ADVICE FOR TRAVELLING TO DUBAI
It's unlikely that this jewel in the UAE crown would have been on anyone's holiday radar 20 years ago, but today this record-breaking city is the go-to destination for city breaks and winter sunshine! Boasting the earth's tallest skyscraper, city-sized shopping malls and the largest man-made island, Dubai certainly doesn't do things by halves. If you fancy a little long haul luxury, we've gathered together some advice for travelling to Dubai so you can set off for this spectacular city without a worry.
Discover the top 15 things to do in Dubai and set out for its super-sized malls, glittering skyscrapers and gorgeous stretch of sand...
STAYING SAFE IN DUBAI
Dubai is the second largest of seven states in the UAE and almost three times the size of London, so visiting for the first time can be a little daunting. However, this Middle Eastern gem is in fact one of the safest places in the world, so you can soak up the sights, sand and skyscrapers without a worry! Dubai has a minimal crime rate compared to cities of similar sizes around the world and the government actively promotes its safety and security, especially as it's such a popular tourist destination. The road network in Dubai can be hectic due to the growing number of vehicles and the never-ending construction, therefore accidents can be quite common. It's not advised that you hire a vehicle or drive on Dubai's roads unless neccessary, due to excessive speeding, a variety of different driving habits and lack of lane discipline sometimes displayed by Dubai's diverse international community. Instead, stick to taxis or check out Dubai's extensive metro rail system. Look out for women only designated taxis, they're pretty easy to spot as they're pink!
LOCAL LAWS AND CUSTOMS
WHAT TO WEAR IN DUBAI
It's important for both men and women to consider how they should dress when travelling to Dubai, as you’re likely to pack differently to how you would for a week on the beach in Europe. Tourists wearing revealing clothes can attract unwanted attention and as a Muslim country out of respect women should keep their arms and legs covered - a light coloured cardigan over a maxi dress or loose trousers is ideal. Men should also keep shirts on (short sleeve shirt and t-shirts are generally ok) with long shorts. Of course, swimsuits for beach days and around the pool are absolutely fine. Most mosques are closed to non-Muslims in Dubai, with the exception of the beautiful landmark Jumeirah mosque, which runs organised tours. If you want to visit, arms and legs should be covered and women should also cover their hair. You can borrow traditional dress from the mosque if you'd like.
TRAVELLING IN DUBAI
Remember that the front seats on buses (usually the first three rows) are reserved for women. Men should exit from the rear of the bus, while women and children can exit from the front door. If you’re planning a romantic trip, keep in mind that public displays of affection are often frowned upon in Dubai, so it's best to be on the safe side and save it for your hotel room! It’s technically illegal for unmarried couples to share a hotel room, although in practise it's unlikely that you would be challenged on this. If you are married, it’s a good idea to pack your marriage certificate, just in case it’s requested.
DRINKING IN DUBAI
Alcohol can be a tricky subject in Dubai as it’s a dry country, with non-Muslim residents requiring a permit to drink in their homes. You will be able to purchase alcohol in licensed bars, restaurants and clubs, but it isn’t sold in shops – apart from duty free at the airport. Public consumption is illegal and being under the influence in public is also punishable, so know your limits or stick to the hotel bar! As to be expected there’s a zero tolerance policy on drug related offences, with severe punishments. E-cigarettes are also illegal, and you’re not allowed to smoke regular cigarettes in public places either, with the exception of specified areas.
SNAPPING THE SIGHTS
Iconic tourist sights and landmarks aside, you should ask permission before taking photos around Dubai – especially when it comes to government buildings (including the airport) or anything to do with the police or military. It might be worth noting that you should also never take a photo of a Muslim woman without clear permission first.
VISAS, VACCINATIONS AND TRAVEL INSURANCE
You need a visa to visit Dubai. British citizens can get a 30 day visa on arrival at the airport and your passport will need to be valid for 6 months after the date of entry.
No vaccinations are required for travelling to Dubai. Healthcare facilities are good and you should be able to purchase medication for minor illnesses and ailments in a pharmacy. Do make sure that you protect yourself against anything more serious with a good travel insurance policy though.
- Haggling is to be expected in the city’s iconic souks, including gold, perfume, spice and textile stalls, as well as the bustling Meena bazaar marketplace. Bear in mind the branded or ‘designer’ goods, like those sold at Karama market, are usually fake.
- Make sure you drink plenty as you can quickly get dehydrated in the heat - stick to bottled water!
- It's polite to tip for good service in Dubai's restaurants, 10% is the usual rate. For taxi drivers and other services around the city, rounding up to the nearest 5 or 10 AED will be appreciated but not expected.
- If you need to travel with prescription drugs, get a doctor’s note in advance.
Dubai is one of the world’s most exciting cities, mixing incredible modern landmarks with traditional roots and desert surroundings. You can be soaring to the top of a skyscraper one minute and browsing for bargains in the colourful souks the next, relaxing on the soft white sands inbetween of course! If you're eager to see this stunning city, check out our last minute holidays in Dubai and get ready to discover this unique destination!