Destination Guide - Dubai

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Dubai

Dubai is a young country as it was only formed in 1971, but it has achieved a lot in its short lifetime.  It is naturally blessed with year-round sun and white-sand beaches, and has added to these attractions with the man-made opulence and glamour that it has become synonymous with.  It is a destination of contrasts as it is overtly materialistic but also holds traditional Arabic ideals.  Alcohol is only served within accepted places such as hotels or restaurants) and there are certain guidelines that tourists should follow:

Men shouldn’t try to shake hands with an Arab woman, also, any overt displays of affection are frowned upon
Don’t dress provocatively
Don’t show the soles of your feet
Don’t offer an Arab alcohol
Don’t be aggressive or loud

Dubai is an emirate within the UAE (the United Arab Emirates) and is located south east of the Persian Gulf on the Arabian Peninsula and has the second-largest population with the second-largest land territory of all the emirates, after Abu Dhabi.  Dubai City is located in the emirate’s northern coastline.   It has much to recommend it to the discerning holiday maker – cosmopolitan duty free malls compete with souks of gold, silks and spices, and this represents the alluring mix of the old and new that Dubai has to offer.

Health
Dubai’s medical services and hospitals are of a good-quality, and are widely accessible.  Health professionals working in Dubai are carefully vetted to check that they are appropriately qualified to practice.  Generally, the first diagnostic visit to a private doctor is £40 (which doesn’t include any medical examinations that may be required).  Post-clinic consultations are charged higher than regular clinic consultations.  It is wise to obtain comprehensive travel insurance prior to travelling to Dubai as medical costs would soon mount up, and a travel insurance policy with medical cover would be advisable.  As the heat reaches extremes as high as 50 degrees, heat-stroke and sunburn is a very real possibility, so make sure you take all of the necessary sun-safety precautions.  Tap water is decreed safe to drink, but many people prefer to drink bottled water, as tap water has a metallic taste.  Remember to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, and to make sure that you take lots with you if you are travelling into the desert.

Cuisine
From street food to gourmet restaurant dishes, Dubai boasts an array of exotic flavours derived from Arabic cuisines, Asian and Iranian food.  A welcome accompaniment to a curry is the Arabic bread that is freshly baked in clay ovens.  You may not have a large enough appetite to eat a whole stuffed camel, but other delicacies are tasty enough to appeal such as falafels (mashed peas and sesame seeds rolled into chicken balls and deep fried), hareis (a rich delicacy of slow-cooked wheat and tender lamb) and mehalabiya (a pudding sprinkled with rosewater and pistcachios).  Alcohol is only served in hotel restaurants and bars, there is a wide choice but prices are higher than in the UK.

Electricity - Three-pronged pins and output identical to the UK

Currency – United Arab Emirate Dirhams (AED)

Driving – on the right

Climate – Dubai has a very hot, arid climate.  Its summers are extremely hot, windy and humid, with an average high of around 42 degrees and overnight lows around 29 degrees.  Most days are sunny throughout the year.  Winters are still warm, with an average high of 23 degrees and overnight lows of 14 degrees. 

Clothing – As Dubai is a conservative Muslim culture there are certain dress codes that are recommended to avoid offence:

Men should not wear shorts unless they are at the beach.
Women can wear what they choose when dining/partying in Western clubs and restaurants.  In shopping malls and “western” areas, knee length skirts and tops that cover the shoulders and stomachs are a good idea.  If visiting a more conservative area such as a souk, a mosque or a museum, then it is advised to wear long a long skirt or trousers and a loose top down to the elbows. 
It is a good idea to carry a lightweight cardigan or pashmina to hand in case you move from one area to a more conservative one.

Where to go?
For history and culture – Be transported back in time when you visit the bustling and colourful souks – choose from a wide variety including the gold souk, the spice souk and the perfume souk and sharpen up your bargaining skills whilst mixing with the welcoming locals

For kids and teens – Cool off with a family day out at a water park – choose from the Aquaventure water park at the Atlantis, the Palm or the Wadi Wdi Water Park next to the Jumeirah Beach Hotel.

Relaxation – For the ultimate romantic dinner, opt for a moonlit dhow dinner cruise down the Dubai Creek.  With breathtaking views of the city’s skyscrapers and famous landmarks spectacularly lit up, you will enjoy a peaceful cruise and a choice of tasty Arabic and international cuisine.

Action - For families with older children, a desert safari will provide a thrilling excursion into an unfamiliar landscape – you may experience dune-bashing, quad biking, camel riding and sand skiing.

Nightlife – This has improved a lot since the mid-90’s to the extent where there is a wide choice of nightclubs, with most staying open till 3am and lots attract world class DJ’s to their decks.  Things to bear in mind are that the Dubai weekend runs from Friday to Saturday and that most clubs will be shut during the Muslim festival of Ramadan.  Those that aren’t closed will be very subdued as no live music or dancing is allowed during this time. 

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