I enjoyed very much the brief visit of the old city - smart recovering, unusual cleanliness, but the real image of what was Dubai before the petrodollars explosion. The quarter around the museum must be visited out of peak season, to allow a little walking in the streets.
Dubai's no stranger to exploitation.. just in case
i'll tell you what occurred to my husband very recently, in a coffee shop he visits frequently:
after receiving good service, he was signing the bill and about to write in the tip amount (place didnt add 10% automatically)...the employee of the coffee shop said to him "dont worry about adding a tip, thank you"
of course he thought it strange, so he asked why he shouldnt add a tip. He was told by the coffee shop server that the tip goes to the company, and that the employees never see any of the "tips" left on a credit card charge by the patrons...
If this is in fact happening, we of course feel it's very wrong on the part of this coffee shop. Just in case, we decided to tip in cash from now on.
Get out of the city.... day-trip to the East Coast
When you've had enough of traffic, shopping malls, fancy restaurants & sight-seeing, escape from the big city.
Snorkling/Diving is not possible along Dubai's coast, due to no plant-life, whirled-up sand & offshore construction.
Therefore, try an absolute favourite among Dubai residents: you simply cannot beat a day-trip to Dibba & Mussandam. It's a 3 hour drive so it's good to leave early. Dibba consists of sea side villages who are owned partly by the Sultanate of Oman (Dibba Bayah), Fujairah (Dibba Muhallab) & Sharjah (Hisn Dibba).
Once arrived, you'll notice the clean air, peaceful surroundings & friendly people. Take a boat trip into the fijords & beaches with either a "Dhow" (traditional) or modern boat.
We booked with Khasab Tours, but most tour providers will also offer full-day trips starting at 09:00am; returning at 05:00pm (they bring lunch to the dhow with a speed-boat) The Hajjar mountains to your left rise an impressive 6,000 feet into the Musandam Peninsula and the famous pass winds its way across the mountains, through Wadi Bih, back to Ras Al Khaimah on the West Coast.
You will see:
> small villages on the side of a rocky hillside.
> beautiful, hidden beaches to which you can swim.
> fijords teeming with colourful corals, fish and turtles; great for snorkling.
> if you are lucky, you'll have some dolphins (yes, you heard correctly: WILD DOLPHINS!) bow-riding alongside your dhow!
Sometimes we've been too tired to drive back to Dubai, so we stayed at the Hilton in Fujeirah.
If you want to see the "real UAE", you simply have to visit the East Coast. It's the essensial & often forgotten charm of the United Arab Emirates.
NOTE: To explore Dibba & Mussandam further, you need a visit visa for the Sultanate of Oman.
Near Airport - perfect for a short transit
One of many shopping centres in Dubai, Deira City Centre is conveniently located near the airport. In March of 2007, I had six hours to waste between flights (from Kuwait to New York) so I went to City Centre and was able to go to the cinema! The shopping centre is enormous housing mostly middle of the range shops, with a small section dedicated to high end shopping. There is a cinema, of course, a Virgin megastore, and numerous cafés.
Stopover in Dubai airport
If you are having a stop over in Dubai here are some tips:
- there are some seats where you can put your legs up, but none where you can lie horizontally (the armrests get in the way)
- some people sleep on the floor behind the chairs
- the designated "quiet" area (by gate 23) is probably the most noisy place there (screaming children and Arab men talking loudly)
- Sky Team lounge is at gate 23 (or you can use Murhaba lounge at gate 20)
- there are some free internet access terminals but they are permanently occupied
- large duty free selection
- there always seems to be an expensive car on offer as a prize but you have to buy a ticket costing 500 dirham
- exchange rate is about 6.36Dh/GBP at the moment
- lots of costa coffee stalls - good quality coffee and cakes but expensive