All you need to know before travelling to Dubai

 

Where is Dubai?

Situated on the southeast coast of the Arabian Gulf in the Middle East, the glitzy metropolis of Dubai is one of the seven emirates which make the United Arab Emirates including Sharjah, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain and the capital of the UAE, Abu Dhabi. Dubai is also the most populated emirate, with over 3 million residents.

 

Is Dubai a safe city to visit?

The Economist Intelligence Unit Safe Cities Index 2019 lists Dubai at number 12 for Personal Security, ahead of the likes of Zurich, London and Melbourne. 

 

How long can I stay in Dubai for?

Stays can start from 30 days and go as long as 90 days depending on the visa type, your nationality and purpose of planned visit. Citizens of select nationalities are eligible for visa on arrival for the duration of 30/90 days and don’t require advance visa arrangements to enter the UAE. Note that visa rules vary according to your nationality so make sure to check online for the visa requirements of your country. www.government.ae

 

What transportation is available from the airport?

There are plenty of public taxis available at the airport and woman can hop into one of the pink-roofed taxis reserved especially for female travellers and families. The airport is also connected to Dubai Metro at Terminals 1 and 3, with trains running every 10 mins from 5am (or 10am on Fri) to midnight Sat to Wed and until 1am on Thur and Fri.  

 

Is there a service I can use to help me through the airport?

Marhaba is an exclusive meet and greet service that will help you make a speedy arrival and departure. Whether it’s fast-track clearance through arrivals or departures, helping with transfers and baggage. or offering an exclusive VIP lounge, Marhaba will take care of every little detail in your travel check-list so you can enjoy a stress-free journey. To book in advance of your arrival, visit www.marhabaservices.com

 

What is Dubai’s climate?

Dubai mainly has two seasons - summer and winter. The months between October and April are known as the winter months and introduce blue skies and perfect beach weather (save for the odd rainy day), with an average daily temperature of 25°C (77°F). The months between May and September account for the summer season, when high-humidity and scorching temperatures are the norm – often as high as 48°C (118°F). But don’t be discouraged, there’s a lot of indoor activities to enjoy when the heat becomes too much to bear.

 

What is the currency of Dubai?

The UAE Dirham is the official currency of Dubai and its official symbol is AED (which stands for Arab Emirates Dirham). However, symbols like Dhs, د.إ are also used to represent it. Notes come in 1,000, 500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5 with a value pegged at Dhs3.67 = USD1. You’ll find currency exchange services all over the city, mainly in shopping malls and metro stations.

 

When is Dubai’s weekend?

The UAE weekend falls on Friday/Saturday. Friday is the holy day when Muslims gather for congregational prayers.

 

Can I buy a SIM card in Dubai?

Tourists can now pick up a free SIM card for local use upon arrival. The Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship’s (ICA’s) SIM 24 project offers all visitors a free local sim, pre-charged with three minutes of voice calls and 20MB of data. Available at the passport gate at the airport, it’s valid for the duration of your visa, and you can top it up as needed.

 

Do I need vaccinations before traveling to Dubai?

No vaccinations are required to travel to Dubai, however, for safety measures do check with your doctor about any boosters or routine vaccinations before you travel.

 

Do I need medical insurance when visiting Dubai?

It’s not mandatory but it’s advisable to have a medical insurance plan (usually as part of a wider travel insurance plan) in the event of an emergency. Dubai’s hospitals are private and medical assistance at them can prove very costly without insurance in place. 

 

What is the main language in Dubai?

Arabic is the emirate’s official language. But being home to large expatriate population (over 80%), English is spoken and understood pretty much everywhere, with a variety of other languages including Hindi and Tagalog also spoken.

 

What is the religion in Dubai?

Islam is the official religion of Dubai and the United Arab Emirates. However, the emirate is well-known for its tolerance and respect for all religions. Travellers are free to practice their religious beliefs and can easily find places of worship such as churches and Hindu temples.

 

When is Ramadan in Dubai?

Celebrated during the ninth month of the 12-month Islamic calendar, Ramadan 2020 is expected to begin on Thursday, 23rd of April and end the evening of Saturday 23rd of May.

 

What do I need to know about Ramadan in Dubai?

The holy month of Ramadan is a sacred time in the UAE and is a wonderful opportunity to experience the local culture of the city. Just bear in mind to be respectful of people who are fasting by avoiding eating, drinking or smoking in public places before sunset. If you’re up for a true taste of the city’s religious spirits, join the Iftar Ramadan program at Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding and learn everything there is to know about the holy month while delving into a delicious spread of traditional Emirati dishes for Iftar. For more info, visit www.cultures.ae

 

What should I avoid doing in Dubai?

Avoid public displays of affection and making rude hand gestures out of respect for the city’s cultural values. Also, when visiting the city’s shopping malls and souks, be mindful of your clothing choices (save the bikini tops and for the beach). T-shirt and shorts are fine.

 

Am I able to drink alcohol in Dubai?

Yes, on licensed premises like bars, restaurants and nightclubs. The vast majority of these places are found within hotels, although there is an increasing number of licensed independent spots. You can purchase alcohol from Dubai Duty Free on arrival and you can also obtain a free 30-day license and buy alcohol from liquor stores operated by two MMI, who have stores dotted throughout the city – for a full list of stores, visit www.mmidubai.com/retail/retail-stores Just note that it’s illegal to drink in public and there is a zero tolerance policy for drinking and driving.

 

How old do I need to be to drink alcohol in Dubai?

The legal age to drink alcohol (and enter a nightclub) is 21, so if you’re blessed with youthful looks, be sure to bring your ID.

 

Is it affordable to travel by taxi in Dubai?

Taxis in Dubai are relatively inexpensive (when set against other major cities) and available to hail everywhere, with fares starting from 5AED. There is a minimum fare of 12AED. The final price depends on a few factors including road tolls, traffic, and the time of day. You can also book your own taxi beforehand with a fixed starting fare of 12AED on the Roads & Transport Authority website www.rta.ae. If you prefer to book your ride through an app, Uber and Careem are two to download.

 

How do I travel on Dubai Metro?

It’s as simple as purchasing a Nol card from the metro ticket offices and riding your way to your destination on either the Green line or the Red line. Considered one of the world’s longest driverless rail services, the Dubai Metro boasts 49 stations throughout the emirate (the Green line has 20 stations while the Red line has 29 stations). If you ever need to change between lines, there are two transfer stations, Union Square and the Khalid bin Waleed (BurJuman) Centre where the Green and Red Lines intersect. 2020 will also unveil a new metro route that aims to connect travellers to the highly awaited Expo 2020. www.dubaimetro.eu

 

How do I travel on Dubai Tram?

It’s quite similar to the Dubai Metro and you can use easily use your Nol metro card to pay for your ride. The tram runs in a loop around Dubai Marina and the JBR area and links up with the Dubai Metro and the Palm Monorail.

 

Other transportation options in Dubai?

If you’re looking for a special way to see the old part of the city, hop on a water taxi (called abra in Arabic). It’s the fastest and cheapest way to travel between Deira and Bur Dubai, with a 1AED fare. Or, better still, board a Dubai ferry and explore different routes that showcase the city’s historical sites and coastal views. You can book your ride on www.rta.ae

 

What are the key areas of Dubai?

 

DUBAI MARINA AND JBR

Those with a taste for luxury will feel right at home in this vibrant district, which is one of the city's most popular (and glamorous) residential neighbourhoods. Built around a man-made marina and flanked by a virtual forest of residential towers, Dubai Marina boasts two beachfront promenades – The Walk and The Beach at JBR. These are lined with hotels, eateries and super trendy shops. It’s largely pedestrian friendly but is bisected by Dubai Tram, which handily stops outside the popular Dubai Marina Mall, home to 140 retail outlets spread across four levels.

 

DOWNTOWN DUBAI

Go big or go home is the name of the game here, with the area boasting an impressive collection of landmarks and attractions, including: one of the world's largest shopping malls, The Dubai Mall; the tallest tower on the planet, Burj Khalifa; the all-singing-all-dancing The Dubai Fountain; and the architecturally-stunning Dubai Opera. Trawl the mall's multitude of shops, pick up some mementoes at the Arabian-style Souk Al Bahar and pose for selfies along the Waterfront Promenade before enjoying dinner and drinks overlooking Burj Lake.

 

JUMEIRAH

The low-rise villa neighbourhood that spawned the Jumeirah Jane epithet (think 'ladies who lunch'), Jumeirah's domestic suburbia reputation has been given a makeover in recent years with the development of hip new retail, dining and entertainment enclaves such as La Mer, BoxPark, City Walk and food truck friendly Jumeirah Corniche. Topped at one end by Jumeirah Mosque and tailed by Burj Al Arab and Madinat Jumeirah at the other, it’s a cross-cultural hotspot. Wild Wadi Waterpark is a firm favourite among residents and tourists alike, offering over 30 hair-raising rides and slides for all the family.

 

PALM JUMEIRAH

Another of Dubai’s iconic man-made projects – best viewed from above to fully appreciate its creatively engineered design – Palm Jumeirah blends posh apartments and villas with luxury hotels and malls all the way from its trunk to the tips of its feathered fronds. Ride the Palm Monorail to Atlantis, The Palm and enjoy the thrills and spills of Aquaventure Waterpark. Grab a bite to eat at foodie destination The Pointe, and check out the bevy of five-star hotels along the crescent, from One&Only The Palm Resort to Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort.

 

BUR DUBAI AND DEIRA

On either side of Dubai Creek you can discover the heritage heartland of the city. Feed your appetite for culture on the Bur Dubai side at Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood, which is home to preserved wind tower houses, Dubai Museum and Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum House (one of the oldest buildings in the city). Take a Dhs1 ferry ride across the water to Deira to explore the traditional souks and sample the street food.

 

SHEIKH ZAYED ROAD

The pulsing arterial vein cutting through the city, this 8km-long stretch of busy highway runs parallel to the coastline. Numerous hotels are situated along its length, and there are plenty of attractions worth making a diversion for. We recommend feeling the grass beneath your feet at Zabeel Park, and checking out Dubai Water Canal, which is illuminated by night.

DXB City Expert is produced for dnata Travel by HOT Media © 2019.

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