Dubai - City Overview
Dubai, a renowned business and tourist destination, saw its population leap from 3.6 to 5.2 million over 2008-2013. The city continues to strive for competitiveness, as evidenced by building the world's largest airport and tallest building
With year-round sunshine, intriguing deserts, beautiful beaches, luxurious hotels and shopping malls, fascinating heritage attractions and a thriving business community, Dubai receives millions of leisure and business visitors each year from around the world. These visitors can benefit from a range of services and a local infrastructure that help make any trip to Dubai smooth and hassle-free.
Dubai has a warm, sunny climate that is ideal for tourism, with mild temperatures for most of the year and a low rainfall. However, Dubai is well geared up for high temperatures, and public transport, shopping malls, hotels, restaurants and visitor attractions are all air conditioned.
English is widely spoken in Dubai, and as all restaurant menus, road signs and other information is usually presented in both English and Arabic, visitors who speak English will have no trouble making their way around. Many tour operators and travel professionals will also be able to offer services to French, Russian and German speaking visitors.
Dubai is tolerant and cosmopolitan and all visitors are welcome. However, Islam is a way of life in the city, and therefore tourists should adopt a certain level of cultural and religious sensitivity for the duration of their stay. While dress codes are fairly liberal, swim wear should only be worn on beaches or at swimming pools, and when visiting shopping malls and other attractions, tourists should wear clothing that is not too tight or revealing. Certain attractions, such as mosques or religious sites, usually have stricter dress codes, requiring both men and women to cover up bare shoulders, arms and legs, and women to wear headscarves.
Despite being governed by Islamic laws, alcohol is available to tourists in licensed bars and restaurants (these are almost always located inside four and five star hotels), and in airport duty free shops. Drinking in public places (such as beaches) is not permitted, and being drunk and disorderly in public can result in stiff penalties.
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Entry & Exit Formalities
If you're a citizen of the currently 45 countries exempt from obtaining a tourist visa, simply proceed straight to the immigration desk or border post and get your passport stamped. If you are entering on a sponsored visa, you’ll need to go to the clearly marked visa-collection counter at the airport when you arrive.
UAE airports have duty-free shops in the arrivals and departure areas. Allowances are subject to change but at the time of writing visitors over 18 arriving at Dubai International Airport were allowed to bring in the following duty-free:
▪ 4L of wine or spirits or two cartons of beer at 24 cans each (non-Muslims only).
▪ 400 cigarettes plus 50 cigars plus 500g of loose tobacco.
▪ Gifts up to the value of Dh3000.
Allowances may be slightly different at other UAE airports.
You are generally not allowed to bring in:
▪ Alcohol if you cross into the UAE by land.
▪ Materials (eg books) that insult Islam.
▪ Firearms, pork, pornography and Israeli products.
All passports must be valid for at least six months from the date of arrival. It is generally not possible to enter with an Israeli passport, but anyone entering the UAE with an Israeli stamp in a non-Israeli passport should have no problem.
Most drivers can also be hired by the hour. In that case, rates should be negotiated unless fixed fees are set in place. In Dubai, for instance, the fee for six hours is Dh300, for 12 hours Dh500.
Most cabs can also be engaged for long-distance travel to other emirates, in which case you should negotiate the fee at the beginning of the trip.
Few drivers are fluent English speakers and many are more familiar with landmarks than street names. It helps if you mention parks, shopping malls or hotel names when giving directions for your desired destination. Tip about 10% for good service.