Dear Delegate,

It is our pleasure to welcome you to the NACADA International Conference hosted by Zayed University. We realize that this may be the first time that many of you have been to the Middle East and so we have prepared a brief guide to help orientate you to Dubai. Please read carefully the information below. It has been written to help make your stay in the UAE as enjoyable as possible.

The United Arab Emirates was formed 2nd December 1971 and consists of seven Emirates, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Ras Al Khaimah, Fujeirah and Umm Al Quwain. Abu Dhabi is the largest of the Emirates, and is the seat of the Federal Government. Dubai is the second largest Emirate, but the most populated.

The working week is slightly different from what you may be used to. Sunday through Thursday are weekdays with Friday and Saturday being the weekend.

The UAE is a conservative Muslim country and Islam is central to all aspects of life. While the UAE is a very tolerant society visitors are expected to respect the culture and customs of the country. Bearing this in mind, visitors to the UAE should be mindful of not taking pictures of people without asking their permission. Although women are not required to cover their hair, or wear an abaya, they should, in public areas such as shopping malls etc. dress conservatively ensuring that shoulders and knees are covered and their neckline is not too revealing. It is also very important to refrain from public displays of affection towards members of the opposite sex.

While the drinking of alcohol is permitted, it is strictly forbidden to consume alcohol outside of licensed hotels and restaurants. It is against the law to consume alcohol in public places such as the beach. Possession of alcohol and other illegal substances carries an immediate prison sentence. Please also note that the UAE has a zero-tolerance policy to drink-driving (if you are driving a car NO alcohol should be present in the blood system) and zero tolerance towards consumption of illegal substances. Conviction carries an automatic prison sentence. It is important that if you are on prescribed drugs that you carry the prescription with you as certain drugs are prohibited. Please do research for more information on what is allowed and ensure that you bring any prescribed medication in their original containers with your prescription and an extra copy just in case.

There are five prayer times during a day. Some shops will close during these times and you may find that traffic slows down slightly, but overall it is simply a sacred tradition that we respect by not playing loud music or interrupting the prayer, and business goes on as usual.

By February, the weather in the UAE will be much milder, temperature wise as it is winter. You can expect day time temperatures to be 20C plus and night time as low as 10C. Also everywhere will also be air-conditioned and so it is advisable to carry a shawl or light jacket with you.

The electrical supply for appliances in the UAE is 220-240 volts, and 50 cycles. Outlet converters for laptop and most other electrical devices from other areas are available in grocery and electrical stores in Al Ain.

The UAE follows Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) plus 4 hours. Daylight savings time is not observed in the UAE. The world clock website provides time zones for all countries in the world.

If you have requested to receive an entry visitor visa for Dubai, please ensure that you receive successful confirmation of the visa application before your travel date. If you need a visa you should arrange this before travelling with your hotel or the UAE Embassy in your country. Please note that if you are collecting your visa at the airport, you will be subject to an eye scan before processing. Many passport holders however, do not need a visa in advance and can receive it upon arrival (as you go through Immigration). Please check the list on our blog in the NACADA website.

We highly recommend that you exchange your currency to the AED (Emirati Dirham), the UAE’s local currency. Common exchange rates as of today:

1 USD = AED 3.67 (the UAE Dirham is fixed to the US Dollar)
1 UK pound = AED 5.69
1 EUR = AED 4.16
1 AUD = AED 2.63
1 CAD = AED 2.78

Though several locations such as hotels will accept your foreign currency, smaller places like local restaurants and supermarkets, petrol stations, etc. will not have the adequate change or be able to accept currency other than AED. As in most countries, the local currency will also tend to stretch your funds further.

Zayed University was established in 1998 by the federal government of the United Arab Emirates as a government-sponsored higher education institutions in the United Arab Emirates. It is named in honor of HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the country's first president. Achieving accreditation by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education in the USA it became the first federal university in the UAE to be internationally accredited. The University has campuses located in the U.A.E.’s two largest cities, Abu Dhabi and Dubai, under one central administration. Enrollment on each campus is approximately 4000 students. The University is small enough to enable personal interaction between students and faculty, yet sufficiently large to offer students a range of challenging degree programs. Zayed University Dubai Campus is a very modern campus and architecturally very interesting. The structure of the campus represents the maritime heritage of Dubai. Photographing the campus is permitted (but not of the students). Please note that the Zayed University campus is a Non Smoking campus. Designated Smoking areas will be available and clearly marked. We hope the forthcoming NACADA International Conference will be both educationally stimulating and enjoyable. We look forward to welcoming you to the conference and to the great city of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

NACADA 2016 Conference Committee