Welcome to Dubai!
The shimmering, glittering city of Dubai that we see today is far removed from its simpler beginnings as a once small fishing village in the Arabian Gulf. Today, ranked amongst the best cosmopolitan cities in the world, it is home to nationals of over 200 different countries.
Contributing as one of the seven Emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates, it has unimaginable experiences to offers, which will leave an instant spell-binding impact with its array of Arabic mystique, an unforgettable series of truly memorable experiences and a longing to return even before the trip is over. This city that showcases a sense of possibility and innovation, with its soft white sandy coastlines and posh Marinas with yachts, with the world at your feet, looking down from the top of Bruj Khalifa’s the tallest building ever, or by the banks of the Creek, this is a holiday with memories just waiting to be made here.
Yes! Nestled warmly along the South-East coast of the Gulf of Persia the experience of Dubai is like a magical mirage in the desert.
The exotic Arabian lifestyle has always been a source of much mystery to the world, with timeless stories of Arabic influence, like One Thousand and One Nights, speaking of opulent lifestyles, extravagant luxuries and especial the aura of the extraordinary, Dubai fulfills all this and more. Extravagant skyscrapers, malls representing the 7 Wonders of the World filled with the most luxurious brands, an ice-cold skiing experience in the middle of a blazing hot desert, high- rise buildings…all these describe well a destination that has turned from a small trading centre to a large city that’s filled with glitz and glamour.
While today Dubai may be famously known for its cosmopolitan lifestyle, it is actually a country with a diverse sense of culture, ethics running thousands of years into the past, and a religious strength that’s to be admired, if not emulated. The city contains a wide range of 21st century architectures, has man-made islands, and provides a sense of security and a comfortable, multi-lingual environment. This destination is bustling throughout the year with globe trotters and holiday makers, with its opulent five star hotels and designer boutiques, alongside the souks, old traditional houses and other attractions too.
Connectivity : Its location at an intersection of Europe, Asia and Africa makes it easily accessible by air, land, and sea, with almost one-third of the world’s population in a four-hour flight radius, and nearly two-thirds within an eight-hour flight radius. Dubai is connected with well over 125 airlines catering to boost its tourist as an international destination, while a huge maze of highways and freeways keep all neighboring Emirates and Arab countries well within reach. Another great option is to book a cruise, as passenger ships arrive and depart daily from Dubai's Port Rashid seaport.
Heritage & Culture
Typical Emirati clothing: UAE’s traditional attire is distinctive and striking, even among the 200 odd nationalities that call it home. Locals proudly wear their national dress every day and it is designed keeping the religious beliefs, style and comfort in mind.
In Dubai, men wear an ankle-length, loose-fitting garment made of white cotton, known as a kandura, or dishdasha, with a ghutrah covers the head, held in place by the agal, a type of black cord. Women in Dubai wear an abaya – a long, black flowing light coat over their clothing, worn over their Western clothes or a jalabeya, a traditional long-sleeved full-length kaftan like dress. A black scarf called a shayla is draped over the head to completely cover all hair.
Emirati local food
From Karak (a multi-spice, saffron infused, sweet, milky tea brewed strong), Chebab (Emerati Saffron & cardamom Pancakes), Labneh (a fresh, soft cream cheese used for dips and spread), luqaimat or lokma (a deep-fried dough ball, dipped in sugar, sprinkled with sesame seeds), let us guide you to the best local foods that should not be missed here.
Dubai’s amalgamation of its diverse nationalities that stay here, make it renowned for incredible dining options, however it is the local Emirati cuisine that stands apart.
Do try the delicious dishes that are available, a few listed below for ease:
- Dates: delicious, sweet fruit often stuffed with other goodies, such as nuts. Do try the fresh dates if available in season during your visit; they are like nuggets of light golden honey!
- Gahwa: traditional Arabic coffee, served from a ‘dallah’ pot.
- Karak chai: a mixed-spice, saffron infused tea that originated in the Indian subcontinent.
- Laban : A light, yogurt based drink, similar to buttermilk, that’s cooling for the body.
- Luqaimat: sweet and sticky dumplings, drizzled with sugar or date syrup.
- Shorbat adas: a delicious, delicately-spiced lentil soup – often a first course.
- Fatayer : a meat pie stuffed with spinach or cheese and mildly spiced.
- Za’atar Manakish : a savoury flatbread pizza like dish.
- Fouga deyay: a rice dish with grilled chicken marinated in Emirati spices.
- Shuwaa: slow cooked lamb, roasted nuts, raisins and rice – also known as ‘ouzi’.
- Camel meat: served in a variety of ways – often dished up with rice or made into burgers.
- Harees: boiled, cracked, or ground wheat, mixed with meat and seasoned.
- Kabsa: basmati rice and meat, infused with saffron and nutmeg and other spices.
Hospitality and etiquette
Bedouin Hospitality ‘Hasan al-diyafa’ (‘hospitality’) needs no introduction; it has been an intricate part of their history and lifestyle in the desert. Many also consider that religious beliefs and honouring one’s guests go hand in hand – and these customs can be seen everywhere in Dubai even today.
The basics to know:
- Marhaba: The Arabic word for welcome, when greeting someone.
- Salaam alaykum: A more formal greeting. “Peace upon you” – to which you reply “walaykum salaam”.
- Gahwa: Serving of Arabic coffee before a meal. Remember to hand over your empty cup with your right hand.
- Modesty: Cover well, wear loose, long garments, covering knees and elbows, and cover your body. You may leave your shoes at the door.
- Nose to nose: As a form of greeting, many Emirati men will touch noses or peck on the cheek when they first meet. Visitors are not expected to follow the tradition.
- The majlis: A reception room in many homes that is reserved for special occasions or entertaining guests. It typically has low seating and cushions, reminiscent of life in tents.
- Hands and feet: Men shake hands with everyone present, but some ladies may not wish to do so.
- While sitting, pointing one’s feet towards someone is considered offensive, hence be aware.
- Dinner: served on a huge, round platter, evening meals are considered special. Be prepared to use your hands.
Our Ready Reckoner for Essentials
Arriving in Dubai : The country provides visas with the utmost ease and although most nationalities can avail of a Visa On Arrival, we recommend to check visa options and requirements while booking the holiday stay. Transport is available in plenty at both airports : Dubai International Airport (DXB) and Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC); money exchange facilities, information counters, car rentals and even convenience stores are located within or outside.
Emirates Currency : United Arab Emirates Dirham or AED is referred to as the Dirham in short. 1 Dirham is made up of 100 fils and the exchange rate per UD dollar is AED 3.76. The dirham has been pegged to the US dollar for since 1997, meaning the exchange rate never changes.
Weather : Dubai only has two seasons viz hot and hotter!
Dubai enjoys a warm climate all year due to being in a coastal location on the Arabian Peninsula. Its cooler months are from October to May and the best time to visit, with temperatures ranging from 20–35°C (68–95°F).
Summer season from June to September brings much hotter temperatures, reaching well into the mid-40s (~110° F), however the city’s wide selection of indoor and well-planned outdoor attractions ensure Dubai remains a year-round destination.
Best Time to Visit Dubai
Between the months of November and March is when the weather is pleasant and you can move about comfortably. This period will cover the dazzling lights that the city dresses up in, during Christmas and New Year. The world-famous Dubai Shopping Festival held every year during the months of January and February also provides great deals and bargains and the weather supports this hobby well, at this luxurious destination. Apart from these months, one can plan a visit to Dubai at any time of the year, since UAE takes care of any hot weather related issues for its visitors with powerful air-conditioning in cars, taxis, buildings, bus stops, metros etc.
Iconic Attractions to Visit
Providing the best of the best, in top class style, Dubai delivers it all.
Some of the top attractions to include in a Dubai tourism are: • The Burj Khalifa • The Burj Al Arab • Dubai Museum • Dubai Fountain
Burj Khalifa -What is a Dubai visit if it doesn’t include going to the top of the world’s tallest building? Burj Khalifa’s structure stands along with the world’s largest mall and fountains.
The Dubai Mall – By creating the world’s largest shopping mall Dubai has given every avid shopper a venue of their dreams. Housing the best brands and labels world over, the mall is also connected to the Dubai aquarium, which is sure to mesmerize and entrall with the underwater experience.
Dubai Fountain: Counted amongst the largest fountains in the world and situated between the tallest building and the largest shopping mall of the world, the stunning views provided by the fountain in the night is simply enchanting.
Burj-Al-Arab: Pegged as the world’s most luxurious Hotel, as well as the tallest hotel in the world, Burj Al Arab offers luxuries beyond a person’s dreams. It is included in the popular monuments of Dubai and meal or stay here is a life altering, one-of-a-kind event that will be cherished forever.
Ski Dubai: Providing a fantastic contract to the heat of Dubai, is Ski Dubai, where anyone can test their skiing skills. Icy cold and with all gear and clothing provided at the venue, it’s a thrilling time for all ages. The temperatures here is artificially maintained to stay below zero degree Celsius.
Dubai Desert Safari: Every Dubai holiday packages must include walking on the sands in the desert, on a camel or in a luxurious SUV, have dinner at a charming Bedouin camp, watch a captivating belly dancer engage the evening guests, enjoy delectable local cuisine, and in general experience all the charms of exotic Dubai to the fullest.
Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo : Explore one of the largest and most stunning aquariums in the world. A giant 10 million-litre tank at the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, which contains more than 33,000 aquatic animals and the largest collection of sand tiger sharks anywhere. The aquarium is home to 140 species of sea life and offers many incredible ways to experience the underwater world. Stroll through a 48-metre tunnel, with the aquarium enveloping you from overhead and around. It’s a complete fish-eye view, with sand tiger sharks and stingrays swimming overhead.
Dubai popularity as a tourist destination of class itself ensures one of finding any kind of accommodation you wish for. Whether budget-friendly, luxurious or five-star hotels, you can be sure of standards of hygiene and safety being met in all of them. Take your pick from Luxury hotels, Value-for-money hotels, Hotel / service Apartments or an Air BnB style rental.
Luxury hotels - Famous for its endless range of luxury resorts and chic five-star hotels, the city is home to the world's tallest hotel, the Burj Al Arab at Jumeirah, which is popularly known as the world's only 'seven-star hotel'. Book an exciting day with a world of family fun at Atlantis The Palm Dubai, beachside chic at Bvlgari Hotel & Resorts, or Bedouin-style luxury at Bab Al Shams, Dubai; all are known to offer its guests the very best in hospitality.
Budget hotels: A vacation at this luxury destination doesn’t have to drive you bankrupt. Book an affordable accommodation from an impressive selection on offer. Try Rove hotels – a homegrown hotel chain for a central location and convenient facilities. Also available are renowned brands like Citymax, Aloft and TRYP; trust us, you'll be spoilt for choice with money to spare.
Hotel apartments - Staying a little longer or just want the convenience of an apartment-style stay? Dubai has a huge range of hotel apartments that offer you something extra, including kitchens with cookers, clothes washing facilities, office space and more. Hotel apartments are typically suited to long-stay guests and families but many visitors simply prefer the best-of-both, with room-cleaning services and restaurant options.
Home and apartment rental - Dubai's hotels have made waves around the world – and we have some amazing home rentals too. You can find your perfect holiday rental via Airbnb and other licensed websites, which have seemingly countless homes to choose from, all vetted and approved to ensure your stay is safe, comfortable and clean. Rest assured, you can enjoy your private villa or apartment experience with every convenience of being at home, and more.
Shopping in Dubai
A number of shopping attractions are awaiting your visit in various parts of the city. Huge, sprawling malls to traditional souks, you can find everything you need. Do include visits to:
- The Dubai Mall
- Spice Souk
- Global Village
- WAFI Mall
- Ripe Market
What you need to know while traveling to Dubai
Dress code - As a cosmopolitan city Dubai is accepting of almost all attires and cultural expressions. Swimwear is permissible at beaches, waterparks, public pools and spa areas and to be restricted within these spaces only. Dubai's historic neighborhoods and places of worship require dressing conservatively. For entering a mosque, there are specific requirements - clothing that covers shoulders, arms and legs – and headscarves for women.
Greetings & etiquette – Marhaba is Dubai’s warm and friendly greeting and most often you will be greeted with a smile. A handshake is customary, but should typically be initiated by women. Do not over indulge in public displays of affection as it is not encouraged. While holding hands is acceptable, do note that kissing and hugging in public areas is not permitted.
Alcohol possession requires a liquor license and Alcohol is served in licensed establishments such as hotels, bars and specialized shops to those over 21 years of age. Drunken behaviour, disorderly conduct and drunk driving are not acceptable and can land one in trouble with the authorities. Use or possession of illegal drugs is also strictly prohibited.
Languages - Learning a few Arabic words can certainly make the trip more memorable, however rest assured that English along with Arabic is the prominent language of communication. While exploring the city you will certainly chance upon and catch smatterings of Russian, Tagalog, Hindi, Urdu, Portuguese and many other languages.
Tipping - There are no rules to tipping and how much you tip varies from profession to profession and is largely down to one’s personal preference. Although it is customary to tip in most cases, it is certainly not compulsory. You will find that one thing that's really consistent is the high level of service provided everywhere.
Electricity & Adapter - Dubai operates on a 230V supply voltage and 50Hz, so if you require a convertor for your electronics to be charged correctly, do remember to pack one. The associated plug type is G, which is the plug that has three rectangular pins in a triangular pattern.