Personal safety: The UAE has been designated the world’s safest holiday destination by the international travel industry on two occasions. However, it is always good idea to take out travel insurance and to take the normal precaution to safeguard both yourself and your valuables.
Tipping: Tipping is common practice, but no expected. Gratuities to staff at hotels are at your discretion. Most restaurants add service charges to the bill, so if this charge is not included, add 10 per cent of the total to the bill. Taxi drivers do not expect to be tipped. Supermarket baggers, bag carriers and windscreen washers at petrol stations are generally given Dh2.
Photography: In general ask permission before photographing people. Avoid photographing Muslim women and do not photograph airports, docks, telecommunications equipment, government buildings, military and industrial installations.
Time: The UAE is four hours ahead of GMT. There is no daylight savings used during the summer.
Electricity: Domestic supply is 220 volts. Sockets suitable for three-pin 13 amp plugs of British standard design are the norm, so it is a good idea to bring an adaptor with you. Alternatively adaptors can be purchased in local supermarkets. Appliances purchased in the UAE will generally have two-pin plugs attached.
Clothing: Lightweight summer clothing is ideal with a wrap, sweater or jacket for cooler winter nights and air-conditioned premises. Although the dress code in the UAE is generally casual, guests in the larger hotels do tend to dress more formally in the evening. Since you are visiting a Muslim country, bikinis, swimsuits, shorts and revealing tops should be confined to beach resorts. Women are usually advised not to wear short skirts and to keep their shoulders covered. Note that in Sharjah women are prohibited from wearing swimsuits on public beaches.
Toilets: Most shopping centres, public gardens, museums etc have clean, well-maintained public toilets. Public toilets in souqs and bus stations are usually just for men. Outside of the cities, you can find public toilets at restaurants and petrol stations, however they may not be in good condition and will generally lack toilet paper.
Food and Water: The standard of food hygiene and water quality is extremely high, especially in all of the larger centres. You should take the time to investigate conditions in smaller cafés in remote areas, although again standards are usually good. Raw salads and shawarmas (meat cooked on a spit and served in a pittta bread sandwich) are to be avoided if you have any doubts.
Water is usually produced by desalination so it is normally safe to drink, nevertheless you may prefer the taste of bottled water. In any case it is advisable to drink plenty of water in the heat so carry a bottle with you at all times.