A federation of seven Emirates, the UAE ( United Arab Emirates
) came into being on December 2, 1971. Since then, the
country has made tremendous progress in all fields. Dubai,
the second largest of teh seven emirates, has traditionally
been a commercial centre and has now consolidated its position
on the key trading route between the East and the West.
Although oil was the engine that began Dubai's rapid
development, it now contributes only 20 per cent of
GDP. The non-oil sector, including services, manufacturing
and trading, are now the key segments of teh economy.
Dubai has also emerged as a location of choice for
global corporations, large numbers of which conduct
their local and regional operations from the city.
Local time :
The UAE is four hours ahead of GMT ( GMT +4 ).
The official language is Arabic, but English is commonly
used. Urdu and Hindi is also widely spoken.
Friday is the weekly holiday. Governments observe a two-day
weekend and are closed on Thursday and Friday. Some private
sector organisations working to a five-day week, are
closed on Thursday; others on Saturday.
Business hours :
Government offices are open between 7.30am and 2.30pm.
Banking hours are from 8am to 1pm, Saturday to Wednesday
and 8am to 12 noon on Thursday; some banks also open
in the evenings. Money exchanges begin serving customers
at 8.30am and are open till late. Most shops in teh souks
open between 9.30am and 1.30pm and then again between
4pm and 10pm. Shopping malls are open throughout the
day. Supermarkets open early and close late; some operate
Exchange rate :
The UAE Dirham is divided into 100 fils and is pegged to
the U.S dollar at an exchange rate of Dhs. 3.67 = $ 1.
The currency is freely convertible.
Light clothing is ideal for most of the year, though a
jacket or pullover would be required in winter and while
camping in the desert. There is no formal dress code
but be conservative in the way you dress. In conformity
with local customs, women should avoid revealing dresses
and men should always wear a shirt in public. Proper
swimwear is necessary on all beaches. Sunglasses, hats
and suncream are essential if you wish to avoid the agony
Credit cards :
Most shops, hotels and restaurants accept leading international
credit cards. You could, however, get better discounts
with some retailers if you pay cash.
From exquisite porcleain and designer labels, to the latest
electronic gadgets and gold jewellery, Dubai is a shopper's
delight. Explore the souks and shopping malls, visit
more than one outlet, compare prices and don't forget
to bargain - many retailers will offer you a discount
if you ask for it.
Getting around :
Taxis are the most convenient way of getting around. The
beige Dubai Transport taxis are metered, and can be called
on teh phone. Private taxis are not metered and you should
confirm the fare before the trip.
Most hotels offer airport transfers for guests and provide
courtesy coaches to various points around town.
There are a host of car rental companies that offer excellent
deals on self-drive cars.
Dubai Transport Corporation has its City Bus services
to almost all the places in Dubai. It has bus stations
in Bur Dubai, Satwa, Deira ( Gold Souk ), Deira ( Naif
Road ) etc..
Dubai Municipality has implemented a system of paid parking
in crowded business districts of the city between 8 am
and 9pm, Saturdays through Thursdays. These areas are
clearly marked and drivers are required to obtain parking
tickets from automatic vending machines and display them
on the dashboards of their cars. Parking in most other
areas of the city is free.