Dubai Travel Tips – with Wired Destinations
Dubai General Facts
Dubai is a relatively new tourist destination and is the commercial center of the Middle East. There is plenty to do and see in Dubai, including the characteristic creeks and old quarters, and of course, its famous duty-free shopping. Find out all there is to know about Dubai with Wired Destinations’ Dubai Travel Tips, Dubai Travel Info, Dubai Shopping, Dubai Sports and Leisure Activities, Dubai Nightlife and Dubai Sightseeing.
For centuries, Dubai was only known to traders of spices, gold, slaves and other cargoes as a safe haven. Arabian traders and their dhows have moored on the shores of the Creek in the early 1800s. Archaeological sites around Jumeira, Al Qusais and Mina Siyahi show that Dubai was an important station for caravans in the past. Today, the areas are joined by super highways and residential suburbs. Dubai is today an international trading town of the Middle East. Regardless of the wealth and development in Dubai, the city still retains some of the atmosphere as an old trading port before the 1960s.
The Dubai creek is a long saltwater inlet that divides the areas of Bur Dubai and Deira. It is near the Dubai Country Club with a bird sanctuary and flamingo breeding place. The creek is a scenic area for trading ships, water taxis and expensive yachts.
Dubai is the focal point of the Middle East, bordering the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Gulf, between Oman and Saudi Arabia. This Sun kissed metropolis has latitude of 25° 13' North and a longitude of 55° 17' East, covering a total land area of 2,885 square kilometers, making it the second largest Emirate behind Abu Dhabi. Located on the banks of Dubai Creek, a natural bay from the Gulf, Dubai is acknowledged to be the most important port and commercial center o f the United Arab Emirates.
Dubai Telephone – Country and City Code
+971 (United Arab Emirates) +4 (local number for Dubai)
UTC / GMT (+ 4 hours) The UAE is four hours ahead of London, twelve hours ahead of Los Angeles, nine ahead of New York, and six hours behind Sydney. Daylight Savings Time (DST) is not observed.
Dubai Business Hours
Normal shopping hours are from 9:00 am - 1 pm and 4:00- 9:00 pm. Many shops, particularly in Dubai and Abu Dhabi stay open all day. Most shopping centers open from 10 am - 10 pm. Some supermarkets are open for 24 hours. Shopping centers and most shops are open on Friday, the Islamic day of rest, but they all close for Juma (Friday) prayers from 11:30 am - 1:30 pm.
Government offices open at 7:30 am and close at 3:00 pm. It is advisable to visit in the morning. Private offices tend to keep longer hours, coming back to work in the evening after an extended mid-day break. Some private businesses open from 8 am - 5 pm. All government offices close for the weekend at mid-day on Thursday, and do not open again until Saturday morning. Some offices outside the public sector are open on Thursday and close on Friday and Saturday.
Dubai has a subtropical climate, with clear blue sky and plenty of sunshine all year round. Summer is between June and September, with temperatures that can rise to around 45°C. During the day in summer, the weather is hot with high humidity. The sea temperatures reach up to 40°C while swimming pools at Dubai Hotels are usually cooler and more refreshing. In winter between October and April, the temperature at night is from 10-20°C. There is relatively low rainfall in Dubai. Expect only some showers in the cooler months.
Dubai Dress Code
Lightweight summer clothing is ideal with a wrap, sweater, or jacket for cooler winter nights and air-conditioned premises. Although the dress code in the UAE is generally casual, guests in the larger UAE hotels do tend to dress more formally in the evening. Since you are visiting a Muslim country, bikinis, swimsuits, shorts, and revealing tops should be confined to beach resorts. Women are usually advised not to wear short skirts and to keep their shoulders covered. It is to be noted that in Sharjah women are strictly prohibited from wearing swimsuits on public beaches. The sun can be fierce throughout the year so heatstroke and heat exhaustion are always a risk. Adequate sunglasses, hats, and high factor sun creams are essential, especially for children. Note that in some Muslim countries appropriate dress code is mandatory. Find out more with UAE Insider Travel Tips.
The telephone network operated by the national telecommunication organization ETISALAT provides free local calls and direct dialing to 150 countries. Cheap rates for international direct calls apply from 9 pm to 7 am and all day on Fridays and public holidays. There is a complete list of rates at the back of each telephone directory. Pay phones, both card and coin operated, are located throughout the UAE. Phone cards for local use (Dh30 or Dh45) are usually available from ETISALAT offices, supermarkets, pharmacies etc. Coin operated phones take Dh1 and 50 fils.
GSM services are available. The mobile phone code within the UAE is 050. 'Speak Easy' is a GSM mobile service for those visitors and tourists who cannot use their own mobile phones in the UAE. You can either buy a new mobile phone and purchase a temporary SIM card or use your own handset with a temporary card. Contact ETISALAT for details. Most five-star UAE hotels offer guests internet access. Email cheap rates are from 7 pm to 7 am. Public internet access kiosks are being established in the UAE, initially at the major airports. The minimum charge for public access is Dh2 and 60 fils per minute. Payment can be made by credit card. Access is also available at the following any number of internet cafes where the rates are in the region of Dh15-Dh20 per hour. If you have brought your laptop with you, along with a modem and browsing software, you can dial 500 5333 to get connected to the internet. A charge of 15 fils per minute is billed to the telephone to which you are connected. For more details call 800 5244.
The General Postal Authority runs an efficient postal system with red post collection boxes dotted throughout the cities and towns. Mail is usually collected morning and evening. Stamps can be purchased and post mailed from your UAE hotel. Express postal facilities are also available at post offices. Note that there are no telephone or fax facilities at post offices in the UAE and poste restante facilities are not available.
Power supply is usually 220 volts, 50 cycles. Sockets suitable for three-pin 13 amp plugs of British standard design are the norm, however it is a good idea to bring an adaptor with you just in case. Adaptors can be purchased in local supermarkets. Appliances purchased in the UAE will generally have two-pin plugs attached.
The official language is Arabic, which is spoken by almost all of the native population. Persian (Farsi) is spoken widely in the cities. Urdu and Hindi are also spoken. English is used as a second language in commerce.
Dubai Health Facilities
Dubai public hospitals, where the medical facilities are very good, will deal with emergencies free of charge, however it would be wise to take out medical insurance to cover all eventualities, especially if you need to attend a private hospital or clinic where treatment can be quite expensive. In all instances, medical procedures, including the use of sterilized needles and the provision of blood transfusions are very reliable. If you need a doctor, ask at your Dubai hotel, or ring your embassy for recommendations.
Most medicines are readily available at pharmacies. Each emirate has at least one pharmacy open 24 hours a day. In some emirates, a 24-hour municipality emergency number (Abu Dhabi 02 777 929; Dubai 04 2232323) lists the locations of open chemists. Good dentists are readily available, including orthodontists.