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The swelling heat of the desert is no match for the sleek fleets of Ferraris, Porsches, and Audis zipping through the streets of Dubai Emirate. As one of the fastest growing parts of the Middle East and the world, Dubai is experiencing a boom of cash flow and visitors. Hotels in Dubai range from modest to extravagant, and it’s certainly best to find some great Dubai hotel deals so you can spend your money on some of the prime-time shopping and sightseeing.
Expedia.ca makes it easy for you to find the best Dubai accommodations for you and your budget. Whether you’re looking for a pampered stay or simply the cheapest lodging out there, Expedia.ca helps you find the right hotel Dubai has to offer. This is especially handy for business trips, as Expedia.ca can help you find the top business hotels in Dubai so you can meet with investors, clients, and business partners between taking in the sights and attractions.
If you plan on jetting off to Dubai Emirate, Expedia.ca can help you find cheap flights to Dubai, with most flights landing at Dubai International Airport, located in the middle of the city. Many hotels in Dubai offer pick-up service, which is the most convenient way to get from the airport to your hotel. If your hotel doesn’t offer this service, the airport is located close to the Dubai Metro, which runs 7 days a week, but is closed on Friday mornings. Taxis are by and large the most used method of transportation around the city. Dubai taxis are easily spotted by their cream colour. Pink taxis are driven by women drivers and are intended for women who feel more comfortable with female drivers.
Traffic is notoriously thick in Dubai, leading many locals to rely on shared taxis and public transportation for their daily commutes. The heat often ranges between 26°C and 29°C during April through October, making the weather a little too warm to walk around. Luckily, the Metro and most buses are now fully air conditioned. If you do take the bus or Metro, there are often special cabins or areas designated for women and families. You can purchase a Nol card while you’re in Dubai, which pays for all forms of public transportation, including water taxis. However, if you’d rather rent a car in Dubai instead of using public transportation, know that Dubai gas prices are quite affordable.
Things To Do
Sandy toes and shopping bags may not go together often, but when it comes to Dubai Emirate, shopping and hitting the beach are the two most popular things to do in Dubai. The turquoise waters of the Persian Gulf are warm and clean for a nice swim. These white-sand beaches are popular spots for tourists and locals alike. Female beach-goers may want to consider wearing bathing suits with more skin coverage. Decency codes are less enforced on the beach than in town, but you may experience unwanted attention if you’re wearing a suit showing a lot of skin.
If you’re looking for more of a desert adventure, you can head out on a desert safari trip. Many of the concierge agents stationed in Dubai hotels can help you book a Dubai Emirates all-inclusive safari package, which often includes a heart-pumping drive over sand dunes in an open 4x4, a short cameral ride, and Arabic buffet during sunset.
If you want to get out of your Dubai hotel and out of the heat during your vacation, the Mall of the Emirates is legendary. This shopping mall includes an indoor theme park, a giant aquarium, an Olympic-size ice rink, and a huge selection of designer clothing shops. Ski Dubai, also located within the mall, is the third largest indoor ski slope in the world, at 400m and 6,000 tons of snow.
Of course, Dubai Emirate vacations aren’t complete without seeing the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world at 829.8m. This must-see building soars above the city like a giant needle. It’s a true marvel of design and architecture, making it a worthy landmark of this up-and-coming city.
The sands of Dubai have seen the rise and fall of several civilizations throughout the centuries. The Byzantine and Sassanian empires were once the great powers of the area until the spread of Islam drove out the waning kingdoms. The earliest mention of Dubai itself came in 1095 when geographer Abu Abdillah al-Bakri mentioned it in his “Book of Geography”, a guide of the region.
Despite its long history, Dubai wasn’t officially established until the 19 century, when the Al Abu Falasa clan began to stake claims in the area. In 1820, the sheikh of Dubai signed the “General Maritime Treaty” with the British government, which later led to the “Exclusive Agreement”, giving Dubai protection under the United Kingdom. Dubai continued to grow as a trade center, due in part to its close proximity to the Persian Gulf. However, once the discovery of oil was made in 1966, the entire area’ population rose significantly.
In 1971, Britain left the Persian Gulf, which left Dubai and five other emirates to form the United Arab Emirates. During the political unrest of the 1980s and 1990s, several businesses moved from Kuwait and Bahrain to the more stable Dubai region. Tourism has since joined oil as the one of the largest industries in the Emirate, with some of the wealthiest people in the world vacationing in the area’s top 4 star hotels while leaving Dubai hotel deals for the average traveler to explore the historical region, too.
Arts and Entertainment
Movie buffs travel to Dubai during the famed Dubai International Film Festival, now over a decade old. Each year, the festival presents new cinema from the Arab, Asian, and African world. This festival features over 150 films, with the credo of “Bridging Cultures, Meeting Minds”.
Over time, live music has also become a bigger aspect of entertainment in Dubai. Performers like Coldplay, Pink, Celine Dion, Elton John, and Shakira have all performed in the city. These concerts often take place at some of the top resorts in the area, so check the calendar of your Dubai hotel to see if any of your favorite acts are coming to town.
If you’re looking for more of a traditional expression of art, the Dubai Community Theatre and Arts Centre hosts everything from plays and operas to ballets and traditional Middle Eastern musical performances. The Dubai Community Theatre and Arts Centre is located in the Mall of the Emirates, which makes booking hotels in Dubai near the famed area a good choice for easy access to the arts and shopping during your trip. The sleek Mandiant Theatre is another community favourite and features ballet, Shakespeare plays, and comedy routines.
Dubai is also home to a growing art scene. Over the past few years, contemporary art galleries like Carbon 12 Dubai, Green Art, and Gallery Isabelle van den Eydnde have become some of the best spots to see the latest in the budding art world of Dubai and beyond.
Football and cricket reign supreme in Dubai with five teams representing the nation in the UAE Pro-League for football. The most popular team is Al-Wasl. Al-Wasl has some of the most championships in the history of the UAE League, which is quite a feat considering the UAE Pro-League (also called the UAE Arabian Gulf League) is the top professional football league in the entire United Arab Emirates. Needless to say, tickets to the Al-Wasl games sell out quickly.
Cricket is the second most popular sport in Dubai, due in part to its large community of Indians, Pakistanis, and other international residents from cricket-playing nations. There are three massive stadiums in Dubai hosting cricket: the DSC Cricket Stadium, the Sharjah Cricket Association Stadium, and the Abu Dhabi Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium. These venues can hold, on average, around 25,000 enthusiastic spectators. Book a nearby hotel in Dubai through Expedia.ca so you don’t have to travel too far from the lively games to your affordable Dubai hotel.
If you’re worried about Dubai’s conservative nature affecting the nightlife, don’t be. Dubai nightlife is alive and well, and surprisingly open for visitors. However, there are a few important tips to remember before getting too imbibed on everything the city has to offer.
First of all, remember that Dubai is primarily an Islamic country, so things like public drunkenness can land you in prison. You should also note that weekends are on Thursday and Friday nights, with Thursday being the most popular night to go out. The drinking age in Dubai is 21, so bring your ID with you. Ladies can often get in free on certain nights, and are free to dress a little less conservatively when going out. And when you’re ready to turn in for the night, hail a cab to drive you back safely to your Dubai hotel. Drinking and driving is a severe offense in the country.
Once you have those tips and tricks in mind, have fun! Dubai has a thriving nightlife with a little bit of everything. Dance clubs with flashing lights and sprouting confetti are the most favourite picks in the city. Dubai is a hotbed of DJs and top named performers in the world. Luxurious lounges with opulent chandeliers and plush couches are also popular in the downtown area. But if you want something a little more down to earth, there are also simple late night bars with outdoor patios. Many Dubai hotels also offer their own clubs and bars, if you want everything in the same place for easy access and a responsible route back to your hotel room.
Restaurants and Food
There are two Dubais when it comes to culinary culture: slow roasted meats on the streets, and the extravagant dining meant for those in heels and cufflinks.
Street side vendors and small food joints are where you’ll find the majority of the locals and some of the best food in the Middle East. Shawarma, a Lebanese dish of large hunks of roasted meat like lamb, beef, or chicken on vertical spinning spires, is one of the most popular dishes in the area. Served with rice, vegetables, and pita, the meat is usually spiced and quite tender. Samosas, which are fried puff pastries filled with meats, curry, and veggies, and have been around the Middle East since the 10th century, are also popular street side food. You usually order at least a half dozen of these with varied filling. Samosas can be eaten with your hands, and are perfect for on the go.
On the other end of the food spectrum, fine dining has exploded on the cruising scene. Most of these restaurants are located inside posh hotels in Dubai and require a formal dress code. Menu items tend to include lobster, hummus, babaganoj, lamb kebbah, and sea bass. Indian vegetarian food also has a strong presence on many menus.
Note that the sale of pork and alcohol is regulated in Dubai. Non-Muslims may purchase these items, but there are certain quantity limitations. These restrictions are a little looser inside of Dubai clubs and Dubai hotels than outside markets and stores.
Dubai knows shopping. In fact, it’s safe to argue that Dubai’s main attraction is its abundant shopping options. While most travellers know of the massive Mall of the Emirates and Dubai Mall, there are several destination malls throughout the city.
The desert weather outside is often hot and oppressive, which is why air conditioned indoor malls have become a staple in the city. These malls are more than places to shop for designer clothing or gifts, these places are often tourist attractions in themselves.
For instance, the Ibn Battuta Mall is one of the world’s largest themed shopping malls. Designed after the famed Arabic explorer Ibn Battuta, the shopping mecca is divided into six courts to reflect the world regions he explored 600 years ago. The Wafi Shopping Mall has an Egyptian theme, with Egyptian-inspired art and gold available for purchase. Kids will like the Al Bustan Centre, which includes a fantasy kingdom styled after a medieval castle. Many of these malls are large enough to include Dubai hotels inside of them. Talk about a quick trip from your hotel room to the shopping centre!
For some authentic shopping, walk down to some of the nearby Dubai’s souks. These souks are full of local grit. The markets aren’t just for tourists; many locals shop in these every day. You’ll sure to bring back authentic wares, clothing, and spices to your Dubai hotel after a fruitful day. Bargaining and haggling for lower prices aren’t required, but it is part of the fun.
Climate and Weather
As soon as you walk out of the airport, expect a wall of heat to hit you. Dubai is a city rising up from the desert. Summers often reach about 40°C, with nightly lows at 30°C. Winters are warm and short, and around 23°C. Most days are sunny throughout the year. The best weather is between December and March, as it’s warm but comfortable.
Culture and Personality
Dubai has conservative views with it comes to women and the city. Do not photograph Muslim women without permission. You must also avoid photographing government buildings, mosques, and military installations unless expressly permitted. Do not engage in public displays of affection, as it is considered offensive. Unmarried couples travelling together may need to book separate hotel rooms instead of sharing one room, though it depends on the Dubai hotel. Dress modestly. Men should not walk around without a shirt. Women may wear bikinis and bathing suits on the beach, but should not wear tight or revealling clothing around town, or even on your way back from the beach to your Dubai hotels. Women should also wait until a hand is offered before offering a handshake, as some devout Muslim men are not comfortable shaking hands with women.
Number One Travel Tip
The thing you need to remember about Dubai is that it is a conservative Muslim country - despite all the indulgences of a Western country. This means having fun, but playing it safe. Some offenses aren’t just considered rude; some, like public drunkenness, is highly illegal. When in doubt, watch as the locals do to have a safe and enjoyable trip to this desert metropolis.