Travel Guide Middle East United Arab Emirates Dubai



Burj Kalifah

Burj Kalifah

© All Rights Reserved RobandEve

Dubai is the second-largest of the seven emirates that together constitute the United Arab Emirates. This is one of the fastest growing areas anywhere in the world with buildings being erected at an enormous speed. Plans are even more ambitious with hundreds of high rise buildings to be added (including the highest building in the world) and thousands of islands in the form of the world or palms which are for the rich and famous only. Unfortunately, much of the old and original Dubai is hidden away in between, but can still be found in the old quarter of the city.




Dubai is expanding so rapidly that you can not really speak of neighbourhoods, but you would rather divide the city in the old town, that spreads along the Dubai Creek, and the new parts that spread out along the coast line. For travellers purposes, there is a handy division in districts:

  • Deira - The old financial centre, today a bustling commercial–residential district with old souks. One is the famous Gold Souk. Another is specialized in spices. Last one, Meena Bazaar, is for clothes (you can buy fabrics there).
  • Bur Dubai - An historical district on the south side of Dubai Creek, with attractions from abras to souks to floating restaurants to the famous Creek.
  • Jumeirah Beach - A diverse mix of residents and tourists at the beach. It is a mixed Little Europe, Karachi and Manila. Jumeirah is much favoured by Europeans due to easy access to the public beach. Jumeirah Mosque and Dubai Zoo are the top attractions of this district.
  • Jumeirah Beach Residences - This area between the sea and Dubai Marina includes The Walk, a strip with a lot of restaurants and shops.
  • Dubai Marina - Surrounded by skyscrapers, this mega-development is part of New Dubai, next to The Palm Jumeirah. This is a man made marina.
  • Jebel Ali - Mega man-made port, location of the new airport, Dubai World Central, the venue for Expo 2020, and the entry point to the Palm Jebel Ali
  • Downtown Dubai - City centre where you can find the Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Mall. Next to the Business Bay and Dubai International Finance Centre.
  • Emirates Road - Suburban Dubai inland from the coast.
  • The Palm Jumeirah - An artificial peninsula set as a palm tree over the sea. All the luxury hotels are set over the central trunk and the crescent road. Private villas can be found on the palm tree branches.



Sights and Activities

Burj al Arab

Burj Al Arab

Burj Al Arab

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The Burj al Arab (the tower of Arabs) has become a landmark of Dubai, and one of the most famous buildings virtualy overnight after being finished in 1999. The very recognisable building that is shaped to resemble the sail of a Dhow, a local fishing boat. The structure is 321 metres tall, and stands on an artificial island 280 metres away from the beach. It is connected to the mainland by a bridge. The building serves as a luxery hotel with 202 rooms. A hotel room is not cheap, the cheapest room costs about a thousand US$ a night, the Royal suits sets you back around US$ 28,000. If you want to arrive in style from the airport you can be picked up by a Rolls Royce or a helicopter.

Burj Khalifa

Officially opened on 4 January 2010, Burj Khalifa (Arabic: برج خليفة‎ "Khalifa Tower"), formerly known as Burj Dubai, took six years to complete. The tower is named after Khalifa bin Zayed, the current President of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of Abu Dhabi. With a height of 828 metres (2716 feet), Burj Khalif is the tallest man-made structure in the world, topping the previous recordholder (Taipei 101) by a staggering 319 metres. It also is nicknamed "the Needle" and "The Tower of Bable". It has 168 floors, with the upper 30 to 40 floors being so small that they are useless, apart from storage room. Counting all the floors and the podium, it has 465,000 m² of surface space. In the skyscraper you will find 1,044 luxury appartments, 49 floors of offices and the 7-star Armani Hotel, with 160 rooms that are designed by Armani. An observation deck, named At The Top, is located on Level 142 of the tower. Tickets for At The Top are available online and also from the reception at the lower ground level of The Dubai Mall, located within the building.

Jumeirah Beach



© All Rights Reserved dwalker66

Jumeirah Beach is the famous beach resort area about 15 kilometres south of the centre of Dubai. The Burj al Arab is located here, as well as the Jumeirah Beach hotel and the waterpark 'Wild Wadi'. There is also the Jumeirah Mosque, one of only a few mosques which is open for non-Islamic tourists, which has regular morning tours. In 2009, the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup was held here as well.

Jumeirah Mosque

If you want to learn about Emirati Culture a visit to the Jumeirah Mosque is a place where you can get some insights. The Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU) hosts visits of the Grand Jumeirah Mosque 6 days a week Saturday through Thursday at 10:00am. A reservation is not needed to attend, but you must arrive at the main entrance to the Jumeirah Mosque by approximately 9:45am. Each tour lasts approximately 75 minutes. 10AED per person, children under 12 free. Parties of 10 or more should contact the SMCCU prior to your visit. Modest dress is preferred, however traditional attire can be borrowed from the Mosque. SMCCU offers more cultural activities you can attend during your stay in Dubai.


Shopping is a major activity for Dubai visitors. Wafi Mall, Dubai Marina Mall, Ibn Battuta mall, Mall of the Emirates, Bur Juman, Magrudy's shopping mall are some of the numerous malls that have sprouted around the city in the past decade. The most famous one, largest mall in the world, is the Dubai Mall. Located next to the Burj Khalifa, extending over 800,000 square metres, the Dubai Mall has more than 1,200 retail stores. The Dubai Mall hosts one of the largest aquarium in the world (Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo) where visitors can see sharks, rays and more than 300 species of marine animals. There is also Dubai Ice Rink where people can practice ice skating. More than 90 millions of visitors came to the Dubai Mall in 2015. Tourists can buy jewels at the traditional Gold Souk (Deira area) and the Gold and Diamond Park (next to the Mall of Emirates). Spices from all over the world can be found at the Spice souk (Deira area).

Ski Dubai

Located in the Mall of Emirates, Ski Dubai is a man made indoor ski area. The 85-metre-high mountain includes 5 slopes. In order to maintain the snow in good condition, a powerful air conditioning system keeps the temperature between -6 °C and -1 °C. You can rent all the required equipment and clothing to practice skiing or snowboarding directly onsite. If you don't want to practice skiing, you can encounter with real penguins.



Events and Festivals

Dubai Marathon

In January, the Dubai Marathon takes center stage. There are 3, 10 and 50 kilometre races, with the winners receiving large sums of money. Thousands of participants come to the UAE to join, with an increasing number of runners every year.

Dubai Shopping Festival

Shopaholics need to remember to breathe because the Dubai Shopping Festival is a month-long event. Every mall in the city reduces its prices during January and February, attracting thousands from around the globe. There are concerts and entertainment as a backdrop.

Dubai Desert Classic

Every year, the best golfers from around the world make their way to Dubai, where the Desert Classic takes place. The prize money allures the best of the best and spectators if they can get a hold of the highly coveted tickets. The tournament is held at the Emirates Golf Club in March.

Emirates World Series Horse Race

The Emirates World Series of Horse Racing concludes in Dubai, where the world’s richest race takes place. Held in April, the Dubai World Cup Horse Race welcomes thousands of spectators, along with the best jockeys, trainers, and horses from the world over. The event is run from the Nad Al Sheba Racecourse, which provides memorable entertainment and a social atmosphere in the UAE.


At the end of Ramadan, the cities of the UAE celebrate Eid with parties and feasts. Both visitors and locals can share in the spoils as Dubai and Abu Dhabi throw social events for several days to mark the end of the Islamic fasting period in September.

International Film Festival Dubai

The Dubai film festival takes place in November and attracts not only thousands of cinema enthusiasts from across the Middle East and Europe, but famous producers and Hollywood stars for screenings all over the city.

National Day Festival

Commemorating the formation of the UAE and the independence of the region from Britain, National Day is celebrated across the country in December with performances and events in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Accommodations are hard to come by at this time, so book well in advance.




Weather in Dubai generally is warm to hot and dry. The hottest months are between June and September when temperatures can rise up to 45 °C or even more. Humidity can be high as well, although this mainly applies to the coastal areas. Still, the best times to visit are from October to April with warm and dry conditions, although some rainshowers are possible during the wintermonths.

Avg Max24 °C24.6 °C27.9 °C32.4 °C36.8 °C38.8 °C40.6 °C40.4 °C38.7 °C35.1 °C30.5 °C26.2 °C
Avg Min13.7 °C14.5 °C17 °C20.1 °C23.5 °C26.1 °C28.9 °C29.3 °C26.3 °C22.7 °C18.3 °C15.4 °C
Rain Days1.



Getting There

By Plane

Dubai International Airport (DXB) is a major airport just 4,6 kilometres southeast of Dubai centre. Dozens of airlines serve hundreds of destinations. Emirates Airlines has its base in Dubai, and is responsible for around 64% of all flights in and out of DXB. It has flights to over 142 cities in about 78 countries, making it one of the biggest airlines in the world. Dubai International Airport handled over 70 million passengers in 2014, resulting in the 6th busiest airport in the world. In 2014 there was an average of over 6,800 weekly flights operated by nearly 130 airlines to over 220 destinations across all six continents.

To/from the airport

  • The airport is served by the Dubai Metro, which will operate 2 lines through the airport. The Red Line (Dubai Metro) has a station at Terminal 3, and at Terminal 1. The metro provides services between 06:00am and 10:15pm everyday except Friday, when it operates between 02:05pm and 11:15pm.
  • Dubai Buses run by the RTA run a number of routes to around the city but mainly Deira, available at the Airport Ground Transportation Center and the Arrivals. Bus stations are situated opposite both Terminal 1, 2, and 3. Local buses 4, 11, 15, 33 and 44 can be used to connect with Terminal 1 and 3, while bus 2 connects with Terminal 2. Dubai International Airport Buses provide air-conditioned transport into the city centre and over 80 hotels in the city.
  • Coach service is available to major cities and towns like Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, and Sharjah.
  • Government owned Dubai Taxi Agency provides taxis, which provides 24 hour service at the arrivals in every terminal.

The new Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC) will start passenger operations from March 2011 onwards and will be one of the largest airports in the world and a major hub for flights between most continents.
Some of the main destinations from Dubai International Airport are Moscow, London, Amsterdam, Paris, Frankfurt, Nairobi, Delhi, Mumbai, Beijing, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Johannesburg, Rome, Hong Kong, Auckland, Cairo, Cape Town, Casablanca, Shanghai, New York, Sydney, Tokyo, Toronto, Perth, Seoul, Washington, D.C., Istanbul and Bangkok.

A great alternative for some low-cost airlines is the nearby Sharjah International Airport (SHJ) which is just about half an hour from downtown Dubai. It has flights to most major cities in the Middle East and also to various cities in India and other countries in southern Asia and eastern Africa. It is the main hub for budget carrier Air Arabia, which has the bulk of flights.

By Car

It's easy to get to/from Dubai, though the traffic during rush hours can be dramatic. Once you are outside the city, traffic is relatively light though, except on the route to Sharjah. There are dozens of international and local car rental companies that offer cars from small sedans to luxury 4wd vehicles. Be sure to have zero excess Insurance and ask for policies regarding crossing borders to Oman.

By Bus

The Government of Dubai operates a network of buses linking Dubai city with the capitals of the other six emirates of the UAE. The buses run under the name Emirates Express and operate from various bus terminals in Dubai.

  • To/from Abu Dhabi - Buses operate every 40 minutes from 06:20am from both Dubai's Al Ghubaibah bus station and Abu Dhabi's main bus station.
  • To/from Sharjah - Frequent buses run between Dubai and Sharjah. There are several different routes and buses depart from various bus stations in Dubai including Al Karama, Gold Souq, Baniyas Square, Jebel Ali and Al Ittihad Square.
  • To/from Al Ain - Buses operate every hour from both Dubai's Al Ghubaibah bus station to Al Ain, taking about 2 hours.
  • To/from Fujairah - The bus to Fujairah leaves from the Rashidiya Metro station and takes about 3 to 4 hours.

There are daily connections between Dubai and Muscat, the capital of Oman, taking around 4 to 5 hours.

By Boat

Several ferries and fast catamarans travel between Iran and Dubai. Connections include Bandar Lengeh to Dubai, and Bandar Abbas to Dubai. Check the Iran Traveling Center for more details about schedules and prices.



Getting Around

By Car

Many people get around by car but the roads get extremely congested, especially during rush hours. Travellers wanting to drive themselves better keep it to a minimum.

By Public Transport

A day pass valid for unlimited rides on the metro, tram and buses costs Dh22, while the Nol Silver stored-value card costs Dh20 (including AED14 worth of balance) and gives a 10% discount on both metro and bus fares. Both are available at metro stations and major bus stations. The Silver card is useful for public transport users who stay in Dubai for more than a day. Check out at the end of your trip (this includes buses).

Taxis are the most common means of public transport. However, it is also one of the most frustrating ones as it is very difficult to get one during peak hours or in front of shopping malls. One would have to walk a long distance to get away from the crowds waiting to catch a cab to have a better chance of getting one.

More buses now ply the city than in the 90's but information on the bus routes is not easily available to the new visitor and bystanders on the road do not help with queries.

On the 9th of September 2009, the Dubai Metro started operations. It is a fully automatic system, the waiting platforms are airconditioned and there are special VIP areas as well. The first line to be opened was the Red Line, the Green Line is still under construction and there are a few more lines planned as well. The Green Line will start operations in June 2010 if all goes well. After this completion, it will be the longest fully automatic metro network in the world (current is in Vancouver). The Red Line runs from Jebel Ali Port, the American University in Dubai, through the city centre to Al Rashidiya. The Green Line will run from Festival City, through the city centre, Dubai International Airport Terminal 2 and the Airport Free Zone. The Purple and Blue Line will form a major transport connection between the current airport and the new Al Maktoum International Airport, expected to be in operation from June 2010 onwards. Both lines will be in operation from 2012 onwards and a Yellow Line was announced in 2008, but has no deadline of operation yet. For an overview, see the Dubai Metro Map.

The latest of Dubai's modern transportation system is the Dubai Tram, which opened on November 12, 2014. It provides commuters a comfortable transit service around the prime business and leisure districts of Dubai. The Dubai Tram operates for 19 hours daily running for 14.5 kilometers along Al Sufouh Road. It passes around the vibrant Dubai Marina where passengers are treated to breathtaking sights of towering skyscrapers and luxury yachts, and then travels down Jumeirah passing by the iconic Burj Al Arab.

The Dubai Tram connects with the Dubai Metro at the Jumeirah Lakes Towers and DAMAC stations, and links with the monorail of Palm Jumeirah. Outside of Europe, the Dubai Tram is the first tram system that uses the state-of-the-art ground cable system which eliminates the unsightly and dangerous overhead cables.

An easier way of crossing the Dubai Creek is 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 is remarkably efficient. The cross-river trip costs 1 AED per passenger, payable to the driver after the boat has left the station, and affords a very picturesque view of the city. Abras set off very regularly, and the service is available round-the-clock. The Waterbus is another option for tousists who want to go by boat but avoid the abra crowd (or the heat). It is a part of Dubai's public transport system. The waterbus also features a 'tourist route' round trip. While this is convenient, it can get quite expensive (AED 50 for an adult, AED 25 for a child).

By Foot

Some areas are easily navigated on foot, but mind the heat in summer, when it's better to stick to short distances and use public transport and taxis as well.




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. It costs about 5 AED for either the plain-jane variety or the more exotic Lebanese and Iranian varieties. The shawarma sold by Indian restaurants are arguably the cheapest.

Another local snack is fala-fil (felafel, falafel), which is as cheap as shawarma.

Most of the American fast food chains have set up shop, 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. All food is halal.

Dubai has a big selection of budget Indian food. Dosa, vada, idlee, samosa, chapaati/roti, with generous servings of sabji (cooked vegetable stew) are available at throwaway prices, typically less than 10 AED per course. The more expensive stuff costs up to USD 5. Bur Dubai (particularly Meena Bazaar area) and Karama are the places that abound in these restaurants. Most of them are open from 7:00am till 10:00pm or 11:00pm throughout the week.

Pork is eaten here mostly by non-Muslim Filipinos and Europeans. Pork sections exclusive for non-Muslims are found in Spinneys (numerous branches, including ones in Jumeirah and Dubai Marina), Al Maya Lal's (generally caters to Filipinos; there's a branch in Satwa) New Westzone Supermarket (has a branch in Satwa that's bigger than nearby rival Al Maya Lal's).




Dubai has several laws regarding alcohol which travelers should be aware of:

  • 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.
  • Alcohol can be bought only for home consumption at certain outlets in Dubai, and an alcohol license is required. Supermarkets only stock non-alcoholic beers. Even food items containing alcohol are not sold in supermarkets.




Budget and Midrange

  • Dar Al Sondos Hotel Apartments by Le Meridien is part of the Starwood properties in Dubai. Located on Rolla street in Bur Dubai, the apartments are lovely self-contained units with a kitchenette, cable TV, IDD facilities and a lovely bathroom. Prices are from AED 300 - 500 per night (80 - 140 US dollar) for an apartment for two. A great bargain in the expensive city.


View our map of accommodation in Dubai or use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)




In order to work in Dubai, you need to apply for a work permit with the Ministry of Labour. To apply for a work permit, you'll need first to get a residency visa. The application process is usually handled by the hiring company (known as the sponsor).

Dubai has a tax free policy on salaries.

Working in Dubai will allow you to enjoy a multicultural experience as the locals represent only 10 to 15% of the overall population.

The working week varies between 40 and 48 hours, depending on company’s policy. People start to work between 8:30 and 9:00am and the working day ends around 5:30 - 6:00pm. During the month of Ramadan, working hours are reduced to six hours. This is applicable for all staff but in reality, some companies only apply it to Muslims. In the past, working days were Saturday to Wednesday but currently, in order to have more common working days to do business with the rest of the world, working days are from Sunday to Thursday so the week end is on Friday and Saturday.




Keep Connected


Internet cafés are fairly common in the larger cities, and web censorship is at times odd, but rarely obtrusive. Free wifi is rolled out over the country, starting with Abu Dhabi en Dubai in 2014 and 2015, and many places like hotels, restaurants, bars and coffee places have free wifi as well.


See also International Telephone Calls

The country code is 971. Emergency numbers include 999 (police), 998 (ambulance) and 997 (fire), though the general 112 number can be used as well.

The mobile phone network uses the GSM technology and use is widespread. The format for dialing is: +971-#-### ####, where the first "#" designates the area code. Key area codes include Dubai (4), Sharjah (6) and Abu Dhabi (2). Calls to mobile phones use the operator's area codes: (50/56) for Etisalat and (55) for Du.

If you bring your own cellphone, be sure to switch off roaming to avoid high costs, or otherwise purchase a local SIM card from Du or Etisalat. You need your passport with valid visa to purchase the SIM card.


Emirates Post provides services in the country. It's fairly affordable and reliable and many post offices keep long hours from Saturday to Thursday, usually from around 7:30am to 8:00pm or even a little later. Most are closed on Fridays, though some are open for a few hours. If you want to send packages internationally, you might want to use companies like DHL, TNT, FedEx or UPS, as they are fast, reliable and competitively priced. A good alternative is the country's own Empost UAE.


Quick Facts


  • Latitude: 25.27087
  • Longitude: 55.309212

Accommodation in Dubai

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Dubai searchable right here on Travellerspoint. You can use our map to quickly compare budget, mid-range or top of the range accommodation in Dubai and areas nearby.


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Dubai Travel Helpers

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