Canadians looking for an unforgettable holiday experience will surely find it in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a small Arabian Peninsula country of around 8 million people. You want day-long uninterrupted sunshine and beautiful empty beaches? You got them. You want first class hotels, restaurants and fabulous shopping? They're all there for you, too. If you're looking for the modern with a taste of old Arabia thrown in then the UAE has it all, in abundance.
So what are you waiting for? Dust down the HSBC credit card and get packing. Entry and exit requirements for Canadians visiting the UAE are fairly straightforward, too, so no problems there. Of course, it always best to check for the very latest travel advice, just as you would if visiting any other country. The Canadian government has plenty of online information available.
The basic requirements are passport and visa, naturally. The passport must be valid for at least six months before you go and you'll have to be in possession of the visa prior to arrival in the UAE. Check with the UAE embassy for the very latest information.
The requirements are slightly different, however, if you intend to work and live in the UAE. For starters, you'll have to undergo a medical examination on arrival. The authorities will be checking especially for HIV infection. If HIV is found then you'll be deported, no ifs or buts.
Watch out, too, when it comes to taking any medication into the country, whether as a tourist or foreign worker. Some over-the-counter medicines available in Canada are considered controlled substances in the UAE and possession can therefore land you in jail. Codeine is a good example of this. But there are more, so as a first step, check out the UAE government's Ministry of Health website. Better to be extra cautious than sorry.
Although the UAE may be modern and forward-looking, its culture is a deeply conservative one. Religion also plays a huge role within the fabric of daily life. The majority of the country's citizens are Muslim. So even as you enjoy the sights and sounds of this fabulous country, remember you have a duty to respect its laws, customs and religion.
Alcoholic consumption is always a thorny subject for Westerners. Yes, you can drink, but don't get drunk, at least not in public. Such behaviour is frowned upon and can land you behind bars. You can enjoy a drink at a hotel or club, for example. You can even drink at home, in private, providing you've first obtained a liquor licence.
Sex and illegal drugs are another couple of taboos which visitors should definitely avoid indulging in. Having sex outside marriage is against the law. So is living with someone. You are not allowed to even share a hotel room with a member of the opposite sex unless you are married to them. As for illegal drugs, don't get involved with them in any shape or form. The consequences for doing so are dire.
Finally, a bit of financial advice. While the country enjoys all the trappings of 21st century banking, with ATMs, loans, debit and credit cards and online banking very much par for the course, don't get into debt. Living beyond your means can land you in some extremely hot water. So be careful. You have been warned.
For more information, check out the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates here.
The simple truth is that there are many factors to consider when entering any country and the aid of an immigration expert can certainly aid one's navigation through the red tape. The trained immigration lawyers at Canuck Abroad have extensive experience getting visa applications successfully processed in the United Arab Emirates and may be able to help you as well.