Last updated: 4 Feb 2021

Dubai (UAE)


From the timeless tranquillity of the desert to the lively bustle of the souk, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) offers a kaleidoscope of attractions for visitors. In recent years, the country has rocketed to the forefront of the international tourism stakes.
Go haggling in Dubai's famous souks, magnets for those in search of gold and jewellery bargains, and also for photographers or those who just want to experience the sights, smells and hubbub. Experience off-road driving in the desert - vehicles are for hire either with or without guides. Numerous operators offer desert driving trips.

Take your golf bag - Dubai is one of the world's top golfing destinations. Venues like the Emirates Golf Club regularly host top international competitions, and others are dotted around the UAE. You can even try your hand at sand golf. Sun yourself on Dubai's superb white sandy beaches. Much of the long expanse of Jumeirah Beach in Dubai is dominated by luxury hotels and their facilities but there is a good stretch of public beach available.

If you're travelling with kids, take them to the Magic Planet children's centre in the Deira City shopping mall, or to Dubai's Wonderland family fun park, which offers a wide range of watery attractions for the youngsters.
Capital:  Dubai (DXB)
Currency:  UAE Dirham (AED)
Language:  Arabic. English is widely understood. 
Dialling code from SA:  + 971
Time Zones: UTC/GMT +4 hours (2 hours ahead of South Africa)
Public Holidays:


Side of the Road: Right
Best Time to go: November – April
Best For: Shopping
Plugs: 220 volts AC, 50Hz. Square three-pin plugs are widespread.
Drinking Water: Mains water in hotels and towns is safe to drink, but is provided due to desalination therefore visitors may preferred bottled water. 
Health: There are adequate and well-equipped medical facilities, however visitors are required to pay for these services. Comprehensive health insurance is recommended.
Customs: United Arab Emirates is a liberal Islamic country and foreign women can dress as they like, but should dress more conservatively when out in public areas (shoulders and knees covered).  Swimwear should be reserved for the beach. Public displays of affection should be avoided. Respect to religious customs should also be shown during the month of Ramadan. [Note: in Sharjah, women are not allowed to wear bathing suits in public]
Local Offences / Laws: Homosexuality and adultery are illegal. Non-married couples are not allowed to share hotel rooms, although this is rarely enforced. Eating, drinking and smoking in public during Ramadan is prohibited during daylight hours (visitors are excluded from this but should do so in private). Drug trafficking carries severe penalties (certain medications are banned; please check before travelling with over-the-counter or prescription medication).
Travel Tips / Warnings: If you are travelling with medication, it should be noted that certain medications are not allowed in the country even with a prescription.  Avoid photographing Muslim women and do not photograph airports, docks, telecommunications equipment, government buildings, military and industrial installations.
Duty Free: The following items may be imported into the United Arab Emirates without incurring customs duty:
• 400 cigarettes and 50 cigars and 500g of tobacco.
• 4L of wine or spirits or 24 cans of beer.
• Goods to the value of AED3,000.
Prohibited Imports: Narcotics, goods from boycotted countries (eg Israel), ivory, rhino horn, gambling devices, original engravings, prints or sculptures, any immoral publications or media contradicting Islamic teachings, counterfeit currency, and cooked or homemade food. If you are planning to carry medication into the country, check with your embassy in advance, as some common, over-the-counter medicines that are freely available elsewhere in the world are prohibited in the UAE. Penalties are severe - you could go to prison if you’re caught.

Issuing Authorities

Embassy of U.A.E
992 Arcadia Street, Arcadia
PO Box 57090, Arcadia, 0007
Tel: (012) 342-7736
Fax: (012) 342-7738

Consular Section : 
Tel: (012) 342 9567

The Embassy does not issue tourist visas.

Visa Requirements

See United Arab Emirates Country Guide. 

Visa Cost

UAE Customs and Immigration will be charging 100 AED for any visa cancellations.

All Dubai Stopover packages cancelled prior to 72 hours of arrival will be refunded the entire amount excluding the Visa processing fee and the additional 100 AED cancellation fee.

Packages cancelled within 72 hours of arrival are 100% non-refundable and subject to a 100 AED visa cancellation fee.

It is imperative to ensure all visas are cancelled by the customer or Travel Agent if the passenger has cancelled their DSO package. Failure to do this could potentially deny the passenger entry into the UAE on a future trip.

This cancellation fee is applicable to any visitor to the UAE, irrespective of who they book/process their visa through.

Travel Health

Compulsory:  None
Recommended Travel Vaccines:  Hepatitis A & B, Tetanus, Polio