Dubai Travel Guide
A relatively new tourist destination, Dubai has gained in popularity in the recent years. It i s essentially a desert city with superb infrastructure, liberal policies and excellent tourist amenities. Just 5 hrs from Europe and 3 hrs from most parts of Asia, Dubai makes a great short break for shopping, partying, sunbathing, fine dining, sporting events, and even a few sinful pleasures. It i s a city of superlatives: for the fastest, biggest, tallest, largest and highest, Dubai i s the destination.
The weekly day off i s on Friday. Government departments are off on Friday and Saturday while a lot of multi-nationals are off on Friday and Saturday. Most local companies work a half day on Thursday. Note that, Since September 2006, a harmonised weekend of Friday and Saturday adopted for the public sector and schools.
The city of Dubai i s situated on a coastal strip bordered by desert and gets very hot and humid in the summer. Cooler, more pleasant weather lasts from the end of September to begining of May. In May, June, July, August and September the sun i s intense and temperatures can touch 50 degree Celsius in the city and even higher in the desert! The heat coupled with humidity of 80-90% near the coast effectively precludes most activity outdoors for the daylight hours during summer.
January and February generally produce the highest precipitation.
Get in Dubai
Dubai International Airport (DXB) i s the largest hub in the Middle East and the home base of the Dubai’s flag carrier Emirates. The airport i s famous for its duty-free shopping Alcohol i s also available at an inbound duty free store situated in the baggage reclaim area. The allowance i s 4 bottles (or four 6 packs) per person.
Sharjah International Airport (SHJ) i s located in the emirate of Sharjah. It i s only half an hour by road from Dubai and i s taking an increasing number of international flights as Dubai airport struggles to keep up with demand. A taxi ride to Dubai will typically cost Dhs 50. The airport i s fairly basic but i s being expanded.
Dubai World City (JXB) recently announced to be ready for 2010.
Frequent visitors from countries granted automatic visa on entry may wish to purchase an e-gate card to speed up immigration formalities and save passport pages. The e-gate card office i s situated in the upstairs foodcourt area of the departures concourse. The card will cost AED 150. Note: If you intend to buy an e-gate card in Dubai, you must have entered United Arab Emirates via Dubai airport and not Sharjah.
Dubai’s only international road border i s with Oman at Al Wajajah. Expatriate residents of Oman will require an official permit to exit Oman by road. Visitors do not require the permit. There i s an OMR 3.000 charge per vehicle to exit Oman and, if returning, retain the charge receipt as it will be required to reenter. Ensure that insurance i s valid for the United Arab Emirates (preferably before commencing the journey). Temporary United Arab Emirates insurance can be purchased at the border for a premium price. Exiting Oman i s fairly orderly but several kilometres down the road, entry into the United Arab Emirates i s totally disorganised; so, be prepared for a wait.
There are also road borders between the neighboring Emirate of Abu Dhabi and Oman at the Al Burami Oasis which divides the sister cites of Al Ain, United Arab Emirates and Al Burami, Oman. Some people have experienced problems entering Oman at the Al Wajajah post and reentering the United Arab Emirates at Al Burami Oasis.
Dubai i s a trading hub for dhows from around the Indian Ocean. Travellers wanting to arrive in the city this way will probably need to make their own arrangements with the captain of the vessel.
Get around Dubai
Dubai has a good bus service with buses at intervals of about 20 min in general. However the bus service i s not recommended for tourists as it i s not as comprehensive as in other major global cities. The main bus stations are Gold Souq Market (in Deira) and Al Ghubaiba bus station (in Bur Dubai). Bus services are also available to other emirates (Al Ghubaiba). Ramadan timings differ.
Use the Dubai Public transport as a cheaper means of traveling within the several districts in Dubai. The fare comes up to an easy 1.50 AED, affordable for those who prefer a cheaper mode of transport. There’s a bus stand on almost every road in Dubai and with all the friendly people in Dubai, you won’t find it difficult to get help at any point of time. Self-explanatory maps and route marks and their bus numbers are placed inside every bus stand. At any time, if in doubt, simply ask the bus driver for help!
Taxis are reasonably priced and easily found on all main roads in built-up areas, 24 hours. The official taxis (cream color) are a lot cheaper than people approaching you at the airport saying “you want taxi?”. They are metered thus saving a haggle over prices. From the airport, there i s a standing charge of AED 20; all other pick ups attract a standing charge of AED 3.00. You can waive for a taxi at any place. When driving the rate i s AED 1.60 per km There i s nothing to choose in rates between the 5 players: Dubai Transport, National, Cars, Metro, and Arabian; so, take the first one that comes along. Driving standard in Dubai ranges from poor to wild – taxis are some of the worst on the roads.
There are a countless number of Rent-A-Cars that will provide a mode of transportation for very cheap rates and very little paperwork. An International Driving Permit i s not necessarily required, but hire companies may not rent a car without one. Depending on which country you are from (UK, USA & Australian licenses are acceptable), your driving license could be used to obtain a temporary driving permit at the licensing office in the City Centre shopping mall.
Some agencies will hire out cars complete with drivers. Visitors taking advantage of this option will need to make certain that their driver knows his way around, as many do not.
When driving on the main roads, such as Sheikh Zayed road, the junction numbers are not in logical order! Junction 13 i s just after 18 and are rarely as shown on the maps. Road names can also be very confusing with slight differences in spelling (due to transliteration from Arabic) being very important. The construction work that i s taking place throughout and around Dubai can make finding your destination a challenge. Temporary road layouts change with alarming regularity and temporary signs can be misleading or non existent.
Driving during morning and afternoon peak hours i s not recommended, as traffic slows to a standstill and even a simple trip across a bridge can take up to 45 minutes. There i s also a scarcity of parking spaces in many parts of the city.
With such a mixture of nationalities residing in the city, driving styles are mixed to say the least. Dangerous driving will be witnessed, or experienced, on a frequent basis; and, bear in mind that Dubai has one of the highest per capita road death rates in the world. There i s zero tolerance for alcohol and driving with stiff penalties meted out, including jail and deportation.
See Salik for information about toll to pay on certain routes in Dubai.
An easier way of crossing the Dubai Creek i s by abra, essentially a small ferry. Abra stations are located along the Creek on both the Bur Dubai and Deira sides, and the system of filling the boats i s remarkably efficient. The cross-river trip costs 1 Dirham (AED 1) per passenger, payable to the driver after the boat has left the station, and affords a very picturesque view of the city (not to be missed). Abras set off very regularly, and the service i s available round-the-clock.
Abras can also be hired for a private tour (for a price negotiable with the driver but usually very cheap). This i s quite a popular activity at sunset on a clear day, particularly if the driver i s able to enliven the tour with stories about the structures on either side of the Creek. Just make sure that the purpose of one’s abra hire i s made clear at the outset – otherwise you’ll be in for a very expensive cross-river trip or a crowded private tour.
The Creek i s also the home of many boats offering more comfortable (and correspondingly more expensive) tours, often in boats designed to resemble dhows. Prices tend to the higher end of the scale, particularly for dinner cruises with on-board entertainment.
Dubai i s a great city of United Arab Emirates, Dubai i s business hub of middle east.