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How Much Money to Take to UAE


Page update - Sep 29, 2023

How much money a tourist needs in the UAE for daily expenses? How much does it cost to eat in restaurants, fast-foods and street-foods? What are the prices of transportation, tours, and tickets to attractions? Read the answers below on this page.

The prices and other information on this page were updated in September 2023. In 2023, the prices did not increase significantly (inflation of 2.05% for the first half of the year). However, in 2022 prices have increased, and for some products and services up to +100% (isolated cases). Find all current prices below on this page.

Important notes

First. The prices on this page are published in Emirati dirhams or US dollars, depending on the current item or service. Do not be surprised. To recalculate the prices, see the current exchange rates in our review "Money in the UAE".

Second. In the course of this review, we'll first look at the top 16 vacationer expenses. You'll be able to see the summary at the end.

Third. On this page we will talk about expenses for adult tourists. About the expenses for children, such as baby food and hygiene products, read in detail in our review "Trip to the United Arab Emirates with children".




TOP-16 vacation expenses




1. Communication - calls home and the Internet

Communication in the UAE is expensive. This applies to both calls and the Internet. In addition, VoIP is blocked in the country - calls via Skype, WhatsApp, Viber and other messengers do not work.

Mobile traffic in the UAE is very expensive. This is not surprising, as there are only two mobile operators in the UAE - DU and Etisalat, and they are both state-owned.

If your hotel provides free and fast Wi-Fi then the problem is solved for 0. If not or you need the Internet outside the hotel, you have to choose between roaming or a local SIM.

With a local SIM you will pay AED 50 for 2 GB, 80 for 4, 125 for 8, 200 for 22. Or now you can buy unlimited traffic for AED 300. Using roaming usually charges a fixed sum every day. What's better, what's worse? Read in detail in our review "Internet in the UAE - how is cheaper".

The situation with calls is even worse. With local SIM-cards a minute of conversation with the UK, US, EU countries costs AED 1.2-2.8, which is obscenely expensive. There are packages of minutes with a low price per minute. Read more in our review "Calls from the UAE - how is cheaper".

In order not to seriously limit yourself in minutes and traffic, prepare: AED 125 for the Internet traffic + AED 50 for calls. If you need a lot of minutes and gigs, prepare: AED 300 for unlimited traffic + AED 200 for a large minutes package. Or ask your home operator about roaming terms, and maybe those terms are more profitable than local SIM.



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2. Souvenirs and gifts

Souvenirs in the UAE are expensive. Local vendors usually ask for an ordinary fridge magnet AED 5, and sometimes even 10 or 20. There are places where you can buy magnets for 2. The farther away from the popular tourist spots, the cheaper.

Prices for souvenirs. The magnet - AED 2 to 20, it depends on the place of purchase. Burj Khalifa or Burj Al Arab statuettes - from AED 5 to 50 depending on the size and place of purchase. Plush camels - AED 20 to 100, dependent on size.

The most popular gift is the local dates. Be sure you buy exactly the local dates that are grown in the UAE, Saudi Arabia or Oman. There is no sense buying Tunisian dates in the UAE, because in many countries they are cheaper and can be found widely.

Emirati or Saudi dates cost from AED 70 per kilo. For the elite ones, prepare from AED 120. You can buy them at Carrefour, Spinneys, Waitrose supermarkets. Read the details in our review "Dates from the Arab Emirates".

We will not talk about all the gifts in detail now. Read our detailed review "What to bring from the United Arab Emirates".

For a small set of souvenirs and gifts, prepare USD 100 (or GBP 100, or EUR 100). For a luxury set prepare from 200 to 300.




3. Local transportation

Local transportation in the UAE is affordable in price. As a result, in most cases it is cheaper for tourists to go to the sights on their own than to buy trips from excursion agencies.

Cabs are a universal transport for tourists in all seven emirates. Fares vary slightly from emirate to emirate. On average you have to pay AED 5-10 for boarding and AED 1.8-2.5 per kilometer (AED 3-4 per mile). There is a minimum trip cost in every emirate, for instance in Dubai and Abu Dhabi it is AED 12. For the fares please refer to our detailed review "Taxi cabs in the UAE".

The cheapest way to get around Dubai is by subway. The prices are AED 3, 5, or 7.5 per trip, depending on distance, or rather on the number of transport zones passed. For the prices, the subway scheme, and information about tickets see our review "Dubai Subway".

Dubai also has an extensive network of buses, one tram line, one monorail line. All of these types of transport are useful for tourists.

Abu Dhabi has several dozen bus routes. Some of them are useful for tourists if they stop somewhere near the hotel. The price for a ride through the city is AED 2, to the suburbs AED 4. Still, tourists in Abu Dhabi take a cab more often.

There are 15 bus routes in Sharjah, but they are useless for tourists in most cases. On top of that, the bus is expensive at AED 6 if paid bu Sayer card or AED 8 if cash! In this situation, it is easier and cheaper to take a cab.



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4. Intercity transport

Warning. Not all of UAE intercity transport now (September 2023) works.

Operating buses: E100, E101, E102 Dubai-Abu Dhabi; E400, E411 Dubai-Ajman; E700 Dubai-Fujairah; Al Hamra Dubai-Ras Al Khaimah; 6 out of 9 Dubai-Sharjah buses.

Out of service: 3 out of 9 Dubai-Sharjah buses.

Cabs between emirates are expensive because there is an extra AED 20 fee for crossing an emirate border. In almost all cases, buses turn out to be many times cheaper. The only exception is between Sharjah and Dubai, where cabs are slightly more expensive than buses, but much more convenient.

Bus prices: Dubai-Sharjah - AED 10, Dubai-Abu Dhabi - 25, Dubai-Ajman - 15, Dubai-Ras Al Khaimah - 25, Dubai-Fujairah - 25.

Don't forget that you still need to get to the bus station from your hotel. In Dubai, you can do it by subway, but in other emirates a cab will cost from AED 12 to AED 20.

Unfortunately, so far cabs and buses are the only options of intercity transport in the Arab Emirates. But a rail line is being built across the country, and a HyperLoop line is planned between Dubai and Abu-Dhabi.




5. Tickets for attractions and amusement parks

There is a lot to see for free in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah, including the top attractions. All the details in our review "What to see in the UAE for free".

Visiting museums in the United Arab Emirates costs a symbolic (by local standards) money. For example, the Museum of Islamic Civilization - AED 10, Al Fahidi Museum - 3, Etihad Museum - 25, Ajman Museum - 5.

But entertainments in the Arab Emirates is much more expensive.

Water parks: Aquaventure - AED 315, Wild Wadi - 295, LegoLand WaterPark - 295, Yas WaterWorld - 295.

Amusement parks: LegoLand - AED 295, MotionGate - 295, IMG World - 345, Ferrari World - 345, Warner Bros - 345.

Other attractions: Burj Khalifa Observation Deck - from AED 169, The Lost Chambers Aquarium - from 135, Dubai Mall Aquarium - from 110, Dubai Frame - 50, Dubai Dolphinarium Show - from 99.

Expensive! And these figures MAY and MUST be reduced. To do this, there are discounts and promotions, coupons, access for hotel guests. There are a dozen ways to save up to 50%. Read about all the ways in the review "How to save on tickets in Dubai".



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6. Excursions

Prices for excursions in the United Arab Emirates are very different. And first of all the price depends on whether the program includes visits to paid attractions.

Sightseeing tours in the emirate of vacating - USD 30-40. This price is subject to the fact that during the tour you will visit only free attractions.

Excursions to other emirates with a visit to one paid attraction - USD 60-80. Usually the price of such an excursion includes lunch, but drinks during lunch may be chargeable.

Trips to amusement parks and water parks usually cost from USD 90 to USD 110. But how much is justified when you compare with the ticket prices at the official sites and ticket counters? It's hard to say. It varies.

Long tours for a full day cost USD 100-120. Read all the details in our review "Excursions in Dubai".




7. Drinks (non-alcoholic)

Still water in supermarkets costs AED 2-2.5 for a 1.5 liter bottle. But better buy in big packs of 6 or 12 bottles, in which case a bottle costs AED 1.5-2.

Carbonated drinks are very expensive in the UAE now (2023). In December 2019, a special 50% tax on sugar-sweetened beverages was introduced. Since then, soda prices may shock some tourists.

A can of Coca-Cola, Fanta, Sprite, Pepsi, Mirinda or 7-Up cost AED 2.5-3.5. A 2.25 liter bottle - 8-10. A can of Schweppes 0.25l - 3-4.5. By the way, have you ever seen a 0.150 liter can of Coca-Cola or Pepsi? They are so small. They sell them in supermarkets in the UAE for AED 2.9.

Juices cost from AED 4 per liter and up to infinity, depending on the origin, brand and availability of the prefix "Eco". Lipton tea in a can of 0,33l - 3.5-4.5. Nescafe coffee in a 0,25 can for 6-8.

Energy drinks: Red Bull 0,25l - AED 10-12, Monster Green Energy 0,25 - 7-9, Power Horse 0,25 - 8-10.




8. Where and what to eat - fast-foods

Eating fast-food in the UAE is safe, convenient, fast, but expensive!

At McDonalds. A Big Mac is AED 19, 9 nuggets is 16, a Big Tasty is 23, a double cheeseburger is 12, a cheeseburger is 9.

At KFC. Boxmaster (Twister Max) - AED 19, Twister - 9, set of 5 strips, salad, fries and a drink - 31.

At Burger King. Bopper - AED 19, Steakhouse - 24, three strips - 13, medium fries - 9.

At Pizza Hut. An average size pizza costs from AED 45 to AED 55.

If the prices above are affordable for you then use it. International fast-food dishes are not spicy and 100% safe. It is why many European and American tourist prefer this way to eat.

If you're going to eat at fast-food eateries, prepare USD 20-30 per day per person.




9. Where and what to eat - restaurants

It's hard to talk about prices in restaurants, as restaurants come in very different levels. At an inexpensive restaurant in Deira, a dish can cost AED 20 and 10 for dessert. At At.Mosphere on the Burj Khalifa, a similar dish will cost you AED 240 and 100 for dessert.

Let's see what the average prices are. The price of a meat dish with a side at a mid-level restaurant in Dubai is AED 30-40. Do not forget about beverages and dessert. Prepare to pay between AED 50 and 80 for lunch or dinner.

The prices in restaurants in hotels or in shopping malls are usually higher. We recommend you check on google.maps beforehand which restaurants are close to your hotel. This way you can save a lot of money.

And do not forget that Dubai is one of the gastronomic capitals of the world. There are restaurants with more than 200 cuisines from all over the world. There are many restaurants of Indian, Iranian, Turkish cuisine. The food there is spicy, and not everyone will have a taste for it. Choose the restaurant thoughtfully.

If you're going to eat in restaurants, prepare USD 40-80 per day per person.




10. Where and what to eat - inexpensive eateries and street-foods

The main advantage of this way is cheapness.

The main disadvantage is that the food in street-food is adapted mainly for Indians, Pakistanis, Iranians. The taste is sometimes very unfamiliar for Europeans and Americans. The UAE population now consists of only 10% Arab-citizens, and the remaining 90% are expat workers from Asian countries, as you can read about in detail in the review "The population of the UAE". The street-food industry is largely targeted for expats.

The most popular street-food in the UAE is the well-known shawarma. The price ranges from AED 6 to AED 12 depending on the size, type of meat and place of purchase.

Chicken shawarma is dressed with garlic sauce, and often it is very spicy. They may also add oregano and/or vinegar. Lamb shawarma is often dressed with tahini paste. All these delicacies are often uncommon for western tourists.

Also common are Indian fried or baked "samosa" pies with meat fillings - AED 1.5-3 for a small pie. Iranian bread and cheese - 4-6. Grilled chicken - 20-30 (15-25 for half).

If you're willing to eat street food, prepare USD 10-15 per day per person.

The most frequent question from tourists about street-food, "How safe is this food?" The answer is, "It is quite safe in the United Arab Emirates". There is a high level of sanitary control of catering establishments.




11. Where and what to eat - supermarket ready meals

Culinary departments now can be found in all large supermarkets in the UAE, but these departments can be different. The main advantage of this way is safety.

Some supermarkets have full-fledged cookery departments where food is sold by weight and there are tables for customers. Some supermarkets only have shelves of freshly prepared food. Small supermarkets have only shelves with baked goods.

The average price of a cooked meal in a culinary is AED 5 dirhams per 100 grams.

There are sandwiches or pizza slices - from 4 to 8, depending on the composition and volume of toppings.

For maximum money saving we recommend the bakery section. There are pies with meat or cheese for AED 2-4. There are pastries without filling for 1-2.

If you want to eat ready-made meals from the supermarkets, prepare USD 10-15 per day per person.

If you are willing to eat baked goods or sandwiches, then prepare USD 5-10 per day per person.




12. Where and what to eat - groceries in stores + cook by yourself

If you rent an apartment with a kitchen, the problem of food resolves much cheaper. The average grocery set in the UAE is even cheaper than in the US, the UK or the western EU countries.

Potatoes - AED 3.5-5 dirhams per kilo, pasta - 4-5 per pack of 400 grams, rice - 6-10 per kilo. Beef - from 40 per kilo, chicken fillet - 20-30 per kilo. Dozen of chicken eggs - 7, one liter of milk - 6-8, hard cheeses - 40-60 per kilo.

Read all the details in our review "The food prices in the Arab Emirates".

If you can cook using ingredients from the stores, you can eat for USD 5 per person per day.

If you can skillfully take advantage of promotions and discounts in supermarkets, you can even get by for USD 3 per person per day.

However, don't forget that cooking is time lost from vacation. Semi-finished foods are very expensive in the UAE. A packet of frozen nuggets 400 grams costs AED 20-25. Frozen pizza 300-350 grams is 18-22.

You have to choose whether to save time or money.




13. Alcohol

Alcoholic beverages in the UAE are expensive when compared with the US, UK, and EU countries. Low quality spirits are about 20% more expensive, but may have similar prices or may be even cheaper. High quality drinks are much-much more expensive. Now we will explain why.

The UAE still has a percentage system of alcohol tax, not an excise system as most countries do. In the excise system, the government charges a fixed amount from each bottle of alcohol. For example, in the UK the tax is GBP 28.74 for 1 liter of pure alcohol equal GBP 5,748 for 0,5l bottle of 40% spirit). And it does not matter whether it is a bottle of cheap vodka or expensive French cognac.

In the UAE, the system is percentage-based - the tax is 100% of the price. That is, for a bottle of vodka priced at AED 20, the government charges 20, and the final price is 40. For an expensive French cognac of AED 100 the government charges 100 and the final price is 200.

Bottom line! If you want to drink good drinks, then take with you or from Duty Free. You can bring up to 4 liters of alcohol into the UAE now (September 2023). If it makes no difference, you can buy alcohol in liquor stores in the UAE where you will find even vodka for AED 20 (in most cases).

The main thing! Do not forget that being drunk in a public place in the UAE is a criminal offense. Read all the details in our review "Alcohol in the United Arab Emirates".




14. Cigarettes

Smoking tobacco in the UAE was very cheap. But since December 1, 2019, everything has changed - an excise tax system on tobacco products has been introduced. Since then, the tax on a pack of cigarettes is AED 8. And now (September 2023) the cheapest cigarettes cost 12 dirhams per pack.

But despite the new tax, the cigarette prices in the UAE are much lower than in the US, UK, and western EU countries.

The pack (20 pieces) of Marlboro, Kent, Parliament or similar high-quality cigarettes cost AED 22-25. The pack (20 pieces) of L&M, Pall Mall, Chesterfield or similar middle-class cigarettes cost AED 16-18. Local cigarettes Royal Orchid or Kings & Lords (K&L) cost AED 12-15.

The conclusion is obvious - buy the cigarettes in place or in Duty Free shops. If you buy in a Duty Free shop then there are limits when entering the UAE. You are allowed to bring up to 400 cigarettes (2 cartons) into the UAE.

See our page "Cigarettes and smoking in the UAE" for more details on prices, smoking rules and penalties.

There are special rules for vaping devices, IQOS and the like. Read our page "Vaping and IQOS in Dubai and UAE".




15. Unforeseen expenses

There are many of them.

First, do not forget about the deductible in the insurance. Not all tourists know what it is, so let's explain. Travel insurance covers medical expenses only over a certain amount. Usually above USD 30 (or GBP, or EUR, or equal in your home currency country).

For example, you hurt yourself on the beach, and you got stitches. The clinic charges USD 100 for all its medical procedures. Of these, the tourist pays 30 out of his own pocket. The insurance company pays the remaining 70. These USD 30 should be carried with you just in case.

It happens that in the gift store you will see a thing you really liked. It happens that in a restaurant window you see a dish that you really want to taste. But originally you did not plan to buy the souvenir or taste the dish. You need money for all that.

For all of these unforeseen expenses, it is recommended that you have USD 100 (or equal in your home currency country) with you. If there are no unforeseen expenses, that's okay - you can bring that money home with you.




16. Attention! Tourist taxes

In the UAE there is a large list of additional tourist taxes that hotels charge upon check-in or check-out of the guest. Taxes are called: tourist dirham, service charge, municipal tax, and in addition the VAT.

Depending on where you buy the hotel reservation (or tour package) these taxes may be included in the price, or may be charged separately. It varies. It is better to find out in advance which taxes are included and which are not. Read more about all taxes in our review "Tourist taxes in Dubai and UAE".




FINAL OPTIONS

We publish prices in US dollars. We think it will be easy for our readers to calculate the prices in the homeland currency.

"As cheap as possible" Fare.

Eating street-food, supermarket sandwiches, and food in cheap eateries. Sightseeings for free, fortunately there are plenty of them in the UAE. For entertainment spend money only for transportation. Do not buy souvenirs and gifts.

Expenses: USD 15 a day per person for food and drinks. USD 100 for unforeseen expenses.

"Balanced" Fare.

Eating out at culinary or fast-food venues, dining out a few times per vacation. Visit a few paid attractions, but travel mostly by subway (in Dubai) and buses. Souvenirs and gifts to a minimum.

Expenses: USD 30 a day per person for food and drinks. USD 100 for gifts + USD 250 for entertainment + USD 100 for unforeseen expenses.

"The high life" Fare.

Eating at restaurants. Sightseeing without restrictions. Riding only in a cab. Rich set of souvenirs and gifts.

Expenses: USD 60-80 a day per person for food and drinks. USD 250 for gifts + USD 500 for entertainment + USD 100 for unforeseen expenses.

Important to know

- If you want to save money and bring something with you then read our review "What you can and can't bring into the UAE";

- If you are aiming for a large set of gifts and souvenirs, then do not forget about the restrictions at customs. Read our review "What you can and can't take out of the UAE";

- What to take with you besides money read "What to take with you to the UAE".

Have a great holiday in the United Arab Emirates, and read our helpful for tourists and interesting pages about the country (see list of the pages below).

TIPS

Tips for Tourists in the UAE

IMPORTANT FOR TOURISTS

What to Take for the UAE

What You Should Not Do in the UAE

To the UAE with Kids

Sharks in the UAE

Weather in the UAE by Month

Holidays in the UAE

Are Unmarried Young Women
Allowed to Enter the UAE?

All-Inclusive in the UAE

Power Sockets & Voltage in the UAE

Hotels in the UAE with Own Beach

GENERAL INFORMATION

The UAE - Info, Facts, Figures

What Language is Spoken in the UAE

Population and Citizens of the UAE

History of the UAE

Flag of the UAE

Friday and Weekend in the UAE

Ramadan in the UAE

Sheikh Zayed - Father of Nation

Sheikhs of the UAE

GIFTS AND CUSTOMS LAW

What to Bring from the UAE

What You Can and Not Bring In the UAE

What You Can and Not Take Out the UAE

VAT Refund in the UAE

Shopping in the UAE - Why is Cheap

Date Fruits in the UAE

Camel Milk and Dairy Products

Bakhoor and Oud

MONEY AND EXPENSES

Money in the UAE - Emirati Dirham

Currency Exchange in the UAE

How Much Money to Take to the UAE

Food Prices in the UAE

Tourist Taxes in the UAE

Alcohol in the UAE

Cigarettes and Smoking in the UAE

Vape and iQos in the UAE

TRANSPORT

Dubai Metro - Fares and Map

Taxi in the UAE - Fares and Guide

NOL Transport Card Dubai

Dubai Tram

Dubai Monorail

Buses in the UAE

FROM AIRPORT TO CITY

From Dubai Airport (DXB) to City

From Al Maktoum Airport (DWC) to City

From Abu Dhabi Airport (AUH) to City

From Sharjah Airport (SHJ) to City

TRIPS BETWEEN EMIRATES

From Dubai to Abu-Dhabi

Free Buses Dubai - Abu-Dhabi

From Sharjah to Dubai

From Ras Al-Khaimah to Dubai

From Ajman to Dubai

From Fujairah to Dubai

From Umm Al-Quwain to Dubai

TELECOM

Internet in the UAE

Cheap Calls from the UAE

Free SIM-card in Dubai

UAE Phone Codes

EMIRATES

Dubai

Deira

Bur Dubai

Dubai Marina

Jumeirah

Downtown

TOP Attractions in Dubai

Beaches in Dubai

Abu Dhabi

Al Ain

Yas Island

Beaches in Abu Dhabi

Sharjah

Beaches in Sharjah

Ajman

Ras Al Khaimah

Umm Al Quwain

Fujairah

ATTRACTIONS IN THE UAE

Best Attractions in the UAE

Free Attractions in the UAE

DUBAI

Burj Khalifa

Dubai Fountain

Excursions in Dubai

How to Save on Entertainment in Dubai

DUBAI MALL

The Best in Dubai Mall

Dubai Aquarium

Candylicious in Dubai Mall

Waterfall in Dubai Mall

DUBAI DEIRA

Gold Market in Dubai

Al Mamzar Beach and Park

Deira Clock Tower

City Centre Deira Mall

JUMEIRAH DISTRICT

Burj Al Arab

Wild Wadi Water Park

Jumeirah Mosque

Dubai Marina Mall

Madinat Jumeirah

Jumeirah Beach

PALM JUMEIRAH

Aquaventure

The Lost Chambers

Dolphin Bay

Palm Fountains

The View at the Palm

DUBAI PARKS AND RESORTS

LEGOLAND

MOTIONGATE

LEGOLAND Water Park

BLUEWATERS ISLAND

Ain Dubai

Madame Tussauds

BUR DUBAI

The Dubai Frame

Dubai Dolphinarium

Al Fahidi Fort Museum

Museum of the Future

DUBAI - SOUTH-EAST

Global Village

Miracle Garden

Butterfly Garden

IMG Worlds of Adventure

MALL OF THE EMIRATES

Mall of the Emirates

Ski Dubai

ABU DHABI CITY

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Louvre Abu Dhabi

Emirates Palace

Observation Deck at 300

Sheikh Zayed Memorial

Heritage Village

Corniche Waterfront

Sir Bani Yas

YAS ISLAND

Ferrari World

Formula Rossa

Galleria Ferrari

Warner Bros Park

Yas WaterWorld

Yas Marina & Formula 1

Yas Mall

SHARJAH

Sharjah Fountains

Sharjah Aquarium

Museum of Islamic Civilization

Al Noor Mosque

Mega Mall

AJMAN

Ajman Fish Market

Ajman Fort and Museum

City Centre Ajman Mall

UMM AL QUWAIN

DreamLand Water Park

NATIONAL CUISINE

Emirati Cuisine - What to Taste

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