Planning Your Holiday in Dubai: Tips and Recommendations

aerial view of burj khalifa in dubai downtown skyline and fountain united arab emirates or uae t NARGN edited

Dubai, celebrated for its luxury lifestyle, modern architecture, inviting beaches, warm hospitality, and abundant sunshine throughout the year, stands as a prime destination for a memorable Holiday in Dubai. We’ve compiled a list of Dubai facts, tailored for first-time visitors and those looking to revisit after a significant interval.

Dubai is one of the seven Emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates which include Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah, and Fujairah. It is situated in between Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.

Facts and Figures:

UAE Dirham (AED) AED 3.6725 = 1 US$.
The United Arab Emirates dirham is the official currency of the UAE, and is abbreviated officially as AED.
Notes are in the denomination of AED 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1,000.
Coins are in the following denomination of AED 1, 50 fils and 25 fils.

The total population of Dubai is 3.5 million, as of the recent census. Approximately 16 million tourists visit Dubai per year.

Capital City
Abu Dhabi is the capital of the United Arab Emirates since 1971, which is an easy 1-hour drive away from Dubai.

Time Zone
The UAE is 4 hours ahead of GMT (GMT + 4).

Mobile Phone Operators
The country code/prefix is +971.
The most popular network operators are Du and Etisalat both of which offer coverage throughout the UAE.
Other brands include Virgin Mobile, operated on the Du network, and Swyp, operated on the Etisalat network.

Arabic is the UAE’s official language. However, English is widely spoken by almost everyone in Dubai. All road and traffic signs are in both Arabic and English.

Islam is the official religion of the UAE and you will see mosques throughout the city.
Religion is an important part of the culture in Dubai, while it remains tolerant and respectful of other religions and cultures as well.

Dubai International Airport (DXB) is the main airport in Dubai, offering a great network of direct flights to over 250 destinations in 102 countries across six continents.
It is the world’s busiest airport by international passenger traffic and the largest airport terminal in the world.
Dubai International Airport is the hub for Emirates Airlines, which operates over 3,600 flights per week, and low-cost carrier Fly Dubai.

Dubai World Central (DWC) Al Maktoum International Airport is Dubai’s airport of the future. Built south of the city, the airport opened in June 2010 for cargo operations followed by passenger flights in October 2013.
The current airlines operating seasonal passenger flights to and from Al Maktoum International Airport include Azimuth Airlines, Condor, Neos, and Azur Air.

Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) is the second largest airport in the UAE and is home to Etihad Airways. Over 30 airlines currently fly to and from this airport, providing links to more than 100 destinations, in over 50 countries. Low-cost carrier Wizz Air Abu Dhabi operates out of AUH which allows you to explore new destinations on a budget.

Sharjah International Airport (SHJ) is home to Air Arabia, which flies to over 120 destinations across the Middle East, Europe, North Africa, and Asia.
The airport serves as one of five hubs for Air Arabia, the Middle East, and North Africa’s first and largest low-cost carrier. It is located 15km away from Dubai and is the only airport in Sharjah capable of international flights.

Fujairah International Airport (FJR), situated 1 kilometre south of Fujairah, was built in 1987.
The airport serves the northern emirates as a gateway to the world, with proximity to luxurious hotels, free zones, and tourist attractions.

Ras Al Khaimah International Airport (RKT), lies south of the Persian Gulf, 20 km from the town of Ras Al Khaimah.
The airport was built in 1976. Currently, there are 5 airlines that fly to Ras Al Khaimah, with most flights operated by Air Arabia.

Dubai is one of the safest cities in the world with a very low crime rate. The city is highly surveilled with over 35 thousand cameras in operation. Strict laws and punishment for unlawful activity help to keep crime to a minimum.

Emergency Contact Numbers
999 for the police
998 for an ambulance
997 for the fire department.

Police Stations
There are 27 Smart Police Stations (SPS) situated across Dubai, the world’s first unmanned smart police stations. They operate 24 hours a day and operate daily, including on weekends and holidays.

The UAE has a desert climate, May to September is summer when temperatures range between 35°C and 50°C. However, during the winter months, from November to March, temperatures range from 10°C to 30°C.

High season (winter) starts from November to April, with an average daytime temperature of 25°C.
Evening temperatures near the coastline range between 12°C to 15°C.

Low season (summer) starts from May to September, with an average temperature of 40ºC.
Summer in Dubai is extremely hot and humid with temperatures that can reach up to 50ºC. Evenings are not so pleasant with temperatures around 30°C.

Fortunately, Dubai is well-prepared for the sweltering high temperatures, providing air-conditioning in all hotels, public buildings, malls, public transport, and even indoor bus stops.

Best Time to Visit Dubai
The best time to visit Dubai is in the cooler winter months between November to April.
Winters are pleasant with a comfortable daytime temperature averaging 25°C.
Evenings are cool and dry with minimum rainfall and temperatures ranging between 12°C to 15°C.

Rainfall in Dubai is minimal and does not last for a long period of time. On average it rains about 20 days a year mostly in the winter months between November to March.

Best Month to Swim
The waters surrounding Dubai are warm throughout the year, roughly following changes in air temperature. The best months to enjoy the beaches are November, February, March, and April, when the sea temperature is a comfortable 25°C to 28°C.

The coldest months in Dubai are December and January, with sea temperatures around 20°C.
Many hotel pools are often heated during this period.

Ramadan is the holiest month in the Muslim calendar. During this time Muslims fast from dawn until dusk.
The actual date of Ramadan varies from year to year as the Islamic calendar is predicated on lunar cycles rather than the Gregorian calendar. If you are a tourist visiting Dubai you will not be expected to fast.

During Ramadan, eating, drinking, and smoking are generally allowed in most places. However, it is recommended to be respectful of others. All visitors during Ramadan are expected to dress conservatively and cover their shoulders and knees when out in public.
Visitors can obtain food and drink in hotels and shopping malls during Ramadan.
Many bars and restaurants may close during the day, and re-open after sunset.

Ramadan Timings
Ramadan in 2024 runs from 10 March to 9 April.
Work and school hours are reduced and some restaurants are closed during the day.

Ramadan is the ideal time to visit Dubai if you love to shop. Major shopping malls and restaurants extend late-night opening hours until 1AM, to accommodate those who are fasting between sunrise and sunset.

For many years the weekends in Dubai consisted of Fridays and Saturdays.
Since January 2022, Dubai changed its official weekends to Saturdays and Sundays to align better with international financial markets and the rest of the world.
The government introduced a 2.5 day week with Saturdays and Sundays off, and Friday being a half day.

Although Dubai is tolerant when it comes to alcohol, there are still important rules that residents and visitors must abide by.
Alcohol can only be consumed privately or in licensed venues such as hotels, clubs, bars, and restaurants, with the minimum drinking age of 21. Public intoxication is an offence under UAE law.

Purchasing Alcohol in Dubai
To purchase or consume alcohol, individuals must be over the age of 21.
There are two brands of licensed liquor stores where alcohol can be purchased legally, AFRICAN + EASTERN and MMI, both of which have branches located throughout Dubai.
Tourists are permitted to purchase alcohol without a license, by presenting their passport and a Dubai entry stamp.
Alcohol is also available to purchase on arrival at the airport in Dubai at Duty Free shops which are located next to the baggage belts in the arrival hall.
Dubai resident will need an alcohol license to purchase alcohol in Dubai.

Top 10 Must-see places for tourists

Burj Khalifa
The Burj Khalifa is the most iconic landmark in Dubai known for its record-breaking heights and unique design (inspired by the Hymenocallis flower). It holds multiple world records, including being the tallest building and tallest free-standing structure globally. Visitors can explore the 124th-floor observation deck called “At The Top” to enjoy breathtaking views of the city and the Gulf. Additionally, the Burj Khalifa features “The Lounge,” an exclusive and luxurious space located on the 152nd floor, offering visitors an unparalleled experience with panoramic views and a delightful selection of refreshments. 

Guests can also indulge in a fine dining experience at At.mosphere, where floor-to-ceiling windows offer stunning vistas. For those seeking tranquility, Armani/SPA (part of the Armani hotel) provides a serene escape within the bustling city.

Tourists can combine their Burj Khalifa visit with other nearby attractions. The Dubai Mall, located next to the Burj Khalifa, offers an extensive range of shopping options, restaurants, and various activities, including a cinema, games zones, an ice rink, and even an aquarium. To conclude their day in downtown Dubai, visitors can step outside and witness the mesmerizing Dubai Fountains.

8 am – 12 am, price starting from AED 169

Burj Al Arab
The Burj Al Arab has maintained its reputation as one of the world’s most exclusive and renowned hotels for many years. Its distinctive 7-star standards, contemporary arabesque luxury, iconic sail-shaped structure, exceptional fine dining choices, helipad, and fleet of Rolls Royces, contribute to its fame. For the first time, tourists can experience the Inside Burj Al Arab tour, a specially curated 90-minute journey that allows groups of up to 12 people to explore the hotel’s luxurious interior. Led by one of the hotel’s butlers, the tour reveals the hotel’s untold stories.

Apart from its opulent accommodations, the Burj Al Arab is home to Sal, one of the most beautiful pool clubs in the UAE. Here visitors can bask in the sun, enjoy delicious Mediterranean cuisine, take in the Instagram-worthy views of the Burj, unwind in chic private cabanas, and take a refreshing dip in the striking 100-meter turquoise infinity pool.

10 am – 7 pm, price starting from AED 249

Palm Jumeirah
Often hailed as the eighth wonder of the world, Palm Jumeirah is an impressive man-made island that goes beyond a remarkable engineering achievement. Its palm-shaped design consists of a trunk, 16 fronds, and a surrounding crescent, all created by dredging sand from the Gulf. The island serves as a vibrant community, featuring villas, residences, malls, luxury hotels, restaurants, and entertainment venues. For fitness enthusiasts, the 11km crescent offers a scenic route for jogging or cycling.

Palm Jumeirah’s Atlantis hotel celebrates the underwater world with a variety of water-themed attractions and activities, including the Aquaventure water park, the Lost Chambers aquarium, and the dolphin bay habitat. Visitors can elevate their aquatic experiences with exquisite dining at Asian favorites like Nobu and Hakkasan, both located within Atlantis.

Atlantis, The Royal is a prestigious and opulent resort in Dubai, renowned for its luxurious amenities and stunning architecture. Guests can indulge in a culinary journey at the renowned Nobu By the Beach, savoring the finest Japanese cuisine with a breathtaking view of the sea. Additionally, Milos offers a gastronomic delight with its exquisite Mediterranean menu, making Atlantis The Royal, a haven for both luxury and culinary enthusiasts.

The recently completed Nakheel Mall stands as an all-encompassing shopping destination, while Palm West Beach offers a perfect blend of dining, recreation, and relaxation. This beachside location treats visitors to unobstructed Marina and JBR views and encompasses a range of internationally inspired restaurants, beach clubs, and bars.

timings vary, Free Entry

Desert Safari, Camping and Glamping
Dubai’s desert offers a variety of options and packages for those seeking an awe-inspiring desert experience. Adventurous activities include quad biking, dune buggies, sandboarding, archery, falconry, and camel rides. Sunrise Safaris, Sunset safaris, and traditional Bedouin Caravans provide opportunities for off-road exploration and an authentic taste of the Emirates.

Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve spans 87 square miles and is located about one hour’s drive from Dubai. This protected nature reserve is home to endangered wildlife, including Arabian gazelles, oryx, various bird species, sand cats, and Ethiopian hedgehogs.

Glamping, or glamorous camping, is a popular option in the UAE, offering luxurious outdoor living experiences. The glamping season is ideal from October to April. Glamping options range from traditional to extravagant, catering to those seeking opulence. Desert glamping provides chic Bedouin tents with amenities and campfire opportunities.

Unique resorts like Al Maha and Bab Al Shams offer luxury in the desert.

2:30 pm – 4:30 pm (pick-up), 9:30 pm – 11:30 pm (drop-off), price starting from AED 1,500

Dubai offers a variety of photogenic public and private beaches to suit different preferences.

Public Beaches
JBR and La Mer are popular choices among families, offering a wide range of activities. Water parks and inflatable obstacle courses provide entertainment for kids during the day, while cinemas and shisha lounges on the sand attract locals at night.

Sports enthusiasts prefer the expansive stretch of public beach encompassing Jumeirah, Sunset, and Kite Beach. This area is ideal for paddleboarding, kayaking, kite surfing, and sunrise yoga sessions.

Salt on Kite Beach is a local favorite known for serving some of Dubai’s most delicious burgers.

timings vary, Free Entry

Private Beaches
Dubai is renowned for its glamorous and stylish beach clubs, offering a range of private beach options. Nammos at the Four Seasons in Jumeirah brings a touch of Mykonos with its sumptuous seafood menu and sunset views, while San Beach club entices with panoramic vistas,  cabanas, and laid-back beachside dining. Verde Beach attracts party-goers with its vibrant ambiance and energetic beats, and Kyma offers a sophisticated escape for those seeking a chic beach experience.

timings and price vary

Helicopter Tour
Dubai offers helicopter tours that provide a unique and thrilling way to experience the city from above. Departing from Palm Jumeirah, these tours offer panoramic views of Dubai’s most captivating sites, including the iconic pink Atlantis hotel, the Burj Al Arab, white sandy beaches, Sheikh Zayed Road, downtown Dubai, and the towering Burj Khalifa. It’s an unforgettable ride that allows you to see the city’s landmarks and skyscrapers from a whole new perspective.

9 am – 5:30 pm, price starting from AED 681

Yacht Cruises, Fishing and Jet Skis
One of the best ways to discover the beauty of Dubai’s coastline is by embarking on a yacht charter. Yacht cruises are available daily from various marinas around the city, most notably the Dubai Marina and Dubai Harbour. Private yacht charters offer an intimate experience for couples and friends, allowing them to enjoy swimming and sunset views. For groups seeking entertainment, there are options for DJs and catering on board. Those looking for water sports can participate in Jet Ski tours or jet car tours, circling around landmarks like the Burj Al Arab and the Palm.

Deep-sea fishing tours are also available for avid anglers, offering opportunities to catch species such as barracuda and grouper.

timings and price vary

Tour of Dubai
Hop-on/hop-off bus tours provide a convenient way to cover a significant area of Dubai in a short timeframe. These tours offer 24, 48, ad 72-hour options, allowing tourists to explore the city from a double decker open-top bus and visit major attractions. The main stops include the Dubai Mall, Atlantis, and the historic quarter known as “Old Dubai.” In Old Dubai, visitors can experience the city’s heritage and vibrant community. A Dhow Cruise on Dubai Creek is a popular activity, providing a traditional boat ride. Tourists can also explore the gold and spice souks for unique souvenirs and visit the Dubai Museum, housed in the Al Fahidi Fort, the city’s oldest historic building.

timings and price vary

Madinat Jumeirah
Madinat Jumeirah, located in the United Arab Emirates, features a picturesque setting that combines Venice with an Arabian nights ambiance. The complex comprises sandy stone buildings interconnected by peaceful waterways, offering transportation by foot or abra (boat). It is an ideal place to shop for gifts and souvenirs with a local touch, showcasing the region’s craftsmanship. Visitors can explore winding corridors reminiscent of an ancient Arabian souk. Al Qasr hotel provides excellent alfresco lunch options. Adjacent to Madinat Jumeirah, Mina Al Salam hotel offers palm-lined pools with rehabilitated sea turtles, while Jumeirah Al Naseem hotel presents standout dining options like Il Boro and Flamingo Room by Tashas. For sunset and golden hour, Shimmers and/or Summersalt are a must visit!

10 am – 11 pm, Free Entry

Ski Dubai
Ski Dubai is an indoor ski resort located inside the Mall of the Emirates in Dubai. It features five slopes with varying difficulty levels, catering to beginners and advanced skiers and snowboarders. The resort also offers family activities, including a penguin encounter, where visitors can interact with penguins in a snow-filled setting. Dining options and a snow park for children are available at the venue. Ski Dubai is a popular attraction for both seasoned skiers and those seeking a fun and unique experience in Dubai. Ski Dubai even has its own snow cinema and a zipline!

10 am – 11 pm Monday to Thursday, 10 am – 12 am Friday, 9 am – 12 am Saturday & Sunday, price starting from AED 265

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