Dubai is one of the emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and is also the name of its largest city. It is the most densely populated, modern, and popular and at the same time the Middle East’s tourism, commerce and shopping capital. Oil was discovered in the Abu Dhabi province in 1958 which completely changed the course of Dubai and the surrounding region.
Dubai International Airport is located within the city limits approximately 17km from Downtown Dubai. You can reach the city center using the metro, public autobuses departing from Terminals 1 and 2, or taxis (about 40-50 Dirhem). Dubai is served by two metro lines. The Red Line begins at the airport and runs through most of the important points of the city while the Green Line serves the older, more historical areas (Single use ticket 2 Dirhem, Daily Pass 16 Dirhem, a Gold Class [First Class] option is also available). Residents of the city generally travel by car as the roads are good and gas is cheap. Even if you don’t need to rent a car equipped with an on-board navigational system for transportation within the city, it can sure be enjoyable! Outside of renting your own vehicle, taxis and Hop-On Hop-Off buses are widely available. Public buses are generally used to reach the suburbs (more detailed information about Dubai’s transportation system is available at www.rta.ae). You can take an Abra (water taxi) to move from shore to shore.
Dubai boasts some of the most luxurious real estate in the world. Some of the more famous and luxurious accomodations include the Raffles Dubai, Dar Al Masyaf at Madinat Jumeirah, Al Qasr at Madinat Jumeirah, Min’ A Salam at Madinat Jumeirah, The Address Downtown Dubai, One & Only The Palm, Movenpick Hotel-Ibn Batutta Gate Dubai, Atlantis-The Palm, Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Palm Tree Court, JA Oasis Beach Tower Apartments, JA Jebel Ali Golf Resort, The Palace at One & Only Royal Mirage, and of course the world’s first 7-star hotel the Al Arab Tower. The world’s tallest hotel, the JW Marriot Marquis, as well as the out of town boutique hotel, The Desert Palm Resort & Spa are also on the luxury list. Mid-class hotels like the Al Manzil Hotel, Ocean View Hotel, and Vida Downtown Dubai are good choices. If you are looking for more slightly more budget-friendly lodging you can try Grandeur Hotel, Al Aruba Hotel or Dream Palace Hotel. Be warned that lodging is generally expensive in Dubai. More provisional hotels are available in the historic Bur district.
In what could be called the New Dubai neighborhood you will see the Al Arab Tower Hotel, Khalifa Tower (titled as ‘the tallest building in the world’), Dubai Mall, Dubai Marina and Emirates Towers and these are all great destinations. In the old section of the city you find the Jumerirah Mosque and Dubai Creek. The historical towns of Deira and Bur are found on either side of the bay. The Dubai Museum, which is found inside of El Fahidi Castle, Sheikh Saeed Al-Maktoum House, Grand Mosque, Bastakiya district, Wind Towers, Majlis Art Gallery, Al Ahmadiya School, Heritage Village, and the Shindagha neighborhood, are all popular. Of course, the local market complex (called “souks”), and especially the gold and spice markets; the amazing, man-made Palmiye and World Islands, parks (El Mamzar, Jumeirah, El Safa), the beach (Jumeirah), and amusement parks (Wild Wadi and Aquaventure Water Parks) also have to be on the list! If you have time remaining, you can travel a short distance and see the emirate of Sharjah. Abu Dhabi is about 150km from Dubai.
Shopping lovers will be ecstatic and even those that aren’t interested in shopping and take a tour of the city will be taken in by the grand shopping centers and the sheer selection of inexpensive and tax-free items in this shopper’s paradise! Some of the best buys are available on textiles, electronic products, and gold. Every visitor should see the historic Gold and Spice Markets that are found in the “souks”. El Fahidi Street is the right address for electronic goods while in the Satwas neighborhood you will find traditional clothing and textiles. These are some of the city’s more important shopping centers: Dubai Mall (the world’s largest shopping mall complete with an indoor ice skating rink, aquarium and amusement park, Mall of the Emirates (the first shopping resort with an indoor ski slope), BurJuman Centre (one of the city’s most popular), Deira City Centre, Festival Waterfront Center (IKEA and Plugs-ins ElectronicX have stores here), Mercato, Town Centre Jumeirah, Ibn Battuta Mall (made up of 6 courts, each court uniquely designed from a different coutry’s architecture), Souk Madinat Jumeirah (traditionally designed Arap markets), Wafi Mall, Emirates Towers Boulevard, Al Ain Plaza (Computer Plaza), where everything computer related is available, Lamcy Plaza, Dubai Outlet Mall (popular brand discount markets), Dubai Marina Mall ve Gold & Diamond Park. Quite a list! If you are going to Dubai just to shop, you should choose the best time. In January and February the Middle-East’s largest market is held, the Dubai Shopping Festival, and is the world’s largest. During what is called the “Dubai Summer Surprises” and also the month of Ramazan tremendous discounts are offered.
In the famous beach city of Dubai, with it’s all year round summer season, you can relax at a public beach like Al Mamzar or Jumeirah or opt for private resorts such as Club Mina or Club Joumana. Besides soaking up the sun on the beach, you can parasail, waterski, and windsurf, or sail out to sea on a sailboat or a yacht. Or if you so desire, go diving and swim with the fish! Al Safa Park is a great place to relax or to take part in outdoor activities. If you want to go snow skiing (yes, snow skiing!) check out Ski Dubai inside the Mall of the Emirates (MOE). And you can’t return from Dubai without going on a desert safari and Dune Bashing is the most popular and exciting way to experience it! If you go on an organized desert tour you will ride a camel, see the sunset, and spend the night in a Bedouin nomad tent. A popular local activity is hunting wild birds. Balloon, helicopter, and airplane tours are all available and great ways to view the Dubai skyline from above. These tours also give you the chance to see the Palm Islands and World Islands (designed as a world map!), as well as sand dunes, from a bird’s eye view. You can also head up to the stratosphere in the tremendously tall Khalifa Tower. You can tour Dubai Creek from a water taxi (Abra) or take a dinner cruise. Dubai horse racing is world famous. For a more traditional experience, camel races are also held in the city. Family fun can be had at the Wild Wadi Park or at Global Village. At night, enjoy your time in one of the nargile (water-pipe or ‘hookah’) cafes.