Dubai is “bling city” and proud of it. Everything here is bigger, taller and often crazier too. But there’s something about this wonderfully over-the-top oasis that wins you over. It’s such an entertaining place that next time you’re in transit or dropping in for business, it’s well worth adding a few extra days to explore.
Oil money saw the city shoot up around what used to be a fishing village in quite a brief timeframe. Now this high-rise, money-driven city boasts excellent restaurants, flashy hotels and a scintillating nightlife.
About 80% of the population are foreigners so there’s also a real mish-mash of cultures. And if bling isn’t your thing, you can shun the glitz and glamour and find decent restaurants or cheap street food, markets to rummage around in and hotels where not everything is gold plated. There are also some still fascinating traces of the old Arabian lifestyle left.
Take a jacket or a wrap. Yes, the heat is enough to melt the soles of your shoes, but the air conditioning inside most buildings is permanently set to freezing. Don’t even think of going outside without sunglasses, because the light can be far too bright for naked eyes. Don’t go out with naked anything, really. Dubai may be liberal by Middle Eastern standards, but scantily clad foreigners still offend.
English is the business language and is spoken by most people that any casual visitor would meet. All road and shop signs, menus and tourist information leaflets are in Arabic and English.
Alcohol is available in clubs, hotels and tourist-oriented venues, but it’s expensive