Friendly Planet Blog

Getaway Dossier: Things to know before you travel to Dubai

We’re wrapping up our Dubai coverage with one of our favorite blog series – Getaway Dossier. We created this series to share with you everything we know about each destination we visit: the best food to eat, places to visit, and things to know to better prepare for your trip. We chose Dubai for the next dossier destination because we’ve been doing a lot of coverage around this city during our ‘Be Dazzled by Dubai’ Facebook sweepstakes, in which you could win a free trip for two to Dubai just by entering on our Facebook page!

Weather: A desert climate. Dubai is located in the Middle East, so it should come as no surprise that it’s hot pretty much all year round. In the summer, temperatures average around 104°F during the day, and overnight lows fall to around 86°F. Winters are cool and short, averaging 73°F during the day and 57°F at night.

Obviously, travelers should pack clothes to help them stay comfortable in the heat. But, because Dubai is located in a Muslim country, shorts, midriff baring shirts, and clothing that exposes too much skin shouldn’t make it into your suitcase when you pack. Think modest dress, and remember bathing suits are appropriate attire only on the beach and by the pool. If you’re sensitive to the heat, or need to avoid strong sunlight, stay inside or apply plenty of sunscreen during the afternoon hours. If you don’t, you’ll surely burn.

Food: Arabian delicacies. Dubai is a cultural crossroads, so food from almost every country and culture can be found there. There are some Arabian foods however that you shouldn’t miss. We’ve all heard of hummus, but there’s much more available to try.Description: http://blog.friendlyplanet.com/wp-includes/js/tinymce/plugins/wordpress/img/trans.gif

Shawarma, a dish made of chicken or lamb that’s mixed with tomatoes, fries, garlic sauce, and pickles then wrapped inside a small roti (a type of bread) is popular among travelers. It sounds pretty messy to eat, and it is, but it’s delicious — so be sure to give it a try. One of my personal favorites is falafel, which is a mixture of chickpeas and different spices. It’s then deep fried into a cutlet or ball (think meatball) — delicious! But Dubai offers a huge selection of culinary experiences, and I don’t think you can go wrong by trying a meal in a Moroccan, Lebanese, or Iranian restaurant.

Currency: Know your dirhams. Dubai’s national currency is the United Arab Emirates dirham. The notes start at 5 dirham, and go up from there. Right now, $1 is equal to about 3.67 dirhams. Wait to convert your money once you’re inside the country, away from the airport, although some larger shopping centers and hotels will take American currency and debit cards.

For tipping, 5 dirham per bag is a fine tip for a porter. If you take a taxi, round up to the nearest 10 dirham. A sizable tip would be around 10 dirham, even though it equates to a little under $3.

Landmarks: The biggest and grandest. Dubai has taken extreme measures to be among the most extravagant places in the world. In my opinion, they’ve certainly succeeded, with the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building; the iconic Burj Al Arab, widely described as one of the world’s only seven-star hotels; the Palm Islands, famous for being the world’s largest man-made islands; and much more. Travelers won’t want to miss any of these sights, as well as the ones we’ve covered in our previous post, the 10 biggest factors that make Dubai the city of luxury.

Don’t forget: Try not to visit during Ramadan. Ramadan is the holy month celebrated by Muslims, and as such, they do not eat or drink anything between 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. Ramadan in 2013 will start on Tuesday, July 9, and end on Wednesday, August 7. Because Dubai is a Muslim city, no one, including tourists, is allowed to eat, drink, or smoke in public places during Ramadan between 5 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Many restaurants, though not all, are closed during the day, or will only serve takeout, while food service in hotels is definitely available throughout the holiday period. Although restaurants and pubs open each night and eating and drinking is allowed again, it can be difficult to visit Dubai during Ramadan. Just be sure to know the dates of Ramadan if you’re booking a trip to Dubai. If you’re planning to go during Ramadan, be sure to speak with your travel provider about specific do’s and don’ts during this time.

Culture: Understand and abide by local customs. Because the culture of Dubai is different from our own, it’s important to understand it while visiting. This includes respecting the religious beliefs of the people who live there, dressing appropriately, and being familiar with the local customs. Also, public displays of affection are frowned upon.

I hope you have a better understanding of Dubai after reading through the information we’ve shared. Do you have any more Dubai specific questions you’d like me to answer? Feel free to leave them in a comment below, and I’ll be happy to do so.

1 Comment

  1. Thank you for providing us a great information about Dubai. One should definitely keep these things in mind before visiting Dubai. Tourists visiting Dubai for vacation or business reasons during the Ramadan period should please take note that all people, including tourists with a different religious background, should not eat nor drink in any public locations during the day when Muslims are fasting.

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About Peggy

Peggy Goldman is a specialty tour operator and travel expert, who owns and operates Friendly Planet Travel, a full-service company that specializes in tour packages to exotic worldwide destinations at affordable prices.   More about Peggy

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