Dubai City Guide
Stepping off the plane in Dubai is like stepping into a new, glittering world. One of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Dubai has firmly established itself on the world’s map as a financial powerhouse and a tourist’s dream.
A city of gleaming buildings set against a desert backdrop with the deep blue waters of the Persian Gulf before it, Dubai is picture-perfect and aims to the please tourists that respect its culture and laws. With a booming economy, excess is the epitome of Dubai, and visitors are dazzled the glamour and glitz the city presents.
How to get there and get around
Most visitors arrive at Dubai by airplane, most often disembarking at the main airport in the region, Dubai International Airport. There are two other choices for air travel, and international flights arrive multiple times a day.
You can drive in through the country of Oman, or take a bus from one of the other six emirates. Dubai also has a cruise ship terminal for visitors coming in via a pleasure cruise.
Dubai offers one of the best public transportation systems in the Middle East, with metro lines, buses, monorails and trams. It is possible to get almost everywhere within the city using public transportation. For those who want to move more on their own speed, taxis are available, but are appreciably more expensive than the metro. You can rent a car for very cheap rates, and many car rental places hire out cars with drivers by the day.
What to see and do
Even as the shopping beckons, make time to visit the historic Old Dubai. Meander in and out of old stone schools, mosques (please wear appropriate conservative clothing), cobbled streets and old style bazaars, called souks. There you can find handcrafted items, spices, baked goods, and traditional gifts that the higher end stores most likely don’t carry. Shopkeepers in the souks treasure haggling, and even a simple question like “What is your best price?” should bring on a delighted smile and a hearty exchange that will result in you getting a better deal.
Dubai has huge shopping malls and centers, with new merchandise arriving daily from the port. Shops tend to open as early as 9 am and stay open late, often until around 10 pm. The largest mall has over 1200 shops of brand-name goods, so wear comfortable clothing if you’re going to spend the day shopping; the stores are endless! From high-end clothing and jewelry to electronics, textiles, and art, the selection can be overwhelming.
Visitors to Dubai can also choose to spend the day on white sand beaches: there is swimming, parasailing, boating or snorkeling. Catch a short cruise, or go fishing off a charter boat. If getting into the desert calls to you, make sure to try a desert safari and go four-wheeling over the dunes!
What to eat
Shawarma, the Arabic equivalent of a hamburger, is the most common street food in Dubai; it is ground meat cooked on a skewer, and then served on pita bread with dressing and vegetables. Stalls selling this traditional food are found throughout the city, and it is a dish every visitor should try. For vegetarians the choice is limited but for a vegetarian treat, try the falafel; made from ground chickpeas and spices, balls of falafel are fried and served in much the same way as Shawarma.
Arabic flavors and spices are the most prevalent in smaller cafes and restaurants, with excellent lamb, mutton, beef or chicken dishes. To cater for tourists and immigrant workers, there are a number of international restaurants and ethnic cuisines established over the last decade, so if you’re searching for late night Chinese food, you can most likely find it.
Dos and dont's
Dubai, though very liberal in comparison to many countries of the region, does have strict laws governing behavior from locals and tourists alike.
Alcohol consumption should only be in licensed bars or private clubs, most of which are all found in the 4- and 5-star hotels.
Dial down public affection: handholding, kissing, or hugging can get you arrested in Dubai. The trains are segregated into male and female carriages except for the "gold" section wich costs roughly 50% more than the standard ticket.
Dress modestly and conservatively, and remember that swimwear is only permissible at private pools or in designated areas at the beach. Swearing is frowned upon, conversation with local women is discouraged, and smoking in public can get you fined.
Check with your local consulate or do research before heading to Dubai to make sure you understand the cultural norms and are comfortable with staying within those guidelines.
Where to stay
Accommodations abound in Dubai, for almost every budget; from high-end luxury apartment rentals and stellar rooms to quiet private apartment rentals and cheap sleeps such as hostels. This potentially record breaking complex is on the rise which will be a huge game changer in the already incredible range of possibilities Dubai has to offer. World Escape is here to help you find your perfect home away from home.