Useful Information on Living in the United Arab Emirates (UAE)

Useful Information on Living in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Header Image

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The Language Barrier in the UAE

English is widely spoken throughout the UAE, although Arabic is the official language. There is a big expatriate community, and in addition to English, other languages spoken among expats are Hindi, Persian, Pashto, and Balochi. In most instances English will suffice, however it’s respected and well-received when expatriates take time to learn some basic Arabic.

Weather & Climate

The UAE is known for its hot weather; 80% of the region is desert, the majority of which is in the west. In the height of summer temperatures often reach above 40°C, and at the other end of the scale, in January the average temperature is 18°C.

Sometimes the UAE has excessive rainfall, but a more common concern when it comes to extreme weather is sand storms. These usually occur when the season changes, such as during the transition from winter to spring.

Health in the UAE

Visitors to the UAE are advised to see a GP before travel, to determine which – if any – vaccinations are required. MMR and Tetanus boosters are recommended if they are out of date, plus Diphtheria and Hepatitis A immunisations might be advised. People at high risk may be recommended Hepatitis B and Rabies medication as well.

Anyone over the age of 9 months who is arriving to the UAE from a country with a Yellow fever risk – if they have spent more than 12 hours there, including during an airport stopover – must present a Yellow fever vaccination certificate to enter the UAE.

Medical treatment in the UAE is chargeable, so it is imperative that you take out appropriate insurance to cover any fees.

British Embassy in the UAE

There are British embassies in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the UAE.

Address:British Embassy Dubai
Al Seef Road
Bur Dubai
Near to Dubai Creekside
PO Box 65
Phone:(+971) 4 309 4444
Fax:(+971) 4 309 4301
Office hours:Local Time
Sun-Thu: 07.30 – 14.30
Address: British Embassy Abu Dhabi
Al Hisn Street
Al Markaziyah West
PO Box 248
Abu Dhabi
Phone: (+971) 2 610 1100
Fax: (+971) 2 610 1585
Office hours: Local Time
Sun-Thu: 07.30 – 14.30

Emergency Services Contact Information in the UAE

Emergency ServiceContact Number
Police Service999
Fire Service997
Ambulance Service998

Driving while Living in the UAE

Driving in the UAE can present a huge learning curve. While there are comprehensive road laws and severe penalties in the region, drivers will find that many other road-users do not adhere to these. This means if you choose to drive you need to stay 100% aware of what’s going on around you, and be prepared to act accordingly. Things to look out for include unmarked speed bumps, shifting sand, and drivers in the inside lane travelling at speeds above 125mph (200km).

In the event of an accident, the vehicle should be left in position – apart from in Dubai or Abu Dhabi if doing so obstructs other traffic. UAE road law says that if someone is injured in an accident, the person at fault will immediately go to jail until the injured person leaves hospital. In the event of a death, the person who caused the accident will be ordered to pay a Diya to the victim’s family. The amount will be decided by a judge, but it can be upwards of £40,000.

Getting your Driving Licence

When first arriving in the UAE, you can use your UK driver’s license to drive a rental vehicle or a private vehicle – just make sure you are properly covered by the vehicle’s insurance. Those applying for residency in the UAE must obtain a UAE driving licence as soon as their residency permit is received. To apply for a driving licence, you must contact the relevant emirate’s traffic department. The following documents must be provided as part of the application process:

  • Copy of passport and residence visa
  • A copy and the original emirates ID card
  • 2 passport-sized photos
  • Eye test report
  • (If relevant) a no objection letter from the sponsor

Legal Requirements

There is a zero-tolerance policy in the UAE when it comes to driving after having consumed alcohol – regardless of the quantity of alcohol. The penalty for such an offence is imprisonment plus a fine of around £4,200. In addition to this, it’s important to know that only those who have obtained a liquor licence are allowed to consume alcohol in the UAE – and these are only valid in the emirate where it was issued. Anyone who has consumed alcohol without a licence is liable to be imprisoned for six months, plus pay a fine of around £1,050.

Wearing a seatbelt is also mandatory, and the use of mobile phones while driving is strictly prohibited. Another legal obligation is the use of a Salik tag. These are stickers with an electronic chip in, which can be scanned at toll gates. Find out more about how Salik tags work, and how to obtain one.