Pick Your Time to go to UAE
United Emirates including Dubai and Abu Dhabi is a great place to visit, but you must choose your time to go. For example now (October) is Ramadam, which is a religious time of year lasting for 30 days, in 2007 it will come forward by approximatly 15 days, entertainment and Alcohol is restricted and in some places banned during Ramadam. I have seen a tour operators advertising cheap holidays to destinations including the UAE withour mentioning this fact. Would be holiday makers wanting to come to Dubai have also fallen for the adverts offering cheaper accomodation in Sharjah, which is only a few miles away, beware traffic is notorious between these two places, can take 1 or more hours in peak periods a $US40 fare each way is not unusual. Cheaper holidays area also available during the high Summer months, you may be able to stand the heat but the Humidity is unbearable at certain times, be sure to check the relevent information regarding temperatures. 5 star hotel food is great but rather expensive, the local eateries are fantastic, Indian, Pakistani, Fillipino, Thai, Korean, if you are prepared to sit with the local and expats with basic chairs and tables then go for it, i have eaten in most of the places in Dubai, 7star to no star, my favorite is the Indian Thaley with hot nan bread served on a steel dish with many compartments you will be forced fed for approximatly $US3 (AED 8) most of the places have dishes like this. Visit one of the 5 Star hotels and try their International Buffett, fantastic value, great food, all for approximatly $US 45. You will find that hotel accomodation is good value, many to choose from at different prices to suit all pockets, a 3 star Hotel in the UAE is at least equivilant to a 4 star London hotel and a lot cheaper. Finally make sure you have a reservation before you travell to the UAE, at certain times they have exhibitions and trade seminars, hotels get full to overflowing, beware. PS: Dont miss Wild Wadi Dubai - look it up. My first fondest memory of Dubai is having Sundowners with my mates, my second fondest memory of Dubai is having more Sundowners with my mates!
Where's the office gone?
Dubai is growing at a tremendous rate. There is a running joke there about a businessman who lives in Dubai, goes on holidays two weeks and when he comes back is unable find the route to his office because a new motorway has appeared while he was away.
This joke is not that far from the truth. In two years, the area of desert just South of Dubai along Sheikh Zayed Road, where there used to be only a few beach hotels, has become the Dubai Internet and Media Cities, with thousands of square kilometers of offices and hotel rooms including state of the art facilities with high speed Internet access. Every single IT or media company that has a presence in the Gulf, such as IBM or Reuters, has an office there.
NO TAX FREE HAVEN
Favorite Thing: Dubai has no culture and character. Arabs make up only 20% of the population and you will hardly see or interact with them. They hide behind tall compound walls in their mansions. The taxi drivers are all Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, the hotels and businesses are run by Indians. These are people who are not allowed to bring their families to stay with them even if they have been working there for 20-30 years. The permits to bring families are dictated by how much you earn. Low wage earners are denied the right to be with families. They have an option of bringing them to visit at their expense for 3 months in a year but not more than that.
There is nowhere to see the local culture except in a make believe area at the museum. The Arabs otherwise like to ape the west and everything else is geared to that. However they do things backwards! They built big big buildings but not enough roads to accommodate the traffic. Traffic jams are a nightmare in this man made make believe city. There is construction everywhere. They are building more tall buildings, roads and elevated rail lines, there is chaos everywhere. Hyped for tax free shopping, the prices are the same as in Australia and US and more than what you pay in Thailand or Singapore etc. Even that will stop as they introduce VAT from next year. The climate is VERY VERY HOT & HUMID. One wonders what is there to see or do in Dubai. NOT WORTH VISITING!!!!
Fondest Memory: The sunglasses and camera lenses fogging up due to the heat and humidity! The pictures come out all hazy.
It is probably best to buy a bottle form the duty free in the airport. Drinks are really watered down and not worth the money. All clubs and hotels with clubs have beer and mixed drinks but resturants don't. Alot of clubs don't allow shorts or jeans on the guys. Also shirts without sleeves.
Crossing the river
We tried out the Abra of course. These are small boats that cross the river from Bur Dubai to the Deira side, and back, and it only costs 0,5 Dhs one-way. It only takes a few minutes to cross the river. We were also offered to rent a boat for half an hour or more to take trips up and down the river but we didn’t do this. But it is not like you have to go to them to get this offer. Even when we were walking along the river we were “yelled” at from boats that were sailing past :-).