Dubai is ideally situated midway between the Far East and Europe. An equal distance from London and Beijing, most major destinations in Asia, Africa, Europe and Russia are less than an eight-hour flight away. With an excellent network of roads and highways connecting neighboring Arab countries, and regular cruises to and from Dubai, the emirate is easily accessible by air, land, and sea.
Dubai Airport currently has three passenger terminals. Terminals 1 and 3 are directly connected with a common transit area, with airside passengers being able to move freely between the terminals without going through immigration, whilst Terminal 2 is built on the opposite end of the airport. Transport within and between these three terminals is provided by people movers, underground tunnels.
Flights to Dubai
There are over 120 airlines operating to Dubai, so you are indeed spoilt for choice!
Flights to the UAE have become more and more accessible. As routes and schedules have widened there are more cheap flights to Dubai. So, when you begin your search for flights to UAE, the official site for Emirates is one place to look. Start by exploring the deals available online. Make sure to look at the options available with travel packages that include Dubai hotels and flights to enjoy a savings you might not otherwise have the opportunity to receive. Travel packages are always a great way to find deals on flights to Dubai.
Lightweight summer clothing is suitable for most of the year, but sweaters or jackets may be needed for the winter months, especially in the evenings.
Compared with certain parts of the Middle East, Dubai has a very relaxed dress code. However, care should be taken not to give offence by wearing clothing which may be considered revealing. At the pool or on the beaches, trunks, swim-suits and bikinis are quite acceptable.
Good quality sunglasses, hats or some protection for the head are advisable when in direct sunlight.
The monetary unit is the dirham (Dh) which is divided into 100 fils. The dirham is linked to the Special Drawing Right of the International Monetary Fund. It has been held constant against the US dollar since the end of 1980 at a mid-rate of approximately US$1= Dh3.67.
The official language is Arabic but English is widely spoken and understood. Both languages are commonly used in business and commerce.
No health certificates are required for entry to Dubai, but it is always wise to check before departure, as health restrictions may vary depending upon the situation at the time.
Dubai has many well-equipped hospitals. The Dubai Department of Health and Medical Services run Dubai Hospital, Rashid Hospital, Maktoum Hospital and Al Wasl hospital.
Dubai Hospital is one of the best medical centers in the Middle East, with specialized clinics; Al Wasl Hospital is a specialized maternity and gynecology hospital. The department also operates a number of out-patient clinics, of which one is situated in Jebel Ali.
In addition, there are a number of well-equipped private hospitals with in and outpatient facilities. Dubai also has the Dubai Healthcare City, the world's first healthcare free zone, which boasts two complementary communities, namely, the Medical Community and the Wellness Community. The Medical Community, occupying an area of 4.1 million square feet, focuses on clinical services for disease treatment and prevention, while the Wellness Community, 19 million square feet, completes DHCC’s healthcare continuum by housing hospitals, outpatient clinics, luxury spa resorts, and the entire spectrum of wellness services.
Tipping practices are similar to most parts of the world. Some restaurants include service; otherwise 10 per cent is adequate.
The emirate of Dubai has a very good and well signposted road network. The quality of the roads are excellent and rival any modern city in the US or Europe. Most roads are two and four lane with the main arterial roads having 4-6 lanes in each direction. Driving is on the right hand side of the road and speed limits are strictly enforced through the use of radars. The position of the radars is often changed, so it is important to be vigilant.
Over the past two decades, Dubai has built an impressive road system. Road and Transport Authority (RTA) with its customer-focused approach is powering a change through its vision “Safe and smooth transport for all.” A massive expansion is currently underway and numbers of projects are in varying degrees of completion including double decker roads and creek crossings among others. The new roads and roads will ease the traffic jams in this fast paced and ever growing city.
The bus service in Dubai is quite extensive and cost effective. The RTA operates over 75 routes operate within Dubai city and 15 inter-emirates buses. These air-conditioned buses are air-conditioned and comfortable. The city boasts of new articulated and sleek double decker buses and also an exclusive service for women commuters. RTA has also installed modern air-conditioned bus shelters all over the city.
There are over half a dozen main bus stations in Dubai - Al Ghubaiba; Al Satwa; Al Qusais; Hor Al Anz; Al Rashidiya; Jebel Ali; Al Sabkha - from where buses leave for various parts of the city. Buses generally operate from around 5 am until just after mid night during week days. Dubai has a unique flat rate on all of its routes.
Taxis are the best way to get around Dubai. There are about 7000 taxis operating in Dubai and they are all regulated by the Government. You can be assured of a safe and comfortable journey in any of these taxis. They are all metered and the drivers courteous and well trained. Most can converse in English. Don’t be confused by the various colored tops of the taxis. The pink colored tops are meant only for women, children and families while the red top ones are operated by Dubai Taxi Corporation (DTC) of the RTA, a Government of Dubai organization. The others such as blue, green, yellow, brown or white tops belong to companies that have been franchised by the DTC. All these companies operate under a strict code of conduct and quality standards. So, you can be assured of the services.
The creek has always been the lifeline for business in Dubai and the traditional wooden boat - Abra - was the most prominent mode of transport on this fascinating waterway. Abras used to ply the Dubai Creek for almost two centuries and are thus an integral component of the legacy of the emirate. Even today, the 150 plus Abras are one of the main modes of transport in the older parts of Dubai. However, with the expansion of the creek, new routes and services are being planned and water transport will become a major mode for getting around Dubai.
Crossing the creek by abra is a common method of transport for local residents and tourists alike. The popularity of this mode of transport can perhaps be attributed to its low fare and frequency. For two decades, each crossing cost a mere 50 fils. This was recently increased to AED 1 per trip. An Abra leaves as soon as it filled to capacity - which is about 20 persons. This means there is hardly any waiting time. You will see abras streaming back and forth across the creek. An estimated 20 million passengers used the abra services in 2008 and it is expected to go up to over 25 million in 2009. With this growth in user numbers and to revive and protect the heritage of this old water transport system, the RTA has launched a marine transport project.
The Dubai Metro is the flagship Project of the RTA in terms of: its approximately 15.5 billion Dirhams total investment (inclusive of Project Management fees and utility diversions); state-of-the-art engineering and technological challenges; visibility throughout the city being an architectural showpiece, and; its direct role in providing social benefits. In addition it will be a catalyst for improving real estate value, economic development and urban regeneration along its main route and arteries. Dubai Metro will create an additional source of employment opportunities for both local population as well as the region.
Although it may seem unimaginable to be cycling around Dubai, with the fast paced traffic and hot temperatures, hiring a bicycle for getting around this beautiful city is becoming increasingly popular. Several companies now offer bicycle hire services. However, it would be advisable to avoid hiring bicycle for a Dubai City Tour. Also, a lot of care is needed when cycling due to the speed of the cars. In the hotter months, cycling is more arduous and it should be remembered that you will not arrive fresh after pedaling in temperatures as high as 45ºC!
There are several types of visas for visitors to Dubai.
Nationals of the following Countries do not require Visas to enter the UAE:
Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Holand, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtain, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Monaco, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States of America, Vatican
The Visit Visa applies to tourists who wish to spend more than 14 days in Dubai, those coming for family visits as well as those on long-term business visits.
It requires the sponsorship of any U.A.E. resident or any company or hotel licensed to operate within the U.A.E. A refundable DH 2,000 guarantee from expatriates who wish to sponsor distant relatives is imposed.
This visa is valid for entry within two months from its date of issue.
The Visit Visa is valid for 60 days and is renewable for a total stay of up to 90 days. A fee of Dhs 500 is charged for this renewal.
In order to complete the application, the sponsor will require the visitor’s date of arrival and arrival details and a photocopy of the first few pages of the visitor’s passport, which must be valid for at least three months. There is a fee of Dhs 100 for obtaining a visit visa. There is also a fee of Dhs 10 for visa delivery service by DNATA. Hotels, hotel apartments, tour operators, travel agents and airlines may not levy supplementary charges or processing fees in excess of Dhs 50/- for arranging visas for visitors.
The Visit Visa holder may enter and leave the country through any port of entry in the U.A.E.
A special category of visas under the Visit Visa type is a Tourist Visa, which can be obtained for individual tourists from: East and West Europe, Turkey, Bulgaria, Poland, Ukraine, Albania, Russia, the Hellenic Republic, St Kitts-Navis, St Lucia, Mexico, Cuba, Bermuda, Belize, Guyana, French Guiana, Martinique, Antigua and Barbuda, St Vincent, Kingston, Palao other non-defined American nationalities, Thailand, South Africa, Singapore, China, Malta, Cyprus.
The Tourist Visa entitles its holder to a 30 day stay and is non-renewable. The Tourist Visa requires the sponsorship of hotels and tour operators who bring in visitors from the above listed countries. The fee is Dhs 100. There is also a fee of Dhs 10 for visa delivery service by DANATA. Hotels, hotel apartments, tour operators, travel agents and airlines may not levy supplementary charges or processing fees in excess of Dhs 50/- for arranging visas for visitors.
US citizens (tourists and business people) may apply to the UAE embassies in the US for one to ten year multiple-entry visas. A sponsor is required and the visa will be granted free of charge. The maximum duration of stay should not exceed six months a visit.
Dubai enjoys an arid subtropical climate, with blue skies and sunshine all year round. Temperatures range from lows of 10°C to extreme summer highs of 48°C. The average maximum daily temperature in January is 24°C and the average maximum daily temperature in July is 41°C when humidity is very high.
The hottest months are between June and September, when temperatures can soar to 113°F (45°C) and more during the day and humidity levels are very high. Even the sea temperature touches on 104°F (40°C) during the summer months, and swimming pools at hotels are usually cooled to be refreshing. Temperatures are only slightly more moderate the rest of the year, the coolest time being between December and March. There is very little rainfall in Dubai, but when showers do fall it is mainly in the cooler months.