“Think money can’t buy happiness? Habibi, come to Dubai!”
Located in the Persian Gulf, Dubai is the largest and most populated among the seven emirates in area; it is only getting bigger with its extensively reclaimed land and man-made islands. The Dubai Creek is the only natural water inlet of the country. It cuts through the country’s geography from North-East to South-West, dividing Deira and Sharjah in the East with Jumeirah in the West.
The Dubai Creek made the country a natural port for successful trade. But in the 50s, the creek silted and could not handle the spurt in the number of ships that constantly docked there. Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the late ruler of Dubai, made the important decision of having the waterway dredged. Many believe that this clairvoyant and ambitious move paved the way for modern Dubai, where volumes of trade could be handled efficiently. In this way, the country became a major trading and re-export hub.
Further, in the mid ‘60s, oil was discovered in the country. Sheikh Rashid consciously diverted the funds from the sale of oil into building robust infrastructure and developing a modern country rivaling the West. This visionary leader also sanctioned an expat-friendly, zero tax policy that continues to attract people from all over the world.
Somebody once said that Dubai tasted success cause of trade, not oil.
Best Time to Go
Dubai is sunny through most of the year. Located within the desert belt, it experiences typical tropical climate.
The country experiences harsh summers with temperatures soaring up to 41ºC and extreme humidity (up to 90%). Winters are cool and sunny with average lows of 14ºC. Neither does Dubai have a rainy season, nor does it experience regular rainfall in any other season. Sometimes, it may rain during the winter period between November and March. These months are also the most advisable to visit the region.
To visit Dubai during any of its amazing festivals just adds to the glitz , glamour and thrill! The major festivals of Dubai are listed below, so when you plan your trip to Dubai, make sure you attend at least one of these fiestas!
Dubai Shopping Festival: Jan-Feb
Dubai Desert Classic. Feb – Mar
Dubai International Jazz Festival: Feb – Mar
Art Dubai: Mar- Apr
Dubai World Cup: Mar – Apr
Festival of Taste: Apr – May
Dubai Summer Surprises: Jun – Aug
Dubai International Film Festival: Nov – Dec
National Day Festival: Nov – Dec
How To Reach
The most ideal way to reach Dubai is via air. Dubai International Airport is the chief airport of the UAE, and is the world’s busiest airport by international passenger traffic. Major airlines that service the airport are Emirates Airlines, Etihad and FlyDubai.
Dubai has robust infrastructure and internal transportation facilities that are run by Road & Transport Authority. Transport facilities comprise metro railways, monorails, buses, and water taxis. The Dubai metro is the most popular choice of transport for the majority of the population within this emirate. Traditional wooden boats called Abras ply between Deira and Bur Dubai too. Besides, taxis are easily available all over Dubai.
Dubai has some of the world’s most luxurious hotels. Burj Al Arab, a 7-star hotel on a man-made island, is one of them. Room rates range from $2000 to $20,000/night. But there are also plenty of options for those on a budget trip in the form of serviced apartments. Dubai’s old neighbourhood, Bur Dubai, is a hot spot for many of these affordable, clean and fully-furnished rooms.
Using Money in Dubai
The currency used in Dubai is the UAE dirham (Dhs or AED). Notes in circulation are Dhs 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1,000 and the coins commonly used are the silver Dhs1, 50 fils and 25 fils.
There are ATMs outside banks, at the airport, inside the shopping malls and at major shopping streets. Also, some small marts and shops may have ATMs. So you can use plastic money at almost all places. But for getting around in taxis and buses, you will need cash.
You can easily exchange cash in Dubai. You can get your currency exchanged at the airport or any other FOREX booth in the city. You won’t have a tough time finding one.
Managing your Health
In case of any health emergency, the number to call for an ambulance is 998. There are a number of good private clinics and government hospitals all over the city. The chief emergency government-run Rashid Hospital (tel: 04-219 2000), provides free emergency treatment. It is situated near Maktoum Bridge in Bur Dubai.
Emergency Phone Numbers
Fire Department- 997
Useful Words To Use In Dubai
Welcome! – Marhaban
Hello! – Ahlan!
Hi! – Salam!
Good Morning! – Sabah el kheer
Good Afternoon/ Evening! – Masaa el kheer
Good Night – Tosbeho/to sb eh een a (fem) ‘ala khair/
Good Bye! – Ma’a salama
How Tourist-Friendly and Women-Friendly Is The City?
It is a tourist-friendly nation, for most of the locals are very well off, so it is not like they will pickpocket. Majority of the people you will communicate with are from other nations, who face severe punishment for any crime they may commit. So this keeps the crime rate low.
As far as women security is concerned, the city is absolutely safe. The locals and other nationals respect women. And they can freely move around the city at night also. Only to pay respect to the Emirati culture, women are advised to dress conservatively.
Tips Before You Go
– UAE is a Muslim country, and hence you should be careful with how you dress up.
– Do not carry items such as drugs, erotic materials, firearms, and pornographic material; these are prohibited.
– Loud music in public areas is considered unlawful.
– Public display of affection is considered indecent in Dubai. It can land you in jail! Refrain from it at all times.
Experiencing the Culture
Dubai’s culture is deeply rooted in Islam and traditional Arab culture. This also reflects in their music, apparel, cuisine, architecture and lifestyle.
Arab men and women wear long robes called dish-dashas and abayas respectively for protection from the perpetual harsh sun. Emirates also practice sports, such as camel and horse racing, as well as falconry. They are inclined towards the arts and dances such as ballet, belly dancing, jazz, etc, for which many schools can be found in Dubai.
The Emiratis believe in hospitality, respect and courtesy, and here are the some of the best ways to experience their culture closely!
What to Eat
The Emirati diet is meat and seafood rich. The most popular meats that comprise dishes exclusive to the region come from camels, cows, goats, and sheep. Dishes with pork are not served in restaurants but, unlike in other Gulf countries, the meat can be purchased in Dubai in the non-halal section of supermarkets. While shawarma, and falafel are the most common food items in the Gulf, the stuffed camel delicacy is exclusive to this country.
What To Drink
When in Dubai, try the freshly ground coffee, which is served as a welcome drink. It is poured from a long-spouted metal pot into small round-rimmed hand-less cups.
Another thing that makes Dubai all glitzy, glamourous and fun is its vibrant nightlife! There are many nightclubs and bars in Dubai you can explore. Here are the 3 places we picked!
If you love listening and tapping to some good music, this place is a must visit! It is situated at the Souk Madinat and is one of the busiest places for music fanatics and party lovers.
#2 Club 360
Energetic, iconic and truly uniravelled; this club is a spectacular hotspot among suave partiers. Located at the edge of the Jumeirah Beach Hotel walkway, this club has some amazing views! It offers panoramas of the extraordinary Burj Al Arab and the pristine waters of the Arabian Gulf. It couldn’t have gotten any better, could it?
Nestled in the Le Meridien Mina Seyahi Beach resort, Barasti just makes for the perfect party spot! It has two levels that offer splendid views; with sweeping Arabian on one side and Dubai’s magnificent skyline on the other side. You can choose to be on the ground level and watch classic live bands perform or groove to some trippy music on the lower level. The choice is yours!
5 Curious Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Dubai
Dubai has always surprised all of us and how! With golf courses that require 4,00,000 gallons of water to air conditioned bus stops, this city is getting more incredible as each day passes! Here are more such facts that will take you by amazement!
1. In Dubai, they have a festival, dedicated only to shopping, called the Dubai Shopping Festival. And no wonder why the Dubai Mall is the largest shopping center in the world with more than1,200 stores!
2. Did you know that the Dubai police drive in cars such as a Ferrari, Lamborghini and Bentley? Now how cool is that!
3. The colossal and the largest building in the world- Burj Khalifa, with 164 floors, is in the magnificent city of Dubai. And it can be seen from around 90 km away! Wow!
4. You must be in complete awe of Disneyworld in Florida, but wait untill Dubailand opens up in 2020! It will be be twice the size of Disneyworld!
5. Emiratis, the local people constitute just 15% of the total population. The rest of the population is majorly split between India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and European countries.
Quirks In Dubai
In Dubai, it is forbidden to carry fish (dead or alive) on the Metro. Those going against the rule face a fine of Dh100. There are signs at the stations which clearly state that “Carrying fish is not allowed on the Metro”.
Places to Visit
Dubai is a gorgeous city adorned with world’s top most architectural collection, luxury hotels, delicious food and nature’s wealth!
So when in Dubai, these are the places that should be on your list.
#1 Palm Jumeirah
One of the three planned islands in the Persian Gulf and the only complete one, Palm Jumeirah is quite a human feat. It has the Middle East’s first monorail with 2 stops that connects this isolated island to the mainland. The island has swanky residential bungalows, multiple luxury hotels, a large aquarium, a water park, spas, retails stores and gourmet restaurants.
Akita Sanil, who visited Dubai on a bachelorette trip with her girl-gang, advises against using the ‘hop on hop off’ bus service for Palm Jumeirah. “Drive down there, trust me, you won’t know the value of the palm unless you drive on it. Even the monorail is a great option for getting a real feel of the design.”
#2 The Dubai Mall
The Dubai Mall, the world’s largest mall, can easily fit 200 soccer pitches within it. It has over 1,200 retail stores and more than 200 food and beverage brands. The structure is juxtaposed with a 5-star hotel called ‘The Address Dubai Mall’ that comprises 244 rooms. Further, the mall houses the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, which is one of the world’s largest aquariums. It also had an Olympic-ice rink with a seating capacity for 350. Another attraction at this mall is The Dubai Fountain; its magnificence is apparently visible from space! With the ability to jet water close to 50 floors high and fitted with over 6500 ‘superlights’, this attraction dances to one of the 35 songs, every evening.
Dilshad, who took a trip to Dubai with her mother and her pre-teen-aged son, says that they were what you call the ‘shopping tourists’. She warns, “Be prepared to spend whatever you have in your wallets, so carry accordingly. The mall is huge and impossible to cover in one day or two. An announcement for a lost kid is pretty regular, and there is the ice rink and the Aquarium for entertainment apart from shopping brands. The best part is that there are washrooms almost everywhere you turn to look!”
#3 Gold & Spice Souks
Like any Arab country, Dubai’s souks cannot be missed. The famous Gold Souk is home to hundreds of gold jewellery and trinket vendors that cater to varied preferences and budgets. Right beside this is the Spice Souk. For seasoned cooks or curious visitors, this souk offers an exhaustive range of international and local spices, and other condiments. Be sure to check out the original saffron as well as locally produced dates.
Nishant and his wife fondly recollect their bargaining attempts at the Souk in Dubai. He claims that witnessing Priyanka haggle with the vendors over gold prices was not so different watching her talk down to vegetable vendors in Dadar! “These guys at Souk will ask you to buy cashmere and fake watches, but gold is what this place is for. If you know about prices and stuff, go for it. What I enjoyed a lot is the boat ride across the river.”
#4 At The Top, Burj Khalifa
The observation deck at the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa, offers a bird’s eye view of the city. At Level 148, visitors can enjoy the magnificence of this scientific feat and ambitious construction. An exhibit on the way down tells the history of Burj Khalifa, and commends the people behind it.
Yashwardhan Gupta suggests something other than just standing on the highest floor of Burj Khalifa. “While eyeing Dubai from the top of Burj Khalifa is quite a feat in itself, what I found even more appealing is the view of the Burj Khalifa tower from the ground surface.”
Fact File On Dubai
Location: Dubai, UAE
Languages spoken: Arabic, English, Urdu and Hindi
Currency: Dirham (AED or Arab Emirate Dirham)
Food & Drinks: You must try shawarma, falafel and freshly ground coffee
Time zone: Gulf Time Zone (UTC+04:00)