How to describe Dubai…it certainly is a phenomenal city and ‘impossible’ is not part of their vocabulary. No matter what your reason is for visiting Dubai, there are infinite possibilities to keep you occupied.

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In a nutshell: desert, unique, business hub, air conditioning and irrigation. Dubai is a world city rising from a wasteland of desert sand. In spite of being a seasoned traveller, you will still be constantly surprised with what has been achieved in a relatively short period of time. Due to their location and wealth, Dubai is a unique city. With their approach of contracting the best in the world to build & develop the city, they are able to achieve results previously not believed possible. It may not be their main focus but they unquestionably take air conditioning and irrigation to new heights, notably air conditioned bus stops and the development of the Miracle Gardens in the desert!

In context (compiled from various sources) /cities in order of size / km²

City Metropolitan area / size in km² Population
Dubai 1 287km² ±2 250 000 (2014)
London 1 572km² 8 673 713 (2015)
Mumbai 4 355km 20 700 000 (2011)
Paris 17 174km² 12 405 426(2013)
New York 17 405km² 20 200 000 (2015)


Did you know

  • FOOD…a fusion of Arabic, Lebanese, Chinese and Indian cuisine with lots of delectable dates and creamy hummus with flat bread….utterly delicious
  • It is a city of unparalleled statistics….the number of SKYSCRAPERS developed in a limited period of time with the cherry on top, the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world
  • The extent and facilities available in SHOPPING MALLS including a ski slope and aquarium are impressive. Due to the fact that there are more than 40 huge malls in modern Dubai, there are very few shops at street level and your shopping experience is very different to other world cities such as London, New York or Paris
  • More than 700 hotels and working to increasing their ROOM CAPACITY currently around 100 000 rooms, moving towards their target of 140 000 rooms in 2020….this together with their extensive tourism strategy they are well on their way in becoming THE leading city in the world. (In 2010 it was estimated that there was approx. 123 000 hotel rooms in London)
  • In conjunction with Dubai Tourism, Dubai has a very impressive CALENDAR OF EVENTS, including international gastronomic, shopping and sporting events
  • Dubai metro, the longest DRIVERLESS automated railway system in the world
  • Port Jebel Ali, the world’s largest man-made HARBOUR
  • Dubai DANCING FOUNTAIN, largest choreographed fountain system situated in the manmade 30 acre Burj Khalifa lake, surpasses Las Vegas…’a breath taking extravaganza of water, sound and light’
  • Although they do not advertise as such, BURJ AL ARAB is considered the only 7-star resort in the world….the airport transfers for all guests are done in a Rolls Royce Phantom
  • Manmade Marina, Palm Jumeirah, The World islands…all on RECLAIMED LAND and built with the expertise of the Dutch. adding more than 500km to the Dubai coastline
  • During 2015 in excess of 15 million TOURISTS visited / stayed overnight in Dubai….their goal is to have more than 20 mill visitors in 2020, in conjunction with Dubai Expo 2020
  • Dubai really is a 24-HOUR CITY and one can experience the ocean, skiing and the desert coupled with world class food and extra ordinary entertainment within any 24 hour cycle
  • Although public transport including metro, tram and bus service is extensive, Dubai is one of the most densely populated cities in the world when it comes to LUXURY CARS and the Dubai Police takes it to the next level with an insane collection of super cars inn their fleet, including a Ferrari FF and Bugatti Veyron


General Tourist Info & Tips

  • Weekdays: Sunday-Wednesday, Weekend: Thursday – Saturday with SHOPPING HOURS mostly from 10:00 till 23:00, 00:00 or even 02:00
  • For malls, general attractions, religious buildings and definitely during RAMADAN, wear respectful clothing…shoulders and knees should be covered at all times
  • Kissing and overt DISPLAY OF AFFECTION is frowned upon by locals
  • NO SMOKING allowed in malls
  • AUTO TELLERS available everywhere, all major credit cards widely accepted
  • Wide variety of PUBLIC TRANSPORT options available including taxi (all taxi’s are cream coloured with different roof colours indicating specific operator and note the ladies taxi service with pink roof, exclusively for female passengers with female drivers, metro rail, monorail at Palm Jumeirah, busses, tram, high speed rail and on the water (e.g; Dubai Creek, Dubai Marina) – Abras (small ferry boats), water bus system (air-conditioned) and water taxi’s
  • Dubai has a hot desert CLIMATE with August being the hottest month (min 30°C, max 41°C) and January being the coolest (min 14°C, max24°C). There is very little rain (some rain on 20-25 days in a year) and high humidity, often reaching uncomfortable levels.
  • Depending on your reason for visiting Dubai, you will have to decide in which area you would like to STAY. The business district (surrounded by Dubai Creek and Dubai canal) is around the Burj Kalifa & Dubai Mall. Airport is North East of Dubai Creek. Around Dubai Creek one can enjoy a dhow cruise and you are then close to old Dubai, the spice and gold souk, Dubai Museum and heritage village If you are on a leisure trip you may rather consider the area South West of the Burj Khalifa. This area is on the coast and includes Jumeirah Beach, Burj al Arab, Souk Madinath Jumeirah, Wild Wadi water park, continue on to the Palm and Dubai Marina
  • EMIRATES AIRLINE, based in Dubai provides more than 3 300 flights per week to more than 148 cities (destinations) in 78 countries, covering all 6 continents. They have an exceptional skywards loyalty reward programme, members can even bid online for a wide variety of events worldwide….already more than 15 mil members worldwide. The Emirates fleet currently includes 240 passenger aircraft and 15 SkyCargo aircraft. Emirates is the world’s fourth largest airline by scheduled revenue passenger-kilometres flown,[7] the fourth-largest in terms of international passengers carried,[8] and the second-largest in terms of freight tonne kilometres flown. Emirates launched the longest non-stop commercial flight from Dubai to Auckland on 1 March 2016. (Wikipedia)

Currently Dubai’s main source of income is from tourism and they have a phenomenal tourism strategy in place….watch this space!


Show the money

This information is based on average rate of exchange in June 2016:   AED1 = R4.30…..US $1 = AED3.67

Accommodation: µ5-star hotel from AED600 per room bed & breakfast (in low season), µ5-star hotel buffet breakfast average AED140

Food (at restaurants): µBeer on average AED40, µWine from AED35 per glass and from AED220 per bottle to AED770 (average restaurant at Dubai Mall), µWater from AED7, µJuice from AED25, µCappuccino from AED20, µIce cream from AED20

Activities / Excursions: µSunset dune dinner safari from AED275, µOvernight safari from AED995, µTraditional Dubai City tour from AED165 (1/2 day), µNew Dubai City tour from AED225 (1/2 day),

µAt Dubai Mall: Burj Khalifa, at the top, AED120 / Underwater Zoo & Aquarium from AED70 / Kidzania from AED95 / Dubai Olympic size ice rink AED65,

µ At Mall of the Emirates: Ski Dubai, from AED175

µWater activities: Heli Dubai from AED675 (12 minute heritage ride), Seaplane Adventures from AED1 095 (25 minute adventure), Wild Wadi from AED255 (full day), Dhow dinner cruise (Dubai Creek or Dubai Marina) From AED280

µDubai hop on hop off bus ( from AED240 per adult

µBaggage wrapping at airport AED30 per suitcase


Personal experiences in Dubai include

Flights with Emirates Airline, Accommodation at Hotel JW Marriot Marquis, City Sightseeing Hop on Hop off, Dubai Mall (including underwater zoo & aquarium, Kidzania), Burj Khalifa at the top, Desert safari experience with dinner, Walking tour at Heritage Village in Al Fahidi District, Gold & spice souks, Mall of the Emirates (including walking tour of mall and ski Dubai experience), Ramadan night market.

Site inspections and meals at various hotels including St Regis Al Habtoor City, Al Bustan Rotana Hotel, Arjaan Rotana Hotel Deira, Marina View Hotel Dubai Marina, Kempinski Hotel at Mall of the Emirates, Gloria Yassat & Gloria Hotel, Palazzo Versace, Ramadan Iftar experience at JW Marriot Deira. Thank you to all service providers and hotels for extra ordinary experiences!

Carla Rossouw was a guest of Dubai Tourism in conjunction with North Tours DMC on a mega Fam trip – June 2016