WHAT IS DUBAI?
Dubai is one of the seven emirates collectively known as the United Arab Emirates. The city was not always glamorous with state-of-the-art buildings including modern-day amenities. Residents of Dubai from the 19th century worked hard to build up the city bit by bit and as a result, it stands strong at present. There has been a phenomenal change in economy and infrastructure in Dubai since the time its residents began trading pearls. Unlike today’s Dubai, which is full of Range Rovers, Ferraris and other luxury cars, the modes of transportation during the old days were dhows and camels. The architectural design of Old Dubai is an Arabic low-rise vernacular style unlike the high-rise contemporary style buildings that dominate the rest of Dubai.
Similarly, the marketplace (referred to as ‘souq’) of Al Naiq was a rather simple place in the 60s and 70s. The souq was engulfed by fire in 2008. After it was restored, the souq is now loaded with gold shops that trade on the per gram gold rate basis.
Location of Dubai
Located on the southeast coast of the Arabian Gulf, Dubai is just hours away from Europe, making it a popular holiday destination, luxurious shopping spot and a city with extravagant nightlife and vibrant cityscapes. Dubai is the most populated city of United Arab Emirates (UAE), which shares its international border with Oman and Saudi Arabia. Dubai’s growth was accelerated by oil revenue. However, today less than 5% of the emirate’s revenue comes from oil. In the present time, Dubai’s economy heavily relies on its revenues from tourism, trade, real estate and financial services.
Time zone of Dubai
Dubai follows the United Arab Emirates Standard Time. It was given by Gulf Standard Time, which is four hours ahead of GMT/UTC (GMT+4).
Arabic is the official language of Dubai, however, English is widely spoken across the city. There are emigrants who also speak languages like Hindi, Bengali, Urdu, Tamil, Persian, Chinese, Malayalam, Telugu and other languages. Many people live in Dubai for their work and they bring in these languages. Most of these expatriates are from India; hence, that explains the rush of Indian languages in Dubai.
The currency in the UAE and Dubai is officially known as dirham (commonly called Arab Emirate Dirham or AED). The currency is often abbreviated as Dhs or DH. The notes of the currency come in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000. Besides, dollars and euros are commonly used and accepted here. Dubai hosts over 1 million tourists from all over the world. Currencies of the other countries like Kuwait, (Kuwaiti dinar, KWD), Oman (Omani riyal, OMR) and Saudi Arabia (Saudi riyal, SAR) are also accepted in Dubai.
WHERE TO STAY IN DUBAI?
Downtown Dubai is a mix-complex under development in Dubai. It is the proud abode of some of the finest architectural structures of the world, including Burj Khalifa, the tallest man-made structure in the world. Other highlights of the city like Dubai Mall and Dubai Fountain are also located in Downtown Dubai. The area houses an array of high-end hotels like Vida Downtown and Al Manzil Downtown, resorts, exquisite nightclubs, pubs and bars. There is a market named Souk Al Bahar, which is popular for luxurious items. Situated next to Dubai Fountain, the 3.6 km-long stretch hosts over 20 restaurants, café and lounges to cater to the needs of tourists and other local visitors, making it one of the major tourist attractions in Dubai.
One of the city’s most affluent, liveliest and busiest residential areas, Dubai Marina is more than what it just seems to be. From exotic cruise rides to shopping at Dubai Marina Mall and enjoying al fresco dining experience to taking a ride on a cable car all the way across the marina, the area has a lot of surprises for visitors. Dubai Marina Towers, the residential high-rise including six towers, was the first to complete its construction in Dubai Marina and is the most prestigious and exorbitant area to reside in Dubai.
Located on the coast of the Arabian Gulf, the Jumeirah beach is named after the Jumeirah district of Dubai. The beach, with its pearl-white sand, is one of the most popular places to visit in Dubai. The warm, turquoise blue water, pristine sandy beaches and gorgeous landscape make it ideal for enjoying water sports. Featuring on the list of best things to do in Dubai, banana boat riding, swimming, sailing, skiing and scuba diving offer lifetime memories to one and all. Best Dubai attractions, including Burj Al Arab - the only seven-star hotel that has been lauded as the 8th Wonder of the World, Grand Jumeirah Mosque and Palm Jumeirah, are viewed from the beach. Also, these are counted amongst the prominent tourist places in Dubai.
One of the newly formed, sub-community residential areas of Dubai, Al Barsha is located in western Dubai. The residential, commercial and hotel property started its construction in 2000 and is still developing. It is thinly populated as compared to the rest of the residential communities. Al Barsha is close to the airport, Burj Khalifa and the Palm Jumeirah. Al Barsha is famously known for the Mall of Emirates, an attractive and vast shopping complex full of high-end fashion brands and multi-cuisine, global restaurants; and fun activities like indoor ski slopes at Ski Dubai. Both Mall of Emirates and Ski Dubai are prominent Dubai points of interest at Al Barsha. The Dubai Miracle Garden, open to the public from October to April, is also one of the popular Dubai tourist places that offer elaborate flower and butterfly displays.
Deira has seen rapid changes due to industrialization over the years. Located on the east bank of the Dubai Creek, Deira has numerous souks or shopping places from where tourists and locals buy gold and other items. These old souks sell jewelry and spices like saffron and turmeric at discounted rates. The Dubai Creek is the place where ships sail to and from, to bring in imported goods. Deira is situated in the older parts of Dubai. The Deira City Centre, located between Sharjah and the airport, is one the oldest yet one of the busiest places in Dubai old city.
HOW TO GET TO DUBAI?
Dubai International Airport
It is the primary international airport serving Dubai, and as per the records, it is the world’s busiest airport in terms of international passenger traffic. Millions of tourists come to Dubai either for their holidays, shopping or as a lay-over to reach other continents. Dubai International Airport, as a whole, is extremely crucial especially for Indians travelling to European, African or North African countries. Its position is that of a bridge that helps passengers willing to fly to countries in other continents lay-over in Dubai, and then carry on with the rest of their journey. As a result, DXB becomes one of the world’s busiest airports in relation to cargo and passengers, as well as the highest average number of passengers per flight.
Al Maktoum International Airport
Commonly known as Dubai World Central, Al Maktoum International Airport is located 37 km southeast of Dubai. Opened in 2010, the airport is comparatively new in construction. When it was opened in 2010, it had one runway and operated on only cargo flights. It was not before February 2011 that the airport was granted certification for handling passenger aircraft with a capacity up to 60 passengers. Al Maktoum plans to handle all kinds of aircraft upon its completion. Once its expansion plan and extension will be over, Al Maktoum will not only reduce stress from Dubai International Airport but also be the largest airport in the world in terms of physical size and passenger volume. The expansion has been pushed to 2030 and as of 2019, only a handful of passenger flights have operated from Al Maktoum. Once it is complete, it will contain three terminals, including two luxury facilities, executive and royal jet centres, luxurious golf resorts, a residential area, hotels, restaurants and exclusive shopping malls. Additionally, the world-class international airport is proposed to have a parking space for over 1 lakh vehicles. And, it will be linked to Dubai International Airport by a proposed light-weight, high-speed rail system.
DUBAI AIRPORT TO CITY CENTRE
Dubai Metro runs on Red and Green lines that are fully functional. There is another major line being constructed presently. The Red and Green lines run underground in the city centre and feature elevated over-ground stations elsewhere in the city.
- Operating hours – The Red line of Dubai Metro takes passengers from the airport Metro station to the city centre. The Metro station is close to Terminal 3 of Dubai International Airport and has two stops in between before reaching the city centre. The first stop is the Metro station close to Terminal 1. The next stop is Al Garoud, before finally reaching Deira City Centre.
- Travel time – The travel time for reaching the city centre from Dubai International Airport is approximately 4 minutes.
- Fare – The Metro fare for one person to undertake the journey is approximately 55 to 80 INR. In Dubai’s currency dirham, this fare is approximately around 2.84-4.13 AED.
- Rules for luggage – There are various rules and specifications involving and related to passengers and travellers who want to avail Metro services from the airport. In close succession to the opening of seven new Metro stations on the Red line, including Terminal 1 Metro station, Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has revised its baggage policy for all those who wish to travel from the airport to various accessible parts of Dubai via Metro. After their check-out, passengers can head towards the nearest Metro station with baggage that is standard for an Emirates Airline economy class passenger.
- Each passenger is not allowed to posses more than two bags while travelling in the Metro. The size of the larger bag should not exceed 81 cm in width, 58 cm in height and 30 cm in diameter. As for the smaller bag, it should be within 55 cm in width, 38 cm in height and 20 cm in diameter. Moreover, passengers should be able to carry their own luggage at their own responsibility. Porter services are not available at the Metro station. Trolleys provided by the airport for carrying heavy luggage are allowed only up to a certain point. Once inside the Metro station, passengers are requested to abandon their trolleys as they are not allowed inside the Metro station for security reasons.
Taxi services are provided by various organizations in Dubai. Passengers can also avail local taxis from the taxi stand outside the airport. Taxis of various kinds, including private vans, taxi cabs or shared taxis, are available. A flat rate of AED 25 ($6.81) has to be paid if a passenger wishes to avail one.
- Travel time – The distance between Dubai Airport and the city centre is roughly around 5 km. If there is no traffic, taxis usually do not take more than 15 minutes to reach the city centre via the Airport Road.
- Fare – A flat rate of AED 25 ($6.81) has to be paid if a passenger wishes to avail taxi services. After that, the charge per kilometre from the airport is AED 1.96 ($0.53). The distance of city centre from Dubai International Airport is fairly 5 km. In that case, calculating the fare in addition to the base fare, the price of availing a taxi from the airport to the city centre should be approximately AED 34.8.
- By Uber/Careem – The fare of an Uber or a Careen ride varies from time to time. It is usually high during the rush hours of the day and at night when the international flights land and take off. The price of an Uber or a Careen ride can be checked while booking the cab via their app. For this, passengers must have the apps pre-installed on their phones or they can do so using the free Wi-Fi connectivity available at Dubai International Airport.
UNDERSTANDING FOR NOL CARDS
An NOL card is an electronic card made for ticketing in all modes of public transport. Exclusively used in Dubai, the card is valid and can be used for travelling in Dubai Metro, trams, buses, water buses and taxis. These cards need to be recharged manually upon or before the balance gets over, however, in the case of Blue card holders, recharge can automatically be done through online payment.
- Price - The card needs to be recharged; the minimum amount being AED 7.5 and cannot exceed more than AED 1000.
- Reload time - Reloading can be done manually (or online) upon or before the balance gets over.
- Types - There are two types of NOL cards that the public of Dubai can avail, Red and Blue NOL cards. Red NOL cards offer unlimited one-day trips and monthly passes for Metro, while Blue NOL cards offer concession in fare for students, UAE senior citizens and disabled and physically challenged people.
- Validity - The money available in the NOL cards never expires. It gets added on if the card holder wishes to recharge it. Most local card holders find it easier to pay their exact fare in trams, buses, Metro rides and taxis using NOL cards.
WI-FI, SIM AND CONNECTIVITY IN DUBAI
Buying SIM cards for travellers is practically easy in the UAE. There are multiple options available at the airport itself and the activation time of these cards is merely a couple of hours. For purchasing a SIM card in UAE, one must show his/her passport along with a valid UAE visa. Once the formalities and the paperwork are done, travellers can purchase their desired SIM cards.
There are two mobile operators that work in Dubai – Etisalat and DU. Etisalat SIM cards are more popular and can be easily found upon arrival at airports in Dubai city and Sharjah. They are also available at Etisalat Business Centres, authorized dealer stores, across all major Dubai and Sharjah city malls, shopping centres, major retailers like Jumbo and select hotels of UAE. DU SIM cards are also widely available at shops and across all authorized dealers.
Wi-Fi in Dubai
As a part of UAE Vision 2021, the city is practically swimming in Wi-Fi connectivity provided by the Government of Dubai. With this fast developing era of Internet and Dubai being the hub of international tourists and major advancement in science and technology, it becomes extremely crucial for the city to have a good Internet connectivity. Besides personal and office-space Wi-Fi accessibility, there are Wi-Fi hotspots in the entire city. One can easily find Wi-Fi UAE network from the list of available connections nearby on their gadgets and enjoy high-speed Internet connectivity. ‘Wi-Fi UAE Free’ is available and accessible to all Wi-Fi-enabled devices, smartphones, laptops and I-pads tablets.
Application / Websites Required to Stay in Dubai
While travelling abroad, travellers must keep certain applications on their phones that will help them to easily access and stay connected in the foreign land. While in Dubai, the following apps should preferably be pre-installed:
The app helps not only in finding the nearest bus or Metro station, but one can also make taxi bookings, and find parking facilitated areas, shopping malls and healthcare institutions. Moreover, NOL and Salik card holders can check the balance in their cards and add more funds. Besides availing various RTA services, the app helps to calculate charges for various transportation facilities.
This is the official app of Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing. Travellers can have an easy access to a host of attractions, sites and events that are not usual tourist spots. The app also contains other features like knowing about local customs and etiquettes, and dos and don’ts. It even helps in hiring a taxi or contacting emergency services when in crisis.
Food on Click
Similar to online food delivery and food and restaurant apps like Swiggy and Zomato, Food On Click helps in finding the best restaurants, exquisite fine-dining areas nearby or even the cheapest dinner in a snap. The app also ensures fast delivery services from any desired restaurant.
Although OYO services can be accessed using the website, keeping the app handy and installed on phone is the best way to deal with booking hotels in a hassle-free way. Hotels registered under OYO provide ample of amenities based on the type and budget of hotels that travellers opt for. There are various cheap hotels from Dubai that are available under the hotels registered in OYO. Many OYO hotels in Dubai also provide great discounts and even more if they are pre-paid. One can pre-book his/her place of stay by scanning the pictures provided on the app and book accordingly. This saves the traveller to needlessly wander and search for hotels and a decent place to stay upon arrival in Dubai.
The official app for hiring Careems in Dubai, it works just like Uber and Ola. Hiring a Careem using the app is simple. One can feed in his/her pick up point and the destination and check the fare. Upon confirmation, the nearest Careem from the traveller’s pick-up point can be hired without any hassle.
MAJOR PLACE TO VISIT IN DUBAI TRIP
Shopping and Malls
There are ample of tourist destinations, places to visit, tourist attractions and spots in Dubai. Besides selling products from high-end brands, the malls in Dubai boast about their infrastructure and ambience. Other than shopping, the Mall of Emirates, for example, has ski facilities that allow skiing, and the Mall of Arabia has a real-life Jurassic Park where both adults and children enjoy. Often called the ‘Shopping capital of the Middle East’, Dubai features over 70 shopping malls including the biggest mall in the world, Dubai Mall.
World-Class Attractions and Beaches
Palm Jumeirah must not be forgotten when it comes to listing the best attractions in Dubai. Palm Jumeirah is a huge man-made, palm tree-shaped island that features numerous hotels, restaurants and other spots where tourists flock. The highlight of the place is the high-end hotel Palm Atlantis, a beautifully landscaped place that features elegant buildings and gardens. Although there are plenty of beaches in Dubai, there is only one public beach Al Mamzar located at Sharjah. If the travellers are putting up at Jumeirah Beach Hotel, they get access to the beach that is owned by the hotel. For children, Lego Land is a must-visit spot. The park hosts numerous rides and dressed-up characters, mini land light shows and other exclusive activities. It is the ultimate family destination that both kids and parents can have fun at.
Forts and Iconic Monuments
Dubai is the proud abode of many forts and historical structures. One of them is Al Fahidi Fort, which was built in 1799. It is considered to be the oldest structure present in Dubai and is also a part of Dubai Museum. Another such structure is the famous luxurious hotel Burj Al Arab, which is built off the shore and resembles the sail of a boat. Jumeirah Mosque is a must-visit tourist attraction that welcomes visitors who belong to religions other than Islam six times a week. Built entirely out of white stone in the traditional Fatimid style, Jumeirah Mosque is famous for its intricate artistry and true beauty. This iconic monument is lit wonderfully with lights after dusk; making it look gorgeous. During their visit to Jumeirah Mosque, visitors are requested to dress up respectfully; women are required to cover their heads with a scarf and ensure that their shoulders remain covered.
When is the Best Time to Visit Dubai?
Dubai is a city with hot summer days and pleasant winter days. Hence, the best time to visit Dubai is from November to April. The months of December, January and February witness huge tourist traffic and is also the time when most of the hotels are overbooked. This is partly because of the Dubai Shopping Festival when tourists from different parts of the world visit the city. The places to visit in Dubai during summers are beaches, Wild Wadi Water Park, Global Village and Dubai Miracle Garden that make up for a memorable Dubai city tour.
What Type of Power Plug/Socket is Used in Dubai?
All the cities and places in the UAE, including Dubai, use the plug-type G. This is a plug that has three rectangular pins arranged in a triangular pattern. Dubai operates in 50 hertz and 230 supply voltage.