Explore Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Explore Dubai, one of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates. It is rather like an independent city-state and is the most modern and progressive emirate in the UAE, developing at an unbelievable pace in the tourist and trade sectors especially. Recently Dubai won the bid to host EXPO 2020, a Universal scale Registered Exposition approved by the Bureau of International Expositions (BIE), Paris.
Dubai is the most beautiful city in the United Arab Emirates. Dubai was gaining popularity in recent years until the global economic crash of 2008. Dubai is essentially a desert city well with superb infrastructure, liberal policies (by regional standards), that became popular for its excellent tourist amenities. Just 5 h from Europe and 3 h from most parts of the Middle East, the Near East, and the subcontinent of India, Dubai makes a great short break for shopping, partying, sunbathing, fine dining, sporting events, and even a few sinful pleasures. It is a city of superlatives: for the fastest, biggest, tallest, largest and highest, Dubai is the destination. It has the largest immigrant population in the world. The weekly day off is on Friday.
Districts of Dubai
Dubai is divided into multiple districts or municipalities:
- Jumeirah— A diverse district whose residents are the Europeans to the Filipinos to the Pakistanis; a mixed Little Europe, Karachi and Manila. Jumeirah is much favoured by Europeans due to the ease of access of the beach, Beautiful villas are seen here. Jumeirah Beach, Jumeirah Beach Residence’s the Walk and Jumeirah Mosque are the top attractions.
- Downtown Dubai— While Bur Dubai and Deira are traditionally considered “Downtown”, the Downtown Dubai development is smack in the center of the “New Dubai,” between Dubai Marina on the south end and the border with the city of Sharjah to the north. It includes the Burj Khalifa (tallest building in the world), the Dubai Mall (world’s biggest), Dubai Fountain, and lots of other skyscrapers and hotels.
- Dubai Harbour— Set to open in October 2020, Dubai Harbour will be an iconic, innovative and luxurious waterfront development, creating a world-class maritime facility with the biggest and most advanced cruise terminal and marina in the region. Inspired by the Gulf’s long tradition with the sea, Dubai Harbor is set to further enhance the position of Dubai as a leading global hub for maritime tourism, attracting visitors from all over the world. Located right in the heart of Dubai, in the vibrant area between the iconic Blue waters and Palm Jumeirah, Dubai Harbor is a stone’s throw away from the city’s most recognized landmarks, beautiful beaches and world-famous attractions.
- Dubai Marina— is a mega-development that borders Jebel Ali (the world’s largest man-made port). It is full of skyscrapers and hosts the “Jumeirah Beach Walk” with a number of restaurants, hotels an open-air market when the weather permits, and frequent shows. Dubai Marina houses one of the highest concentrations of Westerns in Dubai. There are many hotels surrounding Dubai Marina.
- Satwa— One of Dubai’s Little India and Little Manila, due to the presence of Filipinos and Indians, a rise in Filipino and Indian restaurants, shops, supermarkets are seen here. Gold and textiles is what people come here for, Gold Souk might be your top destination but Satwa too has gold shops and is hassle free, not so crowded.
- Karama— More of like a mixed commercial residential district, one of Dubai’s Little Indias and Little Manilas, cheap eats and cheap buys are the top things here.
- Bur Dubai— A historical district and Bur Dubai is usual term for the area from Jumeirah to the creek, the creek separates Bur Dubai from Deira. Tourist attractions from abras to souks to floating restaurants to the famous creek are found here.
- Bluewaters— is a vibrant lifestyle destination featuring distinctive residential, retail, hospitality, and entertainment options. All who arrive are spoilt for choice. Home to Ain Dubai, the world’s largest observation wheel, it is also a shopper’s paradise, housing unique retail and dining concepts.
- Deira— Dubai’s old financial centre, today Deira is a bustling commercial-residential district with some old souks, including one specializing in spices.
- Arabian Ranchesand Emirates Hills — These are two separate places, residential rents here are expensive due to the land value, just like the whole of Dubai, these two are Man-made.
- Mirdiff/ A commercial-residential district which is somewhat newly built and lies directly under the flight path to Dubai International Airport. Mirdif City Center is one of the attractions. This is another residence for the well-to-do.
- International City. Just a simple residential area in the middle of the desert, what’s special about it is its architectural design, the residential rents here are cheap and is somewhat the next Chinatownas many Chinese businessmen and women reside here.
- Jebel Ali. Once isolated from the main bulk of Dubai back in the 70’s, Jebel Ali is now a major residential and industrial hub encompassing the southern portions of the city. The main attraction popular with locals and tourists alike is the easily recognizable Ibn Battuta Mall, styled on the countries visited by the famous explorer. The mall is built adjacent to the Ibn Battuta Gate Hotel that’s large archway can be seen from afar. Surrounding the mall is the Gardens apartments, an ethnically diverse district with a strong Indian community. Jebel Ali village, a 35 year old community built on the side of Jebel Ali (Ali Mountain) for the European builders of Jebel Ali Port is still popular with western expats. The coastal side of the Sheihk Zayed Road in Jebel Ali consists of many unattractive power and desalination plants that somewhat ruin the view. The port was the 9th busiest in the world in 2011.
Dubai has an arid sub-tropical climate with very hot, humid summer weather.
Dubai’s main airport is the Dubai International Airport. You can also enter Dubai by using Sharjah International Airport (SHJ) in the nearby emirate of Sharjah and Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) in nearby Abu Dhabi.
After the launch of the metro, Dubai’s public transport system is probably the best in the Middle East, but it’s still a very car-oriented city and most visitors end up taking taxis quite often. The Wojhati journey planner can suggest the best way to travel.
What to eat
Shawarma is the most available food item on almost all streets (and cheap!) in Dubai. It is the Arabic equivalent of the Burger. It is meat that has been cooked on a skewer and then cut into thin strips and placed into a kuhbus (pita) bread with vegetables and dressing. The Shawarma sold by Indian restaurants are arguably the cheapest.
Another local snack is Fala-Fil (Felafel, Falafel) also available at about the same costs as the shawarma.
Most of the American fast food chains have set up shop in Dubai, including KFC, Chillis, TGI Fridays, Starbucks and McDonalds. The beauty of the food in Dubai is that you will probably find cuisine for every taste.
For Indians (and vegetarians) Dubai has a big selection of budget Indian vegetarian food. Dosa, vada, idlee, samosa, chapaati/roti, with generous servings of sabji (cooked vegetable stew) are available at throwaway prices, typically less than 10Dhs ($2.5) per course. Bur Dubai (particularly Meena Bazaar area) and Karama are the places that abound in these restaurants. Most of them are open from 7AM till 10PM or 11PM throughout the week.
As Dubai has grown from a small town into a bustling city, so has the nightlife scene. Most 3 to 5 star hotels have bars and nightclubs for those interested in the nightlife. World-class DJs frequent Dubai’s nightclubs and many A-list musical celebrities are adding Dubai to their list of tour dates.
However, Dubai has several laws regarding alcohol which tourists should be aware of before visiting:
- Alcohol is available only at licensed premises, usually attached to hotels (most nightclubs and bars are in or attached to hotels, though they may have separate entrances).
- Alcohol is not sold on religious holidays, nor during daylight hours in Ramadan (even to non-Muslims).
- It is illegal to drink alcohol in public places, and there is a zero-tolerance policy on drunk driving. Anyone involved in a collision found with alcohol in their blood will usually get a month’s jail sentence and fine.
- Remember to carry some sort of identification when visiting a bar if you are young, as you will not be let in otherwise. The law prohibits anyone below 21 to enter.
- The Authorities take disruptive behavior while intoxicated very seriously, which as you can imagine will lead to jail time or deportation.
Dubai has its share of problems. Dubai is governed by a strict interpretation of Islamic law which must be respected by all travelers. Do not publicly criticize or distribute material against Islam. Eating in public during the holy month of Ramadan is prohibited from sunrise until sunset and visitors should consume meals in the confines of their hotel or residence; some restaurants stay open with a curtain over their door at this time. Many shopping malls offer this service. If you ask at an information desk someone will direct you.
In conversations about politics and world affairs, avoid criticizing the ruling family of any of the seven Emirates or prominent business families.
While petty crime is hardly reported or mentioned in the news, keep an eye on your wallet or purse when in crowded areas like Naser Square or Deira in general.
Conmen are ever present in Dubai, especially scammers.
Thanks to Dubai’s new property boom, real estate fraudsters are also popping up, so exercise caution if you are there to shop around for a new home.
Public display of affection is frowned upon and public sexual acts can lead to jail time followed by deportation. If all tourists remain respectful and decent at all times and ensure that they do not upset the local people in any way whatsoever, there should hopefully be no problems.
The United Arab Emirates might seem to have more relaxed laws than their other Arab counterparts, but the laws are still very different from most Western countries, and their laws are strictly enforced. A simple kiss in a public place, having an alcoholic drink in the wrong place or even losing your temper could land you a month or more in jail. Please exercise caution and common sense when visiting and make sure you are aware of all their laws, or expect severe consequences that could seriously ruin your vacation and/or life.
If you have time you should visit
- Neighboring Sharjah, while dry (no alcohol) and mostly suburban, has a few beaches and museums of interest.
- The capital of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi, is worth the one and a half hour ride to see it.
- The city of Al Ain located near to the borders with Oman is surprisingly a city of lush gardens and trees – an aspect quite unusual in this part of the land considering its desert surroundings.
- Visit the peaceful Umm Al Quwain emirate if you want a cosy and relaxing environment, free from city hustle and bustle.
- The outskirts of Fujairah (a hilly Emirate) have a lot of beach resorts to get relaxed at weekends.
- Dubai has an arrangement with Oman to allow visitors who qualify for an Omani visa on arrival by road through. Cost of a 10-day tourist visa is OMR 5 (can be paid with card).
Official tourism websites of Dubai
For more information please visit the official government website: