UAE 🇦🇪

Airport ✈️

Dubai International Airport (DXB) - Dubai Airport is a major transport hub and is the world's busiest airport by international passenger traffic. It is a modern, state of the art airport located just 3 miles east of downtown Dubai. The airport has 3 terminals. Terminal 1 and Terminal 3 services international flights with Terminal 2 (set on the opposite side of the airport) mostly handling budget airlines for the Persian Gulf region.

  • The Metro 🚆 runs from the airport into the city. The Dubai Metro has just two lines so navigation is easy and many of the major hotels are located near a Dubai Metro station. Trains run approximately every 10 minutes from Terminals 1 and 3 between 5.30am and midnight. Journey time is approximately 20 minutes depending on your destination and expect to pay in the region of 4 AED - 8.50 AED (approx $1.10-$2.30).
  • Reputable taxis 🚕 are plentiful and available to take you to your accommodation in around 15 minutes if staying in the downtown area. Taxis charge a 25 AED (approx $6.80) flat fee and then per kilometer to your destination. A taxi to the Burj Khalifa in downtown Dubai is approximately 55 AED (approx $15) which is cost effective when travelling with multiple passengers.
  • Buses 🚌 are available and cost as little as 5 AED (approx $1.35) however the journey time is much longer than other transport options with a journey time of around one hour.

Getting around 🚕

For the most part the city is not very pedestrian friendly making it difficult to navigate on foot. Car is king in Dubai due to the distance needed to travel between locations and the punishingly hot climate which makes walking any lengthy distance difficult.

Taxi - Traditional taxis are available near many of the popular resorts and attractions, just stick your hand out to hail the driver. Often there is a large queue waiting for a taxi at designated areas outside many of the popular malls and attractions. Taxi journeys start at 3 AED (approx $0.85) plus an additional 1.60 AED (approx $0.45) per kilometre thereafter. Uber operate extensively in Dubai and is a popular and convenient option. Major roads in Dubai suffer from congestion so factor in the additional time when travelling during rush hours.

Metro - Dubai has a modern and spacious metro that covers a large distance spread across two lines. The red line runs from UAE Exchange in the south-west, heading north along Sheik Zayed Road passing major destinations then onto the airport and beyond. The green line intersects some of the stations along the red line and mostly covers the Deira and Bur Dubai areas. The Metro is divided into 7 zones, your ticket price is based on the number of zones passed on your journey. You can purchase a prepaid NOL card which can also be used on trams, buses and taxis.
Dubai Metro map

Helicopter - The wealthy in Dubai like to do things a little differently. Using the Uber app, you can request a helicopter as easily as you can request a regular taxi. UberCHOPPER tours offer a birds eye view of the city with journeys starting and ending at the helipad of the Atlantis, The Palm hotel.

Weather ⛅️

Jan-Mar - January is the coldest month in Dubai, however this is still warm/hot by most standards with temperatures averaging 20°C (68°F). February is the wettest month with an average of 4 rainy days. Dubai is located in the desert so even the wettest month is relatively dry. Temperatures gradually increase and in March Dubai experiences highs of around 26°C to 30°C (79°F to 86°F). This is typically more comfortable than Summer temperatures that soar from here on in.

Apr-Jun - The suns strength becomes quite intense in April giving an average high of 32°C (90°F) jumping to a very uncomfortable average high of 38°C (100°F) in June. Such high temperatures make many outdoors activities quite difficult so its best to cool off in the many air conditioned malls or other protected buildings. Night-time does not bring much relief in terms of temperatures either, the average low in June is 26°C (79°F).

Jul-Sep - July offers 11 hours of very strong sunshine making it difficult to stay outdoors for long periods of time without running the risk of sunburn. Similar to the previous months, precipitation is very rare and temperatures are incredibly high. In fact July and August are the two hottest months. The average high in August is 41°C (106°F).

Oct-Dec - The final three months of the year brings some welcome relief from the sweltering summer months. Rainfall is almost non existent but as the nights gradually get longer the temperatures start to cool slightly. Temperatures average 29°C (84°F) in September and then drops to a pleasant 21°C (70°F) average by December. These months are often a great time to visit weather wise, inevitably making it high season and highly attractive to other visitors. Just like the first three months of the year, expect Dubai to be busier than usual in high season with lots of crowds and long lines.

View current weather forecast

Power 🔌

Power outlets in Dubai are 220V/50Hz. The sockets are Type G which is 3 flat prongs, the same used in the U.K and Hong Kong.

Currency 💵

The United Arab Emirates dirham (AED) is the currency of Dubai. It is commonly abbreviated to Dhs or DH. A single dirham is divided into 100 fils. Credit cards are widely accepted at almost all hotels, shops and restaurants as well there are numerous ATMs dotted across the city. It is useful to carry some cash with you in order to tip taxi drivers and other service workers. Sellers in the markets and souks do not accept card so using cash in these locations is essential. Currency exchanges are located in the many malls of Dubai and generally offer a better rate than the hotels and banks.

  • Coins are available in 1, 25 and 50 fils and 1 dirham denominations.
  • Banknotes are available in 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1,000 dirhams.

View current exchange rate

Average costs 🍔

  • Mid-range hotel room 🏨 = 900 AED (approx $245)
  • Average fast food meal 🍟 = 28 AED (approx $7.65)
  • Bottled water 💧 = 1 AED (approx $0.30)
  • Coffee ☕️ = 15 AED (approx $4.10)
  • Beer 🍺 = 35 AED (approx $9.55)

Tipping 🤑

  • Service charges added to bills at restaurants does not guarantee the extra money goes to the waiting staff, it often goes to the business and not the staff. A 10-15% tip for the waiters will be well received.
  • It is polite to tip taxi drivers by rounding up the fare or giving an extra 5 AED or 10 AED (approx $1.35-$2.70).
  • For takeaway delivery drivers it is a goodwill gesture to add a token amount and let the driver keep any change.
  • It is customary to tip valet staff and hotel maids 5-10 AED (approx $1.35-$2.70) per night of your stay.

Language & phrases 🗣

Arabic is the official language of the United Arab Emirates but English is in fact the most widely spoken language owing to the large number of English speaking expats residing in Dubai. Only 25% of the population are native Emiratis, with the rest of the population made up of expats of numerous nationalities. Many of these are workers from the Indian subcontinent bringing their native Urdu and Hindi languages with them. You will almost certainly have no problems getting by with just English. Road signs and information boards are displayed in both Arabic and English. Here are some basic Arabic phrases to try out:

  • Hello = Marḥaba
  • Goodbye = MaAa es-salama
  • Please = MinFadlak
  • Thank you = Shukran
  • Sorry = Asef
  • Yes / No = NaAm / La

Famous for 🏙

Burj Khalifa - Dubai is home to the Burj Khalifa, the worlds tallest skyscraper standing at 828m tall. The elegant tower is a modern engineering marvel home to the Armani hotel, residential apartments and an observation deck on the 124th floor. On New Years Eve, a huge firework and light display is put on.

Palm Jumeirah - High end hotels, resorts, retail and dining are all attractions on a 5km stretch of a man made island in the shape of a palm tree. On the very tip, Atlantis The Palm is the flagship resort offering luxurious suites costing up to $25,000 per night.

Luxury hotels - Dubai is now synonymous with wealth and luxury. It has become a playground of the rich and famous with high end malls offering all manner of designer branded goods, and opulent hotels to rest and relax in. The Burj Al Arab is perhaps the most recognisable, this sail shaped hotel sits on its own island just off Jumeirah beach and has become a symbol of Dubai.

Sand dunes - Dubai lies in the Arabian desert, all around it is a giant playground of sand dunes. Many local tour operators offer quad biking, dune bashing, sandboarding & camel ride activities to name a few.

Local tips 💡

  • Avoid public displays of affection. Hand holding is generally ok, but kissing or hugging is not seen as acceptable. You can land yourself in legal trouble if caught by security guards or police so observe your surroundings and don't do anything the locals wouldn't do.
  • Alcohol is expensive and sold only at hotel restaurants, bars and clubs. You must be over 21. Avoid being drunk in public to avoid trouble with the law.
  • Despite the glitzy skyscrapers sprouting up in recent years, Dubai has a lot of history to offer too. Dubai Museum is located inside Al Fahidi Fort, the city's oldest building built in in 1781.
  • 'Old Dubai' is centred around Dubai Creek which splits the city in two. The waterway bustles with activity from traditional wooden boats supplying the nearby souks. You can commute across the waterway for a small fee on abras: small, traditional boats used to ferry people around.
  • Dubai is a Muslim city, therefore if you visit during the holy month of Ramadan be respectful of the locals fasting by avoiding eating, drinking and smoking in public between sunrise and sunset.
  • Do not take photos of Muslim women or strangers without their permission. Same goes for government buildings, airports and other strategic facilities.

Useful links 🔗

Bon voyage 👋

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