Located in the Middle East, Dubai is one of the seven emirates making up the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It’s considered as the most cosmopolitan city in the region and is popular with tourists from all around the world.
If this is your first trip to Dubai, then here are a few things you should keep in mind.
1. The Culture
The UAE is a Muslim country and their culture is heavily influenced by Islam. In general, you should be respectful of the local customs, wear modest clothing in public and follow guidelines provided by the staff at your hotel or at various tourist attractions.
2. The Weather
Dubai has a hot and humid climate especially in the summer. So the best time to plan a trip to the city is between the months of October and March. Try not to visit during Ramadan (Muslim Holy Month of Fasting) as eateries will be closed and you won’t be able to eat or drink in public during the day time.
It’s also a good idea to dress conservatively even if you’re visiting during the summer.
It’s fairly easy to get around in Dubai thanks to the Dubai Metro, bus network, Dubai Tram and taxi service. The Metro starts from the airport and can take you to Jebel Ali which is at the other end of the city. Several tourist hot spots are also connected by the Metro and taxis are available for those that aren’t linked yet.
Taxi fares are very reasonable if you want to pay with cash. Alternatively you can also purchase a prepaid Nol card which can be used for the Metro, buses, Tram and taxis.
4. The Currency
The official currency in Dubai is the UAE Dirham. Credit cards are accepted at most places in Dubai but it’s also useful to have an internationally active ATM card. This will let you withdraw from the local ATM’s in Dirhams and pay for various expenses like tips, taxi fares and shopping in the local markets etc.
5. Tourist Attractions
With beautiful beaches, bustling malls, world class cuisine, landmark architecture, dessert safaris, camel races, grand mosques, heritage museums and old markets (souks), Dubai offers a plethora of activities for any visitor.
The city is home to the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. Located on Sheikh Zayed Road, you can find the Dubai Mall which houses the Dubai Aquarium along with an Underwater Zoo. If you prefer some sun and sand why not head to the Jumeirah Beach. With excellent hotels all along its length, you’ll have access to various restaurants and water sport activities. Ski Dubai (an indoor ski resort situated in the Mall of the Emirates) offers a variety of family activities and a chance to get out of the desert sun.
6. Things to Avoid
Even though Dubai is a very accommodating and liberal destination for tourists, there are some things which you should avoid when visiting the city.
Drugs are strictly banned. Don’t drink alcohol or smoke in non-designated areas. Displays of affection in public are also prohibited and can lead to fines and incarceration. Similarly swearing, disrespecting women, rude gestures, insulting the rulers and taking photos without permission are a big no-no.
7. Business in Dubai
Dubai is a major business hub in the Middle East. As opposed to other countries in the region, Dubai generates most of its revenue from tourism, real estate, aviation and financial services. Many international organizations have set up offices in the city allowing them access to the entire Middle East market. Therefore in addition to sightseeing, many people also visit Dubai for business and work purposes.
There a number of strict government rules for setting up a company in Dubai but with the advent of serviced offices and free trade zones the process is becoming easier and stress-free.