Dubai is one of the most visited places on Earth. Known for its lavish shopping, luxurious hotels and resorts, popular nightlife, awe-inspiring architecture, and the bigger and better everything. However, before travelers make a trip to this jaw-dropping city, there are a few very important things they should know.
While this spectacular city is one of the more westernized cities in the Middle East, there are still laws and strict rules present here. One of the main concerns for travelers is what to wear. In public areas, it's best to dress modestly, showing respect to the local habits of the country. However, as long as you stay in tourist hotspots and hotels (which you will later read are mainly the places to party and drink), you can pretty much wear what you want.
Don't be afraid to visit the country either. While there is unrest in other parts of the Middle East, the UAE is one of the safest countries in the world. Also, you don't need to be a millionaire to travel here. Budget-friendly hotels are booming in this opulent city and you can get some of the best and authentic food in and around Al Muraqqabat Road and Al Rigga Road in Deira.
Dubai is continuing to grow and is always looking forward, working with high-tech companies and always thinking bigger. You will be amazed at how fast this city has developed and how much fun memories you can make here if you adhere to the rules and respect the people and its culture.
20 You Don't Need To Be Rich
Dubai is known for being the world's most luxurious city, however, you don't need to be a millionaire to visit this lavish area. You can most certainly enjoy Dubai on a budget. Stay at one of the city's hotel chains such as the Hilton Garden Inn, take taxis and the metro, which are fairly cheap and try delicious food from all over the world wandering the streets of Deira. Inexpensive gourmet food is not hard to find in Dubai and if you are looking for some retail therapy, but can't splurge, check out the Deira markets or the Dubai Creek and do some haggling.
19 You Should Try To Dress Modestly In Public Areas
Dubai is part of the United Arab Emirates, a Muslim nation, which means you should consider dressing a little more modest in public areas and follow the dress code when visiting a Mosque. While you won't be arrested or asked to change your clothes, it's important to respect the local culture. According to The Travelista blog, shoulders should be covered, don't show too much leg, and consider pairing a maxi skirt with a t-shirt and some fashion jewelry. However, if you are in one of the many hotel spaces, pretty much any clothing is acceptable. So if you're in a hotel offering day beach clubs, you're allowed to lounge in your bikini all day.
18 It Can Get Very Hot
Dubai pretty much only experiences two seasons, hot and hotter. During the summer, Dubai is extremely hot, dry and humid, and temperatures can reach a staggering 113 degrees for many days. The best times to go and visit Dubai is from November to March, where during the winter months, the city has beautiful clear, blue skies and the best beach weather. During those same months, you'll also experience plenty of tourists and a lot of people on Jumeirah Beach, Dubai's most popular beach with white sand and gorgeous waters. You can skip all the tourists if you visit during the summer, but be prepared for the scorching heat.
17 Take A Trip To The Burj Khalifa
You can't travel to Dubai without visiting the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa. The skyscraper holds awe-inspiring figures including, being the tallest building at 2,716.5 feet tall and containing more than 160 stories. It also holds the record of the tallest free-standing structure in the world, the highest occupied floor in the world, and the highest observation deck in the world. You must visit the observation deck while visiting the Burj Khalifa, if you aren't afraid of heights since it provides stunning views of the city. The surrounding gardens are also a must-see and a wonderful place to walk through.
16 Hotels Are Usually Where You'll Find Stylish Bars And Clubs
Dubai has some of the most vibrant clubs and bars in the world, with most clubs packed on Thursday and Friday nights. There are numerous bars and clubs in the city; however, you will most likely find them in hotels due to the various licensing laws in the UAE. Come dressed in your best club attire, since some of the swankier and exclusive clubs hire bouncers who supposedly let the best-dressed people in first. Ladies night is on Tuesday, which means women can enjoy free drinks, while there are all-you-can-eat-and-drink brunches on Fridays. If you plan on drinking at one of these stylish clubs, make sure to take a cab back to your hotel or wherever you plan to go to after. The UAE has a very strict zero-tolerance approach to drinking and driving.
15 Dubai Has A Very Unique Culture
While Dubai is known for its lavish shopping, jaw-dropping skyscrapers, a lively nightlife scene, beautiful resorts, and numerous restaurants, don't forget that the city still holds a lot of cultures. You'll discover rich cultures that combine Arab, Bedouin and Islamic traditions. To learn about the history, visit the Etihad Museum or the Dubai Museum, where you'll see exhibits of Bedouin life in the desert and rooms showcasing archeological findings. If you are a foodie, take a food tour where you'll have traditional Emirati meals while inside a traditional courtyard restaurant. Also, make your way to the Sheikh Mohammad Center of Cultural Understanding for a Q&A session, diving deeper into Emirati culture.
14 Take A Desert Safari
Dubai is known as the desert city, so it is a must for travelers who are looking for an adventure to embark on a desert safari. Take a backseat or if you prefer to sit in the front, and hold tight as a driver will whip around the sand dunes, going up and dipping down sandy slopes and offering you the time of your life. There are an array of activities while in the desert, including taking an off-road adventure in a quad bike and navigating the sandy area yourself, sandboarding down dunes as if you're snowboarding, and if you want something more luxurious, stay overnight in the desert at Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa in a lavish tented-style villa.
13 If You Love To Eat, You'll Love This City
Dubai's main restraints take inspiration from Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine, which means you can encounter hot spots that serve anything from Indian to Korean food. Camel is a popular dish in Dubai and many Emirati dishes include the animal in their ingredients. While hotels will offer numerous restaurants with delicious food, there is nothing better than trying some local cuisine and checking out the street food. Don't forget to try an authentic Shawarma, made with either thinly sliced chicken, lamb or beef, rolled in a soft flatbread filled with vegetables, onions and a yummy spicy cream sauce.
12 You Don't Need To Wear A Different Bathing Suit
Expats make up 85% of the population of Dubai, so you don't need to cover your hair, and t-shirts and shorts are fine, too. While at a private beach, there is no need to cover up. You can wear a bikini on the beach or by the pool. Hotels own most of the well-known beaches, so it’s acceptable to wear whatever you usually wear to the beach while at home. If you are visiting a public beach, you might want to skip the bikini, or at least cover it up. If you are dining at one of the many restaurants near the beach, you can wear your bikini, but it's better to cover it up with shorts and a shirt, or a beach dress.
11 Dubai Wants To Resemble Orlando
Orlando, Florida is home to more than a dozen theme parks, with Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando and the Magic Kingdom as some of the most famous. Dubai aims to rival Orlando, opening four major theme parks in 2016 alone. The most thrilling theme parks include the Aquaventure Waterpark, where you'll find 90-foot slides where and exit into a shark-infested lagoon, the Wild Wadi Waterpark, themed around the Arabian folklore character, Juha, Ski Dubai, a massive space covered in snow all year, and IMG Worlds of Adventure, the largest indoor theme park in the world, with plenty of rides for any thrill seeker. The city is set to open Six Flags in late 2019, which will have the largest rollercoaster on the planet.
10 Don't Skip The City's Historical Sites
Dubai may have everything you could think of when it comes to vacation, but you shouldn't forget to check out some of the city's most historic sites. Take a walk through Dubai's Old Town, home to traditional markets and authentic cultural experiences. Discover the city's nearby mountain town of Hatta, where you'll be transported back in time. In Hatta, citadels, forts, and towers will surround you, which date back centuries. It's also important to visit the newly opened Saruq Al-Hadid Archeology Museum, which features artifacts and interactive displays of the story of the Iron Age in the Middle East.
9 It Is Not A Dry City
Many people believe that Dubai is a dry city, however, you can find alcohol available in licensed bars and restaurants, which are usually in the plethora of hotels. The legal age to consume alcohol is 21, so make sure you have your I.D. in hand. It is unacceptable to drink in public places and beaches and the city is extremely strict about public intoxication. Even with a few strict laws, the wine, beer, and cocktails at the many hotel bars, restaurants and clubs are exceptional. You can find some of the best bartenders and sommeliers in Dubai who have mastered the art of mixing cocktail drink recipes.
8 Visit The Dubai Mall For Retail Therapy
You can't go to Dubai without checking out the shopping scene. The Dubai Mall has designer stores, restaurants, arcades, a cinema complex, and even an ice skating rink all within a multi-million dollar structure that is stunning just to look at. The Dubai Mall is the second largest mall in the world by total land area. You can literally spend an entire day here if you wanted since there are over 1,200 stores and plus, it's a great place to check out if you wanted to escape the brutal heat. After you've shopped until you've dropped, check out the Dubai Aquarium, located on its ground level, which houses the world's largest acrylic panel. The panel even made it to the Guinness Book of World Records.
7 Dubai Is Very Safe
Dubai is a very safe city compared to other larger cities around the world and it is probably even safer than where you live! According to SafeAround.com, the most common risk is pickpocketing. Street crime is rare, mugging is unlikely and it is safe to take taxis at night. Another thing that tourists should be cautious about is crossing the street since many motorists tend to ignore pedestrian crossings, so make sure to look both ways a couple of times before crossing the street. Despite the tension in the region, the UAE is actually one of the safest Middle Eastern countries for travelers thanks to its stricter laws. Although it is one of the more westernized cities in the Middle East, it is also important to respect the culture and remember to dress modestly in areas that aren't tourist hotspots.
6 Taxis Are Handy
If you are on a budget, taking a taxi is your best option to get around the city. According to The Travelista blog, taxis are "dirt-cheap" and they are incredibly handy. Few drivers are fluent in English and many drivers are more familiar with landmarks than street names. It helps drivers when travelers mention certain shopping malls, parks or hotel names when giving directions. Most cabs are okay with traveling long-distance to other emirates, but it is best to negotiate a price at the start of a trip. After your taxi ride, it is best to tip the driver 10% if the service was good.
5 Weekends In Dubai Are Friday And Saturday
In Dubai, the weekend is Friday and Saturday, with Thursday and Friday nights being the busiest, as Thursday is the last day of the workweek. As we mentioned before, if you are looking for places to party on these particular days, hotspots are restricted mostly to large hotels as these bars, clubs, and restaurants have liquor licenses. The crowds are mainly a mix of people from both Eastern and Western origin. According to Lonely Planet, Dubai Metro services begin at 10 a.m. on Fridays, and businesses are traditionally closed for a few hours in the afternoon, although many remain open all day. On Thursdays and Fridays, you'll also find most people shopping in malls until midnight.
4 You Can Be Arrested For PDA
Dubai has a number of social rules including that couples do not show any public displays of affection like kissing or even holding hands. Hotels may even require couples to show a marriage license since couples that are unmarried are usually not allowed to stay in a hotel room together. While these rules may sound bizarre to some, the United Arab Emirates laws translate into low crime rates. Don't forget that you are in a Muslim nation and that its local laws reflect the fact that Islamic practices are still in effect. There have even been arrests for public displays of affection, so save kisses and hugs for when you return home.
3 Don't Snap Too Many Pictures
Be cautious when taking photographs in Dubai. Taking photos of locals, especially women without their permission is considered illegal and can even lead to arrest or fines. Travelers are tempted to take photos of new places and experiences, however, make sure that you get proper consent if you find yourself photographing women and children. Despite some restrictions, you can take photos of places like the stunning Grand Mosque, gardens and iconic buildings and the vast desert. Refrain from taking photos of government buildings, the presidential palace, the Dubai Metro and the airport, which can also lead to arrest.
2 Dubai Is Famous For Its Brunches
Forget brunch in New York, Dubai wins when it comes to serving up tasty meals and fruity cocktails during the early afternoon. Brunch is an institution in the city and there are a plethora of restaurants to choose from. Brunch is usually on Friday, the first day of the weekend and held in hotels citywide. Brunches are extremely lavish, can last hours, with D.J.'s spinning music, fancy foods and bubbly always available. There is a restaurant for everyone and you can easily find different cuisines and beverages from around the world. Don't forget to make reservations and make them early so you get a table at one of these brunch party affairs.
1 It Is Home To Many Of The Biggest Things In The World
The bigger the better seems to be Dubai's motto. The city has the tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, the highest waterslide, at 33 meters high, the biggest hotel suite, located at the H Dubai, and the highest roof terrace bar, on the rooftop of the H Hotel, 40 floors above the busy Sheikh Zayed Road, and the biggest burger weighing in at six pounds. Of course, that's just naming a few of the biggest things in Dubai; it is truly amazing how forward-looking the city is. According to Lonely Planet, the government is working with high-tech companies to develop self-driving cars, flying drone taxis, and 3D organ printing.