Travel Destinations / Dubai
Dubai is fast becoming one of the most desirable luxury holiday destinations in the world because of the wonderful blend of old, and new, in the city. The city is ultra modern and the surrounds are ancient, the contrast and harmony which this creates result in Dubai being an essential destination for the seasoned, or novice, traveller. Set in the United Arad Emirates, Dubai is one of the oldest settlements and as such provides a wonderful glimpse into Emirates life to visitors.
The great thing about Dubai is that there will be little, to no, language barrier for you to overcome as most of the locals are able to speak English. Travellers can look forward to seeing traditional dhows on the water masses surrounding the city, the old souks of Deira, or the harbour at Port Rashid, and of course the nearby vastness of the great desert.
There are numerous architectural marvels in Dubai, ranging in age, from ancient to brand new. The Jumeirah Mosque is one of the most impressive examples of Islamic architecture in the world, and everyone knows the Burf Al Arab, a true modern engineering marvel.
Residents of Dubai and the UAE in general, are polite and most unassuming, as the majority are Sunni Muslims dedicated to their families and Islamic religious culture. The good thing for visitors to Dubai is that it is by far the most liberal city in the Gulf, allowing more women more choice when it comes to marriage partners, as well as being integrated into the workplace.
Although Dubai is more westernised than the rest of the Emirates, it’s still vital to remember the antique culture and traditions which have sculpted this incredible destination. From camel racing to falconry, tradition is all around in Dubai. Many men still choose to wear traditional garments, and the national language is Arabic, but you will also find Farsi and English used widely throughout the country. Take note that Dubai has very strict alcohol regulations and western travellers can only buy drinks from restaurants and bars attached to hotels, if they’re not in Shariah - where alcohol is banned entirely.
Shopping is one of the main attractions of a holiday to Dubai and there are more options on offer than you’ll know what to do with. With reduced import duties and no sales tax, prices are extremely affordable, so finding something perfect for a price which suits your budget shouldn’t be difficult at all.
During early February through March, visitors will arrive to the Dubai Shopping Festival, which engulfs the entire city. Prices are slashed, and there are a ton of wonderful bargains to be had. There are a host of world class malls in Dubai and none more famous than the Dubai Mall, the biggest in the world. There are also a number of other malls around Beniyas Square, Al-Rigga and Al-Hiyafa Road, as well as the Al Bustan, which is one of Dubai’s most popular shopping centres.
The used currency is the Dirham (AED) and 1 AED consists of 100 Fils. You’ll be able to use most credit cards anywhere in Dubai, unless you’re shopping at the souks, where cash is king. Traveller’s cheques are also widely accepted, and it’s recommended you get these in either USD or GBP.
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Winter is without a doubt the best season to visit Dubai, as the temperatures are much more comfortable for visitors unaccustomed to the soaring summer temperatures. From November to March the temperatures range from 23 - 25° C, making it perfect, weather wise, especially when you consider that temperatures can rocket to 45° C and up, during the hot, dry summer.
Best time to visit Dubai
Set in UAE, the best time to visit Dubai is between October and November, as well as from February to March. This is because temperatures stay in the mid 20s and the humidity levels are much more tolerable than during the summer. It has always been perceived that December and January are the best times to visit Dubai, but in recent years the “winters” have been very unpredictable, resulting in numerous overcast, rainy and generally bleak days.
Try to avoid the month of Ramadan if you can. Although iftar (breaking fast after sunset) can be fun and a great way to meet locals, it also creates very erratic business hours, makes enjoying meals or drinks during the day pretty difficult. Avoid traveling to the UAE during the high summer, although the hotel rates are significantly discounted, the heat will likely be far too extreme for most travelers.