Local Information & Customs

Location: Ajman is located inside the Emirate of Sharjah, on the south-eastern shore of the Arabian Gulf, in the north-eastern United Arab Emirates.                      

Climate: Subtropical, arid climate; sunshine and blue skies most of the year. Infrequent rainfall can be expected during the winter. Temperatures range from a low of about 10°C (50°F) in winter to a high of 48°C (118°F) in Summer.                         

Currency: AED (Dhs) = UAE Dirhams. 100 fils = 1 Dirham. Approximate conversion rate: USD 1 = AED 3.67 or 1 EUR = AED 4.15       

Religion: Islam is the official religion of the UAE. Other religions are respected. Non-Muslims are generally not allowed to enter mosques.           

Language: The official language is Arabic, but English and Urdu are widely spoken. Most official signage is in Arabic and English.

Shopping: Shops are generally open from around 10:00 to 23:00, although many smaller shops close from 13:00 to 16:00 and open later on Fridays.

Clothing: Lightweight summer clothing is suitable for most of the year, although it can get cool during winter evenings. Swimwear is acceptable on the beach and at the swimming pool. Visitors to Dubai should dress modestly, particularly in conservative areas and public places. Swimwear is acceptable at the beach or around the swimming pool, but visitors should cover up elsewhere. Shorts and T-shirts are suitable attire in many places, although when visiting mosques, religious sites or older parts of the city, both men and women may feel more comfortable wearing loose-fitting clothes that cover shoulders, arms and legs. Women will usually be required to wear a headscarf when entering mosques.

Photography: Normal tourist photography is acceptable, but it is considered offensive to photograph Muslim women. It is also courteous to ask permission before photographing men. In general, photographs of government buildings, mosques or military installations should not be taken.

Car Hire: Self-drive cars are widely available, and the rental company will arrange for temporary driving licences for visitors.

Communication: International telephone services are excellent – some of the best in the Middle East. Free Wi-Fi is available in most of the hotels, restaurants and commercial areas.

Medical Care: The UAE has excellent health facilities, with both government and private clinics and hospitals.

Working hours: The official weekend in the UAE is on Friday and Saturday. Some smaller private companies close only on Fridays. Government offices open at 07:30 and close at 15:00, while private offices tend to keep longer hours, adopting either 'straight shift' or 'split shift'. The former normally requires eight working hours between 07:30 and 09:00 with a lunch break lasting from 30 minutes to an hour. During Ramadan, working hours shorten by two to three hours, with most of the work accomplished in the early hours of the morning or much later in the evening after the day’s fast is broken (at sunset).

General etiquette: Good manners and courtesy are prized attributes. Always arrive on time for a meeting. However, be aware that punctuality is not considered a virtue in the Arab world, and people are often kept waiting before or during a meeting. Be patient, and do not take it as a lack of respect. When a woman meets an Emirati or Arab man, she should not offer to shake his hand, unless he extends his hand towards her first. Greet the most senior person first when meeting a group of people. You will always be offered refreshments in an Arab home or office. Frequently, this will be Western-style tea or coffee. However, people serve a sweet, milkless tea or a light Arabic coffee flavoured with cardamom. You should accept at least one cupful, as it may be considered discourteous to refuse.

Information about the local food: Owing to harsh desert conditions, the traditional food of the United Arab Emirates uses a lot of meat, grain and dairy. Vegetables are easy to grow in some areas and strongly feature in the diet. Traditional dishes include Ma'louba, Margooga, Harees, Machbous and Mishwy. Meats traditionally used were chicken or small fowl, such as Houbara bustards, and goats. As camels are highly prized for their milk and transporting ability, the eating of camel meat is normally reserved for special occasions. Popular beverages are coffee and tea, which can be supplemented with cardamom, saffron or mint to give them a distinct flavour. Hotels frequently have pork substitutes such as beef sausages and veal rashers on their breakfast menus. If pork is available, it is clearly labelled as such. Alcohol is generally served only in hotel restaurants and bars (but not in Sharjah). All nightclubs and golf clubs are permitted to sell alcohol.

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