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United Arab Emirates guide

The United Arab Emirates is a very desirable travel destination because of its unique natural features and its largely unrivaled economic prosperity
The United Arab Emirates is a very desirable travel destination because of its unique natural features and its largely unrivaled economic prosperity. If you want to travel to the UAE, you should plan and prepare well ahead of time, gathering the essential documentation and following the necessary procedures. Once you arrive in the UAE, you can get around by air, water, and by roadway.

For tourist visas travel to the UAE must be prearranged by a sponsor. Often, this sponsor is a hotel or package trip operator or someone you know who lives or does business in the UAE. Whoever the sponsor is, they will need to know the visitors dates of travel and proposed journey. They will also need basic identification details.

Business visits are by invitation only, and must be certified by providing a corporate trading license. The sponsor will let the visitor know (usually by fax) that a travel permit has been issued and who will be meeting them at the airport. This procedure is typical of all the Arab countries. There is airline service from almost any country to the UAE. Transport by air between cities is limited to Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

At the airport and the hotels, travelers can easily arrange to rent cars. Waterway services are another possibility, with commercial and passenger ferry services available in coastal areas. Deira and Dubai also have water taxi service.

The UAE currency is called the Dirham, abbreviated AED, equal to 100 fils. Paper money is available in denominations of AED5 to AED1,000. It is best for tourists to take traveler's cheques either in British Pounds Sterling or American dollars to receive the best exchange rate.

Most hotels have their own bus services to the airport, to city centers, and to beach resorts. The major cities will have taxis as well. In the cities of Al-Ain and Abu Dhabi, taxi journeys in the city are metered, while fares for longer journeys are customarily agreed upon in advance. Air conditioned taxis cost more than non-air conditioned ones. Taxi travel is almost universally agreed to be the most expedient method of getting from Abu Dhabi to Dubai. In Dubai, taxis are not metered, and you are expected to haggle over the fare with the driver.

If you are traveling to the UAE, there is a good chance that you will land in Dubai. It is the first place most foreigners see and the main city most people think about when they think of the UAE. While the airport itself is an attraction, with its legendary duty free shopping. But the rest of Dubai is spectacular as well, with many great places to visit.

Outside Dubai, the desert tour is famous for its camel rides. But for a day's worth of enjoyment, a Jeep 4x4 tour is the best, because you can also visit the camel farm during the tour. Watching the sunset in the desert is something you'll never forget. Sandboarding, which is similar to snowboarding in principle, is a fun activity here. You will also have the opportunity to have a henna design applied to your hands or feet.

Abu Dhabi is the second most well-known place in the UAE, and it too is a contemporary, skyscraper-filled city. Abu Dhabi city is on an island that is connected to the mainland by two bridges. Heritage Village is a popular attraction in Abu Dhabi. Fishing is still a vocation here, and it is quite interesting to watch the small harbors take daily delivery of the fish brought in by the dhows.

If you take to the roads in the UAE you will find that they are the best roads in the world in terms of quality of construction. They are designed to make automobile travel as comfortable as possible. The highways in all emirates are of excellent quality, and the traffic systems are among the best anywhere, with generously wide lanes and clear signage. Bus service is in many cases inadequate. While some of the main cities like Abu Dhabi, Al-Ain, and Dubai have local bus service, the other cities generally do not. Abu Dhabi's bus services are not adequate for getting around the city, but the buses in Dubai and Al-Ain are reasonably good for getting around and will drop you off close to your destination.

There are mini buses between Abu Dhabi and Dubai that are convenient and more useful than municipal buses. So-called service taxis are available for a nominal charge, but these only run when they are full of passengers. And because of the UAE's Islamic customs, traveling with women in the service taxis is taboo.

The UAE is a gracious host country to travelers from all parts of the world. The major metropolises like Dubai and Abu Dhabi are experienced in making visits from foreign countries as enjoyable as possible for visitors.

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