Welcome to the progressive and cosmopolitan City of a Thousand Lights.....DUBAI! Dubai is one of seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates. It is the second largest emirate. A city with the biggest of everything in the world (or at least they try!)Population
Approximately 2 million people (80% of the popluation are expat and 20% are Emirati).Currency
AED Dirham and is pegged to the US$ at 3.6725.Weather
Summer (March-October) can be extremely hot (high 30's and can reach over 50 degrees celcius), Winter (November-February) and can be cool (low's of 10 degrees celcius). Dubai can be covered in fog, sand storms and occassional rain.Visas
A 30 day tourist visa can be obtained on arrival for the following countries: Europe, US, Canada, Australia, New Zealdn, Japan, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong. If you do not fall into this category there are numerous types of visas and sponsorships. Check with your local UAE embassy/consulate or the Government of Dubai Naturalisation & Residency Department at http://www.government.ae/gov/en/visitors/uae/visas.jsp Getting There & Away
Dubai is a major hub for the region so getting here is easy! Emirates Airways is the major airline operating out of Dubai. Etihad Airways operate out of Abu Dhabi and have a free bus transfer to/from Dubai which takes about 1 hour 40 minutes. There are a few regional airlines where are very good. Qatar Airways, Oman Air, Jazeera Airways, Air Arabia (operates out of Sharjah airport). The airport is only 15-20 minutes to the "city centre".Getting Around
Taxi is the easiest form of transport, cheap and are run on the meter. The roads can be extremely dangerous and Dubai is not a pedestrian friendly city and walking around in summer is not advisable. A Metro is being built and due to opening by 2010. Hiring a car can be an option, but you will need to be over 21, have your licence and an international licence.Communication
The international code is 971, area code is 04. Mobiles:
On arrival at the airport, there is an Etisilat booth (1 of only 2 local telecommunications providers). They have a visitors mobile package, which is basically a sim card and credit, giving you a local number for your stay. Internet
: Wifi is available at many shopping malls or big chain coffee shops (Starbucks) for free. It is not unusual to see many people lounging around the malls on their laptops! Internet Cafe's are sparse. Most moderate+ hotels will offer internet (for high prices)Accommodation
Welcome to the city that has the only 7* hotel, The Burj al Arab, and a city full of 5* hotels. Luxury seems to be the "it" thing in Dubai. However, there are some 3-4 star hotels offering great deals (Al Murooj Rotana*)
For real budget accomodation there are a number of budget hotels and there is a YHA Hostel (http://www.uaeyha.com/branches-address) in Al Qusais (a little bit out of Dubai). However, if you want something with a little more comfort or even a splurge there is a massive amount to choose from. For the best location I would consider Bur Dubai (although this is the older part of town and more "local"), along Sheikh Zayed Road, Jumeriah/Beaches/Marina for a more up market area and is amore beachie/western experience.Interactive Map of Dubaihttp://www.dtcm-dubaimap.com/applet/map.htmlAreas of Dubai
Deira and Bur Dubai - old parts of the city surrounding the creek.
City Centre - along the Sheikh Zayed Road.
Old Town - is actually a new development around the Burj Dubai (the tallest tower in the world)
Jumeriah/Beaches - the strip between SZR Road and the Gulf, with the Burj Al Arab and some wonderful beach hotels.
Dubai Marina - South of Dubai, a lovely area surrounded by the marina and beaches.Shopping
Shopper's paradise awaits you in the vast amount of air conditioned malls dotted around Dubai. If you love your designer labels, you are in the right place. Every February there is the Dubai Shopping Festival, where there are some fantastic deals to be made and malls have giveaways and prizes too (anything from a toaster to a Hummer H3). Dubai Mall (recently opened October 2008) is the largest retailer mall in the world (of course!), Mall of the Emirates, Ibn Battuta (which is designed like different market places from the travels of Ibn Battuta and there is an exhibit on this famous traveller)Food & DrinkFood
Dubai offers a global dining experiernce. There are many restaurants offering some amazing food from 5* silver service down to the local kebab stall next door to the mosque! The main cuisine is Arabic (mainly of Lebanese origin) and most food is halal (killed in accordance with Muslim ritual), but there is an odd restaurant that offers pork products and the menu's highlighted to show which dishes contain pork products or alcohol. There are many good cheap indian restaurants in the Satwa area. All the hotels have restaurants ranging from seafood, steak, Thai, Japanese, Chinese, Australian, Indian, Arabic even Argentinian and Russian.Drinking?
All drinking establishments will be found in hotels. This is because a hotel has a special alcohol licence allowing the service of alcohol. You will not be permitted to purchase alcohol to take away (unless you are staying in that hotel and you can order from room service). For those living in Dubai, you will need to have an alcohol licence to purchase alcohol to have in your home. Those coming in through the airports are allowed to buy up to 4/5 bottles of wine or a case of beer, or 4/5 bottles of spirits from Duty Free.Ramadam
Ramadam is an Islamic religious observance that takes place during the ninth month of the Islamic Calendar. This is when the Qur'an was revealed to the Prohet Muhammad. It is a month of fasting, where Muslims do not eat or drink anything from dawn until sunset. Fasting is meant to teach the person patience, sacrifice and humility and to offer more prayer than usual. During Ramadam Muslims ask forgiveness for past sins, pray for guidance and help in refraining from everyday evils, and try to purify themselves through self-restraint and good deeds. Sahour, is the morning meal and is taken before the first prayers before sunrise. At sunset the fasting is broken with Iftaar.
Most restaurants and food courts open to the public eye will be closed during day trading hours and reopen at sunset. Most restaurants in hotels will be opened. Restuarants that are opened during the day will be curtained off from the public eye for those non-muslim who wish to eat during the day. Many places will also deliver to you.
It is a criminal offense to smoke, eat or drink in public (including in your car) during the day during Ramadam.Cultural Sensitivities - DO & DONT'S
Although Dubai is one of the most progressive countries in the region, it is still a muslim country and following a few simple rules will lead to a happy holiday. Activites/ Must Do's
- Say or do anything negative towards the Royal family....this could land you in jail!
- Females DO NOT need to cover up, but dressing appropriately is advisable (and appreciated).
- Visiting a mosque? Females must cover up their arms (to wrist), legs (to ankle), cover their hair with a veil or scarf.
- On the beach it is OK to wear bathers, but modesty is appreciated, if walking around cover up a little. Obviously topless/nude bathing is against the law and could find you jailed and deported!
- No kissing and canoodling in public, even holding hands can get you in trouble. It is against the law for mixed sexes to live together unless they are married.
- A given anywhere, but no profanity and rude hand gestures.
- If you have had a few drinks, do not act drunk in public.
- Ask permission to take photos and never take photos of the local women.
Check out www.timeoutdubai.com for a complete list of all things to do, see, eat and drink in Dubai!
Out & About
- Desert Safari (either afternoon sand duning or a dinner safari which also includes camel rides, dinner, belly dancing, dressing in local outfits, henna painting etc). There are a few companies that offer these
- If you are here over a weekend (that being Friday/Saturday) a Friday brunch is a must (usually noon - 4pm)! All inclusive packages at the top hotels can include champage (and I mean the proper stuff like Moet & Chandon), wines, beers and cocktails. Prices are between AED400-500 and most include seafood....
- Ski Dubai (who else can say they have skiied indoors!)
- Dhow cruise (traditional boat) or dinner cruise on the creek
- The Big Bus Company tour (has 2 routes around Dubai), includes 1 hour dhow cruise, entry to Dubai Museum, abra ride on the creek + more
- Dubai Museum
- Jumeriah Mosque tour (during the week). Woman must cover up and it is the only mosque in Dubai that offers non-muslim entry
- Bastikaya Area (the art gallery area of Dubai)
- Souqs (Gold, Spice and Textiles)
- Lazing on the beaches
- Relax over a shisha pipe and tea (there are many flavours)
- Pampering at one the many spas
- A day at Wild Wadi or Aquaventure Water parks
- Gaze up at the tallest building in the world, the Burj Dubai
- Many bars offer ladies nights during the weeks (where ladies get free entry and free or cheap drinks during the night)
It can be a little difficult to get of Dubai during the day. There are many companies that do day tours that include:
- Musandam Peninsula (in Oman) and take a day cruise around the islands.
- Abu Dhabi (see one of the largest mosques in the world (opened in 2008).
- Snorkelling Diving at Fujeriah.
- Al Ain is pretty.
- Hatta Mountains
- Liwa (out in the desert)
- Muscat, Oman (1 hours flight)