Updated: Mar 13
Welcome to the first blog post in our new series; the destination of the week aims to bring you everything you need to know about a particular country, city or location. We will be taking requests from our followers over on our Instagram polls so if you want to find out more about a particular place then please do pop over there and let us know!
This month we decided to start with a bread and butter location for us. Dubai is somewhere we have visited quite a few times, as a couple and also as a family so it is somewhere we know very well and it is somewhere that we will continue to return to because there is so much on offer to do and see.
Currency: Arab Emirates Dirham (AED)
Time difference: +4 hours of UK
Flight time: London to Dubai is around seven hours
British Embassy: (00 971 4 309 4444; gov.uk/government/world/united-arab-emirates), Al Seef Road, Bur Dubai.
Emergency services: Dial 999 for Police, 998 for Ambulance and 997 for Fire Department
Important local laws in Dubai
Dubai has some of the lowest crime rates of any city in the world and is ranked as one of the best places for personal safety. The main threat to tourists is unknowingly breaking the local laws. I would highly advise looking up the laws before travelling here but in our experience, some of the laws can be quite relaxed for foreigner based companies such as hotels, just be kind to everyone you meet and you have no reason to be reported!
It is legal for non-Muslims to consume alcohol in Dubai, however, this can only be done in a licensed venue; typically hotels, bars or restaurants. Once outside of a legal venue, if you’re seen to be drunk or disorderly in public you could be arrested and end up in jail.
The official legal alcohol limit for drivers in Dubai is zero there is no leeway at all.
Public displays of affection are frowned upon, and there have been several arrests for kissing in public.
Sexual relationships or unmarried couples cohabiting is illegal in Dubai. This includes staying in hotels, however, most hotels in Dubai do not enforce an ‘only married couples’ rule even if you have different surnames on your passports, I had my maiden name on my passport for all our visits even when we have Roman (I didn't want to pay to update it until it ran out) and we were never even once asked.
It is an offence to use rude language or aggressive hand gestures, including when driving.
Best time to visit Dubai
The best time to visit Dubai is November through to February, This is classed as their winter however they benefit from a desert climate and are hot all year round. Winter averages temperatures of 23 - 26 degrees in the daytime as opposed to the summer temperatures that can hit 40 Degrees.
All tourists and residents are required to dress modestly, no matter how hot the climate. You won't end up doing jail time for dressing inappropriately but you will gain some stern looks from locals, it is best to just cover up to avoid offending anyone. In some areas such as Jumeirah and Downtown Dubai, you will see people dressed more casual unlike some older areas of Dubai like the spice souk people are dressed much more modestly. Most of these dress codes are directed more towards women, men are just required to cover shoulders (no vests or nips out) and shorts that cover their knees. These rules don't apply at the beach or your hotel pools - any swimwear is appropriate once there.
Avoid wearing -
Dresses that are tight and fitted
Swimsuits and bikinis unless at the beach or pool
Tops showing your bra
Too much cleavage
Shorts or skirts that are too short (no cheeks please)
Clothes not covering your midriff
T-shirts with inappropriate slogans or jokes
Things to see and do
Kidzania - Get out of the heat and let your children's dreams come true, they are mainly set up for ages 4 plus but also have an under 4's area so there is something for everyone. A giant indoor playground with realistic setups you can kill hours here.
Dubai Frame - Representing the metaphorical connection between the old and new city, Dubai Frame is the largest picture frame in the world. Standing at almost 500 feet tall and boasting a panoramic glass lift that takes you up to the glass walkway along the width. Tickets are AED 50 for an adult and AED 20 for children ages 3 - 12 (under 3 are free).
Ski Dubai - In the middle of the mall or the Emirates you can find the world's third-largest indoor ski slope. Boasting around 6,000 tins of real snow all year round, package prices vary from AED 150 up to AED 490 each including different thing such as lift passes, food and lessons but all options cover equipment hire
Dubai Spice Souk - If you are looking for a truly Arabic experience then the spice souk is a must. This is a foodie and photographers heaven, take a walk through the narrow lanes, meet the locals and take in all the smells and colours. The Dubai Spice Souk is located in the Al Ras area of Deira, right next to the Dubai Gold Souk. It is free to enter and a great place to practice your bargaining techniques.
At The Top Burj Khalifa - Visible from almost everywhere in Dubai is the worlds tallest building the Burj Khalifa. Whilst it is impressive to look at from the ground, you can also visit the top of the 160-story building. Prepare yourself for the thrill of the high-speed lift to the top, followed by the amazing moment you step onto the observation deck for panoramic views across the city and desert. They also opened another observation deck called At the top SKY which takes you up from the 124 and 125th floors of the normal deck up to the 148th floor. Tickets to the first decks start from AED 150 and AED 359 to go to the SKY deck depending on the day and time that you want to visit.
Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo - You haven’t been to an Aquarium like this one. showcasing sharks, fish and stingrays in the entrance alone you can wander through the underground tunnel and get up close to all the sea life. Above the aquarium is the underwater zoo with lots of aquatic animals such as penguins and otters.
Desert Safari - This is great for the entire family; camels riding in the sunset, sandboarding the dunes, live performances whilst you tuck into an authentic BBQ and so much more, there are so many different companies that offer this. I would recommend having a little look around as they all offer similar things but for different prices and there can also be a few hidden extras (henna, sand bottles, shisha) so read some reviews first. We used Viator to book.
Fountain show - Located at Dubai mall just below the Burj Khalifa its the worlds largest choreographed fountain show. The most popular place to watch the Dubai Fountain Show is the Waterfront Promenade just outside Dubai Mall it can get very crowded so just be aware. You can also hire a little boat on the water to get a front-row seat.
Saturday to Thursday: 1 PM, 1:30 PM (Extra Show at 2:00 PM)
Friday: 1:30 PM, 2 PM (Extra Show at 2:30 PM)
Daily - Every 30 minutes from 6 PM to 11 PM
Where to eat
Cheap Eats - Operation Falafel
When it comes to eating in the malls you have so many options for fast and cheap food. We came across a great place in the Dubai mall called Operation Falafel, they offer lots of different Arabic dishes but obviously, the falafels are the main attraction. We opted for the platters for 1 that included a bit of everything for around £4 each and before we went in we also had a quick google and found a great discount code so it is worth checking before visiting.
Mid-Range - Mr Crab
This is our favourite place to eat when in Dubai, it is a seafood lovers paradise. Located just outside of the mall of the Emirates, there is plenty of parking or the metro is just on the corner. They offer freshly caught fish and shellfish daily at a really reasonable price. The menu is extensive but we highly recommend the crab tacos are literally to die for!
Treat Meal - Texas De Brazil
A legendary feast including some of the best open flamed slow-roasted meats in Dubai. If you haven't been to a traditional Brazilian restaurant before the idea is you have a card on your table that you keep up to tell them to keep coming with the meat including sizzling beef, lamb, pork, chicken and Brazilian sausage and you then flip it over when you are finished and want them to stop. They also have an amazing selection of salads and vegetables on offer. The meal is priced per person at AED 156 - AED 195 depending on the day and whether it is lunch or dinner but for that price, you can eat until you are stuffed.
Where to stay
Budget - Novotel Dubai Al Barsha
Al Barsha is one of our favourite areas of Dubai as you can get a really reasonable priced 4/5 star hotel like the Novotel. You are also within walking distance to all amenities like the Mall of the Emirates and the Metro. The hotel itself boasts a great sundeck with a rooftop pool, a spa and really comfortable rooms as well as 4 different dining options if you don't fancy going out.
Mid-range - JA Ocean View Hotel
The Walk is a great location for access to the beach I have picked out the JA Ocean View as it is an award-winning five-star property with lots of options for accommodation, dining, entertainment and recreational activities. It is within a few seconds walking distance to the public beach and I have seen some great deals on this hotel for such a high end feel.
Luxury - Atlantis the Palm
Nestled between the calm turquoise waters of the Arabian Gulf and the majestic Dubai skyline, Atlantis Dubai is the crown of the world-famous Palm island. It is named as Dubai best family hotel for a reason; water parks, aquariums, kids clubs and so much more along with it's luxurious rooms and multiple restaurant choices but it does come at a price.
How to get around
Transport options in Dubai are very similar to most big cities. Metro is a great option; it runs across most of the city and is cheap. Taxies are available everywhere and offer cheap metered trips, you can also set a price with them however the meters are reliable and low cost. Dubai also has Uber and Careem which we used quite a lot, you can easily find a driver, the cost is arranged before you get and paid for on your account so you don't need to worry about carrying cash.