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For the experience of a lifetime, take a trip to Dubai. Dubai, the second-largest emirate of the United Arab Emirates, offers attractions and destinations that will impress even the most experienced world traveller. Ebookers can help you find a flight to Dubai from virtually anywhere in the world, and the site offers you excellent deals on airfare, hotel accommodation and transportation. Dubai's history dates back to 1095, but some of the City of Gold's architecture is believed to be even older. However, Dubai is an extremely modern city. Whether you want to visit the Dubai Fountains or the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding, there is plenty for you to see and do in Dubai.
Dubai has a tropical and arid climate, and the months of June through August are extremely hot and humid, with temperatures reaching as high as 48Â°C. The coolest month is January, when temperatures average 24Â°C. If you are interested in outdoor activities, consider planning a visit during the months of September through May. Dubai hosts many annual events, but some of the most popular include the Dubai International Jazz Festival and Dubai Shopping Festival, both held in February, the Dubai World Cup, held on the last Saturday in March, and the Dubai Summer Surprises, held in June through August. Ebookers can help you reserve hotel accommodation for whenever you decide to visit the city.
This desert resort offers customized menus for the perfect romantic dining experience.
Located in the Al Khaleej Hotel, the bar has an 80s feel, a friendly staff and inexpensive drinks.
This is an out-of-the-way, intimate bay that sits on Jumeirah Beach Road between two palaces. It is often deserted, so it makes for a nice private getaway.
You can get great art for a fraction of the usual cost at this monthly auction, which features many up-and-coming artists.
A store with an eclectic mix of African sculpture, Viking helmets, rusty swords and other items that the owner has been collecting for years.
The Atlantis hotel is the standout complex on the man-made Palm Jumeirah Island, and not just because of its salmon-pink exterior. Voted ‘Best Visitor Attraction’ in the 2009 Best In Dubai Awards, the ocean-themed resort specialises in luxury and pleasure. Guests have free access to the exhilarating water park and spectacular underwater city-style aquarium called the Lost Chambers, as well as the opportunity to swim with dolphins.
With 1.2 kilometres of private shoreline and unbeatable views out over the Persian Gulf, the Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina is the place to be for beach lovers. If you can drag yourself out of Westin’s trademark ‘Heavenly Bed’, the resort offers an array of water sports and outdoor activities. Shopaholics (and ski fanatics) will be delighted by the easy access to the giant Mall of the Emirates.
The Jebel Ali hotel’s elegant blue marble lobby sets the tone for this elegant five-story resort known as the ‘Legend of Dubai’. Golf enthusiasts will want to play a round on the championship-standard 9-hole course, set among 128 acres of gardens and beaches.
Located right in the heart of downtown Dubai, the Moevenpick Hotel and Apartments makes sightseeing easy in the traffic-congested centre. Guests can choose from nine different dining options, ranging from authentic Indian food at Chutneys to Somerset’s traditional British pub-grub.
Dubai International Airport, famous for its duty-free shopping, is just 4 kilometres from the city centre. New arrivals at either terminal can easily find a taxi, with fares typically starting at 25AED (£4.50). Special airport buses with extra room for luggage also circle the main corridors in the inner city.
Taxis are well regulated, relatively inexpensive, and generally safe. The government-owned Dubai Taxi Corporation has distinctive cream-coloured vehicles, and offers special pink ‘ladies taxis’ for added security. All taxis are legally required to have a working meter. If a driver claims the meter is broken, look for another.
Water taxis operate around Dubai creek and the main coastal resorts, with fares starting at around AED50 (£9). A cheaper, and more serene, way to cross the creek is in traditional wooden boats called abras.
The city’s bus network is cheap and comprehensive, but rarely used by anyone except low-income workers.
In response to growing traffic congestion, the government is constructing an automatic, driverless metro system. One line is presently operational, with another expected to open in August 2011. The metro is scheduled to be complete by 2015, though delays are possible due to the economic crisis.
All public transport is paid with rechargeable ‘Nol’ cards, with fares varying according to the distance travelled.
Consider a car hire in Dubai if you value the extra freedom and opportunities you get from having your own vehicle. Just be ready to sit in the occasional queue.
As you might expect, Dubai has a wealth of top-end restaurants serving dishes from all over the world. Bear in mind that restaurants outside of the main hotels in Dubai and resorts are forbidden from serving alcohol, and that opening restrictions will apply during Ramadan.
For a truly decadent dining experience, try the Al Mahara restaurant in the seven-star Burj Al Arab hotel. Diners can try exquisite seafood dishes while watching hundreds of live fish through the floor-to-ceiling aquarium window.
Gordon Ramsay brought his fine dining to Dubai in 2001, and Verre (in the Hilton) continues to be one of the city’s top restaurants. Michelin-starred head chef Scott Price is now in charge of the kitchen, adding some innovative twists to the world-class menu. As you’d expect in a Ramsay establishment, the service and classy black-and-white decor are impeccable.
The award-winning Fish Basket (Oud Metha) is a great place to sample some of the city’s outstanding Lebanese cuisine. Seafood is obviously the main draw here: fish selected from a market-style display will be cooked to order and served with staple sides like hummus and fattoush.
Kabalen (Sheikh Ahmed Bin Hamdan Al Nahyan Building, Street # 16, Al Karama) is a charming family place serving excellent homemade Filipino food at bargain prices.
Those missing home might want to stop at the London transport–themed Double Decker (Al Murooj Rotana, Sheikh Zayed Road), where British pub staples and international plates mingle on a no-frills menu. Live football and karaoke may not appeal to everyone, but the down-to-earth vibe can be refreshing in ultra-chic Dubai.
Visitors are not required to take any vaccinations or medication before entering Dubai. The risk of malaria is low, but you should take measures to avoid mosquito bites and always consult a doctor in the event of a fever—even after you return.
Temperatures in summer often rise above 40˚C. Stay out of direct sunlight during the hottest hours of the day and be sure to stay well hydrated. Not all water is potable, so stick to mineral water to be safe.
Call 998/999 for an ambulance. Health facilities are generally of a high standard, but quality can vary even between departments in the same establishment. English is invariably spoken in health centres.
Dubai is largely very safe, with little in the way of street crime. However, it is prudent to keep expensive jewellery and electronics out of sight when on the streets—especially at night.
Dubai is one of the most progressive emirates, but be mindful of local laws and customs. Homosexual activity is strictly illegal, as is the possession or consumption of drugs. Women should avoid wearing revealing clothing when outside of tourist resorts and should not walk alone after dark. Alcohol is not served outside of the tourist areas, and drunken behaviour could cause offence.
Road conditions are excellent, though traffic congestion in the centre is a major problem, and drivers can be aggressive. The (often ignored) speed limit is 40–80 km/h in urban areas and 140–160 km/h on motorways.