17 Tips When Visiting UAE For The First Time





There are people who prefer to work here in the United Arab Emirates while there are some who choose to become tourists. No matter what you prefer, there are things you should know about this country first before you fly here. This is a basic knowledge if you are interested to see different cities here. The more you know the place, the more you will become familiar with the things you see once you decided to explore it.

In this article, we will introduce to you the common things that you should do here in the UAE if you are a first-time visitor. Regardless of your purpose—to migrate, to work, to visit Dubai and Abu Dhabi, this information will help you.

The UAE has gained popularity since the time the oil business was discovered. Now, because of its rich economy, many people are interested not just to work here but to see its tourism as well. They can’t be blamed, this place is just enticing for foreigners.

things to know first timers uae

Things To Know About the UAE

If you are looking for reasons to visit this country, you will surely find a lot. What you need today is something that will introduce to the things that you should expect when you land on your feet on its ground and some tips for you to survive. Continue reading the rest of this article for more information.

  • The UAE has 7 emirates.

You’re right, it has 7 emirates. The reason why it is called “united.” The 7 emirates of the UAE are: Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Fujairah, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm al-Quwain, and Ras al-Khaimah.

  • The UAE has strict social media policies.

You will find some websites that are censored in this country. That’s because the UAE has strict social media rules. Usually, threats and bad posts will trigger the government and authorities so you should be watchful of what you post online when you are here. Also, pornographic websites are not allowed in this country as it is against the values of Islam. Some website pages will be tagged as offensive because of violating values and culture.

  • No prostitution and pre-marital sex.

In the UAE, prostitution and pre-marital sex are not allowed. Those who will violate this will face sanctions like paying fines or being imprisoned. Also, you will hear a lot about couples getting caught because of pre-marital sex. If you are visiting here with your partner, we advise you not to do it here if you want a smooth journey.

  • No gambling places

You won’t find any gambling sites or casinos in the UAE. If you are wondering why, that’s because the government banned these companies from going against the Islamic religion.

  • Expats make the majority of the population

It’s true that there are a lot of foreigners here in the country. Well, the economy of the UAE is alluring, particularly Dubai and Abu Dhabi. More and more people are getting interested to work there because of good career opportunities, a competitive salary, and a great lifestyle. The majority of the expats here came from countries like Korea, Australia, China, Philippines, Europe, and South America.

  • Only a few numbers of Emiratis

Expats have outnumbered the Emiratis already. It is a fact and one of the interesting things about the UAE. You will spot only a few numbers of locals here.

  • There are a lot of food options

We know you’re thinking about food. Whenever people visit a country, food is the number one thing they are looking for. Here in UAE, you will find plenty of food to choose from, most are Middle Eastern cuisines. Don’t worry, you will also find other recipes from Lebanon, India, Pakistan, Iran, and even Asia. Whatever your preference is, there will be an available option for you.

  • Strict alcohol policies

If you’re here to get drunk, you are in the wrong place. The UAE has very strict policies on alcohol. You cannot drink and drive nor get drunk in public places. You will face sentences and fines if you get caught. If you are just a tourist, don’t violate this law for you to have a safe and peaceful journey. It’s better to restrict yourself from drinking alcohol temporarily than getting caught by the police!

Also, when you buy and sell alcohol in this country, you need to obtain a license first. Alcohol consumption in the UAE is limited to the point that you need a permit before you can get a taste of it. It’s fine, you can still buy when you have your license already. Also, selling alcohol can only be done by businesses with permits. There are authorized shops like MMI and African+Eastern that are allowed to sell alcohol.

But you may also consume alcohol in selected restaurants/hotels that have a license to sell them. This is why you will notice that some restaurants don’t include beer and alcoholic beverages in their menu. This just means that the restaurant is not a ‘licensed restaurant’. Don’t worry, there are plenty of restaurants and hotels in Dubai and other emirates here that are licensed to offer alcoholic drinks.

Just an added note, the emirate of Sharjah is a “DRY” emirate, meaning there is no alcohol available here.

  • Pork is to be Bought/Consumed in Licensed Places

Pork is usually forbidden in Islamic countries. In the UAE, you will only find pork for sale in selected shops and licensed restaurants in the UAE. Some pork meat are available in a few supermarkets like Westzone, Spinney’s, Choithrams, and Baqer Mohebi. Most of the restaurants that serve pork are located in hotels that have purchased a license to sell them in their establishments.

  • Locals receive perks and benefits from the government.

Yes! It’s definitely a happy life for Emiratis! In the UAE, Emiratis enjoy free health care, education, houses, and discounts on utilities. Locals get free education up to PhD level while married couples receive free housing and special discounts on utilities. Wow! It’s so good to be an Emirati!

  • You can wear what you want… with modesty

When you are in a public place, dress conservatively. Unlike other Muslim countries, you can wear whatever you want here in the UAE—jeans, dresses, shirts, and so on. Just put modesty when you wear your clothes because this is still expected in a Muslim habitat. When you visit sacred spots like mosques and churches, don’t forget your scarf.

When you go to beaches/pool, you can wear a bikini, but once you are out of the beach, you should change back to normal clothing.

  • No taxes on your salary!

If you are here as an expat, you are surely living a good life because there are no taxes on your salary, which is one thing foreign workers love about the UAE. You can bring home your salary without an income tax deduction. You can remit more amount to your family in this case. However, note that there is a 5% VAT on goods and services but that’s just common to all.

  • Hot Summer Season

The Middle East region is one of the hottest parts of the world when it’s summer season. Expect that UAE can be at its hottest during this time as it can get as hot as 51 degrees Celsius. If you are visiting during this season, always remember to drink water and put on clothes that will protect your body from extreme heat.

  • Malls for Everyone

Malls are the most common places where people gather and this is probably the most popular recreational activity you can do at whatever season. You can enjoy shopping for your favorite brands, eat at fancy restaurants, and book activities you can enjoy with your family and kids.

  • Fridays and Saturdays are considered a weekend.

If your usual rest days are Saturdays and Sunday, here in UAE, you will experience to go on a day off on Fridays and Saturdays. Friday is the prayer day for Muslims and it is being followed by businesses here. So yes, typical workweek starts on a Sunday and ends on a Thursday.

  • Be mindful of the Ramadan Season

Ramadan season is usually celebrated in June. You should be aware of this because people go on fasting during the celebration. You can also join even if you are not a Muslim by greeting and praying with them.

  • Tipping is optional

Tipping is optional but you can be as generous as giving 10% tips (or even more) to waiters and waitresses when you eat at good restaurants or stay in hotels. Customer service is treated with importance here.

You can have a wonderful time here in the UAE if you know how to utilize your time and how to enjoy the resources available in different cities. Just remember to pay respect to the culture and tradition of the locals so you can get politeness and hospitability in return.

The key to having a good time is to know what you are expected to do in a country. Don’t take this chance for granted. Be a tourist or an expat in the UAE without facing troubles. Learn their culture and tradition so that you can blend in. And don’t forget to share these ideas with your loved ones!

Disclaimer: UAELabour.org is an informational site only and should serve as a guide. For updated details and policies, always contact proper authorities for assistance. If you are facing challenges at your work, please contact the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) or previously known as UAE Ministry of Labour for guidance. You may also seek help from a lawyer regarding your case.

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