The extravagant Dubai

Dubai, UAE. By Packing my Suitcase

When we arrived at the Dubai International Airport, my first thought was: what kind of airport is this? A huge shopping mall? I had no idea what I was still going to see…

Are you feeling the heat? The sun on your skin? Have you seen the skyscrapers? That Ferrari over there? Is that really a shopping mall? An American hospital? A Canadian University? Wait, if you are at the desert what is that beach doing over there? Welcome to Dubai, the most populous city of the United Arab Emirates and one of the most extravagant cities I’ve ever been.

In Dubai, the possibilities are innumerous: to shop at the biggest shopping mall of the world – the Dubai Mall – and try not to get lost among its more than 1,000 stores, where you can also ice skate and dive with sharks in one of the largest aquarium of the world; to test your fear of heights by going up the tallest building of this planet, the Burj Khalifa; to pay at least 20 EUR for a cocktail at the Skyview Bar of the only 7 stars hotel in the world – the Burj al Arab – where the cocktails are exotic and the view is breathtaking; trust me, its worth it.

Maybe you want to buy souvenirs and gold at the souks, but if you don’t want to be bothered with salesmen begging you to buy something with them, give it a try at the Souk Madinat Jumeirah; pay a visit to the desert just around the corner and ride a camel; what about having dinner at a dhow cruise? Or you can just decide to relax at the beach and see how long you can take the heat!

To me everything in Dubai seemed to be a little too much: a competition of skyscrapers – the tallest, the most luxurious or the most intriguing – and of the most expensive cars. A city between the sea and the desert, where you can go skiing or ice skating while its 40C outside; where you can find food from everywhere and inhabitants of the entire world; and where everything seems to be possible, thanks to oil!

Dubai, an intriguing and surprising city; where money, gold and luxury are highly exposed. A paradise for shopping addicts and business investments. An extravagant city of a young country dependent on oil, which welcomes approximately 8 million tourists per year.

Good to know before you go

Official currency: dirham
Temperature: varies throughout the year from 14C to 40C, sometimes reaching 50C.
Hottest months: June – September

Visa:

It can be a bit tricky. Normally you apply for your visa through the airline company you are traveling with. Visit the website of the airline and apply online, you will get a maximum of 30 days stay as a tourist. Some things will facilitate getting your visa, like being married to a national of one of these countries. More information about getting a visa you can find here.

Religion:

Islam. In the UAE there are many rules related to Islamism religion you should be aware of before going, for example: no kissing and drinking alcohol in public places, don’t take pictures of locals without permission and women should always cover their shoulders and knees.

Alcohol:

Can only be found in liquor stores and you should have a special card, which authorizes you to buy it. So unless you are a restaurant or bar owner you cannot buy alcohol in a liquor store in the UAE. But, of course, you are allowed to drink alcohol, only in hotels restaurants and bars. I warn you: it won’t be cheap. You can enjoy the duty free at the airport and buy some.

What to pack:

As a man: t-shirts, shorts, and jeans. Simple!

As a woman: any piece of clothing that covers your shoulders and goes at least until your knees. Sounds simple, the problem is: don’t forget it is going to be very hot and that at the same time you should remember to be respectful. You might want to pack jeans, t-shirts and dresses.

General: sunscreen, sunglasses, bathing suit, flip flops, sneakers, hats and anything that will make you feel comfortable with the heat!

Beach:

What to wear: now you might be wondering how is to be on the beach in a country with rules that restricts what you wear. I tell what, wear what you normally do when you go to the beach. Yes you’re allowed to wear a bikini, that is why as soon as you get there you will see a huge sign filled with rules, and one of them is: taking photos is prohibited (that is why I don’t have pictures of this sign nor of the beach for that matter).

Safety: in every beach there is a flag that alerts you to weather you can or can’t enter the water. So if the sign is red, don’t enter, there are probably jellyfishes or a snake. No it’s not that bad, but it can happen.

Useful link:Β http://www.dubai.ae/en

Facts about my trip:

1. Travel companion: W, my husband
2. Airline company: Qatar Airways
3. When: October/November 2013
4. How long we stayed: 4 days
5. Where we stayed: Mercure Gold Hotel Al Mina Road Dubai
6. W and me were in our honeymoon, which was weird having to watch out and not kiss in public. But its ok, then we went to the Maldives.
7. We rented a car with GPS at the airport, though we ended having to use a paper map to find our hotel since our car didn’t have the GPS we ordered! It took us almost 2 hours to get from the airport to our hotel. What are we without technology?!
8. Would we go back? Yes!

Dubai, UAE. By Packing my Suitcase

Have you ever been to Dubai? What were your impressions? Would you go back?

About Allane

A Brazilian living in Germany. Married to W. mommy to a baby girl and a Golden Retriever. Traveler, writer, aspiring photographer, diver, wine appreciator, Formula 1 fan, avid reader of historical and young adult fictions books. City girl, nature lover, believer of a better world, one little change at a time.

  • My husband and I were there in 2011 in transit and stayed overnight with a dear old school friend I had not seen in over 20 years! Loved it but probably not to live there. Short period yes but you are right, money, gold and luxury are highly exposed. I prefer the simpler more relaxing life with a REAL beach! Great post Allane! xx

    • Thank you Farianti!! I also wouldnt live there, and also prefer simpler places and life!! And of course: REAL beach hahaha

  • I almost had to go to Dubai (this weekend, actually) for a work presentation, but it was postponed. I’m sorry I didn’t get to go, but I know I’ll go there one day. Lovely pictures, do you have more from Burj Khalifa and the Skyview Bar? πŸ™‚

    • Ohh no!!! Im sure you will have another opportunity Vlad πŸ™‚ yes I do in fact, from Skyview as it was at night there are only a few, but I have some more of the Burj Khalifa πŸ™‚

  • I am dying to go to Dubai! Although I’m always a little bit nervous dressing in more religious/conservative countries – thanks for the attire tips!

    • Ohhh dont worry…its not that bad. And the thing with dressing properly is more about respect, its prohibited, but its nice of us to respect. I have to confess that I saw many women wearing shorts at the mall! A jeans and a t-shirt will do πŸ™‚ the experience is different!

  • Another superb review! I have been passing through Dubai airport four times for flight connection. Yet i havent visited it..maybe i should just do it next time..;-)

    • Thank you Indah!! Yes, I think you should take a look next time…its worth it!! πŸ™‚

      • Will do..now my cousin is moving there as well, so it could be combined with a family visit thing πŸ˜‰

  • Thank you for the info …!! I love how well and detailed you wrote it !! Seems like u had a blast !!

    • You’re welcome!! Yes, it was a very different experience for me, since Ive never been to the Middle East…I really hope to visit more countries in the region, its so interesting πŸ™‚ I wish you a very nice week!

  • Amazing photos! They make me want to visit even more. I just have to convince my fiancΓ© it’s a worthwhile trip. πŸ˜›

    Great blog, I am following now and I look forward to reading more in the future.

    • Hi Jessi!! Thank you for the compliment and for following! You should definitely one day, its a great experience! Id you fiance likes Formula 1 you guys can go when there is the race of Abu Dhabi! Of you can go there before flying to the Maldives or Mauritius for your honeymoon

  • Really liking your blog, it’s so detailed and traveler-friendly! Looking forward to more of your posts πŸ™‚

  • I just loved the way you wrote this post. Ofcourse beautiful pictures :):)
    You just inspired me on how to write in a more better way. Very much glad to be following you on your journey

    xx
    Aanchal

    • Dear Aanchal, thank you so much, it makes me really happy that you like the way I write, and also for inspiring you!! Im also glad to be following you journeys, we always have a lot to learn from each other in this amazing world of blogging! πŸ˜€

  • Interesting to see the city where I live through your eyes. There are peaceful, simple sides of Dubai too. I’d recommend a Frying Pan Food Tour and a visit to the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding if you get to go again.

    • Hi Sally!! How nice to know that you lived in Dubai! Thank you so much for tips, I am sure that after living there you have other impressions, its totally different being a tourist, I wish I had more time there to discover a little bit more about the city. I will go back sometime soon and I will make sure that I will follow your tips! And of course, I would love to learn more from you, sounds really interesting living in Dubai πŸ˜€

  • Modern Dubai, with it’s super-superlatives sure is an extraordinary place. For me, though, it’s the Al Fahidi neighbourhood, on the other side of the creek that held my interest – the old fort, the wind towers and recently regenerated squares (not to mention the homes and shops of ‘ordinary’ people) offer a beguiling glimpse into the old city and way of life.

    • Interesting observation, I also enjoyed this part of the city! I wish I had more time to explore the neighborhoods and not only the main attractions. Thank you for the nice comment, I appreciate it πŸ™‚

  • If you return to Dubai, try a place called Bab al Shams (Jumeirah group). Lovely hotel in the middle of the desert, about 30 min by car from Dubai. They have expanded the premises since then, but we really enjoyed our time there.

    PS I don’t know about your passport, but most nationalities can get a visa at the airport. I used to go to Dubai a lot for work and every time it was the simpliest thing ever. I was there again in May this year, and the same thing.

    • Nice, thank you for the tip, seems really interesting!! Visa is easy for me too, just have to do something online and its easy…and after the first time it becomes easier πŸ™‚

      • Check Just in case if You can get It at the airport (they Just stamp your passport at the control, nothing else). I would be very surprised if You had to do anything more as easy entry to the country Is one of the government policies to attract tourists and businessmen.

        • You are right!! As a Brazilian I had to do something online since it was the first time I was entering the country, next time will be simpler. My husband didnt need to do anything, just arrive there πŸ™‚

          • πŸ™‚
            Also if and when You go back to Dubai, You can rent a car and visit Oman. Very diffΓ©rent and lovely!

          • I know right? Im crazy to go to Oman… diving there is supposed to be amazing… Im actually already trying to find a good price for the flights to Dubai and do exactly what you said! You read my mind πŸ˜€

          • Great! We fly almost exclusively Emirates to Asia and Africa. I like that company and in addition you can use Emirates miles in Europe with Easy Jet (you don’t need to pay anything, not even airport taxes). Emirates have competitive prices, too, but of course you have Etihad and Qatar Airways too…

            When I worked in Dubai, we drove a car from Dubai to Musandam in Oman, and rented a dhow boat and snorkeled there. You can see dolphins and turtles if I remember correctly. It was nice. Not a lot of facilities at that time (2005!) but beautiful.

            When would you plan to go? Dubai is a place you can go any time of the year!

          • I never flew with Emirates, but I hope sometime soon, everyone loves it. When I went to Dubai I went with Qatar and it was great! Rented a dhow? How awesome πŸ™‚ yes Ive read some articles about diving in Oman and Im crazy to go… as soon as we find great prices for the flights we will go, I was hoping to go in December for New Years, but I think it will be expensive, unless we find some sales πŸ˜€ How nice that you worked in Dubai!!

  • I remember standing on the beach in front of the Burj Al Arab with nothing and no building anywhere near it, apart from the Jameria Hotel. How times have changed – looks like I need to pop there for a 4th time to check it out. It sure is fast moving!

    • I know!!! This city grows really fast, every day a new building!! When you go back there you are going to be really impressed, its changing all the time! πŸ™‚

  • I happened to visit Dubai in 2013 and Dubai is the new middle east. Great post.