Practical Information for Visitors
Currency and Foreign Exchange
The official currency of the United Arab Emirates is the dirham (abbreviated to Dhs or AED), with currently a fixed exchange rate of AED 3.67 to US$ 1. There is some limitation on the import of currency into the country. According to Abu Dhabi International Airport’s official website, cash exceeding AED 100,000 or its equivalent in foreign currency must be declared to airport customs control upon entry.
Credit cards, such as MasterCard, Visa, American Express and Diners Club, are widely accepted in the United Arab Emirates, as are traveler’s cheques. Travelers are advised to carry traveler’s cheques in either US Dollar or UK Pounds Sterling to avoid additional exchange rate charges.
Telecom and Internet Services
The Emirates Telecommunications Company (Etisalat) and the Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (Du) provide comprehensive telecommunications and Internet services across the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. All major hotels offer high-speed Internet connectivity to their guests and Etisalat and Du have a number of “roaming” agreements in place with international mobile telephone operators.
Abu Dhabi is generally conservative but tolerant when it comes to dress code. The attitude to dress is relaxed, but visitors (both men and women) are advised not to wear excessively revealing clothing in public places, as a sign of respect for local culture and customs. This also applies to public beaches, where swimmers should avoid excessively revealing swimming suits. Most nightclubs require their guests not to wear shorts, caps or sport shoes on their premises. Unless otherwise indicated, official events usually require non-locals to wear formal dress; a suit and tie for men and an evening dress for women.
As for the weather requirements, lightweight summer clothing is suitable for most of the year (summer, spring and autumn), though a light sweater or cardigan could be handy when visiting a shopping mall, hotel or restaurant where the temperature might be kept too low to counter the outdoor heat. Slightly warm clothes are needed for the short winter season, especially in the evening.
Visitors to Abu Dhabi can rent or drive a car in the Emirate if they have a valid international driving license issued by the country from which their driving license has been granted. Visitors are not allowed to use their national driving license during their stay in Abu Dhabi. Note must be made that while the law allows visitors to drive privately registered vehicles, some insurance companies will not cover accident claims, as they only insure vehicles for drivers holding a valid U.A.E. driving license.
Nationals or residents of other Gulf Cooperation Council countries do not require an international driving license, and can drive or rent a car in Abu Dhabi using their GCC-issued driving license for the duration of their visit in the emirate (up to three months).
Straddling the Tropic of Cancer, Abu Dhabi’s climate as a result is subtropical, with temperatures that vary from warm in the winter months to hot in the summer. Sunny blue skies prevail throughout the year and rainfall is infrequent.
The weather in Abu Dhabi is mildest in the months of December (average 20.3° C, with a maximum of 27° C and a minimum of 15.2° C) through March (average 22° C, max. 29° C and min. 16.5° C). January is the coolest month of the year, with an average temperature of 18.4° C (max. 24.6° C and min. 13.4° C). The thermometer starts to climb in April, rising to 26.4° C (max. 34.5° C and min. 19.5° C), and continues to climb steadily to record the emirate’s hottest month in August at an average temperature of 34.9° C. The temperature begins to cool down in September (average 32.5° C) with temperatures in November dropping considerably to 24.4° C (max. 31° C and min. 18.5° C).
Meanwhile, January is the wettest month of the year, with minimum monthly rainfall of 22mm, followed by the month of March, which registers an average of 17.7mm of rainfall. The months of May through October see very little rainfall, if any.