Marvellous, charming, dazzling…there is no positive adjective you use to describe Dubai that just doesn’t fit in. About sixty years ago, nobody cared about this town, which then was no more than a pile of sand blowing in the wind. Today, Dubai is arguably the most visited destination in the world, thanks to its amazing collections of record-breaking edifices, attractions and the amazing experiences it affords. For all the good reasons to holiday in Dubai however, there are still a lot of misconceptions about the city that first-time visitors may wish to get clarifications on. If you’re a first-time traveller planning to check out this interesting city, here are a few this you should know before you travel:
- Dubai is very affordable
Yes, Dubai is synonymous with luxury, what with its exquisite hotels, amazing restaurants and all the ‘superlative’ places in it. Yet, the city has room for all budgets. There are cheap eats around Al Muraqqabat Road and Al Rigga Road in Deira, just as budget travellers have many mid-market hotel chains to choose from. Transportation is cheaper as well, with metred taxis charging fairer rates by international standards – the Metro is even far cheaper. This is one of the few world class cities where about $500 is enough for a 5-night-6-day holiday.
- Visa is very easy
The UAE offers visa-free entry to nationals of various countries. Even those who require entry visas get it with little or no hassle. For Nigerians, Afro Tourism visa advisory services provide one of the fastest visa application processing that guarantees visa issuance in just a few hours.
- Dubai is very safe
It’s almost correct to say the crime rate in Dubai is 0% per cent, but to be fair, I’ll rather say the city is definitely safer than your home city (don’t ask me how the heck they managed to do that). Even the World Economic Forum corroborated this fact when it says UAE is the second safest country in the world. Street crime is rare, and walking around on your own is fine in most areas. Well, minus a few reckless driving, you can rest assured that you have no worries about safety.
- Dubai is a foodie spot
With a rush of international chefs to Dubai, dining out in the city has never been so good – and the multicultural nature of Dubai adds more to the options. Try out the budget-friendly traditional Emirati cuisine, or feast on Iranian, Filipino, Yemeni, Bangladeshi, Indian, Pakistani, and even Afghan food in the Bur Dubai area, or even the French and other continent option on a fantastic foodie tour of Dubai if you really think you have a deep interest in gastronomic treat.
- Alcohol is not outlawed
Yes, Dubai is an Islamic city, but there is still plenty of alcohol – in licensed bars and restaurants most of which are attached to hotels – ask your concierge for recommendations. High-end eateries in places like the Dubai International Financial Centre and City Walk also offer alcohol. Just don’t get staggeringly drunk as you might attract police intervention. Note that the legal drinking age is 21.
- Dubai is a futuristic city
From a distance, you’ll think of Dubai as a city running only on oil money. Get closer and you’ll be enamoured of the city’s ultramodern look and feel – its infrastructure, transportation, trade, finance and tourism are so top-notch and act as huge revenue generation sources as well. The plan to introduce self-driving cars, flying drone taxis and supersonic transport system will definitely up the ante.
- Weekend is Friday and Saturday
Because UAE is an Islamic country, most people have Friday off work to go to the mosque to pray. Dubai is not exempted. So, while you might have skeletal activities, the real work days are Sunday to Thursdays. The busiest nights being Thursday – which is like a Friday or Saturday night in most secular states.
- Shopping is ultimate in chic
Dubai is synonymous with shopping for good reasons: the shopping experience is so good: the malls, for instance, offer epic experiences like aquariums, ski slopes, ice rinks, cinemas, etc., in one place; and the shopping malls have become a kind of traditional town square where people socialize. Whether you try the souq or any of the malls, you’ll definitely enjoy the architecture, the activities, and the atmosphere as much as you’ll enjoy the shopping itself. For a start, you can visit the Dubai Mall, the world’s biggest shopping centre by area. It has over 1000 stores spread out over 50 football fields or so.
- There is plenty of skyscrapers
Dubai’s skyline is clustered with super tall structures – at least 911 in all. At least 88 of these skyscrapers are taller than 180 metres, while 18 of them are 300 metres and more. The famous Burj Khalifa is 828m high, while another tower, due for completion by 2020, is planned to be 928 m high. When you visit, keep your eyes on the ground, but if you must gawk, take a taxi, and gawk at your heart delight.
- There is a rich blend of culture
Dubai is a playground of all culture. Its population is dominated (about 80) by people from abroad. This makes it easy to meet people from almost everywhere across the world. Yet, you can still discover the local cultural heritage if you pay enough attention: the Etihad Museum, Dubai Museum and the Sheikh Mohammed Centre of Cultural Understanding are good places to learn about the Emirati culture.
I’ll like to hear about your experience in Dubai, kindly drop it in the comment section below?