I visited Dubai this January for my birthday and I loved it! Although the laws and culture are very different than the country I am from, that didn’t stop me from taking a trip across the world to see it for myself. There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding middle eastern countries and their customs and I heard a lot of crazy talk before I left. The good thing is that I am open minded and open to new cultures so I didn’t let peoples negativity change my mind about going. I absolutely loved Dubai and the 3 other emirates I visited, so I want to share 10 things I learned with you. This list is based on what I’ve learned and observed on my visit.
Traditional Emirati Food is Hard To Find:
This may come as surprise to some, but Dubai is a multi-cultural nation and over 75% of the population of the UAE is foreign. You will find all different types of food there from countries all around the world. If you are really interested in trying Emirati food ask a local or your hotel front desk. They will be able to recommend a few delicious spots.
Expensive is Relative:
Leading up to my trip to Dubai I kept on hearing and reading that Dubai is expensive. I didn’t find it to be expensive, food is cheap and public transportation is reasonably priced. The most expensive thing you will pay for is accommodation and even that is relative to what your budget is. I can understand how someone with a currency that is lesser than the Dirham would find it to be expensive but if you are traveling with USD you should end up with a lot of money after exchange. I actually ended up bringing money home which is unusual for me after a long vacation.
It’s Super Safe:
In reality, the UAE’s crime rate is one of the lowest in the world, 9th to be exact. While my thinking is that anytime you travel you should always be alert, aware of your surroundings and use common sense. I never once felt unsafe or threatened in Dubai.
There is Something for Everyone There:
Do you want to ski in 100 degrees? Skydive? Scuba dive? Camp in the desert? Uber a helicopter? Go to a theme park? Party until the sun comes up? There are so many options to choose from, you may even be overwhelmed by the number of options available to you. There is something here to suit the tastes of everyone.
Easy To Get Around:
You will always be able to find a taxi, the buses run until 5 am in the morning, there is an efficient metro system, uber and careem (U.A.E.’s version of Uber). You will never be stuck. Times for most of these services may vary during Ramadan though.
The Weekend Begins On Friday:
So I knew this but I didn’t realize how different it would be for me to experience. For most people around the world the work week is Monday through Friday, in the UAE the work week is Sunday to Thursday. Why is everything packed on a Friday morning? It’s because everyone is enjoying their weekend, Brunch is very popular on Fridays! You should try it.
It’s Not As Conservative As You Think:
While you will see some women in abaya/hijab and men in kandoras. You will also see them in jeans, shorts and dresses without being covered up. The only time you will need to cover up is when entering a mosque and some malls may ask you to dress modestly.
It’s Not A Walking City:
Most things in Dubai are miles apart and the city has not been designed with pedestrians in mind. The only place I found to be walking friendly was downtown Dubai and even that was a stretch. Other than that most places you will have to use a taxi or another form of public transportation to get around.
The Palm is Underwhelming:
I remember seeing the news about the Palm Jumeirah as a young adult and being fascinated by it. During planning for my trip I definitely wanted to stay there even though my research told me that it would not be the most convenient place to stay. While I loved the hotel I stayed at, a palm is just not an effective shape for an island, the one way in and out creates a ton of traffic and it’s far from almost all of the activities. If you have a childhood fascination like me, stay for one night and move to a hotel nearer to the city center.
It’s Technologically Advanced & Clean:
There are so many things about this city that had me in awe, the buses and taxis with wifi and tablets available. Food delivery at any hour from any restaurant you could think of. The road radar systems that send drivers tickets directly to their phones along with the fine and exact time and location it was issued. Public spaces were always clean, especially the bathrooms. Every bathroom I entered always had someone there waiting to clean and make sure that tissues and soap were available.
I had an amazing time in Dubai and the surrounding Emirates and I would definitely go back again! If you’ve visited Dubai already let me know if you learned something that you didn’t know before your trip.