The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a federation of seven emirates, namely Dubai, Al Fujayrah, Abu Dhabi, Umm Al Qaywayn, Ash Shariqah, Ajman, and Ras al-Khaimah, each with its own ruler. The federal government consists of the president, and council of ministers, with the president also ruling the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is located in the eastern part of the Arabian Peninsula, which extends along the region of the Gulf of Omen and the southern coast of the Persian Gulf. Its neighbors are Qatar to the north, Saudi Arabia to the west and south, and Oman to the east. The UAE has extreme hot climate as most of the regions are sandy and barren. Due to the vast oil revenues and moderate foreign policies, the UAE has an advanced and well-developed infrastructure and tourists’ attractions. Since last few years, the UAE has emerged as one of the popular tourist destinations (“United Arab Emirates Country Specific Information”).
Entry Requirements for US. citizens
US citizens, who are travelling to the UAE, are subject to all the UAE immigration laws, which might be demanding and complex. Therefore, it is important to familiarize with such laws before traveling to the UAE. According to the Bureau of Consular Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, US citizens, who are willing to travel to the UAE, are required to fulfill a number of entry requirements, which can be summarized as follows:
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1. It is necessary to hold a passport valid for at least six months to enter the UAE. For a personal travel of 30 days or fewer, US citizens with valid tourist passports can get visitor visa at the port of entry without any charges (“United Arab Emirates Country Specific Information”).
2. All travelers who are willing to stay longer than 30 days need to obtain a visa before arriving in the UAE. For the updated information about required documents for the visa, it is advisable to contact the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates (“United Arab Emirates Country Specific Information”).
3. Also, US citizens who are travelling to or through the UAE on official or diplomatic passports are required to obtain a visa before arrival in the UAE. Unlike other countries in the Middle-east that accept US military ID card as a valid travel document, the UAE requires US military person to present a valid passport for entry or exit (“United Arab Emirates Country Specific Information”).
4. In addition to visa, a full medical examination with an HIV/AIDS test is required for residence or work permits in the UAE. All the tests need to be performed only after the arrival, as US HIV/AIDS test is not accepted. There have been cases when US citizens were deported or detained for testing positive for hepatitis or HIV test (“United Arab Emirates Country Specific Information”)
5. US citizens who depart from the UAE via road are required to pay a departure fee of 20 UAE dirhams. This fee must be paid only in the local currency (“United Arab Emirates Country Specific Information”).
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According to the various reports, the UAE is one of the safest countries for tourists. However, it is important to avoid risky, unsafe places as a precaution. The UAE experiences sunny, hot weather almost whole year, with occasional rain falls from December to March. As there is very little or no vegetation, there is nothing to absorb the rain as it falls, causing deadly flash floods. It is especially characteristic for the mountainous regions. The places like sand dunes, mountains, valley or dry river bed (which is known as ‘wadi’) are dangerous for inexperienced travelers as they can face tremendous problems at such places. Travel in the desert can be fatal as it is easy to lose a sense of direction in the deep desert due to the identical sand dunes. Besides, in critical situations, an intense heat of the desert can possess a threat to the life. Therefore, it is advisable to avoid such places or visit them under the expert guide (“United Arab Emirates Warnings and Dangers”).
UAE has many tourist attractions and shopping destinations. However, visiting such places or markets in the morning can prove risky for the health, as the mornings in the UAE are typically extreme hot and dry. Besides, travelers should avoid remote places in the country as there are less securities and medical facilities (“United Arab Emirates Warnings and Dangers”).
- There are many things and factors which travelers should take into consideration before travelling in order to make their trip to the UAE an outstanding success.
- It is necessary to recheck all required documents to avoid any further trouble (“Travel Tips”).
- The best period to visit the UAE is from October to May, when the climate is more moderate and less humid. From June to September the climate is extreme hot and humid, but during this period, many resorts and hotels in the country lower their rates to attract tourists (“Travel Tips”).
- The UAE is an extreme religious country where Islamic laws are strictly followed. While travelling in the UAE, women should be dressed modestly, covering their all body parts and men should wear formal clothes in most of the places. Smoking is prohibited but for designated areas. During Ramadan, it is prohibited to drink alcohol, or smoke in public. However, in Sharijah alcohol is strictly illegal, conservative dress code is mandatory, all couples should be married (“Travel Tips”).
- It is necessary to ask a permission before taking photos of people, especially women. It is advisable to avoid taking photos of Muslim women, airports, government buildings, industrial, and military installations (“Travel Tips”).
- It is mandatory for all travelers to carry health insurance to cover all eventualities (“Travel Tips”).
- Shopping hours are from 9 am to 1 pm and 4 pm to 9 pm. Government offices open at 7.30 am and close at 2.30 pm (“Travel Tips”).
- Consuming or carrying alcohol without a Ministry of Interior liquor permit is illegal and could result in fines or imprisonment (“Travel Tips”).
- In case of becoming the victim of crime, it is important to contact the local police and the nearest US consulate or embassy (“Travel Tips”).
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According to the reports of the United Nations (UN), the population of the UAE increased from 1 million in 1980 to 7.5 million in 2010. It is assumed that the population will keep on increasing to reach about 12.2 million by 2050. The growth rate of the population in the UAE was 12.26% in the period of 2005 to 2010. It is estimated that further the growth rate will keep decreasing and possibly reach 0.43% in the period of 2045 to 2050 (“The Demographic Profile of the United Arab Emirates” 1-2).
The population of the UAE is mainly concentrated in coastal cities. Several emirates have territories within other emirates. UAE posses the large number of foreign workers, due to which more than two-thirds of the population is male. The country’s death rate is below the world average with the average life expectancy of 75 years (Peterson).
Surprisingly, only about one-fifth of the emirates’ residents are citizens. The others are mostly foreign workers and their families. South Asians are contributing to the largest part of the foreign population in the country. Arabs from Middle East region and Iranians constitute another significant portion of such population (Peterson).
Languages and Religion
Arabic is the official language of the United Arab Emirates. Besides, a number of other languages are spoken in the country, including various dialects of Pashto, Balochi, Persian, and Hindi (Peterson).
Islam is the official religion of the country. Almost three-fourths of the population are Muslim, of which around four-fifths belong to the Sunni branch of Islam. Hindus and Christians are among the minorities in the country (Peterson).
Treatment of Women
Women have been a vital part of society in the country. Though women have to follow strict rules and social norms as mentioned in Islam, they are well-respected and honored in the country. According to the Constitution of the UAE, women have the same access to health care, education, social welfare and professions as men. In public sector, women hold about 66% of posts and 30% of positions in government sector. Emirati women occupy high-profile posts in all sectors of society, including prosecution services, diplomatic fields, judiciary, military and police forces, finance, and corporate sectors. The literacy rate of women in the UAE is about 95%, which is one of the highest literacy rates in the world. According to a survey of Emirati women conducted by TNS MENA, 55% of young women between the age of 25 to 35 years are employed and 80% among them are satisfied with their career and opportunities provided by the government. In a way, though in some regions gender discrimination is still visible, most of the women have equal rights and opportunities to progress (“Women”).
The UAE is emerging as a dominating power in sectors like business, politics and tourism. It is a religious country which strictly follows the Islamic laws. By following all the guidelines, rules, and social norms, one can experience memorable and wonderful travel in the country.