For those inflicted with a serious case of the travel bug, few world destinations offer the opulence and excitement of Dubai. This prosperous city is built upon the dream of Middle Eastern wealth and now, along with Abu Dhabi, stands as the UAE’s center of economy, technology and culture. No self-respecting globetrotter can miss a chance to visit this breathtaking oasis. Probably the biggest boom for American travelers is that English is a popular language in the country.
If you decide to visit Dubai, here are five essential tips that guarantee a smoother, safer trip…
- It is HOT. Most Americans don’t have any idea what “hot” actually means. It becomes 95° F in the US, and we whimper indoors. In Dubai, during the summer months, it can creep up to 130°F during the day. That’s real heat. Consequently, most natives and visitors rarely venture outside during the day in the summer. Since it is a desert climate, it can also drop dramatically at night, sometimes as much as sixty degrees. When packing for your journey to Dubai, bring a variety of clothes to combat climate
- The public transportation system in Dubai is improving, but taxis are essential for navigating the city. If you are venturing out during rush hours (6:30AM to 9AM and 4:30PM to 7PM), always arrange transportation with your hotel concierge or front desk. Trying to grab a taxi during these peak hours frustrates most travelers…and is sometimes downright impossible.
- Saturday and Sunday are ingrained in the American mind as the weekend, but this is not the case in Dubai. Friday and Saturday are considered the “weekend” in the Middle East (it was once Thursday and Friday, but that was changed to sync with Western businesses). Be aware that Friday is the Holy Day in Muslim countries. Businesses and attractions may be closed or have altered hours that day. Plan accordingly.
- Alcohol consumption in Muslim countries comes with many restrictions. Dubai is a fairly liberal city, so you can purchase alcohol, but only at specific locations. Luxury hotels almost always have bars attached, so you can find drinks easily, but public intoxication and public drinking is illegal. Do NOT even consider drinking and driving in the city, since ANY trace of alcohol (even one beer) in your system while driving usually results in jail time. Not a slap on the wrist, but real jail time.
- Displays of affection or sexual contact in public can also result in criminal charges. Women in the city are among the most stylish in the world, but they dress conservatively. This doesn’t require a burqa, just some common sense. At the beaches, bikinis are acceptable, but not thongs, micro-bikinis or topless bathing. Dress with class and sophistication, and you’ll be fine.