Page update - Sep 13, 2022
What to take for vacation in Dubai and other UAE emirates? What things will seriously make life easier? What things are mandatory? What things are useless? Read the answers below on this page.
The prices and other information on this page were updated in September 2022. We publish the prices for some items to give our readers the understanding - what is needed to bring in and what is better to buy on the spot. So, prices in the UAE have risen in the last six months. See all the current prices below on this page.
Naturally, we will not talk about the common trivial things - bring your passport, insurance, airline tickets (printed or electronic versions), vouchers or confirmation of hotel booking. And by the way, now (September 2022) you also need to remember about the vaccine certificate or test result for coronavirus.
Before you pack your suitcase for a vacation in the United Arab Emirates, we advise you to learn what items are allowed and forbidden to bring into the country? The answer to this question is in our detailed review "What you can and cannot bring into Dubai and the UAE".
If you do not have a smartphone, you have to buy or borrow one to travel to the United Arab Emirates. Now (September 2022) a smartphone is required due to covid-security measures.
Dubai has its own special application "COVID19-DXB Smart App". It is required to track contacts and get information about coronavirus tests.
Some airlines require this app when boarding a flight. Also the app may be asked at the border crossing. Further COVID19-DXB app is not needed, it can be erased. But if you get tested positive in Dubai, you must have the app. The fine is 50 000 dirhams (13 600 USD, 13 600 EUR, 11 800 GBP at the exchange rate of September 2022).
In Abu Dhabi, you must have the Al-Hosn application, and you need to register data about your vaccination and test to get the "green" status. Otherwise, you will not be allowed in any public place in Abu Dhabi.
We recommend downloading, installing and activating the apps in advance!
Find your flight
This tip is relevant if you travel to the UAE in the summer season (from May to September inclusive). In the rest of the months it is not so hot.
When the heat is high the sand gets even hotter than the air. To understand how much stronger it is, here are some statistics. The record air temperature of 140°F (+60°C) is registered in Mexico. The record temperature of sand is 177°F (+80,8°C) is registered in the desert Deshte Loot in Iran in May 2021. Feel the difference! Sand heats much more than air.
Of course, there are no such records of sand temperatures in the UAE, but it's very hot in summer. If in summer the air in Dubai heats up to 104°F (+40°C), the sand will be about 131°F (+55°C). Think about what it's like to walk on such sand with bare feet. Take sandals to move on the beach.
In the Arab Emirates, there are few hotels with their own beach, and such hotels are very expensive to stay. Therefore, most tourists sunbathe and swim on public beaches. Summary: take such shoes, which will not be sorry, if stolen or the sea will take it away.
Two simple ideas: first - the cheaper is better, and second - the thicker sole is better.
Drinking, smoking or vaping in the UAE is expensive nowadays. Comparing prices for alcohol and cigarettes with other countries, the situation differs depending on the country to compare.
If comparing prices in the UAE and the US or the UK. The prices for cigarettes in the UAE are 2-3 times lower. Cigarettes now cost a minimum of 12 AED per pack. Good quality cigarettes cost 20-25 AED. The sharp rise in price occurred in 2019 when they introduced an excise tax system instead of a percentage tax system. For more details and actual prices read our page "Cigarettes and smoking in Dubai and the UAE".
Therefore, there is no need to bring cigarettes with you. It is better to buy in a Duty Free shop or in a local store.
Alcohol in the UAE is subject to a 50% duty and plus an additional tax of up to 50% on sale. Prepare from 50 to 100 dirhams for a bottle of 0,5 liter of good quality spirit. Read our page "Alcohol in Dubai and UAE" for details and actual prices. See the actual dirham exchange rate on the page "Money in Dubai and UAE" In most cases it will be profitable to bring your own alcohol.
Vape liquids have similar prices in the UAE, UK, US. Nowadays, vape liquid prices are similar in most countries in the world. We recommend to bring your own liquid, because it is familiar to you personally.
Sticks (heets) for iQOS in the UAE cost 12-15 AED. It is cheaper compared to other countries. Of course, if iQOS is legal in your country. In most cases, there is no need to bring heets with you. It is better to buy in a Duty Free shop or in a local store.
Since 2021 there is a 100% tax on "items for alternative ways of smoking" in the United Arab Emirates. And even the system of electronic excise stamps has been introduced. Read more details and actual prices on our page "Vape and iQos in Dubai and the UAE".
Find your hotel
You surely know the Arab Emirates is a very hot country. However, during the winter months, the evening and night temperatures drop to 57-61°F (+14-16°C). In this case, we recommend bringing a light sweater for evening and night walks. For weather statistics, see our page "Weather in Dubai and the UAE".
The hot climate has one dangerous side effect. Outdoors in the heat people inevitably sweat and after moving indoors in a room with full force air conditioning. In this case you can catch colds because of this.
And now to get colds is very dangerous because of the mass fear of coronavirus.
A sneezing person may be expelled or not be allowed in the subway or public places. Fortunately, there is no compulsory testing for coronavirus in the UAE now. However, a person with symptoms of acute respiratory infections can be issued a quarantine order by the DHA (Department of Health). They have the right to do that.
Therefore, If you sweat and go into an air-conditioned room, it's best to wear a shirt or light sweater to avoid illness.
A scarf is a very comfortable and multifunctional part of a woman's clothing set. It can cover your shoulders from the sun, because shoulders are the first to suffer from the sun's rays.
The scarf can cover your face in case of wind which in the UAE often brings unpleasant sand.
If you go to a religious institution with a dress code, the scarf can wrap around your head and shoulders or even use it as a skirt. We talked about the rules of the dress code in different emirates in the review "What is not allowed in Dubai and the UAE".
A scarf should be lightweight, so that it would be easy to hide it in a bag or backpack. We also recommend choosing a scarf made of natural materials - cotton, linen, wool.
We would not recommend silk scarves. It is expensive, and the sand can spoil it and the hot Arabian sun can affect this scarf sadly. It is better without lace, it is not necessary on vacation.
Better take a scarf that you won't cry over if you lose it or it goes bad.
Find your transfer
In the UAE, the situation with communication abroad is hard for tourists. VoIP calls (on WhatsApp, Skype, etc) are forbidden by local law.
With local SIM the calls home are expensive.
For example, the price of a call to the US, the UK and most of the EU countries is exorbitant - 1,26 dirhams per minute. See the page "Money in Dubai and the UAE" for the current exchange rate of the dirham.
Options and packages are convenient for calls. For a detailed review of all offers and prices, see our page "How to call from Dubai and the UAE".
With the Internet the situation is reversed. On local tourist SIMs by Etisalat and DU the price of mobile Internet traffic is clearly lower. You can buy 22.5 gigabytes for 200 dirhams. That amount of traffic is enough for a vacation for sure. Or 2 GB for 50 for those who do not need much Internet. Starting 2022, there are unlimited plans for tourists. For a detailed review of all the offers and prices, see our page "Internet in Dubai and the UAE".
To have a full and cheap connection you need two phones (smartphones) - the first for your SIM card and roaming to make calls, the second for the local SIM card and the Internet access. Or take with you a smartphone with two SIM cards.
Most tourists traveling to the UAE often choose tours with a minimum price tag and to a hotel with a minimum of stars. There is a wisdom in this, because they only sleep in the hotel. They spend the vast majority of the time on public beaches and attractions. Why the need for an expensive hotel in such a situation?
Be prepared that an inexpensive hotel may not have a hair dryer. Soap and shampoo may be available, but you will not like it. Conclusion: If you go to a cheap hotel, then take all personal care products with you.
However, you can buy everything you need in the local supermarket. Prices for hygiene products in the UAE now (September 2022) are reasonable. A bar of inexpensive soap costs 1.5-2.5 dirhams. A bar of Palmolive or Nivea soap costs 4.5-5 dirhams. A 200ml bottle of shampoo costs 10-15 dirhams.
Shaving stuff is also good - the prices are almost the same as in other countries. For example, the Gillette Fusion shaver in Carrefour UAE now costs 43 dirhams.
Therefore! If you forget your hygiene products or shaving supplies at home, don't feel bad. Just go to the nearest shopping center, thankfully Dubai has record-breaking concentration of malls in the world.
The vast majority of tourists in the United Arab Emirates prefer hotels without their own beaches, because the hotels on the first line are too expensive. They sunbathe and swim on public beaches, thankfully there are many free of charge beaches in Dubai, Abu-Dhabi and Sharjah.
Nowadays, at some public beaches (not all) and inside water parks (not all) beach towels are not distributed at all (even for money). This is a covid-prevention measure. If you can take it then it will be for a fee, and not a small fee. Usually, a towel rental may have cost 30 dirhams, which is comparable to the price of this towel!
So bring your own beach towel. The rules are as follows: first - take a cheap towel so that it would not hurt to lose it; second - take a towel with a pattern so that it does not look like the others, so there is a minimum chance that someone will take it by mistake.
But even if you forget to take your own towel, do not get upset. You can buy a simple 70x140 size towel in the supermarkets for 30 AED.
The voltage in the UAE electrical networks is 220 volts. It is similar to the UK, EU countries, India and most of the countries in the world. BUT, it is not similar to the US and Canada (120 volts).
For US and Canada devices you may need a voltage converter in some cases. Check the power adapter of your device to learn if it is compatible with the 220 volts network or not. If not then you will need a voltage converter.
There are three types of electric outlets available in hotels in the United Arab Emirates: Type G (British, aka BS 1363), Type C (European common), Schuko (German). And there can be combined sockets. Read all the details about Type G in our review "Power sockets in Dubai and the UAE".
What type will be in your hotel? You can't guess that. The most probable it will be the British type. The only options to find out exactly are to ask the hotel or read reviews of tourists who had already been there. If the socket type in your hotel is similar to your device then there will be no problems. If it is NOT similar then you will need an electrical socket adapter.
The better solution is a universal travel adapter "all-to-all". Usually, you can buy such one for 5-10 USD or equal in your country's currency. In most hotels, you can borrow the adapter or buy it at the front desk. However, the price is likely to be triple. It is better to have your own adapter.
If you travel with a large family, then take also a block of outlets (power bar) to have enough sockets for all family members.
It is desirable that clothing covers shoulders and knees. For men it is pants and a shirt. For women we recommend a long skirt and blouse. Now there is no de facto dress code in the UAE and most public places are open even if you are in shorts.
T-shirts, shorts or miniskirts may not be allowed in some restaurants and museums. In mosques such clothes will not be allowed. We have demonstrated dress-code for mosques visually in our review "The Sheikh Zayed Great Mosque". There are two mosques opened for non-Muslims where they provide visitors with abaya for women - those are Jumeirah Mosque in Dubai and Al Noor Mosque in Sharjah.
We recommend dressing in universal (modest) clothing to be allowed and welcomed everywhere and anytime.
For years, Emirati lawyers and officials have been discussing the introduction of a general dress code law. But so far they have not come to anything concrete. Although there are occasional news in the press that such a law will be adopted soon. If there will be a law, then the rules will be exact and clear.
This is necessary not for all tourists, but only for those who are going to buy some services by subscription. For example, buy a Virgin Mobile SIM card (DU brand) or Swyp (Etisalat brand). Or buy a Smile subscription for discounted amusement parks tickets.
There are many such services in the UAE, and you have to use them carefully! The fact is that they continue to take money from the card even if you have already stopped using their services. In theory, you can unsubscribe, but in fact most people fail to do it.
The Internet is full of angry reviews and posts by people, especially many who have bought a SIM from Virgin Mobile. People are forced to change their credit cards to stop losing money.
So it is better to open a separate debit card Visa or MasterCard. It is better to pay for such services with this card. Some banks now issue such cards free of charge and instantly (if the card is not named). But the situation with the price of new cards is different from country to country. Upon return from the UAE you just need to close the card.
By the way, there are careful tourists who always make a separate card for trips. They pay only with this card, and transfer money for purchases from the main accounts through online banking. It's a good idea. Think about it. Why "shine" your main cards abroad?
Backpack is a very convenient way to carry your things on vacation. And in the UAE it is also as safe as possible, because the chance of a thief is minimal. Dubai and Abu Dhabi are recognized as some of the safest cities in the world.
But do not forget that the country is very hot. The main condition - the backpack must have bright color to reflect the sunrays, but not to heat from them.
The first thing we advise to put in such a backpack is a camera. Usually bodies of photo and video equipment are black, the equipment gets very hot from the sunrays and can be hurt. It is convenient to put supplies of water in the backpack so it will not get hot.
And although the level of safety in the United Arab Emirates is enormous, we still recommend keeping documents, money and valuables in the internal pockets of your clothes, not in a backpack. As the saying goes: "God protects the well-to-do".
If you watch attentively for the people, you will find some of them prefer to wipe items they touch with antiseptic wipes. Foremost, cutlery in restaurants.
No, this is not mania or phobia or paranoid disorder. It's a very practical approach to life. They protect their bodies from excessive bacterial background. In the first days of stay in the UAE, we recommend following their example. And in the circumstances of COVID-19 pandemic this advice is triply relevant.
Remember an important point! The population of the UAE is estimated at about 10 million people, of which only one million are local Arabs. The rest 90% are Indians (2.5 million), Pakistanis (1.2 million), natives of Bangladesh (700 thousand), Filipinos (550 thousand), Iranians (500 thousand) and others. We talked in detail on this topic in the review "The population of the United Arab Emirates". 90% of the population is live in the country temporarily, it's a cheap labor force for the country.
All these people leave and come, bringing bacteria and viruses from their native countries. The UAE is a country with a very diverse and rich viral-bacterial background. You should be very careful about hygiene rules.
The kit is standard. No special medicines or remedies are needed in the UAE. Here is a list of the most necessary.
Wound care products - adhesive plaster, bandages, absorbent cotton. And also antiseptics - iodine, hydrogen peroxide or other you usually use.
Anti-allergic medicines. In the UAE tourists are waiting for new plants and flowers, new spices and ingredients in dishes. All this may cause allergies. We will not name any specific medications, we are a travel site, not a medical site.
Something for the normalization of the gastrointestinal tract. In Dubai and Abu Dhabi, there are cafes and restaurants of Indian, Arabic, Persian and other cuisines at every turn. It's hard to resist trying. But how will your stomach react to unfamiliar foods? First of all, we recommend absorbent carbon as the most proven remedy.
It is better to take only the lightest analgesics, so that you do not have problems at the customs. Better yet, you should buy them on the spot at the drugstore, use the phrase "pain killer".
The rest of the drugs depend on your ailments. Everyone knows the drugs that are good or not personally.
The Arab Emirates is not a hot country, but very hot. In summer, the air in Dubai heats up to 104°F (+40°C). In winter it is moderately warm - 71-79°F (+22-26°C) during the day. All details on our page "Weather in Dubai and UAE".
With this weather in summer it is easy to get sunburn or even sunstroke. So, first of all, do not forget about the headgear. Of course, it's best to wear a hat with a long brim that covers your shoulders from the sun. But such hats are usually uncomfortable. In any case, any hat is good against the risks of sunstroke.
Sunscreen cream is most suitable for skin protection. We recommend SPF factor 30-50 for adults and SPF factor 50-60 for children. Do not forget that the coverage of the cream should be periodically renewed. If you have naturally sensitive eyes, be sure to stock up on sunglasses. In the first days of your stay in the UAE it is worth avoiding direct sunlight as much as possible.
And most importantly, take care and cover your shoulders! No matter how you turn, your shoulders will always be in direct sunlight. This is the reason why shoulders are always the first to get burned.
The extreme summer heat in the Arab Emirates affects different tourists in different ways. Sometimes lips and skin are affected, which is very unpleasant and uncomfortable. In the summer season, this problem is acute, in winter there will be no problem.
Lips can get dry and cracked. For the lips it is recommended to have a simple medical lipstick. It is hard to recommend any brand because of the different range of available such products in different countries.
Skin can peel in extreme heat, there may be red blurs and even blackheads because of clogged glands. To avoid such problems, use a moisturizer cream.
This question is very important and deserves a separate page at our website. Read our detailed page "How much money to take in Dubai and the UAE".
This is a very important question and deserves a separate page at our website. Read our detailed page "Trip to Dubai and the UAE with children".
- In the resorts and cities of the UAE everyone speaks English. So if you do not speak English or English is not your native then stock up on an application-translator. Read our review "What languages are spoken in Dubai and the UAE";
Have a nice vacation in the United Arab Emirates, and read our useful for tourists and interesting pages about this country (see the list of links below).
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