Mobile phone usage in the UAE is incredibly widespread and has one of the highest smartphone penetrations in the world.
When you’re dialing within the UAE, the first few digits depend on whether you are calling a landline or a mobile. Landline phone numbers depend on the Emirate and begin as follows: 04 (Dubai), 02 (Abu Dhabi), 06 (Ajman), 06 (Sharjah and Umm al-Quwain), 07 (Ras al-Khaimah), and 09 (Fujairah).
Mobile phone numbers begin with the following digits, depending on your carrier: 050, 054, and 056 are Etisalat, while 052, 055, and 058 are Du. To call a mobile number from abroad, the 0 at the beginning of the prefix should be left out. If you call a mobile number from within the UAE, the 0 should be kept. To call a UAE number from outside the UAE, dial +971, drop the 0, and dial the number.
The UAE’s digital landscape has witnessed a complete transformation in the last two decades. The country has become the most digital-friendly country in the Middle East by creating a favourable environment for digital innovators. The UAE ranks top among other countries in terms of internet usage, Covid-19 further boosted it. In the period of 2020 to 2021, there was around a 2% increase in Internet usage in the country.
UAE’s love for digital is reflected in the large-scale adoption of digital technologies by its population. In 2021, the UAE population is almost 10 million, and a whopping 99% of the people are active internet users.
The avg. mobile internet speeds come close to 90 Mbps.
The general postal authority runs an efficient postal system with red post collection boxes dotted throughout the cities and towns. Mail is usually collected morning and evening. Stamps can be purchased and post mailed from your hotel. Express postal facilities are also available at post offices.
In general, post office opening hours are from 8 A.M.- 1 P.M. And 4 P.M. – 7 P.M. Saturday to Wednesday. Closed Thursdays and Fridays.
8 A.M. – 12 Noon on public holidays, but closed on the first day of eid holidays. Note that there are no telephones or fax facilities at post offices in the UAE and poste restante facilities are not available.
The main post office in Dubai is on zaïsabeel road, bur Dubai (8 A.M. – 11.30 P.M. Saturday to Wednesday, 8 A.M. – 1 P.M. And 4 P.M. – 8 P.M. Thursday and closed Fridays). There is also a smaller post office in Deira on al sabkha road. Other post offices are located in Satwa, Karama and Jumeirah.
Opening hours and holidays
Normal shopping hours are from 9.00 A.M. – 1 P.M. And 4.00 – 9.00 P.M. However many shops, particularly in dubai and abu dhabi stay open all day. Most shopping centres open from 10 A.M to 10 P.M – frequently later. Some supermarkets are open for 24 hours. Although shops and shopping centres are fully air conditioned, the cool of the evening is a favourite time for shopping. Shopping centres and most shops are open on Friday, the islamic day of rest, but they all close for juma (Friday) prayers from 11.30 A.M. To 1.30 P.M.
All shops are required to close at prayer times in raï’s al-khaimah.
Government offices open at 7.30 A.M. And close at 3.00 P.M. But you would be wise to visit in the morning. Private offices tend to keep longer hours, coming back to work in the evening after an extended mid-day break. Some private businesses open from 8 A.M. To 5 P.M.
All government offices close for the weekend at mid-day on Thursday and do not open again until Saturday morning. Some offices outside the public sector are open on Thursday and close on Friday and Saturday.
Tipping is not expected, but is common practice. Gratuities to staff at hotels are at your discretion. Most restaurants add service charges to the bill (Abu Dhabi 16 per cent; Sharjah 15 per cent; Dubai 10 per cent). If this charge is not included, add 10 per cent of the total to the bill. Taxi drivers do not expect to be tipped. Supermarket baggers, bag carriers and windscreen washers at petrol stations are generally given dh2.
Ask permission before photographing people in general. Avoid photographing Muslim women and do not photograph airports, docks, and telecommunications equipment, government buildings, military and industrial installations.
The UAE is four hours ahead of GMT. The time does not change during the summer. This means that there is a three-hour difference between UK and UAE local times in summer and a four-hour difference in winter.
Weights and Measures
The UAE uses the metric system, although British and US standard weights and measures are understood.
Lightweight summer clothing is ideal with a wrap, sweater or jacket for cooler winter nights and air-conditioned premises. Although the dress code in the UAE is generally casual, guests in the larger hotels do tend to dress more formally in the evening. Since you are visiting a Muslim country, bikinis, swimsuits, shorts and revealing tops should be confined to beach resorts.
Women are usually advised not to wear short skirts and to keep their shoulders covered. Note that in Sharjah women are prohibited from wearing swimsuits on public beaches.
Most shopping centres, public gardens, museums etc. have clean, well-maintained public toilets. Public toilets in souqs and bus stations are usually just for men. Outside of the cities, you can find public toilets at restaurants and petrol stations; however they may not be in good condition and will generally lack toilet paper.
Food and Water
The standard of food hygiene and water quality is extremely high, especially in all of the larger centres. You should take the time to investigate conditions in smaller cafés in remote areas, although again standards are usually good. Raw salads and shawarmas (meat cooked on a spit and served in a pitta bread sandwich) are to be avoided if you have any doubts. Water is usually produced by desalination so it is normally safe to drink, nevertheless you may prefer the taste of bottled water. In any case it is advisable to drink plenty of water in the heat so carry a bottle with you at all times.