Information and advice you will need for moving to Dubai
Dubai is part of the UAE and the currency is the Emirati Dirham (AED). The Dirham is pegged against the US dollar at 1US$ = AED3.67, and is stable against the British Pound, but it is worth checking the exchange rate. Dirham banknotes come in denominations of 1,000, 500, 100, 50, 10 and 5.
Most well-known international banks are present in Dubai, including Lloyds TSB and HSBC, and Sharia-Law bank accounts are available. A resident visa is required to open a bank account. Internet banking is available but is more limited than in the UK; many transactions need to be carried out in a branch. Bank opening hours are 8am to 3pm, Saturday to Thursday. ATMs are numerous in Dubai.
High-speed broadband is available in Dubai. Popular providers are Du and Etisalat. Connectivity is better in the newer areas of the city. Free WiFi availability is growing. The international dialling code for Dubai is 00 971. To dial the UK from Dubai, the code is 00 44.
The clocks in Dubai are set according to Arabia Standard Time, which is GMT +3 hours. The weekend is Friday and Saturday.
Dubai has a tropical desert climate, which means summer is extremely hot and humid. The average day-time temperature during this period is 40°C (104°F), but can be higher, while the night-time temperature falls to around 30°C (86°F). In winter, the average day-time temperature is a pleasant 25°C (77°F), and night-time temperatures rarely fall below 12°C (54°F). The wettest month of the year in Dubai is usually February, which sees on average a relatively modest 35 millimetres of rain.
Dress and etiquette
Dubai is an Islamic state that adheres to a tolerant version of Sharia law and you should dress accordingly. Dress modestly, particularly when in public. Women should wear dresses or skirts that cover their knees and tops with long sleeves – shoulders should be covered at all times. In addition, clothing should not be too tight or revealing. Men should wear trousers and tops with long sleeves – you should not wear t-shirts and shorts. Men should never be seen bare-chested in public. Do not wear swimwear away from the beach or hotel pool.
Dubai has a relatively liberal approach to alcohol compared with other states in the UAE, but it is still strictly policed. Alcohol consumption by non-Muslims is tolerated and alcohol is served only at hotel and club bars and restaurants. Drinking at home is also possible. In order to consume and buy alcohol you must have a licence. The legal age for drinking is 18. Drinking in public and public displays of drunkenness are illegal, so it is best to take a taxi directly home after a boozy night out.
Men and women can drive in Dubai. Vehicles are driven on the right. As an expat from the UK, you will need to get a local driving licence. This process is fairly straightforward. To drive in the meantime, you must hold an international driving licence in conjunction with a domestic licence. Traffic congestion is a problem and driving conditions can be challenging.
The standard of healthcare in Dubai is very high. Residents have access to public health facilities, the use of which is free or low-cost. To use these facilities, expats must have a health card from the Department of Health and Medical Services. There are numerous pharmacies, most of which are open 24 hours a day. Some prescribed and over-the-counter medicines may be controlled medicines in Dubai. Check with your doctor and, if you need to bring a controlled medicine into the country, ensure you carry a doctor’s note.
Private education is the only option available to expats. There are British- and American-curriculum schools. School fees are expensive and range from AED40,000 to AED150,000 per year. The standard annual fee level is AED70,000-90,000.
The number to call for police is 999 or 112. For medical services, call 998 or 999. For the fire service, call 997.
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