Things you should know before visiting Dubai

Dubai has become a favourite holiday destination for travellers from far and wide, thanks to its ever-broadening range of unique attractions and experiences. While Dubai and the United Arab Emirates as a whole are more accessible and welcoming to international tourists than many other destinations in the Middle East, you should still read up on some key facts before booking your trip.

A handy starting point is considering the weather and climate, as even if you’re eager to soak up the sunshine during your holiday, visiting during the summer months could be uncomfortably hot. For this reason, many travellers favour Dubai’s winter period, which lasts from roughly November to March, offering mild temperatures of around 20 degrees Celsius that can still be an idyllic escape from the winter weather back home.

Visiting after October also means you will avoid Ramadan, the fasting month of the Muslim calendar that sees many businesses closing early, particularly restaurants. While you’ll still be able to enjoy a great holiday when visiting Dubai during Ramadan, you may not be permitted to eat, drink or smoke in many public places from 5am to 5pm, which could mean spending more of your holiday in your hotel room than you bargained for.

Alcohol can be another sensitive issue in Dubai, where you will be unable to buy alcoholic drinks from shops unless you hold a liquor license – unlikely if you’re a visitor rather than a local. If you’re hoping to enjoy a few drinks on your holiday, you should check whether your hotel or resort includes a bar, or alternatively you can stock up on duty-free when you arrive at the airport and save some money in the process.

Following these local laws will not only keep you out of trouble with the authorities, but are also ways to show respect for the local culture and customs. While travellers of all religions are respected and welcomed in Dubai, it’s naturally discouraged to criticise tenets of the country’s official religion, Islam, or to enter holy buildings such as mosques if you’re a non-Muslim.

Last but certainly not least, you will need to research the visa requirements for your home country before arriving in Dubai, to avoid running into problems at passport control. Citizens of some countries will be able to pick up a visa on arrival, which could carry an additional cost, but you should always check Dubai information with your holiday booker to make sure you don’t have to apply beforehand.

BOLA TANGKAS