Here are some things to keep in mind before booking that vacation in Dubai:
- The UAE is a Muslim country, and you should keep this in mind when travelling there. They have strict rules about everything, this is why the country runs so well, and their policies during Ramadan are no different. Most days out of the year, there is no need to even think about it, but keep the dates of Ramadan in mind when you book your trip. Many restaurants and bars close or change their hours during the month of Ramadan, many beaches close or impose clothing rules during the month. As a woman, it is worth being conscious of your outfit during this time, as most office buildings and formal institutes will not allow you past the threshold in a skirt above the knee or a revealing tank top. As well, there are strict rules about drinking and eating in public during the day. You are eligible for a fine if you’re seen by a police officer drinking water out on the street or eating a burger at a park. This goes for smoking as well; in case you have forgotten that that is also not allowed. HOWEVER, do not think that means you can’t go to Dubai during Ramadan. While it is a slightly different experience, perhaps you’ll find it a better one. There are so many outdoor events in the evenings during Ramadan, as well as delicious and cheap Iftar dinners (with which Muslims break their fast) around the city. While I lived in Dubai I even attended a dinner out in a mansion in the desert, owned by some wealthy Emirati, who had opened his doors every night of Ramadan to any who wanted to come. The dinners were catered, and very good, and there was all manner of people there, from construction workers from India to Oxford alumni from the UK. Of course, at the end of the month, the celebrations for Eid are not to be missed, as are the sales all over the shopping malls! So Ramadan can be fun, don’t worry, but if you aren’t interested in getting involved and want a normal holiday in Dubai, don’t be one of those ignorant people who didn’t bother getting informed and whines about it the whole time they’re in Dubai.
- Laws in the Emirates are strict, this is why cities like Dubai are so incredibly safe. Security and police are vigilant and laws can be harsh. So don’t break the law. While I lived in Dubai I never once saw people doing drugs, even so much as smoking weed. There were no homeless people, and begging is illegal, so that doesn’t happen. There are traffic cameras all over the city, and police as well, so you should always be aware of how you’re driving. This of course has upsides; if you forget your wallet anywhere, it’ll be returned to your doorstep or your bank (I’ve seen this happen three times). If you leave your kids somewhere, they’ll be fine. I’ve literally never been in a safer place in my life. You can go out at night at any hour and you’ll be perfectly safe.
- Dubai is unbearably hot in the summers; so if you’re booking a holiday and intend to spend time at the beach, don’t go in the summer. The sand will be hot enough to burn your feet, the water will be the temperature of a Jacuzzi and the air temperature will be between 40˚ and 50˚ all day. The best time to go would be the spring and the fall, so go then, otherwise you’ll be spending your entire holiday inside.
- It’s definitely worth getting out of Dubai to see the desert, the coast and the other emirates. Abu Dhabi is worth seeing, and there are a lot of small towns close to Dubai that might give you a better idea of what the Emirates are like outside of Dubai.