresses that go below knee length are best too since they’ll keep everyone happy while still looking fashionable enough for most occasions.

Arabic food and culture:

One of the best ways to experience the UAE’s culture is through its cuisine. Traditional Arabic foods include dates, yogurt and kebab wraps. You can find these dishes at most restaurants in Dubai or Abu Dhabi, but if you want to try something more authentic, look for an Emirati restaurant near your hotel that serves local specialties like shorba (a soup made with meat or vegetables). But don’t get too excited about eating traditional cuisine — many restaurants serve Westernized versions of local dishes as well!

Dress appropriately:

  • Don’t wear shorts or sleeveless tops in public.
  • Cover your head with a scarf or hat if you are a woman, as this is expected of all women in the UAE.  It’s also customary for men to wear long pants when visiting religious sites like mosques and churches; shorts are not allowed here either!

Respect the faith:

  • Respect the faith. The UAE is an country, so be respectful of all religions when you visit.
  • Dress modestly and cover your arms and legs when in public places such as malls or restaurants. You can still wear shorts on the beach but they should be long enough that they cover your knees when standing up straight (no shorter than mid-thigh).
  • Women may not wear clothing that reveals their cleavage or backsides in public places like shopping malls or restaurants unless they’re at a beach resort where casual dress code applies. Men should wear shirts with sleeves covering their biceps if possible; short-sleeved shirts are fine for men who aren’t tanning themselves on beaches because it gets hot here!

Learn the language:

One of the best ways to immerse yourself in a new culture is to learn the local language. While it may seem like a daunting task, you’ll be surprised at how quickly you can pick up on words and phrases when you’re out exploring the city. There are plenty of resources available to help you get started–from apps that teach Arabic vocabulary, to websites that offer free lessons and games.

Don’t eat or drink in public:

The UAE is a country, and it’s important to respect that when you’re visiting. Drinking alcohol is prohibited in public places, so don’t try to sneak any drinks into your hotel room. There are plenty of opportunities for shopping during your trip; however, some things may not be available due to religious restrictions: no pork products will be sold anywhere; alcohol cannot be purchased by; businesses are closed during prayer times five times per day; some shops close early due to Ramadan observance (the month-long period when all from sunrise until sunset).

See the beach but don’t swim there:

Beach etiquette is a thing. If you’re at the beach, it’s common courtesy to cover up or wear swimwear appropriate for the location. This is especially true if you’re a woman and even more so if you’re alone.

The UAE is known for its beautiful beaches–but don’t make the mistake of thinking that means it’s okay to swim there. The country has strict laws against public nudity (even on its own beaches!), so if you want to go for a dip in the ocean, find somewhere else besides one of these public spaces:

Be prepared for summer temperatures.

Summer temperatures can be extreme, with the average high in June reaching 42C (107F). The best time to visit is between October and April, when temperatures hover around 30C (86F) and humidity levels are low.

Remember that alcohol is prohibited in public areas across the UAE.

Remember that alcohol is prohibited in public areas across the UAE.

If you’re planning on visiting Dubai and Abu Dhabi, it’s important to note that alcohol is illegal throughout the country. While there are exceptions for hotels and licensed restaurants (which are few), you cannot drink in public areas such as beaches or parks–and even if your hotel has a bar or restaurant that serves drinks with alcohol, they must be consumed inside of those locations only. This means no shots at midnight by the pool!


The UAE is a great place to visit, but there are some things you should know before going. These tips will help you get the most out of your trip!