Destination Guide: Dubai
Currency: Dirham (AED)
Time: Dubai is in the Gulf Standard Time zone (GST) =GMT +4 hours
British citizens will receive a 30 day visa on arrival in the United Arab Emirates. This can be extended by another 30 days by visiting an immigration office and paying a small fee. Those with a British National (Overseas) passport must obtain one before travelling
To tip or not to tip?
It’s common practice to tip in Dubai although most restaurants will add a service charge onto the bill anyway. If no service charge is added then a small tip of between 10 to 15% will be welcomed.
What time do we eat?
Locals are very relaxed about meal times. Breakfast is often eaten between 6:30-10am, lunch is taken anytime between 11am and 3pm and dinner is usually taken after 7pm.
Dubai is a Muslim country, and therefore you should be reminded that the availability of food may change dramatically during the holy month of Ramadan. The dates of Ramadan can be found here.
What time do we work?
Generally speaking, the working week in Dubai runs from Sunday to Thursday although it is not uncommon to find retail businesses open six days a week, closing only on Fridays.
Business is usually done between the hours of 8am and 1pm, recommencing after the temperatures have dropped at around 16:00 through until 19:00.
Do you speak English?
Only 20% of the population of the Emirates are 'real' Emiratis so there are many languages spoken in Dubai. Arabic and English are most frequently used in business.
Status is very important in the United Arab Emirates. Therefore you should always use the correct title when addressing someone. Western people will usually be addressed via their title and first name – so Joe Bloggs would be addressed as Mr. Joe.
Handshaking is important here and can go on longer than we might be used to. To be respectful, you shouldn’t withdraw your hand until the other person withdraws theirs. However, when a man meets a woman, she should wait to see if the hand is offered (Muslim woman are unlikely to shake a man’s hand in public).
Beach wear is only allowed at either the beach or around swimming pools. Away from those areas, short shorts, skirts, dresses and vests/tank tops are frowned upon.
Building a personal relationship is important to locals, so getting to know each other should take place before the ‘nitty gritty’ of the business meeting – however, do not directly ask about the females in a man’s family, instead ask “how is your family?”
Catching the metro is the cheapest way to get around the city. A day ticket will cost around AED16 which is roughly £3. The Metro lines connect to most of Dubai’s landmarks making it a very convenient way to explore the city on a shoestring.
If you’d like to be a bit more flexible when travelling in Dubai then you could take a taxi. Taxis are metered and fares start at Dh3. When taking taxis, be sure to avoid getting into into a non-metered taxi as it is most likely from a northern Emirate; it is actually illegal for the driver to take a fare from Dubai.
If you are a female, you may want to consider taking a ‘pink taxi’ with a female driver. These taxis will only pick up female passengers, or women with young children.
Where to work?
Dubai’s business district is split into two parts - Deira on the northern side and Bur Dubai to the south. Dubai Internet City (DIC) is one of the most populated business areas within Dubai with large companies like Dell and Microsoft having offices there.
Where to play for a few hours
If you’re making a quick turnaround, Dubai Mall is a great place to spend some time:
The Dubai Mall is the world’s largest shopping centre based on total size and the sixth largest based on leasable area. It is home to around 1,200 shops, featuring Western high-street stores, international designer brand, local Arab shops and restaurants.
If shopping isn’t your thing, you can always spend some time in the Dubai Aquarium and Discovery Centre which is also located here.
Where to play for a day
If you’ve got a day to spare, you can’t leave without visiting:
Burj Khalifa, also known as Burj Dubai, is the tallest man made structure in the world. It has 160 floors and at 2717ft tall, it’s an astounding 644ft taller than the Shanghai Tower will be when it’s completed in 2014.
The skyscraper is in Downtown Dubai and boasts 30,000 homes and office suites along with nine hotels. It is also home to the Dubai Fountains and is surrounded by shops and malls, making Burj Khalifa a great one stop shop for an array of entertainment.
Where to play for a weekend
If you’re taking a longer stay in Dubai, you might want to have a bit of playtime at:
Wild Wadi Water Park
Given the heat of Dubai, spending some time at the fun filled Wild Wadi Water Park is a real treat. The park was home to the largest water slide outside of North America but it has since been replaced with two smaller rides.
Despite that, it still offers plenty to occupy visitors; three different swimming pools, 17 water slides, two surfing simulators, a wave machine and a 59ft waterfall.
Where to Eat
Ravi is an off-beat restaurant famous for serving traditional Pakistani food. It is located in Satwa town and attracts a varied crowd.
This place is a huge a hit with the locals who frequent the restaurant right through to the early hours for its big authentic curry dishes with small price tags. Ravi’s Punjabi curries with fresh naan breads and grilled meats come highly recommended.
The Chill Rooftop
The Chill Rooftop is a great place to unwind of an evening. Located in Bur Dubai on top of the Royal Ascot Hotel, the rooftop overlooks the Bur Dubai's low-rise apartment blocks and provides a spectacular night time view.
The Chill rooftop is renowned for being one of the most laid back spots in the city. Visit if you like the sound of lounging around on day beds listening to music played by resident DJ’s whilst being massaged by the bar's trained reflexologists.
Where to stay
Burj Al Arab
If you don’t mind staying slightly outside of the city, then one of the world’s most recognisable buildings is the place to stay. The famous sail shaped Burj Al Arab is the self-proclaimed world’s most luxurious hotel and is described as a symbol of modern Dubai.
The hotel sits on its private island on the edge of the Persian Gulf, offering spectacular views over the United Arab Emirates coastline. But such luxury does come at quite a large cost. One room for the night in around a month’s time will cost at least around £1360.
Address: Burj Al Arab, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Millennium Plaza Hotel Dubai
For something that still offers luxury, but at a much more affordable price, Millennium Plaza Hotel is the perfect choice. And whilst Burj Al Arab offers luxury away from downtown Dubai, the Millennium Plaza sets it right in the heart of Dubai’s Trade Centre 1. Dubai International Airport, Dubai International Financial Centre, Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre and Burj Khalifa are all nearby, making the Millennium Plaza Hotel Dubai the ideal place to stay.
Address: Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, 191055, United Arab Emirates.