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Ras Al Khaimah Coronavirus (COVID-19) UAE Travel Report

Wolfgang Holzem



Woman walking in Ras Al Khaimah on the way to the beach

Historically known for its cultural, political and commercial infrastructure, this ancient emirate of Ras Al Khaimah  portrays the rich and varied heritage of the region. The emirate boasts of its glorious naval past reckoned as an important Trade Center.

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During the past two decades, Ras Al Khaimah has witnessed remarkable advancements particularly in the fields of commerce and education. Connected to the other emirates by modern highways, RAK has an efficient infrastructure, including hotels, hospitals, shopping centres and restaurants. Today it is a dynamically developing emirate, with excellent scope for industrial and business growth.

Culture & Heritage
Ras Al KhaimahWith its cultural inheritance and picturesque scenery – excellent beaches, spectacular mountains, and lush green farms – Ras Al Khaimah is the ideal tourist destination, offering two new hotels and a beach resort. Ras Al Khaimah town is served by three international standard hotels – the 84 room Ras Al Khaimah Hotel, set in four acres of landscaped grounds overlooking the Creek, the 140 room Bin Majid Beach Hotel; and the city centre Al Nakheel hotel. Each has a full array of amenities, including restaurants, lounges, entertainment, sports and leisure facilities.

Ras Al Khaimah is also the home of one of the UAE’s finest museums, housed in the restored fort, ancestral home of the ruling family. Showcased are artefacts from the many archaeological sites in the Emirate and displays showing life in the past and outlining the emirates history. The object of the museum is to preserve the heritage of the emirates of Ras Al Khaimah in all its apects: Natural History, Archaeology and the traditional way of life of its people.

Ra’s al Khaymah (also Ras al-Khaimah) is the most northern Emirate at the Arabian Gulf, borders the Omani exclave Musandam and is one of the seven United Arab Emirates.


Cities and towns

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  • Ras Al Khaimah City – the capital of the Ras Al Khaimah Emirate
  • Rams – a small town with a rich tradition and culture. In the past Rams was a town of pearl divers and fishermen. A small harbour, beaches and bird-watching spots are the main attractions of Rams.
  • Al Jazirah Al Hamra – known for having the best preserved traditional fisherman village in the UAE, nowadays it also has a new residential area with numerous real estate projects, Ice Land Water Park and industrial zone.
  • Masafi – a town that famous for its bottled drinking water and agriculture.
  • Sham – the border town with Musandam. It is worth to visit for its interesting old wadi settlements, rock engravings and harbour.


Ras Al Khaimah is nestled between the Hajjar Mountains on the East and the Persian Gulf on the West and shares mountainous borders with the Musandam Peninsula of Oman. With the completion of the new Emirates Highway, RAK is only about one hour from the emirate of Dubai.

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E311 near Ras al Khaimah

H.H. Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammed Al Qasimi has been the Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah since 1948. His son, H.H. Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi was appointed Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler in June 2003.

The Emirate Ras Al Khaimah combines a fascinating and a relaxing tourist hub with its calm blue seas with clean white beaches, dramatic desert dunes and the majestic Hajjar Mountains. It has numerous fascinating tourist landmarks, beautiful wildlife conservations and sanctuaries. Golf has become one of the leading tourist attractions within the emirate.

Get in

See Get in section for visa details.

By plane

  • Ras Al Khaimah International Airport (RAK Airport) (20 minutes from the city centre. To get there you need to take a taxi, which always run by meter and should cost you around 30 dirham from the centre. If you are staying in one of the hotels in Ras Al Khaimah, you can also arrange for a hotel pick up.). The national carrier is RAK Airways, that serves Dhaka and Chittagong Patenga in Bangladesh, Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, Kozhikode in India and to Cairo in Egypt. Only Oman Air and charter airlines serve the airport.

Other airports are Sharjah 80 km , Dubai 90 km and Abu Dhabi 240 km from Ras Al Khaimah.

By rail

There is no railway system in Ras Al Khaimah or the UAE.

By car

Ras Al Khaimah has a border with Oman (Musandam). It is rather easy to enter and exit the country by car. RAK has road connections with all the other emirates. The Emirates Road (E311) allows reaching Umm Al Quwain (UAQ) in half an hour, Sharjah in less than an hour, Dubai in 1–1½ hour (depending on the traffic) and Abu Dhabi in around 2½–3 hours. The old Coastal Road (E11) is slower but takes you directly to Sharjah via UAQ and Ajman. Fujairah can be reached via the mountain passage or via Masafi (E18) in about 1-1½ hour.

By bus

There is daily modern bus service to Umm Al Quwain, Ajman, Sharjah and Dubai. The buses usually leave every hour from the RAK Public Taxi and Bust Stand (Al Faisal Road, opp. The Cove Rotana) from around 07:00 until 20:00. One way tickets cost: 10 dirham UAQ, 15 dirham Ajman, 25 dirham Sharjah and 25 dirham Dubai.

By boat

There are no passenger boat carriers operating directly to Ras Al Khaimah.

Get around

By tour operator

A few tour operators (mainly in the international hotels) organize Ras Al Khaimah city tours. Most of the big hotels provide buses for their guests to the RAK Old City and shopping malls.

By taxi

Taxis or rental car are your only option to move around Ras Al Khaimah. Taxis use meters, are reasonably priced, easily available and honest. You can book a taxi 800 1 700 or just flag one on the street; it should not take more than a few minutes to find a taxi.

By car

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A bridge at Ras Al Khaimah.

Car rental is easily available option. Most of the roads in Ras Al Khaimah are in good condition and it is easy to find the way around (at least in the city). However, driving can be a challenging experience for those who are not used to slightly chaotic roads.

International car rentals are available in most of the hotels. There are also numerous smaller local companies around the town. You should expect to pay from 150 dirham for a small car per day.

On foot

Walking around Ras Al Khaimah is not easy due to the traffic, lack of sidewalks and zebra crossings and it is something not done and not recommended. For a pleasure walk, Corniche Road and beaches are the best and safest option.

By bus

Although the RAK Transport Authority has made plans to run buses within Ras Al Khaimah, so far no public buses are available.

What to see and do

  • Ras Al Khaimah Old City – the oldest residential area in the city of Ras Al Khaimah with an old souq, old mosque, fishing harbour and Al Hisn Fort, which now host RAK National Museum.
  • Ras Al Khaimah National Museum – the RAK National Museum is situated in Al Hisn Fort. It presents the history and culture of Ras Al Khaimah.
  • Dhow Building Station – continuation of a long Ras Al Khaimah’s tradition of dhow building.
  • Camel Race Track – taste of the Arabic heritage with excitement of the race   .
  • Prehistoric Shimal – one of the oldest settlements not only in Ras Al Khaimah but also in the region, it has remains of numerous ancient constructions such as Umm an-Nar tombs (2600-2000BC), Wadi Suq tombs (2000-1600BC), a second millennium BC settlement, findings from the Sassanian period (300-632AD) and the Abbasid era (750-1250AD).
  • Sheeba’s Palace – the remains of the 16th century palace.
  • Wadi Haqil – a large wadi, which up to the 1970s was a centre of pottery production started in the 15th century.
  • Dhayah – a village that has remains of old tombs and settlements. It is mostly known for its hill top fort that was a last point of deface against the British who attacked Ras Al Khaimah in the 19th century.
  • Ghalilah Village and Wadi – their main attractions include famous Stairway to Heaven track, ancient tomb, heritage village and fishermen houses.
  • Sha’am – a town near the border with Musandam. It is worth to visit for its interesting old wadi settlements, rock engravings and small harbour.
  • Wadi Bih – it is one of the picturesque wadis in the UAE. It has remains of old settlements, graveyards and breath taking scenery. In one of the tributary wadis, the Jebel Al Jais Mountain Resort is constructed.
  • Falayah Fort – an old summer residence of the sheiks of Ras Al Khaimah. The General Treaty of Peace between the British and the local sheiks was signed there.
  • Khatt – an oasis with thermal waters and numerous archaeological sites.
  • Al Jazirah Al Hamra – the best-preserved fishermen village in the UAE.
  • Southern Wadis – Wadi Asimah, Daftah, Munay’i, Shawka, Qawr, Safarfir – full of prehistoric sites, scenic and yet undeveloped.

What to do

  • Beach
  • Fishing
  • Ice land Waterpark – it offers more than 50 rides and numerous water games.
  • Saqr Park – the Saqr Park is the Emirate’s biggest public park. It has some slides, electrical cars, computer games and other attractions for the young ones.
  • Camel race track – camel race is an attraction not to be missed. The races take place on Fridays, early in the morning from October till March.
  • Camping and picnicking – done everywhere, although maintains are particularly popular for camping and beach, Saqr Park, Corniche Road and Emirates Road are often chosen for picnicking.
  • Golf – there are two golf clubs in Ras Al Khaimah. Tower Links Golf Club (18 hole) and Al Hamra Golf Club (9 hole).
  • Shisha cafés – a rather relaxing and very local experience. Many restaurants offer shisha, and Corniche Road seems to be particularly popular.
  • Shooting Club
  • Powered parachuting
  • Micro-Light flying
  • Diving
  • Mountain climbing
  • Wadi bashing – Ras Al Khaimah has a wonderful mountains which are often visited by residents and tourists. A 4WD is a must.
  • Bird watching
  • Quad biking – popular activity amongst the local community, bikes can be rented at the Awafi desert area.
  • Desert safaris – organized by most of the hotels.
  • Cinemas – there are two cinemas in Ras Al Khaimah: Grand Manar (07 2278888) with mainly English-language movies and Gulf Cinema (07 2223313) with a range of Indian and Arabic movies.
  • Corniche Road – it is one of the most popular places in Ras Al Khaimah, a centre of all action. It is a long street by the RAK Creek with a green promenade, attended mostly on the weekends. Picnics, jogging, roller-skating, biking are only few activities and sports that take place there.


  • Old Souq – old souq is not that old, but it is the most traditional shopping experience you can get in Ras Al Khaimah.
  • Al Nakheel – it is a district with numerous small shops. Because, numerous of these shops sell Indian products and there is a large Indian community living in this area, Al Nakheel is called by some a small India.
  • Fish Market – interesting cultural experience and a chance to see a local sea life.
  • Vegetable Market – situated under the bridge, is a colourful place, although most of the products are not locally produced
  • Shopping malls – apart from smaller shops and shopping centres, there are three shopping malls in Ras Al Khaimah with Manar Mall   being the most popular. Other are: Al Hamra Mall   and Safeer Mall  .


A typical Emirati food is not widely available but it can be found in so called ‘popular kitchen’ types of restaurants. Lebanese cuisine mixed with some Arabic and Indian influences is often considered a local food. What you can expect in the restaurant is traditional Lebanese mezze (hummos, mutabal, salads, falafel), kebabs, biryani, fish or lamb. Ras Al Khaimah’s different cultures brought different tastes for food, restaurants of many types and origins are opened in the city. Considering a large number of Indians in Ras Al Khaimah, there are plenty of great Indian restaurants. All major international fast food restaurants chains are also present in Ras Al Khaimah and there are numerous local fast food outlets.


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Former founder of and now reporting mainly on the Asia Pacific region and the global Coronavirus crises in countries such as Thailand, Germany & Switzerland. Born near Cologne but lived in Berlin during my early teenage years. A longterm resident of Bangkok, Udon Thani, Sakon Nakhon and Phuket. A great fan of Bali, Rhodes & Corfu.

United Arab Emirates

Dubai Coronavirus (COVID-19) UAE Travel Report

Wolfgang Holzem




Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, is to the Middle East region what London is to Europe, a capitalist economy with so much activity. Most visitors to the Gulf region stop by for at least two days to browse the shops, eat in the restaurants and soak up the atmosphere of a city oozing wealth and a general air of self-satisfied confidence.

Dubai is split into two by a long creek, and a water taxi is an ideal starting point for orientation purposes and an opportunity to admire the modern architecture of Dubai, the hallmark of a successful Arab state. There isn’t much here that isn’t new. Even the traditional souks that attract thousands of visitors each day are packed with up to the minute gadgets and the latest designer wear from the streets of Paris, London or Milan.

Transportation in Dubai

As well as Dubai International Airport, there are other methods of transportation into Dubai. The road network in Dubai is inconsistent but is reasonable to drive into the Dubai city center. A rail system is also available.

Getting Around in Dubai

For getting around in Dubai there is a fairly a good bus service, as well as mini vans and taxis. Most people who are staying for some time make sure they have access to a vehicle, as there isn’t a reliable public transport system beyond Dubai. Car hire is not too expensive, the roads are in good condition but the rules of the road are not always carefuly observed. Be very careful until you are used to it and be aware that roundabouts are particularly hazardous, as are wandering camels.

When to Visit Dubai

Dubai’s Muslim festivals, held annually on varying dates and include the holy month of Ramadan, which is a four weeks long religious fast and that always ends in the festival of Eid al-Fitr. The Islamic New Year and the Prophet’s Birthday are the two main celebrations, celebrated in Dubai and all other emirates of the U.A.E.

Dining in Dubai

Dubai cuisine consists of the staples ‘fuul’ made from fava beans flavored with lemon juice, garlic and spices, ‘felaffel’ which is fried chick pea paste and lamb or chicken served in pita bread and sold as ‘shwarma’. Houmos is a widely available local specialty in Dubai and tastes delightfully different from the westernized mayonnaise emulsion version.

Of course it is very easy to find all the old favorites in this cosmopolitan city of Dubai from pizzas, pasta, steak, salads, shellfish platters, Indian cuisine and fast-food burger bars, but Dubai’s traditional dishes are well worth trying. Fresh produce stalls in the souks contain an extraordinary variety of highly exotic colorful fruits begging to be eaten. Alcohol is only available in restaurants and the more expensive hotels in Dubai such as the Crowne Plaza Hotel Dubai.

Dubai Tipping Advice

Tipping is not a widely established practice in the UAE, as restaurants prefer to include a service charge. Given the low salary of many waiters however, tips are greatly appreciated as the service charge is not passed on to the workers.

Dubai Dress Code

Clothing should be conservative in Dubai. To enjoy your trip to Dubai, Females should not wear revealing clothes, especially in the rural areas of Dubai, and go for loose clothing such as loose-cut trousers and long dresses.

Greeting Someone in Dubai

The usual practice in Dubai is the use of “Sayed” (Mr) or “Sayeda” (Mrs) followed by the first name. The first name should always be prefixed with the honorific title, especially in business situations.

Business and Banking hours in Dubai

The business community of Dubai works Saturday to Thursday from 08:00 to 13:00 and 16:00 to 20:00. The banking hours in Dubai are from 08:00 to 13:00 from Saturday until Wednesday, although some also open from 16:30 to 18:30 pm. On Thursdays, banks are open half-day between 08:00 and 12:00.

Smoking in public places in Dubai

The Attitudes of smoking in Dubai are almost the same as in many countries and in most cases it is obvious where not to smoke. Visitors to Dubai should remember that during the holy month of Ramadan, it is illegal to eat, drink and smoke in public places.

Archaeological sites in Dubai

The archaeological site of Al-Qusais is a suburb of Dubai but in antiquity it was the site of an important settlement and associated cemetery. Excavations there in the 1970s and 1980s revealed the existence of a settlement dating back to the second and first millennium BC. Graves were dug straight into the sabkha, of similar date, yielded large numbers of copper or bronze vessels and weaponry, as well as many soft-stone vessels. Much of the material from the al-Qusais archaeological site can be seen at the Dubai Museum.


Al-Sufouh has recently been given to a suburb south of Dubai. In the early 1990s a tomb of an Umm al-Nar-type was found here and subsequently excavated, along with parts of an adjacent settlement, by an Australian team in conjunction with the Municipality of Dubai.


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United Arab Emirates

Archaeological Sites in the United Arab Emirates

Wolfgang Holzem




The largest pre-Islamic site on the Gulf coast of the UAE, al-Dur is located several kilometres north of Umm al-Qaiwain just east of the main highway running from Sharjah to Ras al-Khaimah. The site is enormous, extending for roughly 4 km northeast to southwest, and about 1 km inland from the highway. Al-Dur has been known since the early 1970s when an Iraqi expedition first conducted excavations at the site. In the 1980s and 1990s a European expedition (Belgian, British, Danish, French), followed by a strictly Belgian team conducted extensive excavations at al-Dur.

Like Mileiha, al-Dur consists not of a single concentrated area of ruins but is rather a sprawling site in a sandy environment with numerous private houses, some large and some small, scattered over a large area adjacent to the coast. These include small, rectangular, single-room dwellings, as well as large, multi-roomed structures with semi-circular buttresses. Both types of house, as indeed all of architecture at the site, are built of blocks of beach-rock (Arabic farush) which was locally available in the shallow lagoons close to the site. Thousands of graves are interspersed in between the houses at al-Dur. These range from simple, rectangular cists to large, stone structures much like their mudbrick counteparts at Mileiha. In several cases it is clear that the larger tombs at al-Dur held the remains of more than one individual, perhaps a family. Grave goods included drinking sets, Roman glass, weaponry, pottery, jewellery and ivory objects.

The two largest public monuments on the site are a small square fort, c. 20 m on a side, with round corner towers reminiscent of forts built by the Parthians, and a small, square temple, c. 8 m on a side, in which an inscribed basin with a dedication to the Semitic solar deity Shams was found.

Coinage was abundant at al-Dur and included small numbers of foreign coins as well as hundreds of locally minted pieces bearing the name of Abi’el. Although we are uncertain what the ancient name of al-Dur may have been, it is very likely that it was the site of Omana known to both Pliny and Strabo as an important market town in the lower Gulf region. The site’s heyday was certainly the first century AD, although some occupation in the third/fourth centuries AD is also attested.

Located south of al-Dhaid in the interior of Sharjah, al-Madam is an extensive plain with the remains of a major Iron Age mudbrick settlement, comparable in most respects to those excavated at Rumeilah and nearby al-Thuqaibah. The site has been excavated by a joint French-Spanish team from the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in Paris and the Autonomous University of Madrid. Al-Madam is particularly interesting in that it seems to have been supplied by water via a falaj-system running from the foothills of the Hajar mountains to what were once the site’s agricultural fields.

This is the name given to a small site overlooking the palace of the Crown Prince of Umm al-Qaiwain, HH Sheikh Saud bin Rashid Al Mualla. First discovered by a French archaeological team in the early 1980s, al-Madar was subsequently visited by the European Expedition to Umm al-Qaiwain in 1986, and partially excavated in 1992 by Prof. Hans-Peter Uerpmann and a team from the University of Txbingen (Germany). Al-Madar is a site belonging to the Arabian bifacial tradition which shows evidence of fishing and shellfish collecting. It is one of many similar sites located in the area alongside the lagoon system of Umm al-Qaiwain. In antiquity it may have been located on an island, when sea-levels were different, even though it is today about 1 km from the coast.

Al-Qusais is today a suburb of Dubai but in antiquity it was the site of an important settlement and associated cemetery. Excavations there in the early 1970s and 1980s revealed the existence of a settlement dating to the second and first millennium BC Shaft graves dug straight into the sabkha, of similar date, yielded large numbers of copper or bronze vessels and weaponry, as well as many soft-stone vessels. Much of the material from al-Qusais is on display in the Dubai Museum.

This name has recently been given to a suburb south of Dubai. In the early 1990s a tomb of typical Umm al-Nar-type was found here and subsequently excavated, along with parts of an adjacent settlement, by an Australian team in conjunction with Dubai Municiaplity. The most striking feature of the tomb at al- Sufouh was the fact that, just outside of it, were four pits containing human bone, most of it burnt. It is possible that this bone, which may or may not have come from the main tomb itself (i.e. been re-buried), represents the remains of extensive cremation episodes.

Some pits held the remains of c. 50 individuals, all seemingly cremated at the same time. The high temperatures reached in these cremation episodes (revealed by the calcined nature of the bone and warping of some of the bones and artifacts) suggests that the bodies were cremated while they still contained flesh. In other words, they were not cremated after a period of exposure had removed the flesh. Cremation has also been noted at other sites of this period in the Emirates but it is not certain whether this was standard practice in the UAE during the Umm al-Nar period, or whether it was occasioned by particular circumstances (e.g. a plague) which warranted purification at high temperatures.

This large mudbrick village dates to the Iron Age and is located near al-Madam, south of Dhaid in the interior of Sharjah. In plan it resembles both al-Madam and Rumeilah. The multiplicity of similar villages in the Emirates around 1000-500 BC suggests the existence there of a large, agriculturally-based population which cultivated cereals, raised sheep, goat and cattle, and tapped the rich underground aquifers of the Hajar mountains by means of falaj irrigation technology. The population of the Emirates at this time was probably larger than at any point previously in its history.

South of Kalba, and inland from the coast, lies the village of Awhala. This small settlement, which belongs to the emirate of Fujairah, sits on the north side of an east-west oriented wadi which empties out onto the Batinah plain of northern Oman. Situated on a terrace above the wadi is a mudbrick fortified house of nineteenth century date which covers the western corner of an Iron Age fortified enclosure.

The enclosure wall is a massive 2.3 m in width, preserved in places to 1.4 m above the modern ground level. The enclosure wall is no longer extant on its southern side, where it has been eroded away by the wadi, but the north side is c. 60 m long and the east side is preserved to a length of over 50 m. An elaborate gateway was preserved near the northeast corner of the enclosure. Charcoal recovered in an excavation in the interior of a building within the enclosure wall gave a date of c. 800 BC. The Iron Age fortified enclosure of Husn Awhala recalls a similar structure at Wadi Fizh in northern Oman, and the main walls have the same width as a stone wall excavated at Kalba.

Ayn al-Faydah
Ayn al-Faydah is the name give to an area of fossil lakebed sediments located on the alluvial plain to the northwest of Jebel Hafit in the interior of Abu Dhabi (55’43’20” E, 24’05’25” N). These sediments, c. 3.5 m thick, represent the remains of a lake which was fed by the seasonal flooding of wadis to the west of Jebel Hafit. Freshwater snails (Melanoides tuberculata) from various layers in the lake bed deposits show that there must have been a semi-permanent or permanent lake at Ayn al-Faydah at various points in time. Examples of these have been dated by the radiocarbon method to the fifth millennium BC, precisely that time of optimal climatic conditions which coincided with the large number of Arabian bifacial tradition sites throughout the region. Such fossilised remains of standing lakes – even semi-permanent ones – are important indicators of palaeoclimate in the United Arab Emirates.


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United Arab Emirates

Abu Dhabi Coronavirus (COVID-19) UAE Travel Report

Wolfgang Holzem




The airport of Abu Dhabi is 35 kilometres east of central Abu Dhabi and it’s around a 40 minutes drive by taxi. If you plan travelling by taxi make sure you confirm the fare with the driver before the journey. All major and local car rental companies have offices at Abu Dhabi airport and some also provide a chauffeur service.

Tipping advice in Abu Dhabi

Any service charge on a restaurant bill in Abu Dhabi usually goes to the restaurant (the owners) rather then the waiter, therefore, even if tips aren’t expected, they are very much appreciated.

Abu Dhabi dress code

In Abu Dhabi, clothing should be conservative and smart. Females should avoid revealing clothing, especially in the rural areas of Abu Dhabi, and go for loose clothing such as loose-cut trousers and long dresses.

Local Customs in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi and the The United Arab Emirates are the most liberal part of the Persian Gulf, however Arabs are still very conservative by Western standards. This means that great offence would be shown by wearing revealing clothing or in any way showing disrespect in Mosques or other public places.

Location of Cities near Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi is located 32km east of the city and it takes around 40 minutes from the Abu Dhabi airport. Buses and taxis are available at the airport. Facilities at Abu Dhabi airport include duty-free shop, 24-hour banking, bar, snack bar, money exchange, post offices and car hire desk’s.

Dubai is located 5km southeast of the city (travel time – 10 minutes). Taxis are available at the airport. Airport facilities include duty-free shop, bank, post office, shops, car hire, restaurant, snack bar and bar. The airport consists of two terminals and a new concourse.

Sharjah is located 10km from the city. Taxis are available at the airport. Ras Al Khaimah (RKT) is 15km (9 miles) from the city. Taxis are available at the airport. Airport facilities include a duty-free shop and restaurant/snack bar. There is also an airport at Fujairah with duty-free facilities, and one is being constructed at Al Ain.

The National Airlines

The national airlines are Emirates (EK) and Gulf Air (GF). Emirates operate international flights to and from Dubai; Gulf Air serves all United Arab Emirates airports. Emirates is expanding services to the Far East. Approximate flight times: From London to Abu Dhabi is 6 hours 35 minutes and to Dubai is 7 hours; from Frankfurt/M to Dubai is 6 hours; from Hong Kong to Dubai is 8 hours and from Nairobi to Dubai is 4 hours.

Visas for visitors to Abu Dhabi

Passport valid for a minimum of 6 months from date of arrival required by all citizen that enter Abu Dhabi. Visa is required by all except nationals of Great Britain with the endorsement ‘British Citizen’ for a maximum of 30 days. Nationals of European Union countries for a maximum of 30 days. Nationals of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Transit passengers, provided holding valid onward or return documentation and not leaving the airport.

[su_note]The Emirate of Abu Dhabi refuses entry and transit to any nationals of Israel, including Israeli diplomats.[/su_note]

Health Risks

Malaria is not a risk in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi nor in the cities of Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman or Umm al Qaiwain. There is, however, a risk of contracting the disease (predominantly the benign vivax form) in the valleys and on the lower slopes of mountainous areas of the Northern States. In these areas chloroquine or proguanil are recommended, plus protection against mosquito bites.

Tap water in Abu Dhabi is safe to drink, but in small villages around Abu Dhabi it should be filtered, or bottled water should be used. Water used for drinking, brushing teeth or making ice should have first been boiled or otherwise sterilised. Milk is unpasteurised and should be boiled. Powdered or tinned milk is available and is advised, but make sure that it is reconstituted with pure water. Avoid dairy products which are likely to have been made from unboiled milk. Only eat well-cooked meat and fish, served hot. Salad and mayonnaise may carry increased risk. Vegetables should be cooked and fruit peeled.

Other risks

Visceral leishmaniasis and tick-borne typhus may occur; avoid mosquito, sandfly and tick bites. Wear shoes to avoid soil-borne parasites. Take precautions against heat exhaustion, dehyrdration and sunstroke. Immunisation against Hepatitis A is recommended and Hepatitis B is endemic. Rabies is present close to the border with the Sultanate of Oman. For those at high risk, vaccination before arrival should be considered. If you are bitten, seek medical advice without delay. For more information, consult the Health appendix.

Greeting someone in Abu Dhabi

Greetings can be protracted affairs as an Arab may enquire after you and your family’s health. The polite reply is that all is well, thanks be to God. It is usual to use ‘Sayed’ (Mr) or ‘Sayeda’ (Mrs) followed by the first name. The name should always be prefixed with the honorific title when conducting business. The Bedouin custom of offering food and shelter in Abu Dhabi to strangers in the deserts of Abu Dhabi is preserved today by the coffee ceremony. Business often starts with a tiny cup of cardamon-flavoured coffee poured from the traditional metal pot. To indicate that you have had enough, guests must wiggle the cup from side to side.

Major Industries in Abu Dhabi
Oil and gas are Abu Dhabi’s main industries, and underpin the country’s considerable prosperity. Chemicals, aluminium and steel production are the most important of the new industries in Abu Dhabi. Other newly established industries produce consumer goods for the domestic market. There is some agriculture, mostly livestock rearing, in what is an unfavourable climate and fishing is also significant. Tourism has been booking lately in Abu Dhabi and the development of real estate properties.

Archaelogical sites

Ayn al-Faydah archaelogical site
Ayn al-Faydah is the name given to an location of fossil lakebed sediments located on the alluvial plain to the northwest of Jebel Hafit in the interior of Abu Dhabi. These sediments, c. 3.5 m thick, shows the remains of a lake which was fed by the seasonal flooding of wadis on the west of the Jebel Hafit. Freshwater snails from several layers in the lake bed deposits show that there must have been a semi-permanent or permanent lake at Ayn al-Faydah at various points in time in Abu Dhabi.

Dalma is one of the most important islands off the west coast of Abu Dhabi. The island sits some 80 km east of the Qatar peninsula, and measures 45sq km, rising to a maximum elevation of 98 m above sea-level. Dalma today has a population of around 5000 people and it is volcanic island. In the late nineteenth century Dalma was the only island on the Great Pearl Bank with a permanent population around the year. More than 20 historic archaeological sites have been found on the Dalma, ranging from the late prehistoric era to an early twentieth century mosque (Sa’id Jum’a al-Qubaysi).

Dalma’s main prehistoric site is located on the Abu Dhabi Women’s Federation enclosure, and has yielded some of Abu Dhabi’s earliest evidence of date palm cultivation, pottery. The vast majority of the Dalma’s archaeological sites dates back to the last few centuries of the Islamic era.

Jebel Hafit
Jebel Hafit is oriented almost exactly north-south, just south of Al Ain in the interior of Abu Dhabi. A prominent feature of the landscape today, Jebel Hafit would have been just as prominent for the region’s prehistoric population. Many graves dating to around 3000 BC are dotted along the eastern slope of Jebel Hafit. These consist of massive cairns of unmasoned stone piled up around a keyhole-shaped chamber. Several graves of even larger dimensions are known at Jebel Emalah in the interior of Sharjah. Because such graves were first identified and excavated at Jebel Hafit, they have come to be known as ‘Hafit-type’ graves. Most of the historical graves at Jebel Hafit have been robbed in antiquity many years back, but those excavated by successive Arabian and European expeditions give evidence of having held more than one person, perhaps up to five or six, and thus represent the first of a long line of collective burials in Abu Dhabi.

Mantiqa al-Sirra
The Mantiqa al-Sirra archaelogical site is located in the dunes to the east of Madinat Zayed at the interior of Abu Dhabi and includes the remains of a rectangular mudbrick enclosure with a seize of around 46×80 meters and with a 12 metres square tower in the northeast corner. The walls of the building are preserved to a height of about one metre and gun ports can still been seen. Within living memory two cannons still stood at the fortress, although these have now been removed to Liwa. Late Islamic pottery can be found on the surface of the site. Although it is not certain, the Fortress at Mantiqa al-Sirra may be the one mentioned in the History of the Imams and Seyyids of Oman as the Ezh-Zhafrah Fort where, in 1633, Nasir bin Qahtan Al Hilali, an opponent of the Ya’aruba Imam of Oman, Nasr bin Murshid, joined forces with members of the Bani Yas tribe.

In the early 70’s a Shimal-type long tomb was excavated by an archaelogical team of Iraq at Qattarah which is a neighbourhood in Al Ain in Abu Dhabi. The tomb at Qattarah was one of the very first tombs of 2nd millennium BC date excavated in Abu Dhabi. The material from this excavation is stored and, to some extent, can be found in the Al Ain Museum. Among the most notable treassure is a gold ornament consisting of a double-headed, single-bodied animal. Similar finds are known from the sites of Dhayah in northern Ras al-Khaimah and Bidya in northern Fujairah. These were probably worn as a large medallion in a necklace.

Named after a district of Al Ain in the interior of Abu Dhabi, Rumeilah was the first Iron Age settlement excavated on a large scale in Abu Dhabi. Work was conducted there between 1981 and 1983 by a French team from the National Scientific Research Center of Paris. The archaelogical site consists of a series of mudbrick buildings, some of which are so well preserved that their roofs are still intact. These had been literally buried by sand. They contained large quantities of potteries, grinding stones and metal tools, as well as stamp seals, beads and several pieces of bronze weaponry. Rumeilah was occupied between ca 1000 and 300 BC and is very similar to the contemporary Iron Age archaelogical site of al-Madam, al-Thuqaibah, Qarn Bint Saud and Hili 2.


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