Dubai City Guide – Virtually a desert 20 years ago, Dubai has since evolved into an ultramodern mecca of real estate, business, and tourism, and is on the fast track to becoming a global city. Dubai is the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which is located on the southern coast of the Arabian Gulf on the Arabian Peninsula. The UAE is surrounded by Oman and Saudi Arabia.
Dubai is notorious for its ostentatiousness (including its ultramodern buildings), where everyone is treated like a VIP and in turn is tempted to spend money like a one. Dubai makes it easy to drop cash like you are the Prince of Monaco with its dizzying array of flamboyant hotels, chic shopping malls, high end nightclubs, yacht and golf clubs, and posh restaurants.
The official language of Dubai is Arabic, however Hindi, English, Persian, Tagalog and Chinese dialects are widely spoken with English being the lingua franca.
The climate in Dubai is subtropical with clear skies and ample amounts of sunshine. The hottest months are June to September where temperatures can reach as high as 113oF (45oC). The coldest months are December to March where temperatures are generally in the 70’soF (21oC-26oC).
VISA / ENTRANCE REQUIREMENTS
*If your passport has an Israeli stamp, you will not be able to get a visa to Dubai.
U.S. and Canadian citizens are required to have a tourist visa in order to enter Dubai. However, you can get a free visa on arrival at the airport or if you are arriving by land you may have to pay 20-30 dirhams ($5-$8 USD). Visas are valid for 30 days and you must also have a valid passport.
AIRLINES SERVICING DUBAI
The airport serving Dubai is called the Dubai International Airport (DXB).
The following airlines have flights to Dubai:
- United Airlines
- British Airways
- Air France
- Air India
- Middle East Airlines
- Olympic Airlines
- Pakistan International Airlines
- Virgin Atlantic
Dubai has a myriad of 5 star accommodations that range from $87 to $5,448 USD per night. These luxurious habitations include beach resorts, golf resorts and spas; some of which feature a croquet lawn, a children’s center, tennis courts, spectacular gardens, an exclusive beach, swimming pools, and a putting green. 3 star hotels start at $64 USD and unfortunately, there are not many budget accommodations in Dubai but the few that are available range from $20 to $30 USD per person per night.
The currency of Dubai is the Dirham (AED),
The exchange rate of U.S. dollars to United Arab Emirates dirhams is $1 USD to 3.67 AED (exchange rate subject to change).
The international access code for the United Arab Emirates is 971.
The area code for Dubai is 4.
In order to call Dubai from the U.S. or Canada you must dial 011 (exit code), then 971 (country code for the United Arab Emirates), then the area code for Dubai (4), and then the phone number (seven digits).
To call a cell phone in Dubai from the U.S. or Canada you must dial 011 + 971 + area code (two digits, begins with the number 5) + phone number (seven digits).
In order to call the U.S. or Canada from Dubai you must dial 00 + 1 + area code + phone number
Cyber-cafes are widely available in major cities and towns. Larger hotels and most private hospitals throughout the country offer Broadband Internet connection.
EMERGENCY TELEPHONE NUMBERS
U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi: (971) 2-414-2200
U.S. Consulate in Dubai: (971) 4-311-6000
Despite its small size Dubai has many sights to offer. Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous (if it were still on the air) could do an entire segment on leisure activities in Dubai. The world class Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club is popular among golf enthusiasts and the PGA. The 18 hole championship course was host to the PGA European Tour Desert Classic. It is also a full-service yachting center that can hold boats up to 131 feet (40 meters). After a day of yachting and golfing, Cleopatra’s spa is a must. It is one of the most luxurious spas in Dubai and it offers all of the amenities for rest and relaxation. Other venues for rest and relaxation are the Hatta Rock Pools, which are nestled within the Hajar Mountains and features waterfalls and turquoise pools, and Jumeirah Beach, which is described as tranquil and a haven for women because certain days are designated as women only.
Religious and architectural enthusiasts will enjoy the Jumeirah Mosque, which was built in the modern Islamic tradition while the H.H. Sheikh Saeed House is a remnant of late 19th century Arabian architecture. Last but not least, you can wind down with a desert safari that includes tours of the red dunes of Murgam, a camel ride, and entertainment by belly dancers. Fun for the whole family!
Dubai is known as a retail haven, especially during the months of January and February when the annual Dubai Shopping Festival is held. The festival attracts shoppers from around the world who want to take advantage of marked down prices and promotional offers. During this time, hotels offer discounted prices and Emirates Airlines offer special rates on airfares. However, if you do not plan on traveling to Dubai at the beginning of the year, do not fret because the city is rife with malls and shopping centers (mostly high end). Al Ghurair City has a range of high end stores such as Guess, French Connection, and La Chateau. The Warba Center is a mall that is described as a 5 star facility and the Twin Towers is the most popular shopping center in the city.
NIGHTLIFE AND THE ARTS
Nightlife in Dubai is considered by many to be the best in the Middle East, regardless of whether or not you took a strict oath of sobriety. Alcohol does not flow freely in the city and in order to enjoy a spirit you must either buy liquor from the duty free shop at the airport, go to a nightclub or go to a hotel bar, with the latter two options being the most expensive. Note that some clubs have a ‘couples only’ policy in which couples and single ladies are allowed admission (sorry fellas), and single men are charged an exorbitant entrance fee if they are allowed into the club. However, if you wait outside until a group of ladies walk by and ask if you can enter with them, most will be happy to oblige especially if you offer to provide a ‘thank you’ drink.
Horse racing fanatics will enjoy the Godolphin Gallery, which is named after one of the founding stallions of modern Arabian thoroughbreds. It displays the trophies won by Godolphin’s leading horses, written accounts of races, and victory photographs. If horse racing is not your style, Dubai is home to the Dubai National Museum, which is considered one of the best museums in the city as well as the Majils and the Four Seasons Ramesh Art galleries. Also, Dubai is home to the luxurious Madinat Theater and the Dubai Community Theater and Arts Center.
Dubai has four English language papers:
- Khaleej Times
- Gulf News
- Gulf Today
- 7 Days
DUBAI MEDICAL TOURISM
The Joint Commission International (JCI) has accredited 11 hospitals and clinics in Dubai including a maternity and children’s hospital, and the city is home to the first hospital accredited in the Middle East by the JCI. Billions of dollars have been invested in the healthcare system and thus accredited hospitals/clinics in Dubai have western standards of healthcare and facilities, and employ physicians with western certifications or equivalent. Dubai is quickly gaining popularity as a medical tourism destination due to its low cost, English speaking medical staff, and virtually no queues for treatments.
In 2010 there are plans to open the Dubai Healthcare City and it will be the largest international medical center located between Southeast Asia and Europe. There are also plans to include a branch of Harvard Medical School within the Healthcare City, which will bring it one step closer to being one of the most prestigious foreign healthcare facilities outside of the West.
Dubai offers a myriad of first-class medical treatments including cochlear implants, diabetes treatments, orthopedics, cardiology, oncology, obesity surgery, neurology, plastic & cosmetic surgery, physical therapy, dermatology, rheumatology, ophthalmology, lung treatments, and urology.