From the tranquillity of the Abu Dhabi deserts to the bustle of the traditional souks, from the opulent hotels and colossal skyscrapers of cosmopolitan Dubai to the historic architecture and time-honoured traditions of culture rich Sharjah, from the sun-drenched turquoise waters of the Persian Gulf to the majestic mountain scenery of Harra, the United Arab Emirates is a country of fascinating contradictions. A trip here is guaranteed to be truly unforgettable, and United Arab Emirates serviced apartments provide the perfect base.
The United Arab Emirates can be extremely hot, so serviced apartments in Abu Dhabi, for example, will be designed to cope with the heat. It's almost always sunny, extraordinarily dry and you can expect only a few days of rain throughout the year. The climate from late October to mid March is the most pleasant with temperatures ranging from around 15°C (63°F) to 27°C (85°F). In the summer months temperatures can soar reaching around 50°C (122°F) or even higher.
An number of holidays are observed in the United Arab Emirates including the following:
New Year's Day
Mouloud (Birth of the Prophet)
Leilat al-Meiraj (Ascension of the Prophet)
Eid al-Fitr (End of Ramadan)
Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice)
2nd December - National Day
Al-Hijra (Islamic New Year)
Muslim holidays are timed according to local sightings of various phases of the moon and the dates for the above holidays will vary from year to year.
The main airports are Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH), Dubai International Airport (DXB), Sharjah International Aiport (SHJ) and Ras al-Khaimah International Airport (RKT).
A number of daily domestic flights operate mainly between Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
There are decent road links into Oman and Saudi Arabia, which connects the Trans-Arabian Highway on the overland route to Europe.
There are good tarmac roads along the west coast between Abu Dhabi and Dubai, Sharjah and Ras al-Khaimah.
Traffic drives on the right and the following speed restrictions apply: between 60-80kph (37-50mph) in built up areas and 100-120kph (62-74mph)elsewhere.
Bus services operate daily between Abu Dhabi or Dubai and Oman and Saudi Arabia, and between Abu Dhabi and Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.
Domestic services link most towns with local airports.
Taxis are available in all towns and cities and are a reliable way to get around.
The main ports serving the UAE are Jebel Ali, Rashid and Zayed (Abu Dhabi), Khalid (Sharjah), Saqr (Ras al-Khaimah) and Fujairah.
A number of passenger services run between the UAE and the USA, the Far East, Europe and Australia.
Domestic commercial and passenger services serve all coastal ports and water taxis cross the creek between Dubai and Deira.
The Dubai Metro is the first urban train network in the Arabian peninsula, however there are no rail links with neighbouring countries.
Arabic is the official language of the United Arab Emirates. English is widely spoken, particularly within commerce, however here are a few key phrases:
Hello - Salam
Goodbye - Ma'a salama
Please - Minfadlik
Thank you - Shokran
Do you speak English? - Hal tatakallamu alloghah alenjleziah?
The currency in the United Arab Emirates is the United Arab Emirates dirham (D or Dh) which divides into 100 fils.
The domestic electricity voltage is 220/240 volts AC 50Hz. Square three pin, UK style, plugs are widely used.
The country dialling code is +971.
In the event of an emergency call the following numbers:
Police - 999
Ambulance - 998 or 999
Fire - 997.
A visa may be required. Check before you travel.
The United Arab Emirates is a predominantly Muslim country and religious laws and customs should be observed. Women are expected to dress modestly and men should dress formally for most occasions. Alcohol is tolerated and non-Muslims are allowed to drink alcohol in the bars, restaurants, clubs and hotels in the city. A liquor licence may be required to buy alcohol from shops and supermarkets.
Smoking is prohibited in all public places and people under the age of 20 are forbidden from buying cigarettes and are barred from designated smoking areas.
It is illegal to eat, drink or smoke in public during Ramadan.
During Ramadan normal business patterns may be interrupted. Many restaurants are closed during the day and there may be restrictions on smoking and drinking.
Shopping hours are lengthy and are usually 09:00-13:00 and 16:00-21:00, if not all day. Most shops will close on Fridays between 11:30-13:30 for prayers.
Most restaurants will add a fairly high service charge to the bill so tipping is not normally necessary.
Most major international credit cards are widely accepted.
Some UK medicines, including a number of over the counter medicines, are illegal in the UAE without a doctor's prescription. It is advisable to keep all such medicines in their original packaging and carry a prescription if possible. Most painkillers and over the counter medicines are easily available locally. Check with your UAE Embassy for further details.