Good to know

…Top 5+!
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Abu Dhabi and Dubai are becoming more and more popular as a destination, especially during Europe’s winter months – sure, where else can you get a nice tan in March?
To answer the most frequent, clichéd questions, I’ve put together the
“Top 5+ Good to know” (click on the links to get even more Information!).

1. Moving around
taxis

The most common way to move around is definitely by taxi. Contrary to the popular belief that taxi rides are bound to exorbitant prices, in the UAE it is more than affordable.
Everyone moves around by taxi: from the Expat to the Tourist.
It’s fast, clean, registered and safe (beside their slight crazy driving styles from time to time).
Unlike in other Arabic countries you cannot bargain your taxi price in the UAE.
It is a fixed taxi meter which starts from AED 3,50 and increases in 25fils increments.
If the meter is not running properly, the ride is free of charge. 😉
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At the airport some random drivers will try to convince you to join them – but watch out, it’s not legal.
Take the black (yes, they look very fancy) taxis with professional driver which start from AED 25.-.
Since a year those are the only legal taxis for an airport-city one way-trip – those taxis have to leave the city empty and return to their starting point: the airport.
The other taxis (greyish) will take you TO but not FROM the airport.
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I would not book an expensive shuttle organized by the hotel since it’s a common and safe way to move around with the taxi.
In Dubai the taxi drivers are not as knowledgeable as Abu Dhabi drivers… you better know roughly where you want to go.

…“ok, ok no problem” is the typical reaction but watch out that he takes you to Burj Khalifa Dubai instead of Eiffel Tower Paris…

Also keep in mind that all taxis are only payable by cash, never by credit card. By cash I mean AED 20 to MAX AED 50 notes otherwise those poor guys will not have change for you.
As mentioned, the taxis are clean, drivers wear uniforms and some cars are even equipped with screens and wi-fi!

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Alternatively you can rent a car since it is more than affordable! More or less EUR 20.- per day plus fuel AED 15.-. It only gets cheaper in Oman…

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Fun fact: there are no addresses like in any other country.. you guide yourself and the taxi driver through “landmarks” (“Hamdan Str. Corner Najda, near National Cinema Building”).

2. Tip & Service Charge
In Abu Dhabi´s Bars & Restaurants you will find prices including or excluding “10% service charge”. Either way, in the end, it will be included in your bill.
The service charge is fairly distributed among all team members with the monthly cheque – not only the waiters but also the cleaners, cooks etc. therefore there is no need to add additional tip onto your final check.
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Actually there are many proofs out there that it is not “healthy” to “overfeed” waiters etc. during your vacation.
Sure, it is your vacation and you are in a good mood but those people work there every day – the more you give, the more they expect from other travellers.
In the end they do literally expect you to tip them higher.
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..don’t spoil them..
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Eg. Algarve, Portugal – many years ago the Portuguese waiters were just kind, cheerful and loved their job – in the end, they got the “20cent” which were left behind in the small espresso saucer and it was fine.
Nowadays they stand partly next to you while settling up and expect you to tip them high. Sometimes you even here comments like “You a Swiss, you have money anyways” or “you Germans, you have more than us here”.
Why? Among others, it’s def. due to the traveller’s overacted behaviour!
One last thing, for Butler, Pool boys and Valets applies the same – obviously, you are always welcome to tip a bit but in general all those “luxurious” services are included in the UAE…
It´s not Europe where every single nice gesture is accompanied by a check 😉

3. Dress code

Typical rumour topic! 😉
Everyone hesitates before packing their bags for Abu Dhabi…

What’s the dress code? “I heard…”
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Generally Abu Dhabi became very open and is the perfect place where tradition meets modernism.
Feel free to wear skirts, t-shirts, tops & dresses. If you use your common sense when talking about “length” – it will be more than fine.

Even short pants are alright – just do not overdo this.
Bikinis are welcome on the beach or pools – no need to buy a “swimsuit” for your UAE trip!
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For males the dress code is even easier BUT for the evening it has to be any kind of shirt and closed shoes. Restaurants, Bars & Clubs will deny you the access if you appear in your Bermudas and flip flops.
During the hot months you will be more than grateful to be able to wear light and short clothes!
During the chilly months, don’t forget your cardigan – for the shopping malls you will also need your light pullover in order to withstand the strong AC winds.
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For two occasions you will have to wear long-sleeves and cover yourself a bit more.
During the holy month of Ramadan and if you want to visit a mosque from the inside.
This should be respected and it will not harm you at all to adapt in these few cases.
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4. Eat and Drink?
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All restaurants, bars and clubs are located in hotels due to the expensive “drinking license” which they have to obtain before being able to pour out drinks.
Don´t worry – prices are not exorbitant – it is simply normal to go to the normally “posh” hotels.
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In Europe you only step into 5* for Granny’s Brunch or Graduation Ball.
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Referring to Brunch… Friday Brunch is very popular but not comparable to the classy European Brunch..
Check the offers of the posh hotels and you will be blown away where their focus is on…
..oh yes it´s ladies night..
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Something which also no one believes: every night you will find a range of nice “ladies nights” in the city where ladies drink totally for free for certain hours or even throughout the whole night.. yes, in Abu Dhabi and in Dubai – unbelievable… 😉

In Abu Dhabi you do only have 2 locations which serve alcoholic beverages and are NOT situated in a hotel (Club MAD and Restaurant Pacifico Tikki).
Nevertheless you will be able to find an affordable local, nice restaurant where you can enjoy a full rice platter and some juicy chicken for little money! Enjoy it…
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5. Desert Safari Bookings?
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Travel agencies in your home country will try to sell expensive excursions; rather inform yourself upon arrival and go with a local partner – your hotel concierge will be able to help you out!

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Some more..
Abu Dhabi AND Dubai?
Yes, totally doable in one trip since those cities are only 1h Car drive apart.
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Sunday to Thursday?
Yes, in the Arabic world a week starts on Sunday and ends on Thursday; thank God all shops are almost open 24/7 (10h-00h) – traditional Souqs will be closed on Friday mornings (prayer day) but back in the afternoon.
You will here the call for prayer on a daily basis – listen to it – it sounds amazing!
Shop/Restaurant timings will only be strongly influenced and adapted during the Holy month of Ramadan.
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Arabic skills?
Always nice to have, especially those basics like “Marhaba”, “Suekran”, “Afwan” & “Minfadlik” but in general you will be able to get everything by using English – road signs are written in Latin and Arabic calligraphy.
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As mentioned several times… its totally worth it to visit beautiful Abu Dhabi and breathtaking Dubai – not just to clean up the existing prejudices but also to revitalize yourself within a small time frame.

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