Last updated: 14 Oct 2021

Abu Dhabi (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.
Capital:  Abu Dhabi City (AUH)
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.
Prohibited Exports: Pre-Columbian articles, marine products, unprocessed coral or turtle shells.

Travel Alerts

Entry restrictions vary between the Emirates.  
  • Flights from South Africa to United Arab Emirates are currently suspended.

This Information is intended as a Guideline.

Visa Requirements


** Please refer to general United Arab Emirates Requirements if travelling on any other airline **


NOTE:  Abu Dhabi has suspended all visa services with the exception of their visa on arrival program at the airport.  The below visa information can therefore not be updated or verified, but is included for informational purposes and will be updated when the visa program reopens. 

c/o Blade Express
43 Western Service Road
Wendy Wood
Tel: 011 804 6444
Fax: 0866 261 268

There is  a 96 hour Transit visa for those pax travelling through Abu Dhabi International Airport. See Pax who have a transit time of 8-24hours , can also visit the Transit and Tourist visa Issuing office at the Au Dhabi International Airport and receive a transit visa within half an hour. Passports are to be valid minimum 6 months . 


1.Passport to be valid for a minimum of 6 months
2. Colour copy of passport bio page and last page containing details of full name, nationality, date and place of birth, passport number, date of issue and expiry, name of father/legal guardian, name of mother etc
3.One colour photo with white background. Size 4.3 * 5.5 cm and 80% of face should be visible.
4. Confirmed airticket travelling into Abu Dhabi and onwards from Abu dhabi with Etihad Airways. Only a round trip ticket will be accepted.
5.Application form completed and signed – to be completed online.

Following "Additional documents" might help you to speed up the visa processing time:

Frequent traveller If you have travelled to UAE in the last one year Entry/exit stamp pages of your Passport

Invite from your immediate family members :
Invitation Letter
Passport copy
Valid Residence visa copy of the host

Travel history
Please upload copy of your visa or travel proof, if you have travelled at least once in the last 5 years to/or holding a valid visa for countries like USA, UK, Schengen countries, European Union, Australia, New Zealand, Russia and Canada

Children travelling with parents:

Child having own passport and travelling with parents:
Please upload following documents
Complete the application form
Passport copy
Birth Certificate should be in English or Arabic. Please note translated documents should be attested and attestation should be on the same page

Child details endorsed in parent's passport:
The applicant must upload the copy of the passport where the child details are endorsed
Passport copy of parents
Birth Certificate should be in English or Arabic. Please note translated documents should be attested and attestation should be on the same page

Note: Each applicant has to file a separate application. If your child details are endorsed in your (Parents) passport please use “Accompanied applicant” option to enter your child details.

Important Instructions:

Dependants of the Applicants:
Dependants are defined as Spouse/ Children below 21 years of age / Parents above 60 years of age. Supporting Documents proving the relation status has to be enclosed by guest
For minor/Married women:
Photo ID of parents/ husband. Copy of the host passport / residence visa

Please note the immigration department will consider applications from minors or students only if they are travelling with parents . Only machine readable Passports will be accepted. E-visa sponsored By Etihad cannot be extended.

*Transit visa applies to transit passengers stopping at Abu Dhabi International Airport for more than 8 hours and not exceeding 4 calender days. It cannot be extended and is a single entry.
Same requirements as tourist visa plus :

- Etihad Airways confirmed airticket
- Confirmed onward booking to 3rd destination
- Passport valid for a minimum of 6 months
- Confirmed hotel reservation


Travel Health

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