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United Arab Emirates

Country Facts

Dubai is the Singapore of the Gulf. A duty-free shopper's paradise, luxurious architecture, camel races, beaches, dune rides, deserts and oases, Bedouin markets, oil riches and some of the most decadent hotels in the world. It is a success story that attracts tourists and emigrants from all over. To get under the skin of the UAE, read, 'Arabic Short Stories' by Denys Johnson-Davies, watch a contemporary Arabic film at the Dubai International Film Festival and listen to the sounds of an oud, an ancient instrument like the mandolin.

  • Capital: Abu Dhabi
  • Official Languages: Arabic
  • Government: Constitutional Monarchy
  • Currency: UAE Dirham
  • Time Zone: +4:00 GMT (1½ hrs behind India)
  • Telephone Calling Code: 00971

When To Go

Best time to visit: November to April. The average temperature in Dubai is 25°C with an average low of 14°C in January and average high of over 41°C in July.

What To Do

Emirati cuisine includes a lot of meat, fish, dairy and rice due to harsh desert conditions, which makes it difficult to grow vegetables. Food is generally cooked in a large pot, so stews are common. Lamb and mutton are favored over goat and beef. Pork is looked down upon. Lebanese, Indian and European cuisine is also widely available in Dubai.

What to eat and drink
  • Fuul: Paste made from fava beans, garlic and lemon
  • Falafel: Deep-fried balls of chickpeas served with flat bread
  • Shawarma: Thin slivers of grilled meat
  • Kebab Kashkash: Meat and spices in a tomato sauce.
  • Matchbous: Spiced lamb with rice
  • Lamb kebabs
  • Shrimp beryani
  • Khabeesa: Flour bread crumbs blended with sugar, cardamom and saffron
  • Esh asarya: Cheese cake with cream topping
  • Bethitha: Semolina blended with crushed dates, cardamom and clarified butter
  • Na’ana shai: Mint tea
  • Kahwa: Coffee


Duty-free shopper's paradise. Carpets and kilims, cars, gold, gems, textiles, silver Bedouin jewelery, Emirati handicrafts, brass and copper ware, perfumes, Iranian caviar, incense sticks, kitschy stuff like Saddam Hussein lighters that give you a shock, mosque-shaped clocks.



Travel Tips



By Air

UAE has various world class airports. Dubai International airport is one of the busiest and best airports in the world.

By Bus

Although most tourists travel by taxis, buses are a good alternative as they are air conditioned, clean and efficient.


In Dubai the metro has revolutionized access to the city and environment. They are highly efficient and economical.

Self Drive

These are mostly the preferred mode of transport. Most of the large car hire firms are represented at the airport or at the hotel. Some of the car rental companies are Hertz, Avis.

  • UAE is pretty hot during summer (May – October) carry light and cotton clothes.
  • Hats (wide brim), sun screen and sunglasses are a must.

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