United Arab Emirates Dirham - Travel Money Saving Tips
For most people, the United Arab Emirates means just one place: Dubai, the sci-fi-esque city of iconic skyscrapers, palm-shaped islands, city-sized malls, indoor ski slopes and palatial beach resorts. But beyond the glitter awaits a diverse mosaic of six more emirates, each with its own character and allure.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is an oil-rich country strategically located between Europe and East Asia with a large expat community. The UAE has become a very wealthy country with a strong and stable currency, the dirham.
Abu Dhabi is the island capital of the Emirates and positions itself as the arts and cultural centre of the UAE. With the stunning newly opened Louvre Abu Dhabi Museum on Saadiyat island, it cements this title. Beyond the glitzy hotels there is Dubai, a shopping mecca with its city sized malls. North of Dubai Sharjah, does arts and heritage well, whilst further north again, Ajman provides glimpses of the pre-oil days.
What currency is used in United ARAB Emirates?
The currency is the UAE dirham (Dhs). Visa and Mastercard is widely accepted in the expat touristy areas of Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Elsewhere be sure to have some cash. While many smaller businesses and taxis now take cards, again, you will need cash at some point on your travels. ATMs are widespread and you'll see some familiar names like Citi and HSBC.
Bargaining isn't as much a part of the culture in the UAE as it is elsewhere in the Middle East. Malls and shops are all fixed price. It's only in the souqs where you can try out your bargaining skills.
How to get around in United Arab Emirates?
Taxis are decently priced, metered, ubiquitous and within emirates like Umm Al Quwain often the only way of getting around. Most drivers can also be hired by the hour. In that case, rates should be negotiated unless fixed fees are set in place. In Dubai, for instance, the fee for six hours is Dhs300, for 12 hours Dhs500. Most cabs can also be engaged for long-distance travel to other emirates, in which case you should negotiate the fee at the beginning of the trip.
Although there are city buses in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Sharjah, their destinations are either stated in Arabic script only or not at all, so they are used almost exclusively by Asian migrant workers. There are not many buses in the other emirates. Locals take their cars, and tourists tend to take taxis. In Dubai, tourists can conveniently get to most attractions by metro, which is an aerial railway across large sections of the city with great views.
There are no public ferries between emirates. There is talk of starting a water-taxi service between Dubai and Sharjah, though as of late 2018, it wasn't yet operational.
Having your own wheels is a great way to see the UAE, allowing you to get off the major highways and to stop as you please. Well-maintained multi-lane highways link the cities, often lit along their entire length. For off-road driving, you need a 4WD. If you have a breakdown, call the Arabian Automobile Association. To hire a car, you’ll need a passport, a credit card and a valid driving licence. International driving licences are not usually compulsory, but it's better to have one.
The UAE has no train network.
Entry criteria to note
If you are travelling on an Australian passport showing 'X' (indeterminate/intersex/unspecified) in the sex field, you will not be permitted to enter the United Arab Emirates
You must declare cash money, including travellers cheques, above AED 100,000, or the equivalent in other currencies.
Travel tips for United Arab Emirates.
Watch the setting sun from the sand or the sea against a backdrop of Dubai’s most iconic landmarks at Kite Beach. With uninterrupted views of the Arabian Gulf on one side, the twinkling city skyline on another, and a flurry of kite surfers on all sides, Kite Beach promises a beautiful end to any day.
The coasts are hot and muggy in the summer (40–45°C/104–113°F); while the interior is dry, and visiting at this time is almost impossible for Europeans. Even the country's inhabitants prefer to stay in air-conditioned rooms during the day in July and August, or they go on holiday to cooler countries. For that reason, the main time to go is winter (Oct–Apr), when the climate is mild and the days sunny. Maximum temperatures of 25–35°C (77–95°F), nights 17–20°C (62–68°F).
Also see our full Foreign Exchange Guide to UAE for more money saving tools and information on United Arab Emirates Dirham Transfers and Travel Money.