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*'''Mirdiff'''/'''Mirdif''' — A commercial-residential district which is somewhat newly built, Uptown Mirdif is one of the attractions. This is also a another residence for the well-to-do.
*'''Mirdiff'''/'''Mirdif''' — A commercial-residential district which is somewhat newly built, Uptown Mirdif is one of the attractions. This is also a another residence for the well-to-do.
*'''International City''' — Just a simple residential area in the middle of the desert, what special about it is its architectural design, the residential rents here are cheap and is somewhat the next ''Chinatown'' as many Chinese businessmen and women reside here.
*'''International City''' — Just a simple residential area in the middle of the desert, what special about it is its architectural design, the residential rents here are cheap and is somewhat the next ''Chinatown'' as many Chinese businessmen and women reside here.
*'''Downtown Dubai''' — not technically downtown, but the Downtown Dubai development includes the Burj Khalifa (tallest building in the world), the Dubai Mall (world's biggest), Dubai Fountain, and lots of other skyscrapers and hotels

Revision as of 12:04, 8 August 2011

Dubai (دبي Dubayy) is one of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates. It is rather like an independent city-state and is the most modern and progressive emirate in the UAE, developing at an unbelievable pace in the tourist and trade sectors especially.


  • Satwa — One of Dubai's Little India and Little Manila, due to the presence of Filipinos and Indians, a rise in Filipino and Indian restaurants, shops, supermarkets are seen here. Gold and textiles is what people come here for, Gold Souk might be your top destination but Satwa too has gold shops and is hassle free, not so crowded.
  • Karama — More of like a mixed commercial residential district, one of Dubai's Little Indias and Little Manilas, cheap eats and cheap buys are the top things here.
  • Bur Dubai — A historical district and Bur Dubai is usual term for the area from Jumeirah to the creek, the creek separates Bur Dubai from Deira. Tourist attractions from abras to souks to floating restaurants to the famous creek are found here.
  • Deira — Dubai's old Financial centre, today Deira is a bustling commercial-residential district with some old souks, including one specializing in spices.
  • Jumeirah — A diverse district whose residents are the Europeans to the Filipinos to the Pakistanis; a mixed Little Europe, Karachi and Manila. Jumeirah is much favoured by Europeans due to the ease of access of the beach, Beautiful villas are seen here. Jumeirah Beach, Jumeirah Beach Residence's the Walk and Jumeirah Mosque are the top attractions.
  • Arabian Ranches and Emirates Hills — These are two separate places, residential rents here are expensive due to the land value, just like the whole of Dubai, these two are Man-made.
  • Mirdiff/Mirdif — A commercial-residential district which is somewhat newly built, Uptown Mirdif is one of the attractions. This is also a another residence for the well-to-do.
  • International City — Just a simple residential area in the middle of the desert, what special about it is its architectural design, the residential rents here are cheap and is somewhat the next Chinatown as many Chinese businessmen and women reside here.
  • Downtown Dubai — not technically downtown, but the Downtown Dubai development includes the Burj Khalifa (tallest building in the world), the Dubai Mall (world's biggest), Dubai Fountain, and lots of other skyscrapers and hotels


One Emirates, Many Peoples
Once you land in Dubai, you might not think it is an Arab country. You might think that you are in India or the Philippines. Dubai, since the founding of the oil industry, has attracted thousands of migrants from all over the world notably from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, and the Philippines in search of jobs. In this modern day, Indians and Filipinos have left their influence in the emirate: Indian restaurants and Pakistani bakeshops are everywhere while Filipino supermarkets are on the rise. Next to them the Europeans (mostly British and French) and Sri Lankans, form the next largest communities. Chinese and Indonesian migrants are on the rise. Many Arab countries have passed policies like the UAE's Emiratisation, which is a policy that prevents migrants from taking all the job opportunities and provides more jobs to local Emiratis.

A relatively new tourist destination, Dubai was gaining popularity in recent years until the global economic crash of 2009.

Dubai is essentially a desert city with superb infrastructure, liberal policies (by regional standards), that became popular for its excellent tourist amenities. Just 5 h from Europe and 3 h from most parts of the Middle East, the Near East, and the subcontinent of India, Dubai makes a great short break for shopping, partying, sunbathing, fine dining, sporting events, and even a few sinful pleasures. It is a city of superlatives: for the fastest, biggest, tallest, largest and highest, Dubai is the destination. It has the largest immigrant population in the world.

The weekly day off is on Friday. Note that, since September 2006, a harmonised weekend of Friday and Saturday has been adopted for the public sector and schools. Government departments, multinational companies, and most schools and universities are now off on Friday and Saturday (after years of a mixed bag of Friday/Saturday and Thursday/Friday weekends). Some local companies still work half a day on Thursday with a full day on Saturday, but larger companies tend to permit relaxation and time off work for their employees on Friday and Saturday.


The city of Dubai is situated on a coastal strip bordered by desert and gets very hot. It is dry on the hottest days and humid during the cooler days in the summer. Cooler, more pleasant weather lasts from the end of September to beginning of May (although note that pleasant is relative, with daily temperatures from October to January and March to May still being 20°C-25°C (68°F-77°F), but be prepared for cold night temperatures. In winter the temperature at night is usually from 10°C-16°C (50°F-60°F). From May to September, the sun is intense and in August temperatures can touch 54°C (129°F) in the city and even higher in the desert. The heat, coupled with a humidity of 60%-70% near the coast, effectively precludes most activity outdoors for the daylight hours during summer.

Wild Wadi and Jumeirah Beach Hotel

December to April generally produces the highest precipitation, which at 10 cm (5 in), still is little. Some years yield no more than a few minutes of shower in Dubai. November 2006 brought record rains up to 50 cm (25 in) of rain, with temperatures at record lows.

Get in

See Get in section of the UAE page for visa and customs regulations. While Israeli passport holders are not welcome, having Israeli stamps in your passport is not a problem.

If you are traveling from India and are of a nationality for which an advance visa is required, it might be necessary to get an 'Ok to Board' stamp on your tickets and Visa. This is generally arranged by a travel agent. If this has not been done, consult your airline office once you have a visa and airline ticket in your possession.

By plane

Dubai's main airport is the Dubai International Airport. You can also enter Dubai by using Sharjah International Airport (SHJ) in the nearby emirate of Sharjah and Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) in nearby Abu Dhabi. Frequent visitors from countries granted automatic visa on entry may wish to purchase an e-gate card to speed up immigration formalities and save passport pages. The e-gate card office is situated in the upstairs foodcourt area of the terminal 1 departures concourse. The card will cost AED 200. Note: If you intend to buy an e-gate card in Dubai, you must have entered UAE via Dubai airport.

Airlines are often having price wars to glamorous destinations like Dubai and this can work to your advantage by careful planning and comparison of the various airlines serving Dubai. Emirates[30] is Dubai's official airline carrier which connects Dubai to over 100 destinations while FlyDubai[31] is Dubai's low-cost carrier. Etihad[32] has shuttle services from their exclusive check in facility in Sheikh Zayed Rd or Central Business District of Dubai to and from Abu Dhabi Int'l Airport, you can also fly with Sharjah's low-cost carrier; Air Arabia[33] which flies to over 46 destinations within the Middle East, bus services operated by the Road and Transport Authority (RTA) have daily bus routes from Dubai to Sharjah and vice versa.

Dubai International Airport

Dubai Airport Terminal 1 Interiors
Shops at Dubai Airport

Dubai International Airport (IATA: DXB) [34] is the largest hub in the Middle East and the home base of Dubai's flag carrier Emirates [35] and its low-cost wing FlyDubai [36]. In fact, it has grown at such a furious pace that the present terminals are bursting at the seams, especially during the peak hours around midnight.

The Dubai International Airport has three terminals and another one in the making as of end 2010.

  • Terminal 1 is the main terminal, used by most major airlines and long-haul flights.
  • Terminal 2 serves regional and low-cost flights, including all FlyDubai flights.
  • Terminal 3 is used exclusively by Emirates.

Terminals 1 and 3 are directly connected to each other via the airside (no immigration needed for transfer), while Terminal 2 is located at the other end of the airport. Terminals 1 and 3 are models of modern airport design, but Terminal 2, despite the recent renovations, is still reminiscent of developing world airports, with long check-in lines, queue-jumping and every other passenger checking in 70 kg of luggage. Shuttle buses between the three run every 20-30 min. However shuttles to Terminal 2 are sporadic at best, so a 30 min taxi ride may be your only option. A low-cost option for traveling to Terminal 2 is to catch the metro to a nearby station, such as GGICO metro station, and from there catch a taxi to Terminal 2.

The airport is famous for its duty-free shopping [37]. However, prices in the airport's duty-free stores are equal or higher than what you can find in the many malls of the city. Alcohol here is very cheap, though. Alcohol is also available at an inbound duty free store situated in the baggage reclaim area. The amount of alcoholic beverages and beers should not exceed 4 liters of alcohol beverages, or 2 cartons of beer (each consisting of 24 cans, not exceeding 355 ml for each can or its equivalent).

Taxi: Most visitors will opt for public taxis from the airport, which are readily available just outside arrivals, which use the meter and start at Dhs 20. Taxis are on the left when you come out of terminal 1.

Public transport: Terminals 1 and 3 are served by the Dubai Metro. There are also buses just steps from the baggage claim, the most useful for visitors being lines 401 and 402 (Dhs 3), which go to the Al Sabkha and Al Ghubaiba bus terminals respectively.

Apart from the Dubai International Airport, Dubai is also developing the massive Al Maktoum International Airport located close to Jabel Ali within the Dubai World Central project. As of end 2010 only a few freighters are operating through this airport but commercial flights are expected to operate from this airport once completed, making this airport one of the busiest air hub for both cargo and passenger transportaion.

Sharjah International Airport

Sharjah International Airport (IATA: SHJ) [38]is located in the emirate of Sharjah. It is only 30 min by road from Dubai and takes an increasing number of international flights as Dubai airport struggles to keep up with demand. The principal carrier here is Air Arabia [39], a low-cost carrier serving the Middle East and South Asia. The airport is fairly basic but is being expanded. A taxi ride to Dubai will typically cost Dhs 50. A Bus service by Air Arabia also runs from the Airport to the Rashidiya Metro Station in Dubai. Rashidiya metro station is located close to the Dubai International Airport.

By car

Dubai's only international road border is with Oman at Al Wajajah. Expatriate residents of Oman will require an official permit to exit Oman by road. Visitors do not require the permit. There is an OMR 3.000 charge per vehicle to exit Oman and, if returning, retain the charge receipt as it will be required to reenter. Ensure that insurance is valid for the UAE (preferably before commencing the journey). Temporary UAE insurance can be purchased at the border for a premium price.

There are also road borders between the neighbouring Emirate of Abu Dhabi and Oman at the Al Burami Oasis which divides the sister cites of Al Ain and Al Burami, Oman.

By bus

The Government of Dubai operates a network of buses linking Dubai city with the capitals of the other six emirates of the UAE. The buses run under the name Emirates Express and operate from various bus terminals in Dubai.

  • To/From Abu Dhabi: Buses operate every 40 minutes from 6.20am from both Dubai's Al Ghubaibah bus station and Abu Dhabi's main bus station. The two-hour journey cost Dh20.
  • To/from Sharjah: Frequent buses run between Dubai and Sharjah. There are several different routes and buses depart from various bus stations in Dubai including Al Karama, Gold Souq, Baniyas Square, Jebel Ali and Al Ittihad Square. Fares are at Dh7 as of DECEMBER 2010.
  • To/from Fujairah: The bus to Fujairah leaves from the Rashidiya Metro station and takes about 3 to 4 hours.

For timetables see the website [40].

By boat

Dubai is a trading hub for dhows from around the Indian Ocean. Travellers wanting to arrive in the city this way will probably need to make their own arrangements with the captain of the vessel.

Dubai has an international cruise terminal [41] at Port Rashid. During wintertime Costa Cruises has based one of its cruise ships (Costa Luminosa) at Dubai.

A boat service by Valfajr Shipping Company [42] leaves Bandar Lengeh (and also Bandar Abbas) supposedly every second day and docks in Port Rashid in Dubai, returning the following day. Crossing the Persian Gulf takes roughly 6 hours, and a two way first class ticket costs as of February 2010 US$145 (IR 1,450,000) and also two way economy class ticket costs US$122 (IR 1,220,000). The ticket includes lunch (Iranian style).

Get around

Dubai Metro, as of May 15, 2010
Dubai Metro - Above the Ground

Especially after the launch of the metro, Dubai's public transport system is probably the best in the Middle East, but it's still a very car-oriented city and most visitors end up taking taxis quite often. The Wojhati [43] journey planner can suggest the best way to travel.

A day pass valid for unlimited rides on the metro and buses costs Dh14, while the Nol Silver stored-value card costs Dh20 (including Dh14 worth of balance) and gives a 10% discount on both metro and bus fares. Both are available at metro stations and major bus stations. The Silver card is useful for public transport users who stay in Dubai for more than a day.

Card type Price Notes
Red ticket Dh 2 Rechargeable ticket; suitable for tourists, it lasts for 90 days however should only be used in one type of transport, can be used for 10 journeys.
Silver card Dh 20 (Dh 14 value) Rechargeable ticket, valid for 5 years. Recommended if staying for more than a day.
Gold card Dh 20 (Dh 14 value) Rechargeable ticket, can be used in Gold Class.
Blue card Dh 70 Personalized card, with online services like transaction history and online recharge.

By metro

Dubai's 52-km long Red Line, opened in September 2009, is the second metro in the Arab world after Cairo. As of May 15, 2010, 21 stations are open and the rest are scheduled to open by the end of the year. While the line does not serve the old city center, it's handy for zipping along Dubai's long coastline and includes stops at the airport, Burj Khalifa and the Mall of the Emirates. The Green Line, which will burrow through the city core, has been pushed back to August 2011. Single tickets range from Dh2-8.50, or double that for use of the "Gold" first class carriage. Train run every 3-5 minutes from 6 AM to 11 PM every day except Friday, when services are limited to 2 PM-midnight. All stations are air-conditioned and there's a large network of feeder buses.

In addition, a 5 km monorail system shuttles passengers across the Palm Jumeirah to the Atlantis hotel, but it's not connected to the metro network and is thus of very limited utility.

By bus

Dubai Public transport [44] is a cheaper means of traveling within the several districts in Dubai. A map of the bus system can be found online[45], as well as detailed route maps and timetables [46]. Public buses are clean and cheap, but unfortunately not very comprehensive and (on some routes) quite infrequent. The bus system is most useful for getting between different areas of central Dubai, or between the various suburbs, rather than general transport. Taxis or a fair amount of walking will also be required if you wish to visit Dubai without a car of your own.

You will require a Nol card or ticket for fare payment. Cards could be purchased from most bus stations, metro stations, and sometimes from the bus driver.

The main bus stations are Gold Souq Market (in Deira) and Al Ghubaiba bus station (in Bur Dubai). The flat fare is 2 AED, but might be higher for hour-long rides to distant suburbs. Clear route maps and time-tables are placed inside a few bus stands. Ramadan timings differ. The front seats are reserved for women.

Probably the single most useful service for the casual tourist is Line 8, which starts at the Gold Souq, takes the tunnel under the Creek to Heritage Village, and then sets off down Jumeirah Rd (just behind the beach) and all its hotels and malls, up to Burj al-Arab and Wild Wadi. Line 8 terminates near the Internet City, while its 8A variant goes down a little further and also serves the Mall of the Emirates.

For a good, hop on - hop off, type tour try the Big Bus Company [47]. It runs two routes; the blue route through Jumeirah and the recently constructed areas, and the red route centering on the older parts of Dubai. The hub for both routes is Wafi City mall, and an 175 AED ticket covers 24 hours of riding.

By taxi

Taxis ply the streets of Dubai and are relatively easy to spot. The easiest place to find them is at the taxi queue at one of the malls or outside a hotel. Waving down a taxi on the road is possible, but can be difficult during rush hours. At peak times (7-9AM & 4-7PM workdays, and Friday evenings) demand far exceeds supply, and not only are taxis hard to find, but those who deign to pick you up may demand crazy off-meter fares or refuse short rides in congested areas entirely. The standard of driving in Dubai ranges from poor to wild - taxis are some of the worst on the roads. Taxi drivers are pretty good at knowing where the main shopping malls and hotels are, however less well known places will mean the driver calling his brother-in-law to get directions, whilst he drives around in circles on your time - hence it is a good idea to have a rough idea of where you are heading or what a nearby landmark is.

Taxis are metered at 1.60 dhs/km, so no haggling is necessary. The rates of all taxi companies — Dubai Transport, National, Cars, Metro, and Arabian — are identical, so just take the first one that comes along. From the airport, there is a standing charge of 20 dhs; all other street pickups attract a standing charge of 3.00 dhs during the day, 3.50 at night (10 PM-6AM), but a minimum fare of 10 dhs applies, and there is a surcharge of 20 dhs for going to Sharjah. Taxis are exempt from the Salik road toll charges. Beware of unmarked hotel taxis and limousines though: while some of these are metered, they are not tied to the official rates, and can be much more expensive. [48]

If you can't find one otherwise, you can attempt to call a taxi at 04-2080808, there's a surcharge of 3 dhs to book. The booking system was notorious for its unreliability but with a significantly increased taxi fleet, many taxis now deliberately wait in unofficial holding areas waiting for bookings. As a result, on a good day it can be possible to book a taxi and have it arrive within less than five minutes. If you absolutely have to get somewhere at a certain time (say, the airport or a meeting), it's still best to book a hotel taxi in advance, and get their estimate of how bad the traffic will be.

Women should travel in the back of the taxi as some drivers see it as an invitation if you get in the front.

By car

There are a countless number of Rent-A-Cars that will provide a mode of transportation for very cheap rates and very little paperwork. An International Driving Permit is not necessarily required, but hire companies may not rent a car without one.

Some agencies will hire out cars complete with drivers. Visitors taking advantage of this option will need to make certain that their driver knows his way around as many do not.

When driving on the main roads, such as Sheikh Zayed road, the junction numbers are not in logical order. Junction 13 is just after Junction 18 and are rarely as shown on the maps. Road names can also be very confusing with slight differences in spelling (due to different transliterations from Arabic) being very important. The construction work that is taking place throughout and around Dubai can make finding your destination a challenge. Temporary road layouts change with alarming regularity and temporary signs can be misleading or non existent. As GPS maps are not up to date (and usually not anyway available to rent with hire cars), you will be very well off with a printed map (you can get an excellent one in Virgin stores, for example. There is a Virgin Megastore on the top floor of City Center).

Driving during morning and afternoon peak hours is not recommended, as traffic slows to a standstill and even a simple trip across a bridge can take up to 45 minutes. There is also a scarcity of parking spaces in many parts of the city.

With such a mixture of nationalities residing in the city, driving styles are mixed to say the least. Both dangerous and experienced driving will be witnessed or experienced frequently, and bear in mind that Dubai has one of the highest per capita road death rates in the world. There is zero tolerance for alcohol and driving with stiff penalties meted out including jail and deportation.

See [49] for information about toll to pay on certain routes in Dubai. If you rent a car, usually a Salik tag will be provided by the car hire company and you will be charged separately when returning the car.

By boat

An abra making its way across Dubai Creek to Deira from Bur Dubai.

An easier way of crossing the Dubai Creek is by abra, essentially a small ferry. Abra stations are located along the Creek on both the Bur Dubai and Deira sides, and the system of filling the boats is remarkably efficient. The cross-river trip costs 1 Dirham (AED 1) per passenger, payable to the driver after the boat has left the station, and affords a very picturesque view of the city (not to be missed). Abras set off very regularly, and the service is available round-the-clock.

Abras can also be hired for a private tour (for a price negotiable with the driver but usually very cheap). This is quite a popular activity at sunset on a clear day, particularly if the driver is able to enliven the tour with stories about the structures on either side of the Creek. Just make sure that the purpose of one's abra hire is made clear at the outset--otherwise you will be in for a very expensive cross-river trip or a crowded private tour.

The Waterbus is another option for tousists who want to go by boat but avoid the abra crowd (or the heat). It is a part of Dubai's public transport system, so again a Red ticket, or any Nol card is required for the journey. Can be purchased at the waterbus station. The waterbus also features a 'tourist route' round trip - while it is convenient, it can get quite expensive (Dh50 for an adult, Dh25 for a child)

The Creek is also the home of many boats offering more comfortable (and correspondingly more expensive) tours, often in boats designed to resemble dhows. Prices tend to be higher, particularly for dinner cruises with on-board entertainment.


Old Dubai

Wind tower in the Bastakiya district
Ship atop the Dubai Museum
  • Al Ahmadiya School, Deira. Built in 1912, this was Dubai's first school and has now been nicely restored. It would be a stretch to call the exhibits of old reed pens and diplomas fascinating, but they've tried pretty hard, and if nothing else, the air-con and clean toilets may come in handy. Free entry.
  • Bastakiya District. One of the last remaining pockets of Old Dubai, home to many reconstructed buildings in the traditional style. While information on the structures is slim here (see the museum in preference), the atmosphere is very evocative and there are plenty of delightful art galleries and cafes to explore.
  • Dubai Museum, Al Ibn Abi Talib Road, ph: +971 (4) 353-1862. A must-see for anyone interested in the social history of the Emirate (and indeed the country). A visit starts at the al-Fahidi fort, which has a few examples of the traditional reed houses and other artifacts, but isn't much to look at. The more interesting part is the modern extension built underneath the fort, showcasing Dubai's history using the latest technology and culminating in a reconstructed souq from the pearling days, complete with authentic sights and sounds. It is quite fascinating to see the speed at which the transition from poor pearling village to modern metropolis occurred. Admission 3AED.
  • Jumeirah Mosque, Jumeirah Road, Jumeirah 1 (opposite Palm Strip Mall). Is the largest in the city, and a wonderful example of Islamic architecture. Built in the medieval Fatimid tradition with the interior decorated with elaborate Arabic calligraphy. It is one of few mosques in the city open for visits by non-Muslims, the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding[50] conducts special tours for non-Muslims to help promote understanding of Islam. Guided tours are available on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday beginning at 10AM, followed by a question-and-answer session. Located on Jumeirah Road, the mosque is an especially great place to visit in the evening when it's dramatically illuminated by floodlights.

  • Shindagha District — Home to the open museums of the Heritage Village, and has the home of former Sheikh Rashid Al-Maktoum.

Modern Dubai

The Burj al-Arab hotel seen from a nearby hotel.
Dubai Marina

Don't miss Dubai's overwhelming shopping malls, listed under Buy.

  • Burj Khalifa, [51]. Until recently called Burj Dubai, at 828 metres and 160 floors this is the world's tallest structure by a long shot, over 300m taller than the previous contender in Taipei. The observation deck at the 124th floor is the 2nd highest in the world after the Shanghai World Financial center. Already dominating the Dubai skyline, the newly opened tower houses nine hotels and a Las Vegas-inspired fountain system. The visitors' entrance is located at the lower ground floor of Dubai Mall. Although the tour is called At the Top be aware that it isn't! Although the observation deck is the highest open deck in the world, at 452m it's just over halfway up the tower itself. Console yourself with the knowledge that most of the rest of the tower consists of service areas and the view below looks suitably ant-like. Tickets cost Dhs 100 for a timed entry ticket, usually later the same day, or Dhs 400 if you do not want to wait.
  • The Dubai Fountain, [52]. At 900 ft in length and sporting a jet that shoots water up to 500 ft, the Dubai Fountain is indeed the world's largest dancing fountain and one with a very enticing display - a definite must see. The show starts every evening at the Burj Dubai Lake. Easy way to approach it is via the Dubai Mall.

Shows are every 30 minutes from 6pm to 10pm on weekdays and from 6pm to 11pm on weekends. • World’s largest dancing fountain • In sync with classical, Arabic and world music • 1.5 million lumens of projected light • Spray heights of up to 500 feet • 22,000 gallons of airborne water

See It to believe it. Aptly says the Dubai Mall website.

  • Burj al-Arab hotel [53]. For a real glimpse into "how the other half lives", (self-proclaimed as the only 7 star hotel in the world), afternoon tea, or cocktails, may be an interesting experience. Entry to the hotel requires a reservation which will be confirmed at the entry gate, although residents of adjacent Jumeirah hotels may be able to visit by arrangement. Other tourists may occasionally be able to book tours of the hotel itself, however these will not run when the hotel is full. A "very smart casual" dress code applies. Reservations are usually required about a month in advance for a room, but a few days will generally suffice for a meal.
  • Dubai Marina. One of the newer and more popular areas of Modern Dubai, both with residents and tourists. It offers numerous features such as a phenomenal skyline, world class hotels, a fabulous beach, a mall, and 2 different walkways (The Walk and Marina Walk) with coffee shops, restaurants, and shops. Marina Walk is right on the "Marina water", and there are many yachts there. You can rent a yacht for a cruise around the area. The Walk has a nice open market run from October till May, every Fridays and Saturdays at daylight.
  • Palm Islands. The three largest artificial islands in the world are located just off the coast of Dubai; a major urban development to add a significant amount of upscale beachfront property to the area. Each of the islands is shaped like a palm leaf, with a trunk connected to the mainland, fronds extending from the trunk, and a crescent (a breakwater encircling the trunk and fronds). Of the three planned, the Palm Jumeirah, at 5km square and near Dubai Marina, is the only one yet open, connected to the mainland by a freeway bridge and a monorail and sporting marinas, luxury resorts, and upscale shopping areas.


Ski Dubai
China Pavilion in Global Village, Dubai
  • Beaches and sea. There are endless water-sport opportunities as Dubai has some of the whitest and sandiest beaches in the world. Ocean temperatures range from 22°C in winter up to 35°C in summer, there are few wave breaks and the strong winds can make swimming difficult. The water is also very salty so many prefer to use their hotel swimming pool. Diving activities have been severely affected by offshore construction work for the Palms and The World; consequently, long boat trips are necessary to reach wreck sites. Alternatively, one can make the 90 minute road journey to the East coast Emirate of Fujairah or the Sharjah enclave, Khor Fakkan, for top class diving on coral reefs supporting extensive marine life.

Al Safa Park is one of the oldest in Dubai. It's a favorite for sports enthusiasts, and many visitors enjoy playing tennis, volleyball, and soccer. Children love playing games in the video arcade, or riding the ferris wheel and bumper cars. The park even has a maze to wander through. Barbeques and picnic areas are available for those who want to make a day of it.

The Camel Race Track is one of the more unusual attractions, with races being held on Thursday and Friday in the winter. Not only can you watch the races, but you'll have the opportunity to visit the paddocks. Vendors sell everything from beads to rugs and blankets, so you can purchase souvenirs. Madinat Jumeirah is also known as Jumeirah City, and is a complex of residential neighborhoods, two luxury hotels, and a shopping mall.

  • Desert Safari or Dune Bashing. Head out to the desert in an SUV with specialist Desert Drivers. The drivers will take you for a roller-coaster ride over sand dunes, show you the sunset from a strategic vantage point and then take you to a lavish dinner with music and dance to complete the atmosphere. You may want to stay clear of the dune-bashing if you know that you get carsick easily. They have recently added a Hummer H3 to the roster, which costs a bit more but is worth the money. Another option would be renting/buying a 4x4 and joining the many growing 4x4 clubs in the UAE. Most popular off them is the Dubai 4x4 offroad club AKA AD4x4 that offers a free learning experience for all newcomers. The club consists of all nationalities and is currently active with over 2000 members and schedule trips weekly to suit all levels of driving skills.

  • Ski [54]. Dubai now has its own snow skiing centre. Located in the new Mall of the Emirates (MOE), on the Sheikh Zayed Road, it offers both skiing and snowboarding. The slope is quite large for an indoor area. All equipment is available for hire. Although it is -4°C inside, you don't need to bring a jacket because they supply pretty much everything except gloves and a hat (which you can buy right there). A 2 hour pass costs Dhs180 plus Dhs20 for a locker.
  • Wild Wadi [55]. Wild Wadi Park is the perfect place for the entire family to spend a day as well as being a great way to beat the heat and enjoy the day away from the bustle of the city. Located close to the hotels and resorts of Jumeriah Beach, the park has water rides, slides, and a lagoon that's hidden away. You'll enjoy waterfalls, out of the way swimming holes, and a tidal pool.
  • Dubai Creek Cruise/Ride. The Dubai creek is the foundation from which Dubai grew. It originally served as a port for trading vessels plying to and from India, Africa and the Middle East. Today a bit of the old shipping culture still remains. In and around the creek one can see some of the original buildings that have served as customs houses and defense structures. You can book a ride on the creek with a dinner cruise or even rent a private boat to take you on a hour long ride up and down the creek.
  • Golf. It may be a desert, but a lot of money and water is spent on irrigating opulent golf courses. Alternatively, for a more local flavor, try sand golf!
  • Hot Air Balloon. Great Fun seeing all the sand Dunes and mountains early in the morning or during sunset.
  • Dubai Zoo, Jumeirah Road. An outdoor zoo near to the beach. Considering the extreme temperatures during the summer months, there are plans bring the zoo indoors. The zoo is not worth visiting as the number and variety of animals are few, and housing conditions are also appalling. Animals are trapped in cages too small for them to take more than a few steps, and are frustrated and bored. Admission 3AED.
  • Global Village. Happens Annually and is operated by Dubai Land, this usually happens during winter; from Late November to late February. Countries around the world gather and set up a small village in the outskirts of Dubai, each country/region has its own pavilion with a unique replica of their famous landmark(s). This is usually like a flea market where you can get souvenirs from almost every corner of the earth for a bargained price and experience as if you're in that certain country for at least 10 minutes of your life even if you're 10,000km away. Raffles for cars and gold bars also happen. You'd see the hieroglyphics of Egypt, temples of Thailand, Forbidden city of Beijing, the Eiffel tower and many more. Admission is usually 5AED.


Dubai has set up a free-zone Knowledge Village [56] to house institutes and universities, providing both on-line and in-class training. The city also has the American University in Dubai [57].


Dubai's Skyline

While Dubai tries to promote itself as the business and entertainment capital of the world, the government has a complex and at times frustrating work permit procedure that one should not attempt on their own unless they have prior experience. Therefore, it is best to go through official channels when looking for work in Dubai as spot inspections are frequent and if found working illegally, both the employee and the employer will be subject to fines and even deportation.

All the necessary forms and documents are written and processed in Arabic and is best left to a professional or a "P.R.O" to handle your paperwork.

Different nationalities have different rules about changing jobs and its frequency. South Asian Nationals have to work for a minimum of 1 year before looking out for another opening elsewhere or face a 6 month ban on working in the country. Western European and North American nationals however, need not worry as this rule does not apply to them.

With the price of rentals ever soaring in Dubai and neighbouring Emirates, it is a good idea to discuss a housing allowance when negotiating a pay package.

Despite all this, there are a few upsides, Dubai companies are generous with holidays averaging almost 39 days a year of paid vacation (including public holidays), a round trip ticket home once a year (depending on your contract) and most importantly all your earnings are 100% tax free!

Recruitment fraud is quite pervasive in this part of the world. Read your employment contract carefully before signing and do not pay any fees to recruitment agencies, as they are usually paid by the companies. Your passport is your personal property and cannot be withheld by the employer unless you are in a position of trust or are handling large sums of money.


All that glitters is gold at the Gold Souk

Dubai is practically synonymous with shopping. The huge amounts of cargo passing through its port and the low tariffs ensure that practically anything is available at fairly competitive rates, although the appreciation of the Dirham, and the plentiful supply of shoppers means that Dubai is no longer a bargain basement shopping city. You'll also find products in western chain stores, still with the original tags quoting euro or sterling prices, being sold with a 20-30% mark-up once converted to Dirhams.

The best things to buy in Dubai is textiles, electronics and gold, electronics is believed to be much cheaper while textiles and gold offer a wide range of selection.

Even in the mega-malls, Dubai shops suffer from the standard developing world shopping phenomenon of having no storeroom and no stocks in reserve - and for clothes shopping this may mean that you may struggle to find the style you want in the size you want. Shops open as early as 9AM and stay open to 10PM and on weekends to 12AM and some stay to 1AM.

Remember to haggle in the souks, as discounts are almost always available and even in situations where the item will not become much cheaper, the customer is always expected to "play the game" of haggling. A simple question of "what's your best price?" will often result in a shop-keeper going to extraordinary lengths to sell his stock.

Prices in the malls and other Western shops tend not to be negotiable. Far from being a bad thing, this allows the canny visitor to work out comparative prices for common souvenirs - an invaluable aid when a shop-keeper in a souk is asking for a higher price.

Dubai Shopping Festival [58] has been the biggest shopping event in the middle east since 1996. Almost every shop has a sale, starting in January and ending February. There's also a very similar Dubai Summer Surprises [59] trying to pull in punters during the summer low season.


A display of Indian saris outside a textile shop in Satwa
  • Satwa — this is a small community much resembling a town, its streets are rowed by textile shops notably opposite the Satwa Mosque ending to the opposite of Satwa clinic. Most of the people flock to Satwa for their textiles, you might sometimes catch offers and discounts but if you don't do so try bargaining the price, this is what most locals do, even if you're a tourist convince the salesman to give you a discount, bargain till you get the lowest price available. Not only Satwa is a hub for textile shops, some tailoring shops on the corners are also found if you want a dress made as soon as possible after purchasing the raw materials. Raw silk might also be available in some shops. Because of the row of textile shops, it might be Dubai's version of Little India and Little Manila as many Indians reside in this district as well as Filipinos.


  • Gold Souk— Not a mall, but a historic market that has been a part of Dubai since the origin of Dubai itself. Located at the mouth of the creek, it dazzles people by selling gold in large quantities and with little visible security. A must visit for shoppers and sightseers. Most of the gold is 22ct quality and quite expensive - although even here the shopkeepers are prepared to bargain - and the craftsmanship can be remarkably detailed. The gold items are sold by weight with a "making charge" added on top to cover the workmanship. It pays therefore, to go shopping armed with the current gold price and a knowledge of the making charges in order to hone the bargaining process. Many outlets are part of chains that also have branches in malls, so are generally reliable.
  • Spice Souk— As above, not a mall, but a historic market that has been a part of Dubai since the origin of Dubai itself. Located at the mouth of the creek, it is not far from the Gold Souk, but has sadly declined a bit in recent years as supermarkets take over the spice trade. If you're actually shopping for spices, odds are you'll get better prices and quality with much less hassle at Carrefour. Both the Spice Souk and the Gold Souq are a rather hot and sweaty experience with limited air-conditioning, so wear appropriately cool, loose clothing if visiting in mid summer. Individual shops are air conditioned. Although regularly visited by tourists, none of the souks are considered a tourist area and as such modest dress should be worn to avoid causing offence or attracting unwanted attention.

Online Shopping

Many residents in Dubai save on hotel resorts and holiday packages by going online to bargain hunting websites such as Moosavings, a Dubai based group buying website [60] You can find greatly discounted prices on items for electronics, beauty and spa packages, tours and a lot more. It saves you a lot of money, since Dubai can be very costly especially for tourists.


Mall of the Emirates
  • The Dubai Mall, [1]. Sun-Wed: 10:00-20:00, Thu-Sat: 10:00-00:00. is Dubai's Largest Mall, which was opened in November 2008. It has over 1200 shops of brand names from all over the world. It is currently the largest mall in the world. Contains an indoor ice rink and indoor aquarium. It is right next door to the Burj Khalifah, the world's tallest building, and the visitors' entrance to the Burj Khalifah is located at the lower ground floor of the Mall.
  • Mercato, Jumeirah Beach Rd, (), [2]. Mercato, which is Italian for Market, is the only Renaissance-themed shopping mall in the Middle East. It captures Italian, French and Spanish flavors and artistic characteristics playing host to regular fairs and festivals from each country. Mercato provides a unique shopping experience, the best in international entertainment and popular brand names like Virgin Megastore, Top Shop, Mango and Hugo Boss; Mercato is simply The Good Life. Also, Mercato houses a big Spinneys Supermarket, a 7 screen Grand Cinema, a Starbucks, and mouth watering restaurants such as Bella Donna who have a balcony overlooking the sea that cannot be missed.
  • Town Centre Jumeirah, Jumeirah Beach Rd, +971 04 3440111, [3]. With a bright, open, and spacious atmosphere, Town Centre Jumeirah is a place to shop, relax and casually dine at a wide selection of eateries like Sumo Sushi, Cafe Ceramique, La Cafette by Carpe Diem and Simply Healthy. The centre also houses an extensive range of ladies' beauty outlets like the Nail Station, Paris Gallery, Kaya Skin Care Clinic, Wax Lounge and SOS Salon.
  • Mall of the Emirates, near 4th interchange on Sheikh Zayed Road [61], Outside Ramadan: Sun-Wed 10AM-10:00PM; Thu-Sat 10AM-12PM (midnight); Ramadan: Sun-Sat: 10AM-1AM. It was largest shopping mall outside of North America, until the Dubai Mall opened in 2008. 200+ shops, cinemas, plus the Ski Centre. Has many international high street chains as well as luxury brand stores, including Harvey Nichols. Many restaurants and cafes, though cafes tend to be much more crowded than at other malls. It's attached to a Kempinski hotel, which has restaurants licensed to serve alcohol that are accessible from the mall. Very large Carrefour hypermarket attached, next to the Kempinski Hotel. Arabian/Middle Eastern souvenir shops upstairs.
  • Ibn Battuta Mall, Jebel Ali [62] Daily 10AM-12AM (midnight). Areas themed around six countries (China, India, Persia, Egypt, Tunisia and the Andalusia). Wide range of shops, although fewer high class brands. Has various restaurants and cafes (including three Starbucks), and a multiplex cinema including an Imax. No restaurants serve alcohol. Also has extensive, permanent exhibition of Islamic science, invention and astronomy. Attached (access via outside) is one of Dubai's few second-hand bookshops, House of Prose. Has a Geant supermarket attached.
  • Souk Madinat Jumeirah, Jumeirah Road [63]. Includes 75 shops, numerous bars, restaurants and cafes, a nightclub, theatre. More expensive and targeted directly at tourists than other, general malls where residents go. Most bars and restaurants are licensed for alcohol. Nice to wander through as it has been designed to resemble a "traditional" souq, but with the modern comforts of air conditioning. Lots of souvenir-type shops.
  • Burjuman Centre, Khalifa Bin Zayed Road [64], Sat-Thu 10AM-10:00PM; Fri 2PM-10PM. Recently opened after expansion, focus is on premium brand stores and luxury boutiques, but high street stores are also available. No restaurants serve alcohol. Walking distance to the Consulate District.
  • Deira City Centre [65]. This is by far the most popular mall in Dubai and a visit to Dubai is not complete without a visit. Debenhams, Virgin Megastore, Zara and other international high street brands. A multiplex cinema, and many restaurants and cafes. Also has a large "Arabian Treasures" souvenir and traditional textiles area. A new extension includes many more high-end boutiques and upmarket mall restaurants. A big Carrefour hypermarket sell just about everything and is nearly always very busy. There is a Sofitel hotel at one end of the centre, where there are bars and restaurants serving alcohol.
  • Wafi Mall [66]. Includes Marks & Spencer, Goodies. Focus is almost entirely on luxury brands, jewellery and expensive boutiques. Many upmarket restaurants and bars, many of which are licensed (have alcohol available). A luxury spa is attached to the complex. The Egypt-themed architecture, which includes quite beautiful stained-glass pyramids, is worth seeing.
  • Emirates Towers Boulevard, Sheikh Zayed Road [67], Daily 10.00AM-10.00PM, Fri 4.00PM-10.00PM. Part of the Emirates Tower Hotel complex. The shops here match the hotel, very high class, plus a Starbucks. Lipton cafe has free wifi. Restaurants and bars all serve alcohol. Quite a popular nightlife spot, with bars and nightclubs and it is considered the most expensive mall in Dubai.
  • Gold & Diamond Park, Interchange 4, Sheikh Zayed Road (South side) [68]. Sells gold and diamond products. Has none of the character of the more historic gold souq, but is air-conditioned throughout, and easier to reach and park at than the historic souq (which is in the depths of downtown Deira). Can be better value, as it is less "touristy".
  • Al Ain Plaza, (known locally as Computer Plaza), On Mankhool Road along from the Ramada Hotel, Bur Dubai heading towards the creek. A mall specializing in computers, laptops, computer parts and computer add ons like monitors, VoIP Phones, hard drives, etc. Prices aren't particularly low, even after haggling, and choices are limited (for example very few shops sell AMD hardware). There is an internet cafe here. AED 10 per hour (minimum 1 hour). Also other malls in this area are good for computers and computer equipment.
  • Festival City. Has Dubai's only Ikea, since it relocated from City Centre, and a huge Plug-Ins electronic store. Also an ACE Hardware and a amazing mall which has 550 shops.
  • Dubai Outlet Mall, on the road to Al Ain [69]. A very large mall, with many "factory outlets".
  • Dubai Marina Mall, located on Sheikh Zayed Rd, a mall with Books and Stationery (Borders), mobile telephony (du), photography (Nikon), cards (Hallmark), children toys, nutrition, pharmacy (Boots), supermarket (Waitrose), luxury watches, clothing, Starbucks, Dubai souvenirs, etc.
    Dubai Marina Mall

TIP: Several malls have a large Carrefour, or similar, hypermarket where you'll find the lowest cost electronics, and groceries for self-catering. A Carrefour is also located near the Shindagha waterfront in Bur Dubai.


What to eat?

Shawarma is the most available food item on almost all streets (and cheap!) in Dubai. It is the Arabic equivalent of the Burger. It is meat that has been cooked on a skewer and then cut into thin strips and placed into a kuhbus (pita) bread with vegetables and dressing. It costs about AED 5 ($1.30) for either the plain-jane variety or the more exotic Lebanese and Iranian varities. The Shawarma sold by Indian restaurants are arguably the cheapest.

Another local snacks is Fala-Fil (Felafel, Falafel) also available at about the same costs as the shawarma.

Most of the American fast food chains have set up shop in Dubai, including KFC, Chillis, TGI Fridays, Starbucks, and McDonalds. The beauty of the food in Dubai is that you will probably find cuisine for every taste.

For Indians (and vegetarians), Dubai has a big selection of budget Indian vegetarian food. Dosa, vada, idlee, samosa, chapaati/roti, with generous servings of sabji (cooked vegetable stew) are available at throwaway prices, typically less than 10Dhs ($2.5) per course. The more expensive stuff costs upto USD 5.00. Bur Dubai (particularly Meena Bazaar area) and Karama are the places that abound in these restaurants. Most of them are open from 7AM till 10PM or 11PM throughout the week.


  • Ravi Restaurant, 1. At Satwa roundabout, 2. At Bur Dubai near Mussala Tower, 3315353. It is a Pakistani Restaurant that provides Excellent Pakistani & Indian food that is incredibly cheap. This is a must see for anyone with a spicy tooth.Ask for Chaand. AED 20-25 per person for a good meal.
  • The Karachi Darbar chain of restaurants scattered throughout the city is worth visiting.
  • The Jabal Al Noor chain of restaurants. A Middle Eastern take on fastfood and its own unique variety of drinks with names such as "Lexus"," Burj al Arab", and "Sitara". AED 7-10 per item.
  • The Anjappar Restaurant and Ibrahimi Restaurant are famous for their wonderful delicacies.
  • Pak Liyari Restaurant is famous for excellent biryani.


  • Jedoudna Restaurant, Rimal Sector, The Walk at Jumeirah Beach Residence, Dubai, +971 4 4230766 (, fax: +971 4 4230765), [4]. 7:00am to 1:00 am. A family-run Lebanese restaurant. Open from Breakfast till Late, with outdoor seating and separate shisha area. About AED 100. (25.077928,55.134069)
  • Wafi Gourmet, Wafi Mall, Oud Metha, Dubai, +971 4 324 4433. Excellent Lebanese cuisine and ambience. In the cooler months the outdoor verandah is a pleasure. No alcohol served. About AED 100.
  • The Noodle House, Emirates Towers Shopping Boulevard, Madinat Jumeirah, Jumeirah, +971 4 366 8888. Asian food. One meal about AED 80.
  • Toscana, Souk Madinat Jumeirah, +971 4 3666730 (, fax: +971 4 3666649). Italian. About AED 100.
  • Yakitori House, Century Hotel, Khalid Bin Walid Street, Bur Dubai, +971 4 205 7333. Japanese cuisine, very popular with the Japanese expat community.
  • London Fish & Chips, Tunisia Food Court, Ibn Batutta Mall, Jebel Ali Village, Dubai, +971 4 366 9939, [5]. Fish and chips.
  • Automatic, this is a chain of popular Lebanese restaurants found all over Dubai. Famous for its lamb chops & Friday lunch buffet. No alcohol served.
  • Al Dawaar Revolving Restaurant, Hyatt Regency, Deira, 04 209 1100, [6]. Lunch: 12.30 PM - 3.30 PM, dinner: 7 PM - midnight. Serving an assortment of cuisines, the highlight of this beautiful restaurant is that it revolves, giving a nice tour of the city. Lunch: AED 165 per person, Dinner: AED 205 per person.
  • Pars Iranian Kitchen, Shk Zayed Road (Located in the residential area of Diyafah Road next to the Rydges Plaza Hotel), +971 4 398 4000. This is an open air Iranian restaurant where one can sit in traditional machans (large bed-like seating) and enjoy a fine Iranian meal. The speciality is the mixed grill which is served with live coal. After the meal, smoke a traditional sheesha pipe. No alcohol served. Around Dhs. 150 per person.
  • Chimes, Al Barsha (Located beneath the Seven Sands Hotel Apartments near the Mall of the Emirates and close to Sharaf DG metro station of the overhead monorail. You can download a location map from the Contact Us section of their website.), 043234211, [7]. The dishes are from Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia and the popular house speciality must be the Pepper or Chili Crab. You can eat at the restaurant or order home delivery to most areas of new Dubai.

  • Yum!, Inter-Continental Hotel, Deira, +971 4 222 7171. A wonderful noodle bar located at the InterContinental Dubai. Well priced, with excellent food.
  • 800PIZZA, Sheykh Zayed Road, Barsha, TAMWEEL building, between Coral Boutique Hotel and Emirates Mall, 800-PIZZA(74992) (), [8]. 11AM to midnight. Traditional & authentic Italian pizza baked in Wood Fired Italian Stone Oven, thin & crispy crust.
  • Karam Beirut, Sheykh Zayed Road, Al Barsha, Mall of Emirates. Excellent lebanese food, on the 1st floor of Mall of Emirates.


The top hotels in the city all have at least one restaurant serving (most commonly) some form of international cuisine - Italian, Japanese, Indian and so on. Quality tends to be high, along with price, but non-guests are able to reserve tables as well, thus allowing the rest of us to experience a bit of these hotels.

  • Manhattan Grill, Grand Hyatt Dubai. Is a fine dining restaurant, its specialty are steaks. A suitable venue for romantic dinners and family gatherings. AED30 - AED300.
  • Kiku, Le Meridien Dubai, +971 4 282 4040. Japanese cuisine. Very high quality and very popular. AED 150.
  • Khazana, Al Nasr Leisureland, Karama, +971 4 336 0061. Run by famed Indian TV chef Sanjeev Kapoor. Drinks Served. Reservations recommended especially on Friday nights. Very Costly...but fantastic service..
  • Options, Jumeirah, 971 4 329 3293. Also run by famed Indian TV chef Sanjeev Kapoor. Drinks Served. Reservations recommended especially on Friday nights.
  • Asha's, Wafi Centre, Bur Dubai, +971 4 324 0000. Indian Cuisine run by Asha Bosle. good food but little expensive
  • Shang Palace, Shangri-La Hotel, Shk Zayed Road, +971 4 343 8888. Exceptional Chinese food. AED 200.
  • Al Mahara, Burj Al Arab, +971 4 301 7600 (fax: +971 4 301 7000). 12.30 PM- 3 PM, 7 PM - midnight. Part of the Burj Al Arab hotel, and as you would expect is also very high quality! Seafood. AED 700.
  • Legends Steakhouse, Dubai Creek Golf Club, Deira, +971 4 295 6000.
    View from Legends Steakhouse
    This restaurant is part of the Creek Golf Clubhouse. Highly popular with residents but, unfortunately, not known to tourists is this fabulous waterfront restaurant. Situated overlooking the Dubai Creek it provides an excellent meal and views. Very reasonably priced for the ambience and food.
    Around AED 200 per head.
  • JW's Steakhouse, JW Marriott Hotel, Deira, +971 4 607 7977. This is the Marriott's signature restaurant and has won many awards over the years. Highly popular with Dubai residents. AED 350 per head.
  • Cafe Chic, Le Meridien, Garhoud, +971 4 282 4040. Beautiful nouvelle French cuisine, served in a comfortable and sophisticated atmosphere, ran by Michelin star chef Michel Rostang. By far one of the best restaurants in town, but extremely pretentious as well. Expect to pay AED 300, but it's definitely worth it.

If you feel like having a meal fit for a king, but don't want to venture outside, Room Service [70] can deliver meals from upscale restaurants to your residence for a price.


As Dubai has grown from a small town into a bustling city, so has the nightlife scene. Most 3 to 5 star hotels have bars and nightclubs for those interested in the nightlife. World-class DJs frequent Dubai's nightclubs, and many A-list musical celebrities are adding Dubai to their list of tour dates.

However, Dubai has several laws regarding alcohol which tourists should be aware of before visiting:

  • Alcohol is available only at licensed premises, usually attached to hotels (most nightclubs and bars are in or attached to hotels, though they may have separate entrances).
  • Alcohol is not sold on religious holidays, nor during daylight hours in Ramadan (even to non-Muslims).
  • It is illegal to drink alcohol in public places, and there is a zero-tolerance policy on drunk driving. Anyone involved in a collision found with alcohol in their blood will usually get a month's jail sentence and fine.
  • Alcohol can be bought only for home consumption at certain outlets in Dubai, and an alcohol license is required. Supermarkets only stock non-alcoholic beers. Even food items containing alcohol are not sold in supermarkets.
  • Remember to carry some sort of identification when visiting a bar if you are young, as you will not be let in otherwise. The law prohibits anyone below 21 to enter.
  • The Authorities take disruptive behavior while intoxicated very seriously, which as you can imagine will lead to jail time or deportation.
  • Nassimi Beach, The Atlantis. Great bar/club on the beach in the Palm Jumeirah.

  • AT.MOSPHERE, Burj Khalifa, 048883828, [9]. 12PM until 2AM. At.mosphere is an exclusive fine dining restaurant, located on Level 122 of Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower.


  • Longs Bar, Towers - Rotana (op Financial centre metro). The longest bar in the UAE, typical English style, similar to a Weatherspoons. Great music and DJs plus food and friendly atmosphere. . Open until 3AM.
  • Left Bank, in the Madinat Jumeirah is perfectly situated on the waterfront in one of the most tranquil areas of Dubai. A great food menu leads on to some excellent cocktails and music inside. Open 12PM - 2AM daily.

  • The Rooftop Swimming Pool, on top of Hilton Dubai Creek. Small bar but wonderful views especially at sunset.
  • The Cocktail Bar, on the 24th floor of the Jumeirah Beach Hotel. Has good views along Jumeirah beach and the Burj al-Arab Hotel, also an open-air terrace (open after the 1st of October).
  • The Terrace Bar, Park Hyatt, Deira, Dubai. A chilled out bar touching the Dubai Creek. Good for a one on one evening. Plays light music.
  • 360°, Jumeirah Beach Hotel Complex, [71]. The latest addition to the Jumeirah Beach hotel complex. A very cool location at the end of the hotel marina, reached by golf buggy! Open air bar with great views of the Burj hotel and the Jumeirah beach hotel all helped by a cool breeze from the ocean. Various DJ's but think Ibiza lounge bar and you won't be far off. Well worth a visit.
  • Boudoir Bar, at the Dubai Marine Beach. Done in an opulent French Renaissance style.
  • Sky View Bar, Burj Al Arab, Jumeirah Beach Road. Live bands (both local and international), reservations are a must.
  • Stagshead, Avari Dubai, Diera. Located at the lobby level, this traditional Scottish Pub offering bar snacks, a wide range of beverages, Pool tables and a darts board.
  • Vu's Bar, Sheikh Zayed Road. Try the 51st Floor house cocktail, it's so deliciously strong, also there's a staggering 200 cocktails to choose from!
  • Buddha Bar branch of the international Asian-themed bar/restaurant.
  • Bar 44, on the 44th floor of Grosvenor House Hotel in Dubai Marina. Excellent view above the city. Phone: +971 4 399 8888.
  • Barasti, on the beach next to Le Meridien Mina Seyahi Resort in Dubai Marina. Built in three levels (each playing its own music), with lounging areas on the beach, lots of young and foreign people come here during the weekend. Very popular with expats.
  • Rock Bottom, a restaurant/"dive" bar/dance club. Dress and theme is very casual. Live Bands and a DJ. Mostly western/expat crowd
  • Rattlesnake, Restaurant and Dance Club in the Metropolitan Hotel on Sheik Zhayed Road. Live Philippino Bands and DJ. Popular for single male expats. The music is OK, but the place is just an open market for man to buy. As a single male you might attract a lot of hungry looks. Not recommended unless this is what you want. Entrance fee 50 dirham, Draft Beer 37 dirham.
  • Rockafellas Located at Regal Plaza Hotel in Bur Dubai. The same human market as Rattlesnake, but worse in quality. The music played is mostly Arabic and Russian techno. Live bands are African and not as successful as Rattlesnake. Not recommended, as long as you don't want to buy something.


  • Filli Cafeteria, Al Mamzar. & <drink name="Modern Coffee Shop" address="Hor Al Anz">- Probably the two most popular tea spots in town, especially Filli, who serves over 4000 cups a day!. Try either the zaffrani chai (milk tea with saffron) or the doodh kadak(strong milk tea).
  • Basta Art Cafe, Bastakiya, +971-4-3535071. Set in a lovely garden courtyard in a restored house, Basta is a great place to take a breather with a cold drink and write some postcards. The sandwiches-and-salads menu is aimed squarely at tourists, but if you are sick of kebabs, they will cater to your salmon-avocado wrap and mango smoothie cravings. The "Basta Special" drink of mint and lemon is also excellent. Dhs 50.


Burj al-Arab Hotel

Earlier the demand for hotel rooms outstripped badly supply, resulting in some of the most expensive rooms in the world: it was difficult to find anything decent for under Dhs 600 (US$200) especially during the September-May high season. However, now, as July 2009, there are several five star hotels offering rooms for less than $140 (€100) for off-season.


  • Al Uruba Hotel, Old Gold Souq, Deira.5 ☎ +971 4 226 6190. Rooms from 200 AED (about 54 USD). Basic, clean and decent hotel with a prime location in the Gold Souk, Deira. Not easy to find as it is unknown to most taxidrivers and eventually accessible only on foot through the Gold Souk. Rooms have fridges and internet.
  • Dubai Youth Hostel (UAE YHA member), Al Nahda Rd (Next to the Lulu Hyper Market), Reservation +971 4 2988151, reception +971 4 2988161 (, fax: 971 4 2988141), [10]. checkin: 24/7; checkout: 24/7. Pool, football field, chill-out garden, A/C in the room, small bar fridge. It's located next to a mosque so morning prayers may wake you. Bus stop just 100 m from hostel, Lulu Hyper Market shopping center and supermarket nearby. Free safety deposit boxes (hang on to your key as they have stiff $200 replacement fee). Clean rooms but unhelpful staff. You can walk there from Terminal 2. When you get out walk straight along 16th St to the end. It takes around 10 min. From terminal 1 or 3 you can take the metro to Deira City Center (6 min, AED 2,50) and from there take bus C19 or 22 to Al Nahda Rd (35 min, AED 2, you'll see the Lulu Shopping Mall on your left). A taxi from terminal 1 or 3 costs around AED 40. Dorm-AED100 or $US$27, Breakfast is included.
  • Dream Palace Hotel, Al Muraqabat Street. [http:/en/indexT.htm] Rooms from AED 300.
  • easyHotel Dubai, Jebel Ali, Jafza Street. [72] Rooms from AED 110. New hotel in the budget easyHotel chain offering no frills accommodation, although all en-suite and the rooms look very smart for the price. Location is very far out, at least 45dhs to commute to main tourism areas each time and each way. However if you are going to hire a car it is a good option.
  • Gulf Pearl Hotel, Al Baraha Street, Omar al khattab Road, ☎ +971 4 2728333. Rooms from AED 71.
  • New Peninsula Hotel, Mankhool Road, PO Box 33502, Bur Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Rooms from AED $99.
  • Pacific Hotel, Sabakha Street 115, Deira. ☎ +971-4-2276700 [email protected], (fax: +971-4-2276761) [73]. Rooms from AED $80.
  • Panorama Hotel, Mankhool Road. ☎ +971 4-3518518. Rooms from US$$41.


  • Ascot Hotel, Khalid bin waleed Road, Bur Dabai. ☎+971 4 3520900 [email protected], (fax: +971 4 3529819') [74]. Has Russian, Irish and Thai themed restaurants. Rooms from AED $180.
  • Moon Valley Hotel Apartment, Bank Street, Behind NBF - Bur Dubai, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, +971 4 3971115, [11]. Moon Valley Hotel Apartment is located at Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It offers 69 accommodation rooms, all of which have air-conditioning, cable television, and an Internet connection. Some of its amenities include a rooftop gymnasium, swimming pool, and a business center. While staying here, you can visit some interesting places like Bur Dubai, Metro Station, and Metro Station. Best rates on official website start at AED 180.
  • Avari Hotel, Clock tower, Deira. ☎ +971 4 295 6666 [75], (fax: +971 2 295 9359) [76]. Rooms from $152.
  • Arabian Ranches, Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Dubai junction, [12]. Villa located in the Arabian Ranches, private pool
  • Avari Al-Barsha Hotel Apartments, Behind Mall of the Emirates. ☎+971 4 295 6666, toll free: 800 40 55 9 ([77], fax: +971 2 295 9359) [78].
  • Express by Holiday Inn Dubai-Internet City, Tecom Zone, Knowledge City (25 km to hotel), +971 4 4275555, [13]. Opened in 2007, modern hotel, the location means it's primarily useful for business visitors to Internet City. Burj al-Arab and the Mall of the Emirates are within striking distance, and the university campuses next door have decent eating options. Two restaurants, bar and a "mini-gym" on premises, but no pool, and internet costs AED 100/day.
  • Four Points by Sheraton Downtown, Mankhool Road, 4C Street, +971 4 3543333, [14]. Opened in November 2007, it's a stunningly modern hotel. Spacious, airy rooms, excellent gym, great little rooftop pool. 15 min by taxi from airport, 20 min to Dubai Creek on foot. US$200.
  • Pearl Continental Creek Hotel, Clock tower, Deira by the Dubai Creek, [79].
  • Highland Hotel, Bur Dubai. ☎+971 4 3939773, (fax: +971 4 3937399 [80]). Price range: US$108.
  • Coral Boutique Hotel Apartments, in Al Barsha, close to Mall of Emirates [81] Apartments from US$120 upwards, large rooms, friendly staff. "Rumours" Cafe downstairs, and a spa.
  • Dar Al Sondos Hotel Apartments by Le Méridien, [15]. Executive rooms have kitchen. Gym, rooftop swimming pool and shuttle bus to the beach. Friendly service.


  • Atlantis the Palm Jumeirah, (The Palm Jumeirah), +971 4 426-1000 (), [16]. checkin: 3PM; checkout: 3PM. Only hotel currently open on the palm. Connects to mainland by monorail.
  • Burj al-Arab [82], Jumeirah. ☎ +971 4 3017777 (email: [email protected], fax: +971 4 3017000) [83]. Famed for being the first seven-star hotel in the world (technically a five star deluxe hotel), this striking sail-shaped building is a symbol of Dubai and one of most opulent hotels in the world. Rack rates over US $1,800 per night after taxes/fees.
  • Crowne Plaza Dubai, (Sheikh Zayed Road Service Lane), +971 4 331-1111 (), [17]. checkin: 2PM; checkout: 3PM. Full shopping mall and residence attached to hotel.
  • Dusit Thani Dubai, (Sheikh Zayed Road in front of the DIFC.), +971 4 343-3333 (), [18]. checkin: 3PM; checkout: 3PM. Close to the DIFC district and Burj Downtown.
  • Fairmont Dubai, (Sheikh Zayed Road), +971 4 332-5555 (), [19]. checkin: 12 noon; checkout: 3PM. Closest 5 Star hotel to the World Trade Centre.
  • Grand Hyatt Dubai, (by Dubai Creek), +971 4 317 1234 (), [20]. checkin: 12 noon; checkout: 3PM. A resort style hotel with extensive conference facilities.
  • Grand Millennium Dubai, " (Sheikh Zayed Road - TECOM - Media City), +971 4 429-9999 (), [21]. checkin: 3PM; checkout: 3PM. Driving Distance to Dubai Media and Internet City and Mall of the Emirates.
  • Hilton Jumeirah Beach Resort, (Jumeirah beach. Exit 32 from Sheikh Zayed Road), +971 4399 1111 (). Resort with a private beach. The hotel is only 10 floors which is dwarved by nearby high-rises, but the location is lively and the pool/garden area is lush.
  • Hyatt Regency Dubai, Deira Corniche, Deira, +971 4 209 1234 (), [22]. 414 Rooms and Suites with views of the Persian Gulf. Host to Al Dawaar, Dubai's only revolving restaurant.
  • Jebel Ali Hotel & Golf Resort, Jebel Ali. (Take exit 13 on the Sheikh Zayed Road) tel: +971-4-8836000 (email: [email protected], (fax: +971 4 8835543) [84]. Rooms from US$400.
  • Jumeirah Beach Hotel, ☎ +971 4 3480000 (email: [email protected], fax: +971 4 3482273) [85]. Next to Burj al-Arab [86] and run by the same company. Rooms from US$700.
  • Park Hyatt Dubai, +971 4 602 1234 (), [23]. 5 star hotel with a waterfront location next to the Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club.
  • Raffles Dubai, Sheikh Rashid Road (Next to Wafi Shopping Centres.), +971 4 324-8888 (), [24]. checkin: 3PM; checkout: 15:00PM. Attached to Wafi Mall. Egyptian themed. 10 min drive to airport.
  • Shangri-La Hotel, Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road. ☎ +971 4 3438888 (email: [email protected], (fax:+971 4 343 8886') [87]
  • Sheraton Dubai Creek
  • Sheraton Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Al Sufouh Road. ☎ +971 4 3995533 (email: [email protected], (fax: +971 4 3995577) Rooms from US$350. Beach front 5-star hotel but the hotel, rooms and service imay fall short of expectations.
  • Taj Palace Hotel Dubai, P.O Box 42211 (Deira, between Al Rigga and Al Maktoum Streets.), +971 4 223-2222 (), [25]. checkin: 3PM; checkout: 3PM. Hotel located in Deira near Naif Square Bazaar.
  • Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina, P.O Box 24883 (Jumeirah Beach Road), +9714-399-4141 (), [26]. checkin: 15:00PM; checkout: 3PM. Hotel located on shoreline near to The Palm.

Stay safe

Acquaint yourself with local laws and customs

The United Arab Emirates might seem to have more relaxed laws than their other Arab counterparts, but the laws are still very different from most Western countries, and their laws are strictly enforced. A simple kiss in a public place, having an alcoholic drink in the wrong place or even losing your temper could land you a month or more in jail. Please exercise caution and common sense when visiting and make sure you are aware of all their laws, or expect severe consequences that could seriously ruin your vacation.

Like any major metros experiencing rapid growth, Dubai has its share of problems but nothing that using common sense cannot avoid.

Dubai strictly follows Islamic laws which should be respected by all travelers. Islam is the official religion, therefore do not publicly criticise or distribute material against it. Eating in public during the holy month of Ramadan is prohibited from sunrise until sunset and visitors should consume meals in the confines of their hotel or residence.

In conversations regarding politics and world affairs, avoid criticizing the ruling family of any of the seven Emirates or prominent business families. The United Arab Emirates does not have any formal relations with Israel, and the government publicly supports any cause that involves the Palestinian people or Palestinian statehood.

While petty crime is hardly reported or mentioned in the news, keep an eye on your wallet or purse when in crowded areas like Naser Square or Deira in general. If withdrawing large amounts of cash from ATM's or banking institutions, either conceal the notes or ask the institution's security to escort you to your vehicle. Cases have occurred where people have been robbed of large amounts of cash when in crowded places just because they were not careful.

Conmen are ever present in Dubai, especially the "Nigeria 419" scammers. Do not arrange meetings or entertain their requests or give any personal details. Should they not comply, individuals who will be happy to listen to their business propositions are the police. Thanks to Dubai's new property boom, real estate fraudsters are also popping up, so exercise caution if you are there to shop around for a new home.

Public display of affection are frowned upon and public sexual acts can lead to jail time followed by deportation. In 2008, a British couple were arrested and faced jail sentences because they had sexual contact on a beach in Dubai. If all tourists remain respectful and decent and ensure that they do not upset the local people, there should be no problems.

Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender travellers should be particularly careful as homosexuality, along with sexual relations outside of marriage, is a criminal offense with possible deportation. Public displays of affection or cross dressing may lead to jail time and/or deportation, and therefore this should be avoided completely while in public to ensure that no problems arise.

Women should dress sensibly and avoid wearing revealing outfits when in busy areas. This is especially true when traveling to districts like Karama, Deira and Bur-Dubai,where the streets are packed with men, especially on evenings and weekends. While swimsuits and bikinis are a common sight on Dubai beaches, avoid sunbathing topless or wearing micro bikinis--even in the private beach of a hotel.

Recreational drug use and distribution is a serious criminal offence, even when in the company of the person consuming the material. A few grammes can lead to a prison sentence of several years, while production and distribution could land yourself in front of the firing squad. Passenger baggage is screened quite thoroughly when entering Dubai. Even prescription drugs (without original prescription note) or ones that you bought over the counter in your country can lead to a prison sentence. A list of banned medication can be found [88], with an official UAE list of controlled drugs found at [89].

Driving and pedestrian safety has also been an issue given the different nationalities that share the road. Do not jaywalk or cross where there are no clear pedestrian markings. Speeding is common here and the odds of you being knocked over are quite high if you don't follow the rules. Avoid driving on the extreme left lane of highways to avoid being "flashed" and being forced to move a lane over. Road rage is also starting to become an issue given the increase in traffic jams and poor driving courtesy. Rude hand gestures (the "finger", etc.) and profanity can lead to fines and jail times if reported, so keep your cool if you are cut off or are behind an erratic driver. In general, you will find those gestures and actions that some may find only slightly offensive in your home nation--or perhaps not offensive at all--can at times be extremely offensive to the Dubai locals. Therefore, using a degree of common sense of what is right and wrong will usually help you stay out of trouble.


The international code for UAE is +971, for Dubai, add a 4 afterwards for land lines.

Local mobile phone numbers will start +971 50 xxx yyyy or +971 56 xxx yyyy (newly introduced as of second half of 2008) for the GSM provider etisalat [90] and +971 55 xxx yyyy for the GSM provider du [91].

GSM— Those with GSM phones can expect auto roaming from their home countries. As roaming fees are quite high (easily 3 USD per minute and often more for a call to Europe) and incoming calls are also charged, consider to buy a local prepaid GSM SIM card, designed especially for tourists, from one of the two cellular providers of the U.A.E.:

  • Etisalat - product Ahlan [92] - 90 Dirhams - available at the Duty Free Shop (arrival hall) of Dubai Airport
  • Du - product Visitor Mobile Line [93] - 70 Dirhams - available at the Telefonika kiosk in the arrival hall of Dubai Airport.

Using these products, calls to Europe will be charged at maximum of about 0.55 USD per minute. Incoming calls are free of charge.

Phone Booths— Phone booths are located on most streets. Phone cards can be purchased from hotels and tourist shops.

Internet — Internet cafés can be hard to find. The usual rate per hour is 3-4 AED. There are a number of cafés on Al Musalla Rd./Al Mankhool Rd. in Bur Dubai, including one at 38 Al Musalla Rd. and one at Computer Plaza next to the Ramada Hotel. A number of Internet cafes are found in Satwa too. In Satwa there is the French Connection in the Al Wafa Tower on Sheikh Zayed road (opposite side of road from the Dusit Hotel), which has wi-fi access and nice cakes/pastries. In Al Qusais, there is an internet café a five-minute walk northwest from the Dubai Youth Hostel. Turn right out of the gates and walk to LuLu's Hypermarket. The café is located inside the food court and currently charges AED 4.00 per hour. Note that the Skype website is currently blocked, however.

Surprisingly, the malls do not have internet cafés, but most have wi-fi, mostly free. Most hotel business centres are equipped with internet cafés, but are expensive ones.

Etisalat [94], UAE's telecom operator, offers a roaming, post paid wi-fi internet connection known as iZone [95]. Most coffee shops and malls across Dubai provide this service. Prices are available on the website.

Dubai International Airport (DXB) has free wi-fi in the terminal. Bring your laptop with you for using free wi-fi at some hotels.

Newspapers & Radio: Thanks to the large influx of expatriates, Dubai has a wide selection of English Language Newspapers and Radio Channels.

  • Channel 4 [103] - Plays current songs from the UK and US.
  • Dubai Eye [104] - Western oriented talk.
  • Dubai 92 [105] - Older chart songs. Popular with British expats.
  • Virgin Radio 104.8 [106] - Chart music. Operates under franchise from Virgin Radio International. Owned by Arabian Radio Network.
  • City 101.6 [107] - Broadcasts Indian music.
  • The Coast FM 103.2 [108] - Feel good hits from the 70's to today. Channel 4's "grown up" sister station.

International Newspapers are also available in most hotels and airport terminals. Carrefour and Borders bookstores sell British and American newspapers. Todaily [109], a local printing house, can furnish newspapers and periodicals from around the world daily.


Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding [110], is a non-profit community service organization that has been set up to bring down barriers between people of different nationalities, and to help understand the traditions, customs and religion of the UAE. The SMCCU, under the banner, Open Doors Open Minds organizes educational and social events, that allows its clients to exchange ideas, pursue learning and share ways to reach understanding for their companies, their families, their countries and the world. Some of the activities that are offered at the center include:

  • Cultural Courses.
  • Arabic Language Courses.
  • Guided tours to Jumeirah Mosque.
  • Creating and managing cultural events.
  • Coffee Mornings.
  • Walking Tours (Bastakiya).

If you are walking through the streets, you will most probably come across people wanting to sell you pirated movies or anything else that can be replicated or faked. They will tend to lead you off the streets into a alley and into a building. This can seem to be very dangerous but you will find that 90 percent of the time it will be what they actually claim it to be. This is done because they have to hide from the police. Also, don't take very much money with you, otherwise they will ask for all the money you have. A typical pirated DVD should cost about 10-15 dirhams, although purchasing pirated DVDs should be avoided as, not only is it illegal and with most crimes in Dubai they are very punishable, the DVD will probably be of very poor quality.

Religious services and Pork

Dubai gives freedom of religion to its residents and citizens, Pork is consumed here mostly by Filipinos and Europeans. Pork sections exclusive for Non-Muslims are found in Spinneys (have numerous branches, they have one in Jumeirah and another in Dubai Marina and many others), Al Maya Lal's (generally caters to Filipinos, they have a branch in Satwa) New Westzone Supermarket (have a branch in Satwa, it's bigger than nearby rival Al Maya Lal's). St. Mary's Catholic Church is a Roman Catholic church located in Oud Metha opposite the Indian High School, it has masses celebrated in Tagalog and other Indian languages as well as in Arabic aside from English. While Holy Trinity Church is a Protestant Church is located too in Oud Metha.


  • Ch-flag.png China, Villa No. 14, St 8, Community 357, Umm Al Sheif St, Safa 2 Area, +971 4-3944733 (, fax: +971 4-3952207), [27].
  • Ir-flag.png Iran, Iranian Consulate Bldg 256, Al Wasl St, Jumairah Area, +971 4 344 4717 (fax: "phone="+971).
  • Pk-flag.png Pakistan, Near Burjuman, opp. Iranian School, Khalid Bin Walid Rd, +971-4-3973600 (fax: "phone="+971-4-3973600"").

Get out

  • Neighbouring Sharjah, while dry (no alcohol) and mostly suburban, has a few beaches and museums of interest.
  • The capital of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi, is an entirely different city and it is worth the one and a half hour ride to see the contrast.
  • The city of Al Ain located near to the borders with Oman is surprisingly a city of lush gardens and trees - an aspect quite unusual in this part of the land considering its desert surroundings.
  • Visit the peaceful Umm Al Quwain emirate if you want a cosy and relaxing environment, free from city hustle and bustle.
  • Dubai has an arrangement with Oman to allow visitors who qualify for an Omani visa on arrival by road through Hatta.
  • The Iranian island of Kish is close by, and is an economic free-zone that does not require a visa.Create category

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