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Dubai

Dubai is one of seven Emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates (UAE) located in the eastern Arabian peninsula.

Dubai could be described as the bridge between western values and eastern tradition. The UAE is one of the most liberal countries in the Gulf, with other cultures and beliefs generally tolerated. Basically, the emiratis (the people) go on the principle that if you respect my beliefs and customs, I will respect yours. Muslim religious laws should be observed. Women are expected to dress modestly (bikinis only on the beach or at the pool) and men should dress more formally (sometimes jacket and tie) for most occasions. Alcohol is tolerated, with non-Muslims allowed to drink alcohol in the city’s bars, restaurants, clubs and hotels. Smoking is banned in public places. Under 20’s are not allowed to buy tobacco products and are forbidden to enter designated smoking areas. It is illegal to eat, drink or smoke in public during Ramadan (2011 – 1st to 29th August).

Would you like to snow ski when it’s 40° C (104° F) outside. No problem. Petals plucked from flowers and artistically arranged over fresh linen towels for when you wash your hands. Sorted. In reality, Dubai has just about everything a visitor could dream of…

Location

Middle East. (6 hours flying time from London, U.K.)

Area

77,700 sq km (30,000 sq miles).

Population

4.7 million (UN – 2010).

Population Density

59 per sq km

Languages Spoken

Arabic and English in the main. However, a host of other languages are spoken within the tourist industry.

Visa Requirements

It might be necessary to apply for a visa prior to your arrival. Citizens of first world countries such as USA, UK, Australia etc. can obtain a visa on arrival. Check to confirm the visa requirement for your country when booking.

Weather

Dubai has two seasons. Hot and very hot. It is described as a sub tropical arid climate. The hottest months are between June and September and the coolest between December and March with very little rainfall recorded in summer. Rainfall has increased in recent years to an annual average of 150 mm (6 inches). On occasions, artificial rain is created by the release of chemicals into the atmosphere.

In summer, temperatures can reach 55° C (130° F) on a regular basis. On average, though, summers reach an average high of 40° C (104° F) with an overnight low of 30° C (86° F). In winter, the climate is very pleasant with temperatures at midday in the high 20’s (80° F plus) dropping at night to a low of 15° C (60° F).

When to go

November to March is generally considered the best time to visit Dubai. The shopping festival takes place in January each year.

Historical places

Dubai Creek – a natural sea water inlet which cuts through the centre of the city, is the historical focal point of life in Dubai. Taking a stroll along its banks evokes the city’s centuries-old trading traditions.
Hatta – 115 km southeast of Dubai city, in the foothills of the majestic Hajjar mountains, Hatta affords the visitor with a fascinating glimpse into Dubai’s historical past.
Dubai Museum at Al Fahidi Fort – A Visit to the Dubai museum is a must on most Dubai itinerary’s.
Bastakiya – the old Bastakiya district with its narrow lanes and tall wind-towers gives an enticing glimpse of old Dubai.

Bucket & Spade

Jumeira beach – the beach is a single long stretch fragmented by clubs and hotels. Stunning! There is another beach at Al Mamzar Park in Deira, Dubai.

Things To Do

There is so much that a few words here would be an injustice. Highlights include:

The Gold Souk in Dubai. This place is popular for shops selling literally tons of gold. You will NOT find this much gold anywhere else in the world. (Pay by the gramme).
Nearby is the spice souk, where it is possible to buy saffron at reasonable prices (remember to haggle).

Desert Safari (aka Dune Bashing).

Palm Island – one of the few man-made structures visible from space.

Burg Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. Perhaps go up to the observation deck.

Hot air ballooning

Dubai at night on a double decker bus.

Burj Al Arab, the famous 7 star hotel shaped like a sail.

Dhow cruise

With everything that Dubai has to offer, riding a camel might be considered passé!

Footnote: Alcohol prices are expensive so take your own (within the current allowances). If you forget, alcohol can be bought on arrival in Dubai at the duty free shop. In fact, most items can be purchased from the duty free shop on arrival but, if the item needs to come from the departures lounge, be prepared to wait 30 minutes.

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