Geographic location and features
Situated on the southeast part of the Arabian Peninsula on the southern shore of the Arabian Gulf, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a federation of seven emirates. Abu Dhabi (the capital city), Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah. The total area of the country is approximately 83,600 square kilometers, much of it is in the Abu Dhabi emirate. Dubai, with an area of 3,885 square kilometers, is the second largest emirate.
The UAE has 700 kilometers of coastline, of which 100 kilometers are on the Gulf of Oman. Along the Arabian Gulf Coast, there are offshore islands, coral reefs and sabkha, or salt marshes. Streches of gravel plain and sandy desert characterise the inland region. To the east, a range of mountains lies close to the Gulf of Oman and forms a backbone through the Mussandam Peninsula. The western interior of the country, most of it in Abu Dhabi, consists mainly of desert interspersed with oasis. Saudi Arabia and Oman border the UAE.
In the western part of the country is the Empty Quarter desert - the world's largest sand desert. To the east rises the Hajjar Mountains and the highest point is Jabal Yibir at 1,527 meters.
The UAE is four hours ahead of GMT.
The UAE has a sub-tropical, arid climate with sunny blue skies and warm weather most of the year. infrequent and irregular rains fall mainly in winter, and amount to some 13 centimeters a year. Temperature range from a low of about 10 degrees Celsius to a high of 48 degree Celsius. The mean daily maximum is 24 degrees in January rising to 41 degrees in July. The ideal time to visit is between October and April, though there are delighting summer festivities in July and August in the shopping malls, as well as the non-to-be missed month long Dubai Shopping festival, now being held from mid-january. The first three months also mark Dubai hosting prestigious sporting events includingtennis, golf and horse-races.
The official language is Arabic. English is widely understood and ranks alongside Arabic as the language of commerce.
Islam is the official religion of the UAE but other religions are respected and folowers are allowed to practice their faith.
The monetary unit is the dirhams, which is divided into 100 fils. Notes come in denominations of Dhs. 5, Dhs. 10, Dhs. 20, Dhs. 50, Dhs. 100, Dhs. 200, Dhs. 500 and Dhs. 1,000. Coins are in denominations of 25 fils, 50 fils and Dhs 1. The dirham has been pegged to the US dollar since the end of 1980 at the rate of approximately US$1 = Dhs 3.67. The exchange rates of all major currencies are published daily in the newspapers, and cash and travellers cheques can be exchanged at banks, licensed money exchange houses and international hotels.
There are several types of visas for visitors to the UAE. Airlines may require confirmation that the sponsor is holding a valid visa for the incoming visitor. For information about visas, please visit website www.ednrd.ae
Rental companies help in arranging temporary driving license for certain nationalities. To rent cars, visitors must produce the passport, two photographs and a valid international license or national license from one of the following nations: Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finaland, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Ireland, Italy. Japan, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, turkey, UK and USA.
The weekend has traditionally been Thursday but osme organisations close on Friday and Saturday working through Thursday. Government organisatins open at 7.30 AM. Many private establishments have a break in the afternoon. Embassies and consultaes are generally from 8. 30 AM and are closed on Fridays, through emergency assistance can be availed.
Lightweight summer clothing is suitable for most of the year. Sweaters and Jackets might be needed during winter, especially in the evenings and early mornings. The dress codes could vary with the emirates, and revealing clothing is best avoided. You could shop for the clothing of your choices in any of the emirates.
Alchohol is served in licensed outlets in some emirates of the UAE that are associated with hotels as well as a few sports clubs.
Normal photography is accepted but it is regarded as rude and offensive taking pictures of Arab Women. it is courteous to ask permission before photographing men too.
The normal shopping hours are from 8AM to 1PM, and 4PM to 10PM or later. However, many shopping malls work from 10AM until midnight without afternoon break, with even extended shopping hours. Most supermarkets work round the clock. Most shops close for prayer on Fridays from 11.30AM to 1.30PM.