Flights To Dubai
Dubai surpasses the imagination in architectural design with its mass of bold skyscrapers reaching towards heaven, one as impressive as the next. You might imagine you’re landing in Las Vegas but for the lack of neon-lit signage, casinos and dancing girls but still, Dubai is an exciting city that keeps you enthralled from dusk to dawn.
The warm season from late May to late September has temperatures above 37°C with July experiencing highs of 41°C and lows of 31°C. Dubai’s cold season from early December to early March has temperatures of below 27°C and its coldest days during late January encounter lows of 15°C and highs of 23°C. The shortest day for sunlight is 21st December with 10.5 hours while the longest is 20th June with 13.4 hours of sunlight.
For budget travellers summer is the cheapest time to visit with loads of bargains but it’s hot! Ideally the best time to visit is November to March when temperatures are moderate with a possible overcast day and rain.
Visitors have a great choice of hotels from luxury, medium or cheap. Luxury tariffs start from £245 with some offering tented accommodation, plunge pools and sunset camel rides while others offer family-friendly accommodation in ultra-chic villas with superb restaurants and bars. Rates from £37 will accommodate you in a medium range hotel and for £23 you can stay in a cheap hotel.
Dubai has an array of musicals, art, drama, exhibitions and conferences throughout the year with outstanding restaurants and bars that you might forget you’re in an Islamic country under ‘Sharia’ law. Early September puts on ‘Swan Lake Acrobatic Ballet’ by ‘The Great Chinese State Circus’ that will keep you mesmerised every second while late September you’ll be inspired with ‘Arabian Nights’ at the ‘Story Pocket Theatre’. The fantastic ‘Dubai Air Show’ takes place early in November with promises of being even better and bigger this year!
With hundreds of malls to meander through, shopping is a pleasure in the cool air-conditioned environments, where plenty of socialising also takes place. One of most popular malls is ‘Deira City’ but for souvenirs, ‘Madinat Jumeirah’ with its awe inspiring architecture and great atmosphere is the place to be. There are loads of souvenirs to choose from such as carpets and kilims, exotic tapestries, bronze and copper pots, Aladdin lamps, silver daggers (khan jars), fluffy, leather, bronze and wooden camel toys and ornaments, Arabian perfume oils and lots of kitschy items too. When you’ve had enough sun, go skiing at the indoor snow park in the ‘Mall of the Emirates’.
Spend the day viewing or purchasing works of contemporary art from around the Middle East at ‘The Third line’ in Al Khoz or ‘XVA’ in Bastakiya or one of many other galleries.
Historians will delight in alabaster objects dating back to 3000BC at the ‘Dubai Museum’ located beneath the impressive ‘Al Fahidi Fort’, constructed in 1787 and the oldest building in Dubai.
A must is taking a road trip into the desert and visiting the relaxed oasis city of ‘Al Ain’ for a truly authentic Arabian experience. Visit the ‘Archaeological Museum’ and zoo including small but captivating souqs and if you’ve money to spare spend a luxurious night or two at ‘Bag Al Shams’ or ‘Al Maha’, desert resorts and spas with unbelievable scenery, camel rides, desert drives, Arabic feasts and the best of falconry shows.
A trip in a seaplane or helicopter gives you a truly spectacular aerial view of Dubai’s man-made islands ‘The Palms’ and ‘The World’ including ‘Burj Khalifa’, the world’s tallest building and once on firm ground, visit ‘At the Top’, the observation deck on top of ‘Burj Khalifa’.
The cool of evening is perfect for exploring Dubai’s markets (souqs) where you’ll find anything from spices to electronics and take the opportunity to haggle by starting off with 50% off the suggested price and once a price is agreed, purchase your item, as its considered highly ill mannered to walk away and go elsewhere.
Indulge in a taste Dubai’s regional speciality, dates. At ‘Bateel’ found in most malls, try a chocolate-covered date or fizzy date refreshment and for ingredients to take back home purchase some rose syrup and orange blossom water.
In a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere get great value with a delicious Arabian breakfast, salad, sandwich or wrap and a freshly squeezed juice or one of many types of tea at ‘The Arabian Tea House’ set Dubai’s Persian quarter in the courtyard of an old wind-tower building. They open daily from 8 a.m.to 10 p.m. and only accept cash payment.
Enjoy the finest of Moroccan cuisine at the ‘Tagine’ served by friendly waiters along with lively sounds from a Moroccan band. Reservations should be made and credit cards are acceptable.
Savour a delicious cocktail or one of 44 variations of champagne in the elegant ‘Bar 44’ as you take in spectacular vistas over ‘Jumeirah Beach’ and the ‘Dubai Marina’ while listening to soothing sounds of the pianist.
The ‘Irish Village’ is a popular hang-out for Dubai’s expats where you can stretch out on the lawn under the sun, listening to live music or sit inside the beer garden and enjoy a great pub lunch.
For visitors really missing home, in many of the 3, 4 and 5-star hotels you’ll find an ‘Aussie’, ‘Irish’ or ‘British’ themed bar offering inexpensive drinks and food in a lively atmosphere.
Getting Around Dubai
All public transport in Dubai including the ‘Dubai Metro’ and ‘Dubai Bus’ is operated by the government’s Road and Transport Authority.
Using the rail or bus system is much easier and convenient when you purchase ‘NOL’ cards, similar in size to a credit card offering four options. You can preload these cards with any amount between AED14-500 and if your card runs out, simply top it up again.
The Dubai Metro light rail system is safe, comfortable, very clean and great for shopping expeditions with connections to the best malls. Tickets range from £0.30-1.00 (AED1.80-5.80) per trip, dependent on the amount of tiers traversed or travel or purchase a daily ticket for £2.50 (AED14) and see the whole of Dubai in a day.
The Dubai Bus system has modern air-conditioned buses, safe for travel and clean with routes in and around Dubai and air-conditioned bus shelters. Tickets can be purchased at ticket offices, vending machines or sales agents with varying prices. Women should sit in the front of the bus in the women’s section.
Taxis are cheap, clean, reliable and metered. They can be flagged down in the street, found at the malls or outside hotels. The most professional taxi operator in Dubai is the ‘Dubai Taxi Corporation’ that also offers ‘Special Needs’ and ‘Ladies Taxies’. From 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. the flag-fall starts at AED6 while from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. its AED7 with a minimum fare of AED10. You can expect a short taxi ride around the city to cost you between £3.50 (AED20) or up to £14 (AED80) to travel from one end of the city to the other. If you’re a female travelling alone look out for taxies with pink-painted roofs with a female drivers.
Amongst others, familiar car rentals such as ‘Avis’, ‘Europcar’ ‘Budget’ and ‘Thrifty’ are found at the airport, at all major hotels and offices throughout the city. Car hire in Dubai is utilised more by business people or travellers wanting to travel out of Dubai and further into the UAE. To get the best car hire deals book in advance online also bearing in mind that driver’s are reckless, traffic can be chaotic and the UAE is high up on the global list for road death incidents. Avoid driving during sandstorms and look out for camels.
Additionally there are water buses, taxis and ferries that zigzag the Dubai Creek, linking ‘Bur Dubai’ and ‘Deira’ and running along the coast to the ‘Dubai Marina Mall’. The motorised ‘abra’ boats, modelled on traditional vessels, are the most fun with stations located near to ‘Sabkha’, ‘Bur Dubai Souq’, ‘Deira Old Souq’ including others and an evening trip is a must. For a romantic experience you can hire your own motorised ‘abra’ or rowing ‘abra’ from around AE60 per hour.
Getting to and from Dubai International Airport
If your hotel doesn’t provide free transfers from the airport, you can push your way through the waiting crowds to the ‘Dubai Taxi Corporation’ stand, the only taxi operator permitted at the airport, where your flag-fall for a small vehicle is AED20 or AED25 for a larger one. If you have a fair amount of luggage, a taxi is your best option. If travelling light take either the ‘Dubai Metro’ or ‘Dubai Bus’ or a combination of both to reach your destination, alternatively hire a vehicle with your preferred car rental agency, from one of dozens in the arrivals area but don’t, if there’s a long queue, accept a ride with any plain-clothed people hissing ‘taxi taxi’ as they’re illegal operators.
Women should dress modestly with long skirts, tops with sleeves and no revealing or tight clothing while men can wear jeans or trousers and shirts with sleeves. Swimming attire should only be worn at hotel pools or the beach to avoid being fined or landing up in jail. Don’t eat, drink, swear, make rude gestures or display affection to the opposite sex in public and unless married, do not share a room with the opposite sex and don’t take pictures of any Sheikhs’ palaces, ports, military buildings, airports or police stations.