Additional Information About Travel to The United Arab Emirates
At the conclusion of your tour, it is customary to offer your tour guide and driver a gratuity. Your WEST tour coordinator will collect the gratuity at any point during the tour (many travelers like to pay ahead of time to get it out of the way). Although it is not required, your driver and tour guides rely on these tips, and work hard to ensure you an unforgettable experience. We recommend tipping the equivalence of $3 USD/CAD per person per day for your driver and $7 USD/CAD to $10 USD/CAD per person per day for your tour guide. If applicable, we also recommend the equivalency of $2 USD/CAD per local guide, payable following the local tour. Tips can only be paid in cash. Please keep current local currency exchange rates in mind when tipping.
For itineraries including the United Arab Emirates, U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport. The expiration date must extend at least six months beyond the date of your return home. We recommend having at least two blank passport pages for entry stamps. Although a visa is not required to enter the UAE, U.S. and Canadian passport holders must obtain a visa in order to enter Oman. You can apply for your visa directly with the Omani consulate, or by using a visa provider, such as our partner VisaCentral. If you are not a U.S. or Canadian citizen, you must contact each country’s consulate for your specific entry requirements.
The United Arab Emirates and Oman are Islamic countries that follow Sharia law. While both Dubai and Abu Dhabi are considered more liberal than some neighboring cities, it’s important to note that very conservative laws governing public behavior are strictly enforced. Among these laws are prohibitions against public displays of affection. Hand-holding is permissible, but kissing and other affectionate displays are expressly forbidden, even between married couples. Obscenity laws are also upheld throughout the country. Offenses for using foul language and making indecent gestures are punishable by jail time.
The flights for tours beginning or ending in the UAE or Oman will arrive in Dubai and depart from Muscat. On-tour transportation is provided primarily by private motor coach, but may include planes, trains, boats, ferries, or other modes. While most destinations on your tour are accessible on foot, some cities may require some use of public transportation. Buses serve most cities and surroundings. Taxis are also available.
We advise that you pack in layers. Light, loose-fitting clothing that provides comfort when exploring the sights is essential for your tour. A sturdy pair of walking shoes or sneakers is also recommended for exploring the cities. It’s always a good idea to be prepared for any eventuality—a lightweight sports jacket is advised. You may want to pack dressier attire if you plan to visit a high-end restaurant or attend a special performance. Waterproof shoes or sandals, a swimsuit, sunscreen, sun hat and insect repellent are recommended for outdoor activities..A small bottle of hand sanitizer may be helpful when other facilities are not readily available while on the road. Also, remember that it is preferable not to visit religious sites with bare legs and shoulders (and entrance may be denied on this basis).
At the crossroads of many cultures, the United Arab Emirates reflects its diverse history in its cuisine. Asian, Moroccan and Levantine influences feature heavily, as do spices brought through the country by trade routes. Saffron, cardamom and turmeric flavor many meals. One-pot dishes like fareeth, a stew made with vegetables and bread, and al harees, a porridge of barley and meat are popular recipes. Seafood is a staple—if you’re feeling adventurous, you might try jisheed, a soup made with shark meat. In Oman, you’ll find African and Indian cuisine reflected in many traditional recipes. Coconut, berries and nutmeg are ingredients not often found in Middle Eastern dishes, but which play a big role in Omani kitchens. Don’t miss madrouba, a slow-cooked dish made with rice, chicken and dried Persian limes. At very traditional meals, diners eat with their hands, sometimes using pieces of flatbread to scoop up portions of food. Don’t be afraid to dig in! Consumption of alcohol is strictly regulated throughout the country. Alcoholic beverages may only be served to non-Muslim visitors at certain licensed hotels and restaurants.
Wi-Fi is available in most hotels, though some charges may apply. There is no Wi-Fi on any of the motor coaches. Please contact your mobile service provider for information on roaming charges.
The UAE and Oman are four hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and 12 hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time (PST). When it’s noon in California, it’s midnight in Dubai.
There are no major health risks associated with traveling to this country. At least 60 days prior to departure, check with your doctor or healthcare provider for the latest updates and entry requirements, or visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website at cde.gov. Temperatures in this region often exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius), especially during the summer months. Certain over-the-counter and prescription medications may be banned in one or more countries on this tour. Importing these drugs can carry severe consequences, including imprisonment. Please consult your healthcare provider prior to departure to ensure that any drugs you may want to bring with you are legal in countries you will visit. If you have dietary restrictions and/or food allergies please notify us by calling 855-355-8728 at least 30 days prior to your departure. In order for you to stay healthy throughout your tour, we recommend the following:
- Take avoid risk from exposure to the sun, including the use of sunscreen and sun hats. Keep properly hydrated and limit intake of alcohol to reduce dehydration. The sun can be especially strong in some of the areas you are visiting.
- Bring a small first aid kit, including antacids, anti-diarrhea medication, motion sickness medication and any prescription medications
- There are inherent risks associated with water activities, particularly for those with preexisting medical conditions. Discuss your planned activities with your doctor or healthcare provider for the best advice on participation
- We suggest carrying bathroom tissue and hand sanitizer with you.
- If you have medication that you take daily, be sure you have enough for each day of the tour and any possible delays encountered.
Airlines have varying weight restrictions on luggage. Some airlines may impose additional charges if you choose to check any baggage. Please contact your airline or refer to its website for detailed information regarding your airline’s checked baggage policies. Bear in mind that your luggage will probably weigh more on your return trip due to souvenir shopping. We allow only one suitcase per person. One carry-on bag is also permitted, provided that it does not exceed 45 inches (length + width + height). There may be times when you will have to handle your own bags, and you’ll find that lightweight luggage provides a distinct advantage. Make sure you label your baggage and carry valuables, medication and documents in your carry-on luggage.
You will use the United Arab Emirates dirham in Dubai and Abu Dhabi and the Omani rial in Oman. Better rates of exchange are usually available overseas, although it’s worth ordering some currency from your local bank to use when you first arrive. We advise using ATM/debit cards and credit cards, both of which are accepted in most countries. We suggest that you inform your bank and credit card company of your travel plans, so that they won’t confuse your international purchases for fraudulent charges. International banks and businesses primarily accept debit and credit cards that work with the EMV chip system. If you do not already have at least one debit or credit card with a chip in it, we strongly recommend requesting one from your bank prior to your tour. Any shipboard purchases are directly added to your room account. Purchases made from on-board shops can be paid in USD or Egyptian pounds.
The United Arab Emirates operates on the European standard 220-240 volts and uses a Type G plug with three pins. Oman operates on the European standard 220-240 volts and uses a Type C or G plug with two or three pins, respectively. We recommend packing a universal adapter, as well as a voltage converter if you plan on using your own hairdryer or other device without a built-in converter. Air conditioning in Emirati hotels may be much cooler than what you might be used to in the U.S. or Canada. When air conditioning is available, it is usually regulated seasonally and controlled centrally by the hotel . Your hotels may provide hairdryers, irons and other small appliances. However, these amenities cannot be guaranteed.