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A cosmopolitan, exciting and surprising 21st century city, Dubai is rich in experiences for today's travellers. Set off on a four-wheel drive or camel safari across the sand dunes. Cruise the Gulf in a traditional wooden dhow. Enjoy a Bedouin barbecue in the cool of the desert night. Explore the narrow alleys of the souks, the glitz of the goldsmiths, the glamour of the shopping malls...

Geography

Dubai is one of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates, lying on the calm, blue waters of the southern Gulf and flanked by majestic deserts. Dubai Creek, a natural inlet from the Gulf, divides the city into the Deira district to its north and Bur Dubai to its south.

Time zone

Dubai is four hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).

Climate

The United Arab Emirates has a subtropical, arid climate with sunny blue skies most of the year. Between the months of November and March a moderate warm climate prevails during the day and a cooler climate throughout the night. Humidity tends to get higher between the months of June and August. Lightweight summer clothing is suitable for most of the year. Sweaters or jackets are recommended during the winter months, and especially in the evenings. Hats, sun block and good quality sunglasses are advisable when out in the sun.

Culture and dress code

The United Arab Emirates has a reasonably relaxed dress code. However, being an Islamic country, modest dress is recommended, particularly in rural areas. Beachwear is acceptable at beach clubs, in the hotel, at the pool and on the beach except in Sharjah and Khor Fakkan. Muslim women, particularly Gulf Arabs, cover their hair, faces, and heads with a scarf for cultural and religious reasons whilst non-Muslim women do not have to follow this practice when in public. When visiting a Mosque, they must cover their hair, bodies and legs, although covering the face is not a must. To be respectful of the UAE culture, it is best to remain covered from shoulder at least to the knees. T-shirts - preferably with sleeves covering at least the upper arm - are fine but must not be low cut or revealing.

Language

The official language is Arabic although English is widely spoken and understood. Most hotels and retail outlets employ English-speaking staff.

Currency and exchange

The local currency is the UAE Dirham divided into 100 fils. Notes are in denominations of Dhs 1,000, 500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5. Coins used are in denominations of Dhs 1, 50 and 25 fils. Approximate exchange rate: USD 1 equals Dhs 3.65. Most international currencies are accepted in banks, hotels and by many licensed money changers in major shopping centers and souks. Exchange houses operate during normal working hours and offer more competitive rates. There is no exchange control and the UAE Dirham is fully convertible to other international currencies.

Credit cards

Most retail outlets, hotels and car hire companies accept internationally recognised credit cards. However, some retailers offer better value and discounts for goods if cash is used for purchases. Cash may be obtained in most banks and in some hotels.

Religion

Islam is the official religion of the United Arab Emirates. There is a number of mosques through-out the country. There are also various places of worship of other religions, including churches and temples in major cities.

Public transport

Taxis are readily available and run on meters. There is a surcharge if taxis are boarded from Dubai International Airport and there is an option of fixed rates for different zones. Within the city, fares vary slightly depending on the taxi company. Public transport is not easily available. Most hotels in all three emirates operate courtesy buses into the city centre or beach on a regular basis. Guests can check with the front desk for details regarding these shuttle services.

Health

We have qualified first aiders and medical services available 24 hours a day. Please contact your butler or dial Raffles Service for immediate assistance. Should you need further medical help, we are situated in the heart of Health Care City, giving you rapid access to the best hospitals in Dubai.

Electricity

Most sockets are UK three-pin, although adapters for two-pin plugs are available.

Tipping

Although tipping is not expected, it is a common practice to do so. For hotel staff, gratuities are given based on one’s discretion. You may add 10 percent of the total to the bill value. Taxi drivers do not expect to be tipped. Supermarket baggers, bag carriers and windscreen washers at petrol stations are generally given a small tip.

Photography

Photography of palaces, government institutions, military installations and oil and gas refineries is prohibited. Always ask before taking pictures of local people - particularly women, who may well decline.

For more information and enquiries please contact us at:
Tel: +971 4324 8888+971 4324 8888
Email: concierge.dubai@raffles.com

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