"Fast" Rent A Car Scam
"Fast" is the rent a car company we got for our overland trip from Dubai to Abu Dhabi. A checklist was given to us which states the tools and spare tire inside the car (trunk). We returned the car as agreed at the Abu Dhabi airport. 2 of their staffs checked the car if there was any scratches (aside from the existing ones) or any damaged in the car. Also, they checked the spare tire and tools. So, instead of waiting in the middle of the heat outside the open parking area, me and hubby decided to leave them and submit the papers to their office just few steps away from the carpark.
After awhile, one of the staff informed us that one of the tool is missing. Considering we didnt even dare to open the trunk after we got the car, we were surprised that one of the tools is missing. I intentionally said on a loud voice "Is this a scam?". After about 20 seconds, the staff came back telling us that he found the tool and was just hidden underneath..hmmmmm...
Just a piece of advise, be vigilant and dont leave the car while they are inspecting it.
Summers are hot, hazy and humid
It gets very hot, hazy and humid in the summer, which lasts from May till September.
When you come out of AC of the car or the building, the moisture (called Ratoobah in Arabic) out in the open gets accumulated on eye glasses, camera lenses and any other thing made of glass making the visibility almost zero.
In one of such days of excess humidity I took this picture of La Meridian roundabout with the camera lens covered with moisture.
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Summers mean sand storms and dust
The picture shows the La Meridian roundabout once the moisture cleared off the camera lens.
Also, sand storms blow during the summers and the sand gets accumulated on the road. One has to slow down considerably once crossing these accumulations or otherwise vehicel can turn over.
Keep lots of wet wipes and water bottles handy.
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Abu Dhabi is a muslim place so you have to respect the customs there and try not to provoke.Be carefull with your clothes (the women) - avoid short skirts and clothes that leave a big part of skin in public view.
There was a violent sandstorm recently. Terrible experience. If you spend any amount of time in the open (desert), there will be a thick layer of powdery sand on your face. The sand gets into your nose, ears and nose. You can't open your eyes unless you're wearing specs or some goggles. In the city, it's not too bad as the tall buildings filtered out the storm but nevertheless the air is filled with fine sand or dust particles and this is not particularly healthy if you have a history of breathing problem.
Try not to be outdoors too long during a sandstorm (especially in the desert). Drink lots of water and keep a handkerchief/ cloth handy to cover your nose/mouth. And don't leave the door open as the storm will just transfer all the sand indoors! Visibility will be poor, be careful while driving. Beware of piles of sand on the road as this will cause your car to overturn. In general, try to stay indoors during a sandstorm.
Just Passing Through?
A recent article in the Times regarding the UAE’s strict policy on all sorts of drugs including many that are perfectly legal elsewhere rang alarm bells for me because I have passed through both Dubai and Abu Dhabi dozens of times carrying several medicines containing substances (such as codeine) which are on the UAE’s banned list: http://www.moh.gov.ae/moh_site/phar_med/price_list/controlled%20list.pdf
Custom officials use highly sensitive machines that can detect even microscopic amounts of a banned substance, excuses don’t count and penalties are harsh. I would advise anyone passing through the UAE to read the article (link below):
Fast Rent a Car
Much as the other article I read from 2007 ... nothing much has changed ... big scam to get your money.
Ficticious speeding fines and Salik charges charged to your credit card account after the return of the car.
Don't don't don't use them.
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Take NTC Cabs rather than Local at night
NTC taxis number can be reached through an operator. Local taxis usually charge a fixed fee of 10 Dhs after midnight, but are known to cheat
Though NTC cabs are more expensive, if youré heading out to an out-of-the-way place late at night, they would be your best bet.
- Women's Travel
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As in all other areas you travel, you need to be especially aware of your surroundings as a westerner in this area of the world. This is a very safe area but the danger of terrorism and anti American Sentiment exists.
Arabian Flies Everywhere
I do not see a heap of garbage and I do not see any farms nearby but flies are everywhere. And these Arabian flies are very nasty, circulating in your face making known they are around. Kill them... kill them... just kill them!
Fog in the Desert
I was wondering why water was dripping down my roof last night although there was no rain. I woke up to see a thick blanket of fog has shrouded the desert. The temperature is 15degC and visibility is less than 100m. Care required while driving as you can't see much. In the same day, more than 150 accidents were reported during morning rush hour at Dubai. Foggy days are quite common during winter and with the attitude of drivers here, extra care must be taken to avoid any untoward incident. Drive safely and ensure safe distance.
Drinking and Driving
Drinking and driving is not tolerated in the UAE. Forget the laws you have back home where you're allowed a drink or two. Around here, even the slightest hint of alcohol in your blood is not taken lightly - a prison sentence. It can vary from case to case, but usually the penalty is severe where you spend months if not years in jail and are whipped. To some this may seem pretty barbaric. But trust me, it's saved a lot of lives. The countless number of people who have been victims of people drinking and driving is a ridiculous number.
Okay... now I know most of you know that drugs are illegal. But in the UAE don't even MENTION drugs. Even a milligram of any kind of drug is found on a person, they are immediately taken to jail for a 4 year sentence (if you're lucky) and immediately deported out of the country. Rarely someone may approach you to sell you drugs, and the best thing to do is just so no thank you and walk away. Don't even indulge in a conversation with this person.
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.
Dont accept offers of a taxi in the arrival section. These people are not legitimate taxi drivers only private people who are trying to make some money. Don't know if they will take you somewhere where their mates are and rob you.. We were approached and refused their service
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