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Things to know about United Arab EmiratesTIPPING
Tipping is not expected in the United Arab Emirates, 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.
Film is readily available, so too are processing facilities and colour prints are produced in record time. Ask permission before photographing people in general. Avoid photographing Muslim women and do not photograph airports, docks, telecommunications equipment, government buildings, military and industrial installations. Before making any photograph please ensure that you will not get into any problem.
The United Arab Emirates 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 United Arab Emirates local times in summer and a four hour difference in winter.
Electricity problems are rare since connections are really good. Domestic supply is 220 volts. Sockets suitable for three-pin 13 amp plugs of British standard design are the norm, however it is a good idea to bring an adaptor with you just in case. Adaptors can be purchased in local supermarkets. Appliances purchased in the United Arab Emirates will generally have two-pin plugs attached.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
The United Arab Emirates 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 United Arab Emirates 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. Women who do not maintain their dress code properly in public are liable to pay fine.
In and around the city there is no problem regarding toilets. 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 will 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 survey that 'Which' undertook states that 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 cafes in remote areas, although again standards are usually good. Raw salads and shawarmas (meat cooked on a spit and served in a pittta bread sandwich) are to be avoided if you have any doubts. Water is usually produced by desalination and well maintained, 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.
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