From the whiteness of its sand to the scale of its skyscrapers, the thriving metropolis of Dubai has become a hugely popular holiday destination with people from all over the world travelling to the heart of the desert to visit this iconic city.
If you are attracted by its prominent beaches and Michelin-starred restaurants, here at Southall Travel we can help you learn more about this must-visit destination.
Before we delve into the things you need to know about Dubai holidays, we wanted to give you an insight into why so many people love the city. Travel writer Chloe who is the blogger behind Wanderlust Chloe has spoken about why she adored Dubai: “365 days of sunshine a year, beautiful beaches, pure luxury and an incredible, buzzing city, Dubai is the ultimate beach holiday meets city break.
“It fascinated me. A man-made skyscraper city built in the desert. Not so long ago there were sand dunes where the city’s malls and hotels now lie.”
Read on to discover what you need to know about Dubai holidays, with info on everything from flights and airports to culture and activities. You will then be ready to book your trip to the city.
An overview of Dubai
Dubai tourism has increased dramatically in recent years as this once small fishing village is now one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world.
Dubai is a city and an emirate in the United Arab Emirates, and it was first established in 1833 as a small fishing settlement on the Persian Gulf coast. The UAE is a country which shares a border with the likes of Oman and Saudi Arabia.
Dubai is the most populated city in the UAE, but it isn’t the country’s capital as that is Abu Dhabi.
Rules when visiting Dubai
Before your holiday you need to be aware that there are certain rules when visiting Dubai that you need to abide by and here we take you through some of the ones you should be aware of.
Wearing appropriate clothing
The general rule regarding dressing in public in Dubai is to wear clothing that covers your shoulders and your knees. It’s best to avoid wearing clothing that is too tight or too revealing for both men and women.
Dr Nadeen White, who is the writer behind The Sophisticated Life travel blog by day and a physician by night, has spoken about what people were wearing during her trip to Dubai:
“Basically, tourists and ex-pats wear regular clothes. The only time I wore a traditional hijab and abaya was visiting the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. I expect that would be the same when visiting any mosque.
“While on the beach I was actually surprised just how skimpy people were dressed or not dressed. You are also expected to have on closed-toe shoes with pants or long skirts for ladies with your shoulders covered while dining in restaurants in Burj Khalifa and Burj Al Arab.”
Rules to follow in Dubai during Ramadan
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim calendar, and it is the holy month of fasting. It begins and ends with the appearance of the crescent moon and because the Muslim calendar year is shorter than the Gregorian calendar year, Ramadan begins 10-12 days earlier each year. In 2023 it will be taking place from March to April.
During the month of Ramadan, there are certain rules you will need to follow for everyone visiting Dubai. Muslims will be fasting during the month and visitors should not eat, chew, or drink water in public during the month.
Visitors to Dubai can obtain a temporary liquor licence for the duration of a month, according to the Gov.uk website. Residents in the UAE cannot drink alcohol in public areas and can only drink alcohol at home or in licensed venues. It is always best to check the rules and regulations of alcohol consumption in the area you are in.
Other cultural considerations
The UAE in many respects is a tolerant society and private life is respected, although acts of homosexuality in public can be punished. There is an information and advice page for the LGBT community that you can read before you travel.
Swearing and making rude gestures are considered obscene acts and, in Dubai, as well as in the rest of the UAE, if you do this in public you can be deported.
Things to do in Dubai
Dubai is full of some amazing attractions and activities that you can do and here we take you through some of the best.
At 555 metres, the Burj Khalifa is the world’s tallest building, and if you travel to the top of the building, you can enjoy some amazing views from its panoramic observation deck. You can also eat at some top-class restaurants, including the highest restaurant in the world.
Watch the Dubai Fountain Show
The Dubai Fountain Show is the largest of its kind in the world and the displays that are part of the show are truly spectacular.
Diana, a solo traveller who writes travel guides on her The Globetrotting Detective blog, has visited the fountain show before and she talks a bit about her experience:
“The fountain show which is also called water dance is the world’s largest choreographed fountain show. It’s a free activity in Dubai. You don’t need tickets to see this fountain show. It’s just right outside the Dubai Mall.”
Shop at the Dubai Mall
The Dubai Mall is the world’s largest shopping, entertainment and leisure destination and it is located next to the iconic Burj Khalifa.
There are more than 1,200 retail stores located in the mall and hundreds of food and beverage outlets that you can stop at if you need a refreshment or to relax.
Diana from The Globetrotting Detective blog spoke about shopping at the Dubai Mall: “Shopping in Dubai Mall is definitely a lot of fun. You’ll find here so many brands from Adidas to Dior. If you are not into shopping that much, at least check their awesome souvenir shops.
“My favourite part was Fashion Avenue. I find it the most beautiful part where you can find stylish cafés and super expensive retail shops. The design of this part is simply gorgeous, so don’t miss it.”
Other great attractions to visit and activities to try in Dubai
- Go on a desert safari
- Visit a water park
- Relax on Dubai’s beaches
- Go sky diving
Tax in Dubai
Although this isn’t something that will affect your holiday in Dubai, the topic of tax in Dubai is something that a lot of people are interested in learning about, especially if they are visiting the city. There is no personal income tax in the UAE and this means that the tax rate in Dubai is zero. You can find out more about taxation in the UAE here.
Dubai flight times
If you are looking at flights to Dubai, you will see that the time it takes to fly from the UK is around 7 hours. Here we take you through the time it takes to fly from some of the UK’s major airports to Dubai.
- Heathrow to Dubai flight time: 6 hours, 55 minutes
- Gatwick to Dubai flight time: 6 hours, 55 minutes
- Flight time from Manchester to Dubai: 7 hours, 10 minutes
- Birmingham to Dubai flight time: 7 hours
- Edinburgh to Dubai flight time: 8 hours, 55 minutes
- Glasgow to Dubai flight time: 7 hours, 30 minutes
If you are planning to book your flight to Dubai, you might be asking yourself which airport you will be flying into. The Dubai International Airport and Al Maktoum International Airport are the two main ones that you will fly into from the UK.
The UK to Dubai time difference
Dubai is 4 hours ahead of the UK during the winter months and is 3 hours ahead of the UK in the summer. Dubai has one official time zone and there is no Daylight Saving Time clock changes in the city.
If you’ve booked your holiday to Dubai, your thoughts will turn to how much money you will need to take out for your trip, but the first thing you need to know is the currency you will need.
The currency in Dubai is the UAE dirham and the subunit of the dirham is ‘fils’. 100 fils equals 1 dirham and the different notes you can get in dirham are 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1000.
If you want to take cash out before your trip, you can exchange your British pounds at the Post Office and other currency exchange high-street retailers.
November to February is generally considered the most popular time of the year to visit Dubai as temperatures are pleasant.
The average temperature in November sits around 31°C, December (26°C), January (24°C), and February (25°C). With Dubai boasting warm temperatures during the winter in the UK, it has become a popular winter sun destination.
The temperatures are hottest in Dubai from May to September as temperatures can rise above 40°C.
Islam is the official religion of the UAE and Dubai with more than 70% of the country identifying as Muslim with just over 10% of residents identifying as Christians.
As discussed earlier in the article, there are some laws you will need to be aware of when visiting Dubai, especially around dress codes.
Arabic is the official language in Dubai, but there are many variations you will hear during your visit to the city. The most common spoken language is standard Arabic, but some locals speak a dialect known as Gulf Arabic or Khaleeji.
Below are some sayings you can learn in Arabic:
- Good morning – Sabah al-khair
- Thank you – Shukran
- Please – min fadlik
- Yes – naäam
- No – laa
- I am sorry – arjuu almaädhira
- Good evening – masaa’ alkhayr
- Good night – tuSbiH äalaa khayr
This guide about Dubai should help you to plan your trip or if you have already booked your dream holiday, it will help to inform you of some important things you need to consider before you travel. Here at Southall Travel you can book all inclusive Dubai holidays and can enjoy one of the world’s most impressive cities.
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