Important facts and information to know when visiting the UAE
Arguably the most well known of all the Middle East countries due to the enormous push they have put on expanding their tourism industry. A safe, peaceful and action-packed place, there are plenty of adventures across all 7 emirates of the UAE to have with your kids (not just Dubai! )
Visiting the UAE Important Facts
|Official Name||United Arab Emirates
|Currency||Dirham (AED) 1AED=3.67USD fixed
|Language||Arabic but English is widely spoken as well as Hindi, Urdu and many others
|Religion||Islam (majority Sunni) with a large expat population of Christians, Hindu, Buddhist
|Leadership||Absolute Monarchy ruled by Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nayhan
|Important Dates||2 Dec National Day, 30 Nov Martyrs' Day & Islamic Holidays
|Electrics||220V most plugs Type G (British) some Type D
|Visas||Free visa on arrival for most countries
|Safety||Exercise normal precautions
United Arab Emirates visa information
- Passport holders of most countries can obtain a 30-day tourist visa on arrival into the UAE at no cost
- Exempt countries are listed here, they must obtain a visa in advance
- Tourist visas have a 10-day grace period, if you overstay this you will be fined 100AED a day on exiting the country
Points for family visitors to be aware of in the UAE
- Ladies are not required to fully cover their heads or bodies, but conservative clothing is expected in public places. Different standards apply at beach resorts, water parks and in private settings
- Children are fine to dress as they please but from puberty onwards should look to dress to adult standards
- Baby supplies are plentiful in all supermarkets and large shopping malls. You should have no problem getting hold of a wide range of specialist baby items
- Car safety: The law now states that young children need an infant seat to a minimum of 4 years of age, however, this law does not seem to be actively enforced. You will not need one by law in a taxi, but given road conditions, it is strongly recommended
- Generally, travel around town with a good compact travel stroller is straightforward. You can use a combination of taxis and public transport. If you are going further afield on day trips, you may want to look at hiring a private driver or your own rental car
- Children are well catered for pretty much everywhere you go. The Emirati’s themselves have large families and family is considered central to life in the UAE, you will be made to feel well at home.
General travel tips for visiting UAE
- Penalties for breaking local laws are severe. These include public intoxication, defamation, using insulting language and overt displays of public affection
- Generally, petty crime in the UAE is very low due to strict laws and punishment for offenders
- Certain medicines that might be fine in your home country are not permitted in the UAE, including Codeine, Prozac and Temazepam
- Do not photograph people – local women especially – without permission.
When is it best to visit the UAE
The UAE is in a hot, arid desert. Summer temperatures can reach 50c making life outdoors unbearable so most visitors choose to avoid the peak months from late May through to early October.
The best time to visit is winter. From late October through to April blue skies are almost guaranteed. Winter days remain mild, though some may find the beach water too cold from December to February.
Important note on the Holy Month of Ramadan. Although more liberal than many of its neighbouring Gulf states, the holy month of Ramadan is strictly observed. Dates on the Gregorian change annually but you can find out when exactly it will fall here. The most important change that will impact on visitors is due to daytime fasting, eating and smoking in public are forbidden by law during daylight hours. That said, many alternatives and options are still made available to tourists these days.
You can read more about how Ramadan is observed and expected tourist behaviour here.
Most popular attractions in the UAE
There’s a really stark contrast between the modern city and desert attractions, make sure you take in both to get a real feel for the country. So many will simply touch down in Dubai for a few days and accuse the place of being just a concrete jungle. This list could go on and on, but here are a few favourites:
- Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque – One of the countries most recognised landmarks, the Mosque is open to the public daily for visiting and free guided tours are available
- Louvre Museum – The newly opened Louvre is a modern wonder both inside and out. Housing works by some of the world’s most famous artists in a journey through humanity, it’s quickly become of Abu Dhabi’s most loved attractions
- Qasr al Watan – The country’s Presidential Palace includes an open tour of the country’s governing home and arguably grandest building
- Burj Khalifa – the tallest building in the world! The views from the observation decks and restaurants on the 124/125th and 148th floor are a must
- Dubai Creek – get in touch with traditional Dubai by taking a dhow between Bur Dubai and Deira, still thriving marketplaces
- Desert safari – take your pick what sort of desert safari suits you – a sedate traditional landrover through eco-conservation areas or take on 4wd dune bashing, camel rides and traditional Bedouin entertainment
- The theme parks – striving ahead with their goal to become the theme park capital of the world, discover some of the world’s best-loved names including Legoland, Motiongate (think Dreamworks characters, Hunger Games, Smurfs), Bollywood, IMG Worlds of Adventure (Marvel Comics, Cartoon Network), Ferrari World and soon to open Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi
- The water parks – some of the best in class to be found across the Emirates including Yas Waterworld (Abu Dhabi), Aquaventure and Wild Wadi (Dubai), Dreamland (Umm al Quwain) and Iceland (Ras al Khaimah)
- The beaches – with its stunning Gulf shoreline there are plenty of beaches to choose from – the most famous being Jumeirah beach in Dubai but don’t discount the many others across the Emirates, including Fujairah on the east coast
- Al Ain – the Oasis City with its historic fort and museums, as well as many UNESCO listed sites of significance and beautiful oases
United Arab Emirates with Kids – Our Travel Stories
Here’s a selection of UAE travel guides we currently have on our website;
- [READ] Ultimate list of indoor kids activities in Dubai (includes an interactive map to find them!)
- [READ] The best Abu Dhabi indoor activities for kids (including interactive map)
- [READ] Best Outdoor Activities in the UAE (includes a downloadable checklist of ideas)
- [READ] How to save on Dubai attraction tickets
- [READ] How to do in Abu Dhabi stopover Airport layover vs get out and sightsee
- [READ] Best Eco-tourism sites to experience in the UAE
- [READ] How to visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque with Kids
- [READ] How to visit the Louvre Abu Dhabi with kids
- [READ] How to get between Dubai and Abu Dhabi
- [READ] Best short breaks from Dubai
- [READ] Carols in the Desert; A Unique UAE Experience
- [READ] A Beginners Guide to the Al Dhafra Festival (includes the low down on attending a camel beauty contest)
- [LISTEN] Amateur Traveler Episode 646 – Travel to the United Arab Emirates (UAE)
We also have an extensive catalogue of blog posts about the UAE on our sister website Our Globetrotters – Discover the UAE.
Contribute to this section
Do you have more stories on the United Arab Emirates to share? Perhaps a newly opened attraction that you have the inside scoop on? Pop over and see our contributors page and find out how you can get involved in building our resource library for fellow visitors to the UAE.
Further reading and resources on the United Arab Emirates
Blogs & social accounts to follow
There are a lot! We will be updating this listing very soon….
Please feel free to email us firstname.lastname@example.org if you have suggestions to add.
- Visit Abu Dhabi
- Dubai Tourism
- Sharjah Commerce & Tourism Development
- Ras al-Khaimah Tourism
- Fujairah Tourism
- Ajman Travel
- Umm al-Quwain Tourism – currently no separate website
Recommended Tours and Drivers
Do you have a favourite driver or tour company that has worked well with kids you would like to recommend? Email us email@example.com
Movies and literature
There are no mainstream English movies based specifically on the UAE, but many movies have used the dramatic landscapes of the Emirates as their backdrop including:
- Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
- Fast & the Furious 7
- Star Wars
We will be updating this section soon with more literature choices, in this Year of Zayed – celebrating 100 years since the birth of the country’s founding Father Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan. There are many new publications being released that share more of the countries historic background.
We will be updating this category soon! Got a book or resource specifically about the UAE you would like to promote? Get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org
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NB please check facts with the appropriate authorities before travelling. Information correct to best of our knowledge as at November 2018. This page contains affiliate links.