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UAE Information
Background :
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.

Economy :
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 ).

Language :
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 round-the-clock.

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.

Clothing :
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 of sunburn.

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.

Shopping :
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..

Parking :
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.

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