"Where am I?!"... asking for directions
You'll quickly notice that Dubai has many streets & areas with either no name, or "adopted" names, given by locals & expatriates.
Most side-streets only have numbers. Because of this, the postal system is run on postboxes at various post offices. No mail, etc. is ever sent directly to a physical address. Everything is sent to P.O. Boxes. (courier services such as DHL, FedEx, etc. do - of course - deilver to your door).
Then there are the areas & streets that have names, which you will never find in a guide book or street map.
> For example: "Khalid bin Walid Road" in Bur Dubai is called "Bank Street" & further down changes to "Computer Street"... explanation superfluous in this case.
> In the same area there's the "Falcon Roundabout". Now this is a tricky one. There used to be a roundabout just before the Shindagha Tunnel with a golden falcon statue in the middle. Nowadays, it's an intersection with no statue but people have kept the old name.
> Then there's the "Wollongong Beach" or "Kite Surfer's Beach" in Umm Suqeim area. There used to be the Wollongong University located here, nowadays it's an Islamic art centre and the beach is frequented by - you guessed it - kite surfers.
> And finally, who could forget the hilarious & brand new (2006) "Interchange 4 1/2" on the Sheikh Zayed highway to Abu Dhabi... they're building so fast, there's no space for new names :-)
> Most of the city is under construction, so numerous "detours" add to the confusion on the roads. Because of all this confusion, when asking for directions most people will not give street names or even proper building names. Directions are given by landmarks & places of interest. For example, in the area of Karama there is a building called "Sana Fashion". It's been there since the 80s and everyone knows it. Same goes for "Fish Roundabout" in Deira, or "Safa Park" in Jumeirah. Or they'll simply mention the nearest shopping mall or hotel.
--> I use this interactive map of Dubai very often. It's extremely useful, you can zoom in / out and it is updated regularly. http://map.dubaitourism.ae/
I sometimes wonder whether U2's song "Where the streets have no name" was written about Dubai:
"We're beaten and blown by the wind,
Trampled into dust.
I'll show you a place,
High on a desert plain,
Where the streets have no name.
Where the streets have no name.
Still building, (yep, there's a lot of construction)
then burning down love, burning down love.
And when I go there, I go there with you
It's all I can do."
PROBLEMS? Since August 2007 there is a new department within Dubai Police, especially for tourists: Tourists may call on toll-free number 8004438 (24 hours) or e-mail email@example.com.
Whatever you forget, you can find it here for sure
a small bag or backpack for the daily trips is good! - You will def. not need an umbrella ;) it only rains here a few days a year.
- havaianas/flip flops..not sure how you call it...but you definitely need some open shoes for the hot weather
- at night people like to dress up to go out for dinner so some nice shoes are an advantage - sunblock is very very important...even more if you come from a cold country where sun doesn't come out too often. Here, some of the day, when it's cloudy people think that there's not need for suncream...don't leave home without it! Really...otherwise you might get very red instead of tanned ;) - don't forget your swimmers!!! and a towel/pareo/canga to lay on at the beach
Buying fake watches
When you walk into the gold souks you will be approached in a very civil yet covert manner by men who ask if you want fake watches or designer bags. After many refusals I relented and we went with a young lad who took us up an alley and through a shop or two until we found his salesroom. The watches we saw were excellent fakes. We bought a TAG for my son and had to barter for 10 minutes to get the price down to about 3/5 of asking price. My wife bought 3 pairs of dressy slipper type shoes for about £10 each that she thought would cost 4x that amount in UK. We had to barter for a good session to get the price we wanted to pay.
Pashminas are also useful gifts but the quality and price varies so you have to do a little research before you buy. The bags were a bit of a no-no since they were poor imitation of the real thing. We expected to find more leather but there was little of any quality. Don't start to barter above half price and be strong willed. Remember that they will not let you walk away without selling to you.
Carbon Lounge - in the Hilton Dubai Creek
The Carbon Lounge is located on the 1st floor of the Hilton Dubai Creek. It is nestled between the hotel's two restaurants and is a quiet option for a pre or post meal drink. The atmosphere is relaxed, with candles and comfortable leather chairs.
On our last evening in Dubai, before having to head to the airport at midnight, we finished up our holiday by relaxing in the Carbon Lounge with a couple of drinks, and also ordered a meal from the snack menu. Alex had a Chicken curry and I had Fish & Chips. Our waiter was incredibly friendly and he was telling us about his adventures after leaving Bali to explore the world.
I wouldn't travel across Dubai to visit the Carbon Lounge, but if staying in the hotel or dining at one of the restaurants, it isn't a bad place for a drink if you prefer a quieter environment. No set dress code
Getting around by bus
After a couple of days in Dubai we discovered that the bus could take us to most places and it was very cheap. One-way tickets were 1,00/1,50 Dhs (0,3/0,45 €). The main bus-stations that we used were Al Ghubaiba (Bur Dubai) and Gold Souk bus station on the Deira side. Get a bus route and figure it out. It must be mentioned that the bus drivers also seem to have the same aggressive driving style that the other drivers have and the bus trips were not always comfortable. But hang on and you’ll be fine. There is also an area in the front of the bus that is reserved for women.
Remember that the traffic can be pretty bad at times and it will often take quite a while to get to the destinations. Sometimes it was in fact a lot faster to walk compared to sitting and waiting on the bus.