* "sadik" or my friend (more accurately pronounced as "mahfriend" -- pronounced with one quick breath)... is what we usually call the cab drivers, salespersons or security guards. comes in handy especially if you ask for directions or prices in souks or bazaars. the word "sadik" or "mahfriend" makes them more comfortable right away, thus making it easier for them to give you directions or discounts or whatever it is that you need them for. in effect, mahfriend is equal to sadik which is also equal to best buys and good prices.
As in other Middle Eastern Countries I've visited, roundabouts are made into a feature. I have seen them in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan as well as Dubai.
Usually the feature is an inanimate objects or represent features of the country as in Qatar.
Here are some of the more interesting ones I've seen on this latest visit 
Arabic weddings are traditionally very different from the way they are celebrated in the Western world, although many new "customs" have sneaked their way into even the most traditional of ceremonies: cakes, white dresses, wedding rings, etc. can nowadays also be found under the black veils of their society.
The wedding has 2 seperate parties: 1 for the men and 1 for the women. Muslim life is strongly gender-seperated, and even the union of man & woman makes no exception.
So if you ever have the chance to be invited to an Arabic wedding, take it! It's a wonderful & very "exotic" experience, rather different to Western ideals & ceremonies.
TIP: You can tell which families are gearing-up for a wedding within the family, as the houses are decorated with chains and chains of bright lightbulbs (visible behind the little girl in my picture).
In my picture, you can see men & women sitting together only because they are part of the same family and we were celebrating during a lunch prior to the actual wedding itself. The women were singing and playing the tamborines, while the young men played the "Tabla" drums...
My mother & I were once fortunate enough to be invited to an Arabic wedding at a friend's place. We sat on the floor, played with the children, played the drums and listened to the women sing traditional songs of joy for the bride & groom.
TIP: How to eat a meal with Muslims
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 seems that every time i go to Dubai there are strange statues at the side of the road. Once it was camels. This time I saw a horse. My daughter tells me there are often a number of them, and then they vanish.
At Festival City I found a camel and a horse at the entrance. But you usually come across them in unexpected places.
I love the way the calligraphy blends with the shape of the horse in the illustrated one.
Just back from a week in Dubai and before I went I was a little concerned about what was acceptable to wear in the United Arab Emirates. Had read several conflicting reports that for men shorts were ok and that they were not.
In the week I was there during the day I wore nothing but shorts, albeit knee length and below and had no problems or got any strange looks. Lots of tourists male and female were wearing shorts in the tourist areas, shopping malls and downtown areas.
I also travelled to Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah and Ajman the last two being two of the lesser developed emirates and again no problems with shorts in any of these places as well.
Ramadan is a special time for muslims, they can´t eat, drink or smoke during the sunlight. All restaurants are close (except in the big hotels), and there´s virtually no nightlife during this holy month. So check when Ramadan falls. I visit Dubai during this month, and i had a great time, but was quite hard for me, without water or food during the day.
Do not take a picture of a local Arab (especially a lady) without first asking. Most likely you'll be denied anyway. This is still a Muslim country and some elements of conservatism is still there. It's best the respect the cultural sensitivities.
But if you really have an urge to take a photo of a lady fully covered in their veil, you can do it in the Heritage Village. There are ladies there totally covered (I think they are Indians) who would not mind being photographed.
Shopping, this seems to be the national sport in Dubai, this is also why I had the impression this would be the perfect location for an eventual "Pretty woman" part II.
When I said this to a friend at home, his answer was: strange as the soul of the shopping is female and there they are all covered.
BIG mistake, infact he and many others think that a woman not showing her body has no interest in shopping. Actually malls are full of women shopping here and there and even their abayas that look all the same for our eyes are different, they also have trends and styles that change every year.
Taking phots of people - and women in particular - is not allowed/recommended unless you aks for permission. Women will rarely give permission hence... you are stuck.
If you feel like you'd like to snap a photo or two, the best thing is to ask a woman traveling with you to pose for a photo, and then zoom in on some passing-by vailed women.
The photo you can see here is taken by my friend xaver - the woman you don't see in the photo is me... I stroke many poses for him, and ended up on only one photo.
In Arabian culture, it is common practice for a man to show his support for his brother or close friends by holding his hand whilst walking. This can be quite disconcerting for European travellers (especially gentlemen) but please be aware that this is nothing covert but simply a traditional show of support for a man's fellow brother.
Please remember that this is a Muslim country!!! I wouldn't want you to wind up in jail for somethings you could do back home and not give it a second thought. Example: Holding hands with the opposite sex, kissing or hugging in public etc. Drinking (or drunk) in public, rude behavior, spitting in public, etc. These simple offenses could get a jail term for many months or a year. Don't worry about what you see someone else doing, that doesn't mean you won't get caught.
Also ladies nothing showing too much skin in public, unless at the beach. It only attracts unwanted attention.
If you come to Dubai as a tourist from Europe or America I wouldn't recommend to drive yourself.
People coming from Asian countries will find the Dubai traffic to be somewhat familiar, however since the streets are very large and in good condition, you will be facing highers speeds here.
So all I can say is: Be careful or use taxis!
There are four main excavation sites in Dubai, at Al Qusais, Al Sufooh, Jumeirah and Hatta. The first two are graveyards dating back more than 2,000 years. The Jumeirah site reveals artifacts from the 7th to 15th centuries AD. These sites are not yet open to the public. However tourists or tour operators may obtain a special permit from Dubai Museum to visit the digs.
Located on the Dubai’s Beach road on site of former ruler H.H. Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum’s office. A replica of the ‘Roundhouse’ has been constructed to honour the site where documents were signed in 1972 for the formation of UAE, uniting the ecirates of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Fujairah, Umm Al Quwain and Ajman. Ras Al Khaimah joined later.
Dubai has its own flag which belongs to Government of Dubai.
A red flag with a white border.
Dubai uses its Flag on the site of all of the Government Departments.
The Dubai flag is flown almost always, together with the national flag of the United Arab Emirates.
Heritage sites and Places of interest
Al Fahidi Fort, which houses the dubai Museum, was built around 1787, and once guarded the landward approaches to the town.
Revonated in 1971 for use as a museum, its colourful life size dioramas vividly depict everyday life in the days before the discovery of oil. Galleries recreate scenes from the Creek, traditional Arab houses, mosques, the souk, date farms and desert and marine life. One of the more spectacular exhibits portrays pearl diving, including sets of pearl merchants’ weights, scales and sieves. Also on display, are artifacts from several excavations in the emirate, recovered from graves that date back to the third millennium BC.
Sheikh Saeed’s House
The official residence of Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai (1912-1958) and grandfather of the present Ruler, Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktourm, has been restored to stand proud again on the Shandagha end of Dubai Creek.
The house, which dates from 1896, today houses a rare collection of historic photographs, coins, stamps and documents that record Dubai’s history.
The old district of Bastakiya with its narrow lanes and tall windtowers provides a hint of okd Dubai. A Short walk from Al Fahidi Fort, it is the largest concentration of traditional courtyard houses in Dubai.
Hatta Heritage Village
Nestled among the Hajjar Mountains, overlooking a fertile oasis, the 16th century Hatta village provides a fine example of traditional style village architecture. Dating back four hundred years, it consists of two watchtowers, a mosque and houses constructed of stone, mud, reeds and palm tree trunks built around the imposing Hatta Fort domination the village.
One of the many watchtowers that once guarded the old city, built in 1870, the restored Burj Nahar in 1992 in its picturesque gardens in Deira is popular with photographers.