United Arab Emirates Essential Travel Information


U.S. citizens need a valid passport and visa to travel to the UAE. Passports should be signed and valid for at least six months beyond the completion of your trip. U.S. citizens may obtain visitor visas at the port of entry for no fee if they are traveling for personal travel of 30 days or fewer. For stays longer than 30 days, all travelers must obtain a visa before arrival in the UAE. Make sure that you have enough empty pages for entry and exit stamps in your passport to ensure your entry and exit. Travelers should be careful not to stay beyond the date permitted on their visas to avoid difficulties when departing the country.

Please be aware that in support of the growth of tourism and industry and for the international marketing and promotion of the Emirate of Dubai, a ‘Tourism Dirham’ (TD) fee will be in place effective 31 March 2014, representing a minimal charge upon check-out for the guest. Approximately the cost is about AED 20 per bedroom, per night.

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Please note:  Each traveler is fully responsible for bringing and acquiring travel documents (e-tickets, hotel and travel vouchers, etc.) necessary for their itinerary. Suppose you are not a citizen of the United States. In that case, your entry requirements may vary. Please get in touch with the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the country or countries to be visited and obtain the specific requirements for entry.


Please refer to the instructions given in your itinerary confirmation.

Country Information

Capital: Abu Dhabi

Population: 9,915,803 (2022 est.)

Location: Middle East

Largest Cities: Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Al Ain

Religion: Muslim (Islam- official) 96%, other (includes Christian, Hindu) 4%

System of Government: Federation of Monarchies

Map of United Arab Emirates

Time Zone

The United Arab Emirates operates on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), plus 4 hours.

At 9:00 am, anywhere in the UAE, it is:

  • 12:00 am the same day in New York- Eastern Standard Time (EST).
  • 11:00 pm the previous day in Chicago- Central Standard Time (CST).
  • 9:00 pm the previous day in San Francisco- Pacific Standard Time (PST).
  • 7:00 pm the previous day in Hawaii- Hawaii Aleutian Standard Time (HAST).


*Note: Add one hour to local time during Daylight Savings Time.


The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website is a good source of health information for travelers.

You should be up to date on routine vaccinations while traveling to any destination. Sightseeing may require, at minimum, the ability to walk at a moderate pace for a mile or two and the balance and agility necessary to climb stairs, enter and exit buses and boats, and navigate uneven or cobble-stoned streets. Some sightseeing stops do not have elevators or wheelchair access. Bring medications in their original, clearly labeled containers. A signed and dated letter from your physician describing your med­ical conditions and medications, including generic names, is also a good idea. If carrying syringes or needles, have a physician’s letter documenting their medical necessity. When on vacation, it is always wise to watch what you eat and drink and avoid drinking tap water while traveling. Most hotels will provide complimentary bottled water. You can purchase additional bottled water throughout your trip.

The UAE’s currency unit is the Dirham, subdivided into 100 fils. It is available in the following denominations: Banknotes: 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, and 1,000 dirham; Coins: 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 fils, and 1 dirham. You can exchange foreign currency at authorized agencies such as banks, exchange offices, and hotels. ATMs are available on most major streets, in shopping centers, and at some hotels. All major credit cards are accepted. The exchange rate constantly fluctuates. The current exchange rate is approximately 1 USD = 3.5 AED. For the most updated exchange rate, please check www.xe.com.

The standard electrical voltage in UAE is 220 volts and 50 hertz. Bringing an adaptor is a good idea if you plan to use electronics (i.e., cell phones, laptops, cameras, etc.) during your trip.

Today, you can easily find dishes from around the world as part of their daily diet. The cuisine in the United Arab Emirates can be described as a mixture of Middle Eastern and Asian cuisines. Traditional foods include meat, grain, dairy, vegetables, and seafood. Meats commonly used are chicken or other small fowl, lamb, and goats; however, due to the Muslim religion, not many people eat pork, so it will not likely be included in Arab menus.

Saffron, cardamom, turmeric, and thyme are the main ingredients that can be found in Emirati cooking and help give it its unique blend of flavors. Do not forget to try popular dishes such as kabsa, camel meat, shawarma, falafel, al jabab bread, khabees, and dates while visiting the UAE. Beverages such as red tea or gahwah (Arabic coffee) are popular and will be sure to give you that extra pick-me-up when needed.

In the UAE, the official language is Arabic. The Gulf dialect of Arabic is spoken natively by the Emirati people. Since English is the primary lingua franca and is required for most jobs in the country, finding English speakers should be easy. Other common languages spoken are Persian, Hindi, Pashto, and Tagalog.


The United Arab Emirates experiences a sub-tropical climate where the weather is usually hot, sunny, and humid throughout the year. There is no real significant difference in temperature throughout the country, except perhaps inland (the desert), where nights are cooler in the winter, and the air is slightly less humid in the summer. During the summer months, between June and September, temperatures reach their hottest as they can soar up to 113 degrees Fahrenheit. The months of December through March are considered the cooler months where occasional spells of rainfall can occur, but does not happen often.

Average Temperatures

All temperatures in Fahrenheit (°F)

Abu Dhabi59 - 7561 - 7865 - 8372 - 9479 - 10182 - 10487 - 10787 - 10783 - 10376 - 9569 - 8862 - 78
Ajman54 - 7656 - 7961 - 8567 - 9474 - 10379 - 10783 - 10983 - 10877 - 10471 - 9863 - 8857 - 80
Al Ain53 - 7556 - 7962 - 8770 - 9677 - 10682 - 11087 - 11187 - 11081 - 10573 - 9865 - 8757 - 80
Dubai58 - 7560 - 7865 - 8471 - 9278 - 10082 - 10386 - 10687 - 10682 - 10276 - 9668 - 8762 - 79
Ras Al-Khaimah54 - 7756 - 8061 - 8667 - 9675 - 10581 - 10985 - 11085 - 10978 - 10570 - 9963 - 8956 - 81
Sharjah54 - 7656 - 7961 - 8567 - 9474 - 10379 - 10783 - 10983 - 10877 - 10471 - 9663 - 8857 - 80


This will be contingent on your preference and the time of year you travel. Generally, we suggest that travelers pack lightly and bring comfortable, casual clothes in natural, “breathable” fabrics because of the humidity. Choose versatile styles that can be layered. A lightweight (preferably non-plastic) raincoat or poncho is a good idea, as well as a sweater or lightweight jacket for early morning/evenings and air-conditioned buildings. A sturdy pair of walking shoes is a must, as sandals may not be comfortable for some sightseeing activities. Some hotels have pools, so you may want to pack your swimming suit. Do not forget to bring sunblock, sunglasses, insect repellent, pocket packs of tissues, a sunhat, an umbrella (for both the sun and rain), and any medications you may need. Most hotels offer reliable laundry and dry cleaning services.

Deciding what to wear in the United Arab Emirates can be challenging if you try to dress for the desert heat while also respecting Islamic traditions. Knowing what to wear relies heavily on which part of the UAE you are traveling to. Although Dubai, for example, is considered to be a bit more liberal than other parts of the country, it is still an Islamic state that adheres to traditional values. Be respectful when deciding what to wear and dress in clothes that would not offend the local culture. Always wear what you are most comfortable traveling in, but a reasonable amount of modesty ought to be exercised. In most areas, comfortable, casual clothes such as short-sleeved shirts, polo shorts, long skirts, etc., are great for sightseeing. Remember that temperatures will likely be hot and humid, so wearing light, loose-fitting fabrics is a good idea.


When walking around and visiting shopping malls or souks, women must be covered from their shoulders to their knees. Long sleeve tops, short sleeve T-shirts, and three-quarter trousers are acceptable. Also, no tight, revealing, or see-through clothing should be worn. This means one should avoid tank tops, spaghetti straps, shorts, mini-skirts, etc. Signs at the entrances of shopping malls and souks remind visitors to dress modestly. When visiting traditional souks, women should dress conservatively to avoid attracting unwanted attention.


When visiting a mosque in the UAE, remember that these are places of worship, so one should dress politely in modest and conservative clothing as they would at any other religious site. Clothing such as short sleeve T-shirts, polo shirts, and bottoms or skirts that cover the knees are acceptable.

For both men and women, plan to cover most of your body, including your shoulders, upper arms, and legs.


Women: Women should have all skin covered; knee-length skirts or pants are required. Pants or skirts that are too revealing, clingy, or tight should not be worn. Sleeves should reach each wrist, and a headscarf should cover the hair.


Men should wear long pants and plain shirts without messages or slogans when visiting mosques. Short-sleeved shirts are acceptable if the sleeves are not shorter than average. If in doubt, wear long sleeves.


Socks are also a good idea since you must remove your shoes before entering a mosque as part of the Muslim tradition. Usually, a robe or shawl will be provided for those with inappropriate clothing attire, but it may be a good idea to bring your own as they are constantly being reused.

Hotels may impose a hefty charge on international calls. Check your hotel’s policy before placing any calls. You can use a calling card from your local, long-distance carrier to avoid hotel markups. Several United States cell phones manufactured today can operate overseas on the GSM (Global System for Mobile) standard. We recommend contacting your cell phone service provider to determine if your phone runs on the GSM and what activation may be required. In Indonesia, reception on any cell phone can be unreliable and unpredictable. In some locations, transmission is not possible at all. If access to e-mail is critical during your trip, please check availability in advance. Most hotels have business centers or in-room WI-FI service, and surcharges may apply.

The nationwide emergency phone numbers are:

Ambulance: 998

Fire: 997

Police: 999

  • UAE – Culture Smart!: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture by John Walsh
  • Lonely Planet Dubai & Abu Dhabi (City Guide)
  • Understanding Arabs: A Contemporary Guide to Arab Society by Margaret K. Nydell
  • Fodor’s Dubai 25 Best (Full-color Travel Guide) by Fodor’s Travel Guides
  • Dubai: The Vulnerability of Success by Christopher Davidson