In only fifty years this little Muslim pearl-fishing village wedged between the Arabian Gulf and the desert has transformed itself into a ritzy, mega-rich R&R stop of sun, sand, shopping and spa. And what it doesn’t have, it’s building. So c’mon Aladdin, rub that magic lamp...
Make allowances for traffic. If you take The Gulf as north and Dubai Creek as your centre, then Deira, the original old quarter is east, downtown Dubai is to the west, encompassing happening hubs Dubai Mall, sky-high Burj Khalifa and its dancing fountains, and continuing west along the coast are glitzy Jumeirah and Dubai Marina.
Weather: the perfect time to visit is Nov-Apr, take a pash for the cooler evenings; avoid Jul-mid-Sep when temperatures can soar to the high 40s Don’t use sunscreen, use sunBLOCK Check ahead and plan around Ramadan month when the city fasts from sunrise to sunset, or the prophet’s birthday when bars are shut and virtue is essential Dubai Int’l Airport to Emirates Towers: 25 mins / Dhs 60 English is widely spoken, and the people are friendly Dubai lacks a proper address system and landmarks are often used instead. Get your concierge or driver to call ahead, or get a map faxed if in doubt The metro is cheap and handy for mall hopping, but taxis are plentiful and the easiest way to get around Events to watch for: Dubai World Cup (Mar) – geegees (sans gambling); Dubai Desert Classic – golf (Jan-Mar); Art Dubai – int’l contempo art fair (Mar); Rugby 7s – strapping men in shorts (Nov/Dec); Dubai Food Festival (Feb-Mar) – top chef extravaganza; Dubai Film Festival (Dec) – Clooney and Cruise fest Dubai’s weekend is Fri-Sat. Some small shops don’t open until 4pm on Fridays, but all of the big malls open from 10am and trade until late The city is very safe, there is virtually no crime Dubai is remarkably liberal both in behaviour and dress, but egregious displays of anger or saucy behaviour are frowned upon, and there is a ZERO tolerance of drink-driving. Offenders go directly to jail Alcohol is served only in restos/bars attached to hotels, and the prices charged are often criminal Tipping is not obligatory, but appreciated Currency: officially the AED; but many pricing labels use Dhs. Dhs 3.67 = US$1 fixed Country code is +971 and 4 for Dubai, local mobiles start with 050 or 055 and landlines 04 Police and ambulance 999, fire 997
The following Arabic phrases will come in handy...
Marhaba : Well, hello there Shukran : Thanks, awfully Shway, shway! : Slow down, Abdul! Where’s the fire?