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Dubai: 7 Things Travelers Need To Know Before Visiting

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Dubai is a city of superlatives. It is home to the world’s tallest building, the biggest man-made island, the largest mall, and the most luxurious hotel. It is a global city that goes over the top in every way, and people love it. Dubai is a hotspot for digital nomads and remote workers and has recently been named the top tourist destination in the world.

But before setting off to Dubai, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. In this post, we'll cover everything you need to know about traveling to Dubai, including:

  • What are the costs for travelers?
  • Things to know about culture and etiquette
  • What are the top attractions?
  • How safe is it?
  • Local food and drinks
  • How good is the wifi?
  • How long can you stay?

Ready? Here are the top 7 things you need to know before visiting Dubai:

a camel looks into the distance on the sands of Dubai with tall buildings in the background

Did you know… There are 7 times more foreigners than locals in the UAE? With an international population of over 88% made up of 200 nationalities, it is truly a global city. However, the majority of foreigners are migrant workers from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India who come to work on construction projects, often under very harsh conditions.

1) Dubai's Affordability

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Dubai has so many choices for accommodation that it can suit a variety of budgets. It is by no means the world’s least expensive travel destination. But, if you choose a hotel that fits your budget and avoid too much luxury shopping, you can have an enjoyable vacation without spending too much. However, if you want an uber-luxurious vacation with all the frills you’ll also find that in Dubai.

The currency in Dubai is the United Arab Emirates Dirham or AED. As of 2-14-2023, the exchange rate is 1 AED = 0.27 USD or 1 USD = 3.67 AED.

Here are the average costs for travelers in USD:

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Dubai Skyline Seen From Across The Water, United Arab Emirates, Middle East

Accommodation

Hotel prices in Dubai drop dramatically in the off-season when the heat is oppressive, and there are not many tourists. The prices below are for the high season only, which is from October – May.

  • Average hotel price: The current average price for a hotel in Dubai is $225 per night.
  • Luxury 5-star hotels: One night in a luxury 5-star hotel in Dubai will cost around $518 per night, although there are certainly pricier options like the famous Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, which has rooms available starting at a cool $2989 per night.
  • If you're on a budget: A bed in a hostel costs anywhere from $30-$60 a night.

Food

Your food budget can really vary in Dubai depending on your tastes and interests.

  • A mid-range three-course meal for two in Dubai will set you back about $80.
  • For a cheap meal at an inexpensive restaurant, expect to pay around $11
  • A bottle of beer from a restaurant costs around $13, while a cappuccino is about $5.

Transportation

  • Tickets on Dubai’s public transit system are very inexpensive and range from $0.80 to $2, depending on the distance traveled.
  • Taxi fares in start at $3 and then an additional $1.30 per mile.
  • Ride-hailing services include Uber and Careem, with Uber costing slightly more.
Dubai, UAE People lounging near food trucks at the Food Truck Jam, a weekend event with food trucks and live music at the Emirates Golf Club. Dubai Media City in the backdrop.

2) Culture And Etiquette In Dubai

Check this list before your trip! Here are some of the major Dos and Don'ts in Dubai.

The UAE is an Islamic society, and visitors should respect the local customs, especially when outside of hotels, entertainment, and nightlife venues. While Dubai is one of the more liberal destinations in the Middle East, it is still important to respect the traditional culture. The city continues to relax many of its rules in an attempt to attract more foreigners, but visitors should be aware of what is expected nonetheless.

  • DO dress conservatively: This means dressing modestly by keeping shoulders, legs, and cleavage covered when out and about. You don’t need to cover up completely, but bring a scarf to throw over your shoulders if needed.    
  • DON’T kiss in public: Public displays of affection, such as kissing and holding hands, are considered inappropriate. While a bit of PDA isn’t unheard of, it is best to keep your hands off your partner if you can.
  • DON’T get drunk and disorderly in public: If you are out on the town enjoying yourself, make sure your behavior doesn’t get out of control once you leave the bar or nightclub.
  • DON'T visit during Ramadan: While you can vacation in Dubai during the holy month of Ramadan, it is not recommended. Even tourists must follow the customs of Ramadan when in public – that means fasting between sunrise and sunset. Hotel and shopping mall restaurants will section off areas for tourists to eat during the day, but many places close altogether.
Enjoying travel in United Arabian Emirates. Young woman with camera walking on Dubai Downtown.

3) Top Attractions in Dubai

  • The Dubai Fountain: This incredible fountain in Burj Lake is the tallest in the world. Free shows are scheduled every day, and visitors can watch 22,000 gallons of water dance 500 feet into the air along with choreographed music.
  • Burj Khalifa: No trip to Dubai is complete without a visit to the world’s tallest building. Tourists can visit the observation deck on the 124th floor and enjoy endless views of the city below.  
  • The Dubai Mall: The largest mall in the world could take a lifetime to explore. With over 1,200 retail outlets, 200 dining options, and even an aquarium.
Dubai's center, lakes and fountain

4) How Safe Is It For Tourists?

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Dubai is consistently ranked as one of the safest cities in the world, and the crime rate is low. However, there are still some things that travelers should keep in mind:

  • Beware Of Pickpockets: petty crime, including pickpocketing and theft, is common in tourist areas, especially in Jumeirah Beach.
  • Watch out for riptides: if you fancy swimming at the beach, look out for red flags and riptides. Ask about the currents can be dangerous at times.
  • Know about travel warnings: The U.S. Department of State has issued a level 3 “reconsider travel” advisory for the United Arab Emirates due to the threat of missile or drone attacks.
  • DO get travel insurance: Travel insurance can help in health emergencies as well as with covering the costs of any travel mishaps during your Los Cabos trip. For 5 great options, read more here.
Modern skyscrapers and water channel with boats of Dubai Marina at sunset, United Arab Emirates

5) Local Eats And Drinks

One of the best parts of travel is checking out the local cuisine. Don't let yourself leave Dubai without trying at least one of the following:

Food

  • Khuzi – this is the UAE’s national dish and is typically made with lamb or mutton served on top of rice, vegetables, and nuts.
  • Luqaimat- hot donut-like dumplings made fresh and served with a sticky date sauce and sesame seeds
  • Camel milk ice cream – yes, this is a real thing!
  • Machboos – a traditional spiced rice dish with dried lemon and shrimp, lamb, or chicken
  • Khubz – Arabic flatbread, served with dips

While not traditionally known for its plant-based food, Dubai is increasingly catering to alternative diets, so vegans and vegetarians will find plenty of options.

Drink

  • Arabic coffee – a light roast coffee infused with cardamom and served in tiny cups
  • Jellab – a cold drink made with grape molasses and rose water, often topped with pinenuts and raisins
  • Laban– a high-protein creamy buttermilk drink

Alcohol is not widely served in Dubai, but it is easily found in hotels, restaurants, and bars targeted toward expats and tourists.

Drinking Caipirinha cocktail in Dubai in souk madinat jumeirah outside in a bar

6) How's the WiFi?

Using Ookla, an internet speed testing service, the average internet speeds in Dubai for December 2022 were 184.66mbps download and 25.77mbps upload.

digital nomad in Dubai

7) How Long Can I Stay?

Americans traveling to Dubai will receive a 30-day tourist visa upon arrival at no cost. Visitors will need to have a passport that does not expire within 6 months of arrival and might be asked to show proof of a departure ticket. Dubai is also a growing hotspot for digital nomads and remote workers, so Americans looking to stay long-term can live there for up to a year under the Remote Working Program.

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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com

Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.