Generally hot and dry, the United Arab Emirates sees very little rain, which can occur between November and February, sometimes resulting in floods. The hottest months are July and August, with temperatures reaching as high as 120°F on the coastal plain. The weather from October to March is the most pleasant, ranging from 63°F to 85°F.
Although Arabic is the official language, expatriates from Asia, Iran, and the West are very numerous here; therefore, languages spoken widely include Farsi, Hindi, Urdu, Tagalog, and English. In addition, as a former British protectorate, most locals learn basic English in school.
In Dubai, hotels and commercial businesses usually conduct business in English.
National Holidays and Festivals
January 1 – New Year’s Day
12 Rabul Awal (Feb/Mar) – Prophet Mohammed’s Birthday
27 Rajab (Jul) – Israa & Miaraj Night
1 Ramadan (Aug/Sep) – Ramadan
9 Zulhijjah (Nov/Dec) – Arafat (Hajj) Day
December 2 – National Day
1 Muharram (Nov/Dec) – Muslim New Year’s Day
10 Muharram (Dec) – Ashura
1 Shawwal (Sep/Oct) – Eid Al-fitr (End of Ramadan)
10 Zulhajja (Nov/Dec) – Eid Al-adha (Feast of Sacrifice)
The official currency is the UAE dirham. The subdivision is the fil (at 100 fils per dirham). The exchange rate as of Feb 2010 is 3.6 dirhams to US$1.
Credit cards are widely accepted and there are ATMs throughout the major cities.
Bargaining is normal and is expected with street vendors and markets, but not with department stores and the like.
Tipping in Dubai is not expected for the most part, but is greatly appreciated; however, tipping to porters, tour guides, and tour drivers is customary and expected. In restaurants, there may be a service charge already included in the bill; if there isn’t, a 10-15% tip is customary.