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A century ago, Dubai was a tranquil town along the banks of Dubai Creek, where coral-and-gypsum huts housed Bedouin traders and pearl divers. Today, the merchants have gone international, their bounty calling forth science-fiction style skyscrapers from the sand to stand alongside the mosques and windtowers of old Dubai. Trade, not oil, is the lifeblood of this traditionally Arabic and refreshingly tolerant society, where business brings the best and brightest from across the world to help build Dubai's future. It's the Middle East meets Hong Kong, with a little Las Vegas thrown in for style; a cosmopolitan melting pot at the crossroads of time - and the quintessential home of sand, sea, sun and shopping. TIME: The United Arab Emirates is 01 hour 30 minutes behind India
WHEN TO GO: The best time of the year to visit the Dubai is between November and April, when the weather is coolest. The rest of the year you're more likely to be running from one air-conditioned environment to the next instead of getting out and exploring. Ramadan, which takes place at a different time each year on the western calendar, is the Muslim month of fasting and is strictly adhered to throughout the UAE. That means that it's illegal, not to mention rude, to eat, drink or smoke in public from sunrise to sunset during your stay. On the up side, hotel rates drop up to 70%. CLIMATE: Dubai has a sub-tropical, arid climate, with perfect weather for at least six months out of the year. Rainfall is infrequent and happens mainly in winter. Usually it amounts to about 13 centimetres, spread over five days per year. Temperatures range from a low of about 10 degrees Celsius on winter nights, to a high of 48 degrees Celsius in the midday summer heat. CURRENCY: UAE dirham ELECTRICITY: The electrical current is 220 Volts, AC 50Hz EVENTS: Religious holidays are tied to the lunar Islamic Hijra calendar, so dates vary from year to year on the western Gregorian version, which runs on solar time. Eid al-Fitr (the end of Ramadan), Eid al-Adha (Pilgrimage), Lailat al-Mi'raj (the Ascension of the Prophet), the Prophet's Birthday and the Islamic New Year are the main celebrations. Secular holidays include New Year's Day (1 January) and National Day (2 December). Keep in mind that Thursday and Friday make up the Dubai weekend.
Ramadan is the month during which Muslims fast from dawn to dusk, and it is in poor form to eat, drink or smoke in public. Alcohol is not served publicly at any time during Ramadan, but those with a liquor license can purchase it for consumption at home. At sundown, the feast begins. Dubai hosts two major tourist-oriented events during the year. Since 1996 the Emirate of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates has held the annual month-long event which is fiercely promoted and known as Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF).. Entertainment for the kids, fireworks and free raffle tickets with every purchase are just part of the fun. The lower-key Dubai Summer Surprises is designed, along with cheap hotel rates, to attract tourists during the summer slump. Surprises include displays of traditional culture, cooking demonstrations, art shows and more raffle tickets.
LANGUAGE AND RELIGION: The official language is Arabic, but English and Urdu are also widely spoken, along with Hindi, Persian, Punjabi, Malayalam, and Tagalog. Islam is the official religion of all of the emirates. A vast majority of the locals are Sunnis. There are foreign minority Hindus, Sikhs, and Christians as well. Dubai is the only emirate that has Hindu temples and a Sikh gurudwara. The Meena Bazaar area of the city has both a Shiva and Krishna temple. Both are believed to be sanctioned by the late ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum. GETTING AROUND: Buses run between Dubai International Airport and Deira bus station every halfhour, and metered, beige-coloured Dubai Transport taxis take new arrivals to any point in the Deira or Bur Dubai City centres for Dh30. Although they can't serve the airport, there are scores of private taxis in all shapes and colours. As these aren't metered, you may need to haggle a bit about fares. Local buses run from the Deira bus station, near the gold souq, and the Bur Dubai Station on Al-Ghubaiba Rd. Monthly bus passes, known as taufeer, get you unlimited travel on either side of Dubai Creek (Dh75) or throughout the city (Dh120). Driving in the city of Dubai is considered an extreme sport, but masochists love it. If you must rent a car, bring your credit card and a copy of your passport. Drinking and driving will get you jail time on top of a stiff fine. Note that all accidents, no matter how small, must be reported to the police. The older parts of Dubai, with their souqs, fascinating architecture and museums, are best seen on foot. Abras criss-cross Dubai Creek from early morning until around midnight, and are a great, inexpensive way to see the city.
INFORMATION REGARDING MAJOR ATTRACTIONS IN DUBAI:
Souqs of Deira Souqs, Arabic open-air markets, have long been a pillar of Dubai society. They've changed a lot since the Bedouin days, but are still open for business in the early morning and between 5 and 8pm. The Deira Covered Souq has more of an Indian feel than Arabic one, with folks hawking textiles, spices, kitchenware’s, clothes and henna. The Spice Souq, also known as the Deira Old Souq (it's not just for spices anymore), sells all sorts of trinkets, clothing, rugs and glassware. The overflowing bags of seasonings are concentrated at the eastern end, closest to Dubai Creek; just follow your nose. Deira's celebrated Gold Souq, with its intricate wooden lattice archway and windows filled with glittering gold, attracts buyers from throughout the world. Dubai's nickname, the 'City of Gold,' was well chosen: Any type of gold jewellery, in any colour the craftspeople can coax from the metal, can be yours for a price. Next door is the Perfume Souq, with European designer fragrances, cleverly named knockoffs and strong, spicy Arabic scents. The Electronics Souq is known throughout the region as the place to get the Play Station of your dreams, and does a roaring business with those who ship the stuff back home and sell it for a tidy profit. The Dubai Souq, in Bur Dubai, has been beautifully rebuilt to appeal to tourists, but sells mostly items appreciated by the Indo-Pakistani expat community. This is the place to purchase that custom-sewn sari.
Dubai Museum The Dubai Museum, occupying the Al-Fahidi Fort on the Bur Dubai side of Dubai Creek, is not to be missed. Thought to be the city's oldest building, the fort was both the residence of Dubai's rulers and the seat of government until it was retired as a museum in 1971. Arial photographs show the city's phenomenal growth over the years. Several nautical items are displayed in the courtyard, including a shasha, a small palmfrond fishing boat like those still used on the UAE's East Coast. A collection of antique khanjars (curved daggers) and a complete grave from the Al-Qusais archaeological site are highlights. Multimedia and interactive displays touch on everything from traditional and modern methods of water conservation to a presentation of the city's development. Contact Timing Open daily from 8.30am - 8.30pm - except Fridays: 3pm-8.30pm; Tel: 3531862
Dubai Creek Dubai's waterfront epitomises the city's personality. If you do only one touristy thing in Dubai, make sure to visit Dubai Creek. The best way to see the grand trading port is from the water. You can book a pricey cruise or hire an abra (water taxi) for an hour or so; ask the captain to take you to Al-Maktoum Bridge and back. Also take some time to walk around the dhow wharf on the Deira side of Dubai Creek, to the west of the abra dock. Dhows bound for ports from Kuwait to Bombay dock here to unload everything, including kitchen sinks. Contact Creek Cruises - Tel: 04 3939860
Grand Mosque The Grand Mosque in Bur Dubai is home to the city's tallest minaret. It might appear to be a beautiful example of restoration work, but was in fact built in the 1990s in the style of the Grand Mosque, which dated from 1900 but was knocked down to make way for another mosque in 1960. Ah, the perils of progress, always perceived to late. But the new Grand Mosque's sand-coloured walls and wooden shutters blend perfectly with the surrounding old quarter of Bur Dubai. Other mosques are also worth a look, particularly the Jumeira Mosque, known for its size and elaborate design. The best time to see it is at night, when it is spectacularly lit up. The stunning Iranian Mosque has incredibly detailed blue mosaic work typical of Persian building design. Non-Muslims are not allowed to enter mosques in the UAE. Address: Al Mussalla Road (near Ruler's Court)
Shaikh Saeed al-Maktoum House The house of Shaikh Saeed has been restored as a museum of the pre-oil era. For many years, the 30-room house served as a communal residence for the ruling AlMaktoum family. It was built using traditional methods, using coral quarried in the Gulf that was subsiquently coated with lime and plaster, insulators that along with the wind tower keep the house cool and comfortable. An exhibition of photographs documents Dubai's history, and shows just how quickly the city evolved from a sleepy pearling town into a world-class metropolis. Next door, the Heritage and Diving Villages have displays on pearl diving and dhow building, two of old Dubai's economic mainstays. Another area re-creates traditional Bedouin and coastal village life, complete with barasti (Persian) homes, a traditional coffeehouse and a small souq where you can buy freshly made dosa (a flat, grilled bread). A museum with items from nearby archaeological sites is also interesting. Address: Port Rashid, Dubai Contact Tel: 04 3937139 Bastakia Quarter This district, on the waterfront east of the Dubai Souq and Diwan, features a number of traditional windtower houses. Built in the late 1800s, the quarter was once the home of wealthy Persian merchants, most of them from the Bastak district (hence the name Bastikia) and lured to Dubai by its relaxed trade tariffs. The quarter has been declared a conservation area and restoration work is being carried out on several of the houses DSF Initially, Dubai Shopping Festival was conceived as a pure retail event, the primary aim of which was to revitalise the retail trade in Dubai. It was later developed into a comprehensive tourism product in line with Dubai's far-sighted stance to set global standards in every field The Festival was shaped under the committed leadership of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai. As months of preparations went into creating Dubai Shopping
Festival, the shopping festival matured into a major retailing cum entertainment extravaganza. Today, one of the biggest beneficiaries of the event is the tourism sector. Hotels, travel agents and tour operators contribute to the selling of the event worldwide and it would be fair to assume, run at the peak levels of operation during the event. Dubai Shopping Festival - DSF Every year, Dubai Shopping Festival lives up to its promise of staging the most exciting activities for the whole family inspired by the theme One World, One Family, One Festival. As universal brotherhood, happiness, excitement, joy and adventure became the signature trademarks of Dubai Shopping Festival, the Festival itself became a tribute to the inherent ambition and strength of the people of the United Arab Emirates. Local and multinational brands acknowledged their faith in the event, and brands like Visa, Pepsi and Emirates Airlines became partners to DSF's growth. SKI DUBAI An amazing 22,500 square metres covered with real snow all year round. Ski Dubai is the first indoor ski resort in the Middle East and offers an amazing snow setting to enjoy skiing, snowboarding and tobogganing, or just playing in the snow. Young or old, there is something for everyone, from the beginner to the snow sport enthusiast. Ski Dubai is a unique mountain-themed attraction that offers you the opportunity to enjoy real snow in Dubai all year round. Location: Shiekh Zayed Road, exit 39 (4th interchange), towards Al Barsha. Timings: Saturday - Tuesday: 10.00 - 23.00 (last ticket to be sold at 21.30) Wednesday - Friday: 10.00 - 24.00 (last ticket to be sold at 22.30) To learn more about Ski Dubai you can visit the site: www.skidxb.com INDIAN RESTAURANTS IN DUBAI: DA GAMA Indian – Goan food Tennis Stadium, Aviation Club Dubai United Arab Emirates +971 4 282 3636 firstname.lastname@example.org DARPAN Indian – Mughlai Al Ras, Creek road Dubai United Arab Emirates +971 4 225 1122 email@example.com DHABA Dubai United Arab Emirates +971 4 263 2555 firstname.lastname@example.org CARAVAN Dubai United Arab Emirates +971 4 295 3804 ADARSH RESTAURANT Located in Meena Bazaar +971 4 353 4218
ANTHAKSHRI Located at the President Hotel +971 4 334 6565
BOMBAY BRASSERIE Located at the Marco Polo Hotel +971 4 272 0000 CASA GOA Located at the Palm Beach Rotana Inn +971 393 1999
Open Hours: Noon-3pm, 7pm-midnight COCONUT GROOVE Rydges Plaza Hotel Dubai United Arab Emirates +971 4 398 3800 ASHA'S CONTEMPORARY INDIAN CUISINE Pyramids Dubai 254 United Arab Emirates +971 4324 4100 / +971 4324 0000 email@example.com http://www.ashasrestaurants.com/ NAUTICA Al Attar Shopping Mall, Ground Floor Dubai United Arab Emirates +971 4 336 2828 RAJVADA Ministry of Health Building Dubai United Arab Emirates +971 4 396 8070 firstname.lastname@example.org MEHFIL Khalid Bin Walid Street Dubai 5822 United Arab Emirates +971 4 393 1999 email@example.com SHOPPING IN DUBAI Mall of the Emirates - near 4th interchange on Sheikh Zayed Road - The largest shopping mall outside of North America. 200+ shops, cinemas, plus the Ski Centre. Has many international high street chains as well as luxury brand stores, including Harvey Nichols. Many restaurants and cafes, though cafes tend to be much more crowded than at other malls. Very large Carrefour hypermarket attached. Arabian/Middle Eastern souvenir shops upstairs. Tel: +971 4 409 9000 Ibn Battuta Mall - Jebel Ali - Areas themed around six countries (China, India, Persia, Egypt, Tunisia and the Andalusia.) Wide range of shops, although fewer high class brands. Has various restaurants and cafes (including three Starbucks), and a multiplex cinema including an Imax. No restaurants serve alcohol. Also has permanent exhibition of Islamic science, invention and astronomy. Attached (access via outside) is one of Dubai's few second-hand bookshops, House of Prose. Has a Giant supermarket attached. Tel: +971 4 362 1900 CURRY HOUSE Located at the Astoria Hotel +971 353 4300 DAAWAT Located at the Sea Shell Inn +971 393 4777
TANOUR RESTAURANT In Bur Dubai & is opposite Sea Shell Inn +971 3935900 WELCOME RESTAURANT In Bur Dubai & is opposite Sea Shell Inn +971 3931666
Souk Madinat Jumeirah - Jumeirah Road, - 75 shops, numerous bars, restaurants and cafes, a nightclub, theatre. More expensive and targeted directly at tourists than other, general malls where residents go. Most bars and restaurants are licensed for alcohol. Nice to wander through as it has been designed to resemble a "traditional" souq, but with the modern comforts of air conditioning. Lots of souvenir-type shops. Burjuman Centre - Khalifa Bin Zayed Road, - Recently opened after expansion, focus is on premium brand stores and luxury boutiques, but high street stores are also available. No restaurants serve alcohol. Tel: +971 4 352 7755 Deira City Centre - This is by far the most popular mall in Dubai and no visit to Dubai is complete without a visit. Debenhams, Virgin Megastore, Zara and other international high street brands. A multiplex cinema, and many restaurants and cafes. Also has a large "Arabian Treasures" souvenir and traditional textiles area. Big Carrefour hypermarket attached, which is nearly always very busy. No restaurants serve alcohol. Tel: +971 4 295 4545 Wafi Mall - Marks & Spencer, Goodies. Focus is almost entirely on luxury brands, jewellery and expensive boutiques. Many upmarket restaurants and bars, many of which are licensed (have alcohol available). A luxury spa is attached to the complex. The Egypt-themed architecture, which includes quite beautiful stained-glass pyramids, is worth seeing. Tel: +971 4 324 4555 Emirates Towers Boulevard - Sheikh Zayed Road - Part of the Emirates Tower Hotel complex. The shops here match the hotel - very high class, plus a Starbucks. Lipton cafe has free wifi. Restaurants and bars all serve alcohol. Quite a popular nightlife spot, with bars and nightclubs. Mercato Mall - Jumeirah Beach Road. The only Renaissance-themed shopping mall in the Middle East. Cinemas, Virgin Megastore, high street brands such as Next, Top Shop. Also has a big Spinneys attached. Some restaurants, but none are licensed for alcohol. Gold Souk - Not a mall, but a historic market that has been a part of Dubai since the origin of Dubai itself. Located at the mouth of the creek, it dazzles people by selling gold in large quantities and with no security. A must visit for shoppers and sightseers. Spice Souk - As above, not a mall, but a historic market that has been a part of Dubai since the origin of Dubai itself. Located at the mouth of the creek, it is not far from the Gold Souk, but has sadly declined a bit in recent years as supermarkets take over the spice trade. A must visit for shoppers and sightseers. Lots of souvenirs are also available. Both the Spice Souk and the Gold Souq are a rather hot and sweaty experience with limited air-conditioning, so wear appropriately cool, loose clothing if visiting in mid summer. Individual shops are air conditioned. Gold & Diamond Park - Interchange 4, Sheikh Zayed Road (South side) - sells gold and diamond products. None of the character of the more historic gold souq, but is air-conditioned throughout, and easier to reach and park at than the historic souq (which is in the depths of downtown Deira). Al Ain Plaza (known locally as Computer Plaza) On Mankhool Road along from the Ramada Hotel, Bur Dubai heading towards the creek. A mall specializing in
computers, computer parts and computer add ons like monitors, VOIP Phones, Hard Drives, etc.