| || |
* '''Sheraton Jumeirah Beach Hotel''', Al Sufouh Road, P.O. Box 53567, Dubai, tel: +971-4-3995533 (''email: [mailto:[email protected] [email protected]
], fax: +971-4-3995577'') Rooms from $350. Cheapest beach front 5-star hotel but the hotel, rooms and service is not what you would expect in this category/price.
* '''Sheraton Jumeirah Beach Hotel''', Al Sufouh Road, P.O. Box 53567, Dubai, tel: +971-4-3995533 (''email: [mailto:[email protected] [email protected]
], fax: +971-4-3995577'') Rooms from $350. Cheapest beach front 5-star hotel but the hotel, rooms and service is not what you would expect in this category/price.
| || |
Revision as of 15:55, 31 October 2008
Dubai (دبي) 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.
Wild Wadi and Jumeirah Beach Hotel
A relatively new tourist destination, Dubai has gained in popularity in recent years. It is essentially a desert city with superb infrastructure, liberal policies (by regional standards), and excellent tourist amenities. Just 5 hrs from Europe and 3 hrs from most parts of the Middle East, the Near East, and the sub-continent 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.
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, multi-national 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 a half day on Thursday with a full-day on 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 in the lower 20s Celsius/70s Farenheit), but be prepared for cold night temperatures. In winter the temperature at night is usually from 10-16 Celsius (50-60 Farenheit). In May, June, July, August and September, the sun is intense and temperatures can touch 45 degrees Celsius in the city and even higher in the desert. The heat coupled with humidity of 60-70 near the coast effectively precludes most activity outdoors for the daylight hours during summer.
December to April generally produces the highest precipitation, which at 10 cm (5 in) still isn't much. Some years yield no more than a few minutes of shower in Dubai. November 2006 brought record rains up to 50 cm of rain with temperatures going down to record lows.
See United Arab Emirates#Get in for UAE visa and Customs regulations. While Israeli passport holders are not welcome, having Israeli stamps in your passport is not a problem.
Dubai has several airports to consider. 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 departures concourse. The card will cost AED 150. 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 comparrison of the various airlines serving Dubai.
Dubai International Airport
Shop 'till you miss your flight at Dubai Airport
Dubai International Airport (DXB)  is the largest hub in the Middle East and the home base of the Dubai's flag carrier Emirates . In fact, it's grown at such a furious pace that the present terminals are bursting at the seams, especially during the peak hours around midnight — immigration lines can be long and it can be difficult to find a place to sit. Terminal 3, dedicated to Emirates, will open on October 14, 2008, and should ease the congestion considerably. Flights will be moved over in four phases; check with Emirates for details. There is also Terminal 2, which more closely resembles a bus station, serving flights to Afghanistan, regional Pakistan airports and elsewhere. A transfer bus from Terminal 1 to Terminal 3 is now operating, however the only option to get to Terminal 2 is by taxi (approx Dhs 30).
The airport is famous for its duty-free shopping . Alcohol is also available at an inbound duty free store situated in the baggage reclaim area. The allowance is 4 bottles (or four 6 packs) per person.
Most visitors will opt for public taxis from the airport, readily available just outside arrivals, which use the meter and start at Dhs 20. If you already know your way around the city or are continuing elsewhere, you may also want to opt for buses 401 and 402 (Dhs 3), which go to the Al Sabkha and Al Ghubaiba bus terminals respectively. The Dubai Metro, planned to open in September 2009, will have stations at both Terminal 1 and Terminal 3.
Sharjah International Airport
Sharjah International Airport (SHJ) is located in the emirate of Sharjah. It is only half an hour by road from Dubai and is taking an increasing number of international flights as Dubai airport struggles to keep up with demand. The principal carrier here is Air Arabia , a low-cost carrier serving the Middle East and South Asia. A taxi ride to Dubai will typically cost Dhs 50. The airport is fairly basic but is being expanded.
Maktoum International (JXB), formerly "Dubai World Central", is gigantic — by some measures the world's largest — airport under construction on the west side of Dubai. It will start taking cargo flights in 2008, but passenger services are still a few years away.
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 neighboring Emirate of Abu Dhabi and Oman at the Al Burami Oasis which divides the sister cites of Al Ain and Al Burami, Oman.
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.
From Iran: a boat service by Valfajr Shipping Company  leaves Bandar-e-Lengeh (and also bandar abbas) supposedly every second day and docks in Port Rashid in Dubai. It returns to Bandar-e-Lengeh (and also bandar abbas) the following day. Crossing the Persian Gulf takes roughly 6 hours, and a two way ticket costs as of February 2008 USD 88 (IR 950,000). The ticket includes lunch (Iranian style). Using this service requires a 3 month visa which costs IR 1,550,000.
Taxis ply the streets of Dubai and are usually difficult to find. Easiest place to find them is at the taxi queue at one of the malls. Waving down a taxi on the road is next to impossible. During most parts of the day, demand far exceeds supply, and not only are taxis hard to find, but those who deign to pick you up may refuse short rides in congested areas. The standard of driving in Dubai ranges from poor to wild - taxis are some of the worst on the roads.
Taxis are metered at AED 1.60/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 AED 20; all other street pickups attract a standing charge of AED 3.00 during the day, 3.50 at night (10 PM-6AM).
If you can't find one otherwise, you can attempt to call a taxi at 2080808, but the service works rather poorly — booked taxis often never arrive — and there's a surcharge of AED 3 to boot. If you absolutely have to get somewhere at a certain time (say, the airport or a meeting), it's best to book a hotel taxi in advance, and get their estimate of how bad the traffic will be.
If you are going to a mall in Dubai, be prepared to stand for at least an hour in the queue just to get a taxi. A better way is to try and use the bus. Due to the lack of Taxis, it is very difficult to hail a Taxi from roadside - its much easier to take a bus.
Dubai Public transport  is a cheaper means of traveling within the several districts in Dubai. A map of the bus system can be found online. 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.
The main bus stations are Gold Souq Market (in Deira) and Al Ghubaiba bus station (in Bur Dubai). The fare for an in-town is usually 1.50 AED, up to 3.00 AED for an hour-long ride to the 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.
Bus services are also available to other emirates (at Al Ghubaiba), and to Oman.
For a good, hop on - hop off, type tour try the Big Bus Company . 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.
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. Depending on which country you are from (UK, USA & Australian licenses are acceptable), your driving license could be used to obtain a temporary driving permit at the licensing office in the 'City Centre' shopping mall.
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 18 and are rarely as shown on the maps. Road names can also be very confusing with slight differences in spelling (due to transliteration 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.
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. Dangerous driving will be witnessed, or experienced, on a frequent basis; 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 Salik.ae  for information about toll to pay on certain routes in Dubai.
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'll be in for a very expensive cross-river trip or a crowded private tour.
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 the higher end of the scale, particularly for dinner cruises with on-board entertainment.
The RTA (Roads Transport Authority) has embarked on an ambitious project to introduce a Metro Rail system. Construction has already commenced and the first phase is expected to be complete by late 2009. Eventually, there will more than 6 metro lines covering various Dubai developments.
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's 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). Generally considered to be one of the more attractive mosques in the region, as well as one of the few which are open to non-Muslims for tours. Tours run on Thursdays and are followed by a question-and-answer session about Islam for those who want to know more.
- Shindagha District — Home to the open museums of the Heritage Village, and has the home of former Sheikh Rashid Al-Maktoum.
The Burj al-Arab hotel seen from a nearby hotel.
Don't miss Dubai's overwhelming shopping malls, listed under Buy.
- Burj al-Arab hotel . 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.
- Burj Dubai— Already the world's tallest structure and still growing taller every day, this is one landmark you cannot possibly miss seeing. The exact final height remains a mystery, but it has already passed 600m (100m taller than Taipei 101, the previous record-holder) and is expected to pass 800m before completion in late 2009.
- Palm Islands— The three largest artificial islands in the world.
- 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, meaning you might as well forget a hotel and bathe in the ocean. Very salty though. 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.
- 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.
- Ski . 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 Dhs160 plus Dhs10 for key deposit.
- Wild Wadi . Located in the heart of the city, next to Jumeriah Beach Hotel, this is a water amusement park that is loved by kids as well as adults. It has light as well as adventurous rides; and sports like water surfing. A great way to beat the heat and enjoy the day away from the bustle of the city.
- 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. Admission 3AED.
If interested in more fun things to do while in Dubai, a local company in Dubai called Blue Banana  specializes in activities like racing round the autodrome in an Audi and snorkling and can be arranged before your visit to Dubai.
Dubai has set up a free-zone Knowledge Village  to house institutes and universities, providing both on-line and in-class training. The city also has the American University in Dubai .
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 neighboring 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!
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 competitive rates. 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  has been the biggest shopping event in the middle east for 11 years. Almost every shop has a sale, starting 24 January 08 and ending 24 February. There's also a very similar Dubai Summer Surprises  trying to pull in punters during the summer low season.
- 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 offense or attracting unwanted attention.
- Mercato, +971 04 3444161, [email protected]  Jumeirah Beach Road 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 Road, +971 04 3440111, [email protected] . Shopping for an exclusive gift, unique fashion items, beauty and skin care products? Then Town Centre Jumeirah is Just For You. Offering a stress-free shopping environment 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. Also, Town Centre Jumeirah 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 , Outside Ramadan: Sun-Wed 10AM-10:00PM; Thu-Sat 10AM-12PM (midnight); Ramadan: Sun-Sat: 10AM-1AM. The largest shopping mall outside of North America. 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. Arabian/Middle Eastern souvenir shops upstairs.
- Ibn Battuta Mall, Jebel Ali  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 . 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 , 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.
- Deira City Centre . 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 . 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 , 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) . 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. 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.
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.
Most of the American fast food chains have set up shop in Dubai, including KFC, Chillis, Starbucks and McDonalds. The beauty of the food in Dubai is that you will probably find cuisine for every taste.
Shwarma is the most available (and cheap!) food in Dubai. It is meat that has been cooked on a skewer and then cut into thin strips and placed into a pita bread with vegetables and dressing. It costs about AED 3 (80c) for the plain-jane variety and up to AED 5 ($1.30) for the more exotic Lebanese and Iranian varities. Fala-Fil (Felafel, falafel) is also available at about the same costs as the shawarma.
- Ravi Restaurant, by Satwa roundabout, ☎ 3315353. Excellent Pakistani food that is incredibly cheap. This is a must see for anyone with a spicy tooth. 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.
- 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.
- Lebanese Restaurant, Deira City Centre. No alcohol served.
- 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 ([email protected], 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.
- Tony Roma's, Ibn Batutta Shopping Mall, Jebel Ali Village, Dubai, ☎ +971 4 3685655, . American food.
- London Fish & Chips, Tunisia Food Court, Ibn Batutta Mall, Jebel Ali Village, Dubai, ☎ +971 4 366 9939, . Fish and chips, duh.
- 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, . 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.
- 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) ([email protected]), . 11am to midnight. Traditional & authentic Italian pizza baked in Wood Fired Italian Stone Oven, thin & crispy crust.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
View from Legends Steakhouse
- 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.
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 DJ's 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 only available 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 only be bought 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 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.
- 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, . 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.
- 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.
- 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.
As of 2008, the demand for hotel rooms continues to badly outstrip supply, resulting in some of the most expensive rooms in the world: it's difficult to find anything decent for under Dhs 600 (US$200). Book at least two weeks in advance for a chance at reasonable prices, especially during the September-May high season.
- Al Uruba Hotel, Old Gold Souq, Deira, Dubai P.O. Box 42695 Tel: +971 4 226 6190. Rooms from 90 AED (about 25 USD). Very clean and decent hotel with a prime location in the heart of Dubai.
- Dubai Youth Hostel . There is currently no web-based reservation system. Send them an email and wait for the confirmation or call after sending the mail to confirm. The dorm is currently priced at 95 AED or 27 USD. They have a pool, football field, chill out garden, next to a mosque so it wakes you up early morning, really worth it though, air con in the room with a small bar fridge, bus stop just 100 m from hostel, shopping centre nearby, its in the old town.
- Dream Palace Hotel, Al Muraqabat Street Dubai P.O. Box 82777 ( [http:/en/indexT.htm] Rooms from AED 300.
- Gulf Pearl Hotel, Al Baraha Street, Omar al khattab Road, tel: +971-4-2728333 (mail: P.O. Box 88767, Al Baraha Road, Deira). Rooms from $71.
- New Peninsula Hotel, Mankhool Road, PO Box 33502, Bur Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Rooms from $99.
- Pacific Hotel, Sabakha Street 115, Deira, Dubai, tel: +971-4-2276700 (mail: P.O. Box 21423, Dubai, UAE [email protected], fax: *971-4-2276761) . Rooms from $80.
- Panorama Hotel, Mankhool Road, PO Box 14703, Bur Dubai, United Arab Emirates, tel: +971-4-3518518. Rooms from USD$41.
- Ascot Hotel, Khalid bin waleed Road, Bur Dabai, ph: +971 4-3520900 (mail: PO box 52555, Bur Dabai, Dubai, UAE, email: [email protected], fax: +971 4-3529819) . Has Russian, Irish and Thai themed restaurants. Rooms from $180.
- Avari Hotel, Clock tower, Deira, tel: +971 4 295 6666 , fax: +971 2 295 9359 . Rooms from $152.
- Express By Holiday Inn Dubai-Internet City, Tecom Zone, Knowledge City (25 km to hotel), ☎ +971-4-4275555, . Opened in 2007, this modern hotel is downright luxurious for a Holiday Inn Express, but 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 Dhs 100/day.
- Four Points by Sheraton Downtown, Mankhool Road, 4C Street, ☎ +971-4-3543333, . 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. $200.
- Highland Hotel, Bur Dubai Tel: +971 4 3939773, (Fax: +971 4 3937399 Email: [email protected]). Price range: $122 upwards
- Landmark Plaza Hotel, al Nasser Square, Deira,  Rooms from $108.
- Dar Al Sondos Hotel Apartments by Le Méridien, . Great place for a longer stay. Executive rooms are huge with kitchen. Gym, rooftop swimming pool and shuttle bus to the beach. Friendly service.
- Burj al-Arab , Jumeirah, PO Box 74147, ph: +971-4-3017777 (email: [email protected], fax: +971 4 3017000) . 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 $700 per night.
- Crowne Plaza, Sheikh Zayed Rd.
- Dusit Dubai, 133 Sheikh Zayed Road, PO Box 23335, ph: +971-4-3433333 (fax: +971-4-3434222) . Thai hotel. Rooms from $350.
- Grand Hyatt Dubai, P.O. Box 7978 (by Dubai Creek), ☎ +971 4 317 1234 ([email protected]), . checkin: 12:00pm; checkout: 15:00pm. A resort style hotel with extensive conference facilities.
- Hyatt Regency Dubai, Deira, P.O. Box 5588 (on the Deira Corniche), ☎ +971 4 209 1234 ([email protected]), . 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, PO Box 9255, Dubai (take exit 13 on the Sheikh Zayed Road) tel: +971-4-8836000 (email: [email protected], fax: +971-4-8835543) . Rooms from $400.
- Jumeirah Beach Hotel, PO Box 11416, Dubai, tel: +971-4-3480000 (email: [email protected], fax: +971-4-3482273) . Next to Burj al-ArabBurj al-Arab and run by the same company. Rooms from $700.
- Park Hyatt Dubai, PO Box 2822, ☎ +971 4 602 1234 ([email protected]), . 5 star hotel with a waterfront location next to the Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club.
- Rydges Plaza Dubai, Al Diyafah Street Satwa Roundabout ph 97143982222 - Centrally positioned between the commercial and popular leisure districts of Dubai, with the Jumeira beach front just 10 minutes away. Rydges Hotels and Resorts is an Austrailian owned and operated company.
- Shangri-La Hotel, Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road, PO Box 75880, Dubai, ph: +971-4-3438888 (email: [email protected], fax:+971-4-343 8886) 
- Sheraton Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Al Sufouh Road, P.O. Box 53567, Dubai, tel: +971-4-3995533 (email: [email protected], fax: +971-4-3995577) Rooms from $350. Cheapest beach front 5-star hotel but the hotel, rooms and service is not what you would expect in this category/price.
- Oaks Liwa Heights, Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, ☎ +971 4 4363434 (fax: +971 4 4363444), . 5 star hotel with excellent facilities.
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  and +971 55 xxx yyyy for the GSM provider du .
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  - 90 Dirhams - available at the Duty Free Shop (arrival hall) of Dubai Airport
- du - product Visitor Mobile Line  - 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 cafes are hard to find. There is one at Computer Plaza next to Ramada Hotel in Bur Dubai. Also, the French Connection, Al Wafa Tower on Sheikh Zayed road (opposite side of road from the Dusit Hotel) has wifi access and nice cakes/pastries. Surprisingly the malls do not have internet cafes. Most hotel business centres are equipped with internet cafes, but are expensive.
There is an internet cafe a 5-minute walk south from the Dubai Youth Hostel. Turn right out of the gates and walk to LuLu's Hypermarket. The cafe is located inside the food court and currently charges AED 4.00 per hour. Note that the Skype website is currently blocked however.
Etisalat , UAE's telecom operator, offers a roaming, post paid WiFi internet connection known as iZone . Most coffee shops and malls across Dubai provide this service. Prices are available on their website.
Dubai International Airport (DXB) has free WiFi in the terminal. Bring your laptop with you for using free wifi at some hotels.
Newspapers & Radio: Thanks to the large influx of expatriates, Dubai boasts a wide selection of English Language Newspapers and Radio Channels.
- The Gulf News .
- The Khaleej Times .
- The Gulf Today .
- The National .
- 7 Days .
- Emirates Business 24/7 .
- The Sunday Times .
International Newspapers are also availible in most hotels and airport terminals. Todaily , a local printing house can furnish newspapers and periodicals from around the world on a daily basis.
A list of the local radio stations in a variety of languages can be found online here: .
Like all major metros experiencing rapid growth, Dubai has its share of problems which can be easily avoided should you follow common sense.
While petty crime is hardly reported and mentioned in the news, keep an eye on your wallet or purse when in crowded areas like Naser Square or Deira. Also, don't leave your engine running and vehicle unattended when picking up takeaways or a quick supermarket run as criminal gangs have been known to drive your vehicle away and have it stripped in no time.
Con-men are ever present in Dubai, especially the "Nigeria 419" scammers. Do not arrange meetings or entertain their requests, nor give any personal details. Should they not comply, the police will be happy to listen to them and their propositions.
Eating or drinking publicly during daylight hours is an offence during Ramadan.
Drivers are not always as fond of the road rules in Dubai as in other cities or countries. Particularly during the morning and afternoon rush-hours, taking a taxi, bus or abra is often a better bet than crossing busy roads, as even pedestrian crossings are not always observed.
Gay and lesbian travelers should be particularly careful, the maximum penalty for homosexual acts in the United Arab Emirates is one year in jail but it is hardly enforced. They should be safe as long as they behave in public.
For women; check when going to the old town on Fridays. This can be an unpleasant experience because it is a holiday, the streets are packed with men.
Public display of affection and Kissing is an offense which could lead to up to 6 months in jail.
Tourists are encouraged to wear modest clothes.
All this being said, Dubai is considered to be one of the safest cities in the world.
Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding , 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 3-5 dirhams.
- Dubai has an arrangement with Oman to allow visitors who qualify for an Omani visa on arrival, visiting permission by road through Hatta. Details of the arrangements can be viewed on the official Omani web site .
- While Dubai itself offers ample entertainment and shopping opportunities, tourists may also visit the nearby Emirate of Sharjah for its many museums, beaches and parks. However tourists should be aware that Sharjah is more conservative than nearby Dubai - alcohol is banned in this Emirate and there are heavy penalties if you are caught transporting alcohol. However, if you are transporting alcohol from an emirate where the sale is permitted with a license to another licensed emirate (eg. Fujairah to Dubai), then you are legally allowed to transport alcohol, provided you have the license for your destination emirate. However, this is not common knowledge, even amongst the Sharjah police. Additionally, women are not allowed to wear swimwear on public beaches in Sharjah.
- 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 Iranian island of Kish is close by, and most visitors do not require a visa.