The UAE is a family-oriented environment and small children are welcome and appreciated everywhere. The larger hotels have a good selection of kids’ meals, especially in room service. Very small children do not normally eat out at night, but are often welcome. Phone ahead to check. In any case baby-sitting services are available in the main hotels.
There are lots of activities for children, both in and around the five-star hotels, special amusement parks and many green areas. Children under 12 usually qualify for discounts on admission fees to most museums, amusement parks, swimming pools and entertainment centres.
The UAE is extremely safe for women travellers, nevertheless women travelling alone are a novelty and you may find yourself at the focus of unwanted attention. You will probably have a more relaxed visit if you stay in one of the four or five star hotels, especially if you can use the hotel’s private beach facilities.
Women in the UAE have a much more liberal lifestyle than many of their Gulf counterparts (i.e. women are permitted to drive, work etc) however, women travelers should be aware that they are visiting a society which has strong traditional roots.
If you wish to avoid hassle or risk causing offence, do not wear tight or revealing clothes away from the beach clubs and resorts. You will also find that clothing suitable for the more cosmopolitan cities may not be comfortable or convenient for independent travel in rural areas. Loose trousers and a long sleeved cotton shirt will suit a wide range of situations.
When socializing in local company wait until a hand is offered to you for a handshake, some devout Muslims prefer not to shake hands with a woman.
Several five-star hotels have specially-adapted rooms and other facilities for handicapped people. The airport and major shopping malls have good access and facilities, as well as Dubai’s Transport Taxis are fitted to accommodate wheelchairs.
There are also designated disabled parking spaces in nearly all of the city’s car parks, though you will need a disabled window badge in order to use them.
In June 2001 Emirates airline designated a special handling area at departures and arrivals for passengers with special needs. As a result, wheelchair passengers will receive a more personalized service.
Dubai contains well equipped public and private hospitals
Remarkably, the UAE was one of only two countries with no reported cases of holiday illnesses recorded in a survey by the leading British consumer magazine, Holiday Which? This is a tribute to the success of government immunization programs, the provision of adequate clean water and high standards of cleanliness in hotels and restaurants.
No special immunizations are required, however it would be wise to check beforehand if you are traveling from a health-risk area. Tetanus inoculations are usually recommended if you are considering a long trip. Polio has been virtually eradicated in the UAE and hepatitis is very rare and can be avoided by taking precautions.
Opening hours and holidays
Normal shopping hours are from 9.00 a.m. – 1 p.m. and 4.00 – 9.00 p.m. however many shops, particularly in Dubai and Abu Dhabi stay open all day. Most shopping centres open from 10 a.m to 10 p.m – frequently later. Some supermarkets are open for 24 hours. Although shops and shopping centres are fully air conditioned, the cool of the evening is a favourite time for shopping. Shopping centres and most shops are open on Friday, the Islamic day of rest, but they all close for Juma (Friday) prayers from 11.30 a.m. to 1.30 p.m.All shops are required to close at prayer times in Raï’s al-Khaimah.
Government offices open at 7.30 a.m. and close at 3.00 p.m. but you would be wise to visit in the morning. Private offices tend to keep longer hours, coming back to work in the evening after an extended mid-day break. Some private businesses open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. All government offices close for the weekend at mid-day on Thursday and do not open again until Saturday morning. Some offices outside the public sector are open on Thursday and close on Friday and Saturday.