USE OF ALCOHOL IN ABU DHABI
Alcohol is only served in licensed outlets associated with hotels 4 or 5 stars (i.e. restaurants and bars) plus a few clubs (i.e. golf) and associations. Restaurants outside of hotels that are not part of one of the clubs or associations are not permitted to serve alcohol.
Permanent residents who are non-Muslim can obtain liquor supplies without difficulty under a permit system, which entitles you to buy from a special liquor shop (not the local supermarket). This permit allows you to spend a limited amount on alcohol per month; this amount is calculated based on your monthly salary. To apply, collect an application form from your local liquor store or the Police Headquarters, situated between Airport Road and Al Saada Street in Abu Dhabi. By law you should carry this liquor permit with you whenever you are transporting liquor or drinking alcohol at licensed premises.
Note - the authorities in Abu Dhabi have a strict anti-drink driving stance.
Unique Suggestions: IMPORTANT - Do not carry liquor in public transportation (taxis, buses, etc.) If consuming liquor in public carry your liquor license.
Wives' name must be on spouses' liquor license if they want to consume liquor as a UAE resident.
One of the crazy things about life in the Emirates is that, especially during the summer months, the water is already hot when it comes out of the cold tap (except if you stay in 5 or 4 star hotel you will not notice that). Tap water is safe to drink if filtered, but not particularly pleasant (desalinated).
Unique Suggestions: It is usually preferred to drink the locally bottled mineral waters that are widely available. Bottled water is usually served in hotels, restaurants and you can buy from any grocery for less than 1$.
Keep in mind that pork is not included in Arabic cuisine. Islam prohibits Muslims from consuming pork and alcohol. However, the UAE is tolerant of other cultures in this regard. Pork and alcohol can, therefore, be bought by non-Muslims.
Unique Suggestions: Some grocery stores sell pork in separate rooms, which are clearly marked for ‘non-Muslims only’. Restaurants indicate on menus whether dishes contain pork or alcohol.
Expect to find pork on the menu only in served in some 4 or 5 stars restaurants. You can also buy pork meat at Abela and Spinneys supermarkets.
Fun Alternatives: Eat fish , chicken or meat
The official working week in the UAE starts on Sunday and ends on Thursday. Government departments and banks are open from 8am until 4pm or 5pm. Friday is a holy day, which generally means that shops remain closed or don’t open.
Unique Suggestions: Shops open until late in the afternoon. Street shops will often open in the morning, and then close at about 1 pm for approximately three hours, then re-open again until 10pm. However, many shopping malls stay open until later than 10pm on weekends
Fun Alternatives: If you are in short visit and you would like to do shopping try to avoid friday.
Abu Dhabi dress code
Clothing should be conservative and smart. Women should avoid wearing revealing clothing, especially in rural areas.
Unique Suggestions: go for loose clothing such as loose-cut trousers and long dresses.
Quite Safe City...
Don't know of any tourist traps in Abu Dhabi. This is a safe city and crime rate is low. There has been some isolated reports of snatch theft along the Corniche in the middle of the night but this is extremely rare. Just be careful as you would be anywhere in the world. Avoid walking alone at night at isolated places. If you are lady, dress appropriately. After all, this is a Muslim country and you wouldn't want to be stared at. Never accept a taxi driver who refuses to go by the meter as there are plenty out there who would.
Unique Suggestions: Just bear in mind that you have to be careful anywhere in the world even in the safest places. Not much to worry in Abu Dhabi, really.
Wasta is a word often heard in Dubai in the UAE. It is Arabic and translates as something like authority, influence, political (or other) power, connections, or a combination of those terms. In practical terms it means that some rules can become more flexible if you have wasta, or know someone who has wasta. Also, a bit of wasta can smooth or speed up business transactions, bureaucratic issues, and other official procedures. At its best (or worst, depending on your point of view), a good dose of wasta could keep you out of jail or save you from other unpleasant consequences of dubious activities.
The common English expression "it's not what you know but who you know ... " is a rough equivalent of wasta.
On the wasta scale (not that there is an official one), things that can make a difference in the UAE are your nationality, your profession, who you work for, who you know, your political position in the country, your connections to people in positions of authority. Money and how long you have lived in the UAE don't usually directly affect your wasta level but indirectly they do since longer term residents may have built up a larger network of high-wasta friends, and rich people often associate with other rich people who may be high-wasta individuals.
Many expat residents learn about wasta through a driving experience. In simple terms, the more wasta someone has, the less likely they are to cop a fine and/or be blamed if there's an accident. Wasta can result in some unusual situations for example, green lights were actually red when you went through them because the person who crashed into you had enough wasta to change the color retroactively. Indications of higher levels of wasta on the road are dark tinted or mirror tinted windows (30% maximum is the law so anything more than that means it's likely they have enough wasta to get around this rule), number plates with fewer than 5 digits (but anyone can buy them now if they have enough cash so it's not as good an indication as in the past).
Wasta is something that many expats, especially westerners, find difficult to come to terms with but you'll find it easier to enjoy Dubai if you get used to that rather than try to fight it. And of course it helps if you can elevate your own wasta level somehow.
Wasta and Bribes
Don't confuse wasta with bribery. If you try to bribe a government official, for example a police officer who has just pulled you up for driving though somebody's garden, you should expect to be punished fairly harshly for trying to bribe them. And if the owner of the garden that you drove through has some wasta, then you'll probably be even worse off. In the business world, things may operate a little differently. Just as anywhere else in the world, the negotiation of business transactions and contracts is not always done on a level playing field, and bribes ... er gifts ... might be part of your discussions with interested parties.
To connect to the cyberspace, Etisalat is the sole provider of Internet services through the UAE proxy server. With the proxy server in place, some sites are restricted (if you find a perfectly reasonable blocked site, you can report it to Etisalat on:Help at Emirates
You can access the internet from any standard telephone line using an appropriate modem of 56kbps, DSL, Wireless.
Unique Suggestions: Do not browse un ethical or sex websites (blocked by the internet provider)
During the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, non-Muslims will be expected to respect the local culture in many Islamic countries, and should be aware of certain rules and regulations.The holy month of Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. Each day of Ramadan, Muslims abstain from food and drink during daylight hours. The fast is intended to purify the body, but Ramadan is also a time for purification of the mind and spirit through increased prayer. Muslim children usually begin fasting at the ages of eight or nine, although initially only for half the day. Sick, elderly, pregnant or travelling worshippers are not required to fast, but are expected to compensate with increased prayer or charity. Visitors and residents should note that eating, drinking, smoking and chewing gum in public are not permitted during daylight hours. Be awared that resturants are closed during daylight you can only have home delivery from few resturants during daylight mainly fast food like Macdoanald. Working hours is changed during ramadan, some shops and malls are open up to 1 or 2 o'clock morning.
Unique Suggestions: If you are non muslim try to avoid visiting Abu Dhabi during Ramadan unless you don't care about eating your daily meals on time or you like to stay awake till morning. Many non muslim enjoy to go for iftar meal (Iftar "breakfast " starts at 6pm or 7pm depends on sunset) as well as Suhor meal (at 2am or 3am time vary depends on sunrise time) at restaurants and hotels as they serve varaity of internalional yummy food at resonable price.
Fun Alternatives: Offcourse you still can cook and eat at your home or order room food if you stay at a hotel during daylight. You also can find some resturants that offer homedelivery during daylight hours.
Eating with Muslims
If you are invited to eat with Muslims here are some tips to follow:
1) If you are seated on the floor, make sure that the soles of your feet (with or without shoes/socks) do not point towards anyone.Its considred very rude
2) If cutlery is not provided, you eat with your hands; your right hand, to be precise!because you use your left hand to wash your anus.
3) Mostly muslims start with "Bismillah" (the name of God).you are not ologiesed to say it but wait till the person finish saying it.
4) Usually people do not speak while eating
5)People usually do not say bone apetite before starting the meal
6)After finishing eating usually They say Al Hamdulilah
7) In ramadan People do not eat or drink
8)Men may kiss in Public but women do not
10) If you are man do not offer to give hand when greeting to a woman unless she does.
11) Bear in Mind That Arab culture is relax and every thing is slow so when Arab say I meet you at 10 AM expect him 30 to 1 hour delay
Read more: http://www.virtualtourist.com/travel/Middle_East/United_Arab_Emirates/Dubai/Dubai-1857296/Local_Customs-Dubai-TG-C-1.html#ixzz1kYeHRBxb
Buying A Portable Shisha (Waterpipe)
I've included this to my tourist traps since not many people want to do shisha or waterpipe smoking which is an aquired taste even for cigarette smokers. The Last time I was at the UAE, I hesitated to buy one and it only cost 45 AED for a Portable Shisha so after two years and on a revisit, I finally have a chance to buy but nowt it costs 55 AED, sigh and you have to buy the specialized charcoal pads to light your shisha for 25 AED and a box of flavors (I chose mint) for another 35 AED (so total is 110 AED or just about 10 US Dollars.
Unique Suggestions: The Shisha/Hookah Waterpipe is the reason while the middle east continous to be a strong bastion for smoking in the world. The Shisha is not only a means to enjoy a filtered tobacco smoke but is also a cultural thing for arabs as the shisha can have multiple pipes hence one water pipe can be shared between friends and relatives during parties, weddings, religious festivals, birthdays, etc and one packet of the flavored tobacco packets can last up to 40 minutes to one hour. people smoke waterpipe as part of their culture and traditions. Social smoking is done with a single or double hose hookah, and sometimes even triple or quadruple hose hookahs in the forms of parties or small get-togethers are used. When the smoker is finished, either the hose is placed back on the table signifying that it is available, or it is handed from one user to the next, folded back on itself so that the mouthpiece is not pointing at the recipient.
Fun Alternatives: they don't buy the shisha/hookah Set.
But I'm a willing victim (wink wink)
here is the way to smoke a shisha according to wikipedia:
The jar at the bottom of the hookah is filled with water sufficient to submerge a few centimeters of the body tube, which is sealed tightly to it. Deeper water will only increase the inhalation force needed to use it. Tobacco is placed inside the bowl at the top of the hookah. Often the bowl is covered with perforated tin foil or a metal screen and coal placed on top. The foil or screen separates the coal and the tobacco, which minimizes inhalation of coal ash with the smoke and reduces the temperature the tobacco is exposed to, in order to prevent burning the tobacco directly.
When one inhales through the hose, air is pulled through the charcoal and into the bowl holding the tobacco. The hot air, heated by the charcoal vaporizes (not burns) the tobacco, thus producing smoke, which is passed down through the body tube that extends into the water in the jar. It bubbles up through the water, losing heat, and fills the top part of the jar, to which the hose is attached. When a smoker inhales from the hose, smoke passes into the lungs, and the change in pressure in the jar pulls more air through the charcoal, continuing the process.
If the hookah has been lit and smoked but has not been inhaled for an extended period, the smoke inside the water jar may be regarded as "stale" and undesirable. Stale smoke may be exhausted through the purge valve, if present. This one-way valve is opened by the positive pressure created from gently blowing into the hose. It will not function on a multiple-hose hookah unless all other hoses are plugged. Sometimes one-way valves are put in the hose sockets to avoid the need to manually plug hoses.
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