Elegantly sprawled along the Persian Gulf, the United Arab Emirates is known for enormous deserts and the beautiful city of Dubai. Also known as the UAE or simply Emirates, this country may be small geographically but it is rich in culture and activities for any sort of traveler. Explore vast deserts, stand-out cities, world-class restaurants or indulge in the luxuries of this unique country.

Fast Facts:

  • Currency: Emirati Dirham (UAD)
  • Must-See Landmark: Burj Khalifa in Dubai
  • Must-Try Food: Lamb Ouzi
  • Most Common Language: Arabic
  • Emergency Services Telephone Number: 999

Traveling During COVID-19

As countries reopen for international travel, rules and requirements may change quickly. We recommend consulting the official regulations on COVID-19 in the UAE before you travel to ensure that you can safely travel and meet the country's safety requirements. COVID-19 precautions for the UAE can help you decide whether you feel safe and are able to travel in this difficult time.

If you do decide to travel, we recommend investing in travel and trip insurance plans. Trip Insurance plans can help reimburse a percentage of your pre-paid travel expenses if your trip is canceled, postponed or interrupted. Travel Medical Insurance can help cover healthcare costs from injuries and illnesses, including COVID-19, while abroad.

Travel Insurance Plans for the UAE

With a wide range of plans on the market, it may be difficult to select a plan. To find the plan that's best for you, first assess your health then take a look at your travel plans. From there, you can compare plans side by side with our comparison tool. For travelers with pre-existing conditions, senior travelers and those looking for more complete coverage, a comprehensive plan is the best option. If you are looking for basic coverage at an affordable price, a limited plan may be the way to go.

Visas and Documentation

No advance visa arrangements are required for citizens of countries including the U.S., Australia, China, Canada and Japan who are staying for 30 days or less. For residents of the Schengen area, and much of Latin America, no visas are required for stays of 90 days or less. You can also learn more in-depth information about visa and entry requirements .

Weather and What to Pack

The UAE's desert climate means that travelers can expect winter months to be pleasantly warm and summer months to be incredibly hot. Locals generally plan to be indoors during the hotter temperatures of the day and white vehicles are prefered for their naturally sun-reflecting color. With an average of only 13 rainy days a year, you are unlikely to need raincoats or umbrellas while in the UAE.

Light jackets can be helpful in the evenings and scarfs are often used to shelter against the wind. Most of your packing however, can be centered around light-wieght warm-weather clothing. Outside of resort areas, women are discouraged from wearing short skirts and shorts.

Common Words and Phrases in Spanish

  • Yes: Naäam [nahm]
  • No: Laa [leh]
  • Please: Min Fadhlik [min fahd-lahk]
  • Thank You: Shukran [shook-rahn]
  • Hello: Marhabaan [mar-huh-buh]
  • Goodbye: Wadaeaan [wah-dah]

Etiquette and Cultural Norms

The most polite way to greet new people in the UAE is with a soft handshake, as firm handshakes are seen as a sign of aggression and considered rude. Men should not make physical contact with an unknown woman and only shake her hand if she initiates the handshake.

Laws and etiquette can be strict in the UAE, but it is very important for the safety of your trip and enjoyment of your time in the UAE that you adhere to local rules of dress and behavior. Discretion and dressing modestly are important in the UAE due to the predominantly Muslim population

Tourists should be aware that the following are forbidden and can have extreme punishments in the UAE:

  • Proselytizing a religious belief
  • Criticizing Islam
  • Possessing Drugs
  • Stealing
  • Having homosexual relations (although there is a LGBT+ underground community)
  • Sexuality before marriage
  • Posessing or producing pornography
  • Taking pictures of people without their permission
  • Buying or consuming alcohol on religious holidays

Public displays of affection are also frowned upon. That stated, all religions are protected under the country's constitution. Alcohol is often available at bars, hotels and resorts but you may need a special license to buy it from a liquor store.

Dress codes are more relaxed in the large city of Dubai, but in general it is advised to dress modestly, not showing much skin, or any depending on where you are in the country. Wearing a veil over the head and hair may be advisable or required for women in certain parts of the country.

If doing business in the UAE, be sure to read up on the proper etiquette beforehand as there are many expectations about punctuality and the way that business meetings proceed.

Popular Destinations

  1. Dubai: UAE's most populous city boasts the world's largest shopping mall, sandy beaches and much more, including Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest freestanding human-made structure. A trip to the observation deck and tea in The Lounge, the highest lounge in the world, is a must-do while in the city. Buy your Burj Khalifa entrance ticket in advance to avoid a long wait.
  2. Abu Dhabi: The capital of UAE, Abu Dhabi is home to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosquethe city's landmark building and by far the most popular sightseeing attraction. A good way to visit this city is by booking a ticket with the Abu Dhabi Morning Tour. With the help of a local guide, this four-hour tour guides visitors through the Grand Mosque, bustling markets, Al Mina fishing harbor and the heritage village.
  3. Hajar Mountains: Nature lovers will find plenty of hiking, trekking and bird-watching opportunities while viewing vast amounts of dry river beds and valleys called "Wadis."
  4. Louvre Abu Dhabi: Allow a full day for the Middle East's newest and most spectacular museum. Louvre Abu Dhabi takes visitors on a journey through human history with objects sourced from across the globe and through the ages to demonstrate connections between cultures. If you are interested in early history, the great Empirical ages or modern art, you will find the exhibits in this museum fascinating.
  5. Bastakia: Also known as the Old Quarter of Dubai, the Bastakia is a heritage site where you can view the beautiful stone buildings that defined Dubai before skyscrapers dominated the landscape. The area includes beautiful examples of traditional Arab architecture and a small segment of the city's original outer wall.

Health & Safety Tips

UAE is generally very safe, particularly in resorts and tourist-heavy areas, however tourists should be aware of the possibility of pickpocketing. The large cities are considered to be very safe and the largest concern for locals tend to be traffic accidents.

If possible, avoid traveling to Abu Musa Island as it is involved in a territory dispute between the UAE and Iran.

If traveling outside of the major cities, be sure to take local etiquette into consideration. Women may also be required to wear a covering over their head and hair outside of Dubai.

Necessary Vaccinations

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) recommend the following vaccinations for the UAE: hepatitis A, meningitis, polio, typhoid, MMR (measles, mumps and rubella), Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis), chickenpox, shingles, pneumonia and influenza. Some travelers might also consider vaccines for hepatitis B, yellow fever and rabies, depending on their histories and activity plans in the UAE.

A COVID-19 vaccine may be required once it is available in your area.