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|UNITED ARAB EMIRATES |
The Futuristic Dubai - FAQ
With such a rich and varied itinerary and so many aspects to touring Dubai in United Arab Emirates, it's easy to feel overwhelmed and unsure about where to start preparing for your Futuristic Dubai tour. We are here to help. Below, you'll find some useful information you'll need as you get ready for your Emirati adventure.
Dubai and the entire United Arab Emirates are in Gulf Standard Time zone (GST) which is 4 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time. During the American Daylight Savings time, when we'll be visiting Dubai, it will be 8 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time, and 11 hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time. The Emiratis use the 24-hour clock to measure time, so on schedules you'll see noon as 1200, 3:30pm as 1530, and 11pm as 2300. In informal conversation, however, Emiratis express time much as we do.
Dubai is the world's shopping capital, so no doubt you will be bringing things back with you. Because of that, make sure to have space left in your suitcase. You do not need formal clothing for this trip, but some people like to dress up if they are visiting high-end restaurants, although it is optional. Even though Emiratis will not say anything on seeing a tourist with bare midriff or very short shorts, a modest dress is appreciated by the locals. So when you pack, think conservative over revealing and flashy. Women’s clothing is considered indecent if it’s too short, tight or transparent. You should dress modestly to avoid unwanted attention and respect the Muslim culture, and considering the climate, light and loose cotton clothes should be preferred anyway. Sunscreen, hat and sunglasses are a must to stay protected from the Dubai sun and heat. The good news is that we'll be staying at only one hotel, so you can pack a little more than for tours where we change hotels several times. Since we'll be visiting two mosques during this tour, please bring a light weight dress that covers you from neck to ankles and either a hood or a scarf to cover your hair. Otherwise, such clothing is available for purchase or for rent at the entry to the mosque, but not all American sizes may be available.
Visitors from the US, Canada and Australia need a valid passport, but no visas are not required for Americans, Canadians or Australians visiting United Arab Emirates for less than 3 months. Your passport must be valid for at least 3 months after the date you intend to leave the United Arab Emirates. Before traveling abroad it's a good idea to make two photocopies of your passport, your driver's license and your credit cards. Leave one copy at home with a trusted person and another in your suitcase.
|ARRIVAL AND DEPARTURE INFORMATION |
This tour starts and ends in Dubai International Airport (airport code DXB), United Arab Emirates.
The tour starts at 4:00PM on Wednesday, January 6, 2021 in Dubai, and your flight should arrive no later than 2:00PM. You'll probably depart North America on Tusday, January 5, 2021. If you are prone to jet lag and travel fatigue, we recommend arriving a day early. We have arranged for individual airport transfers on arrival in accordance with your flight, and you will be met by a chauffeur on your arrival in Athens.
This tour ends after breakfast on Tuesday, January 12, 2021, so you can schedule your return flight any time on the last day. Hotel check-out is at 12 noon, but if your flight departs late in the evening, you can store your luggage with the front desk and have another day to enjoy Dubai. We will arrange for your airport transfer in accordance with your flight's departure time. If you need help with your flights to Dubai, please feel free to give us a call.
To avoid jet lag (common when crossing more than five time zones) drink plenty of nonalcoholic fluids and eat light meals. Upon arrival, get exposure to natural sunlight, exercise and readjust your schedule (for meals, sleep and so on) as soon as possible.
The Dubai group is limited to the maximum of 16 women + the tour director. The minimum group size is 6 women + the tour director. In addition to the tour director, the travelers will be assisted by private local guides and bus drivers, who will accompany the group throughout the tour.
Modern medical care and medicines are widely available in Dubai and the U.A.E.'s other principal cities. Dubai's healthcare network includes four government hospitals that provide care at relatively low costs, and a number of expensive private hospitals and medical clinics. Emergency care in the government hospitals is free regardless of nationality.
Some general tips: Take a sufficient supply of your prescription medicines and we recommend you carry a copy of the prescriptions or a letter from your doctor, and write down the generic names of those prescription drugs. Non-prescription medicines that travelers should consider packing include aspirin or other pain reliever, antihistamine, Imodium or other anti-diarrheal, rehydration mixture, antiseptic, multivitamins, bandages, sunscreen, and lip balm. It's also wise to take a spare pair of glasses and contact lenses with you.
Regional Health Concerns: There are few mosquitoes in the city of Dubai, but they are more common near Dubai Creek and desert streams (oases) that fill after the rains. There's no risk of malaria in the U.A.E. Food is generally safe throughout Dubai, but be cautious about eating raw salads and shawarmas in older cafes and restaurants in the old quarter (Deira and Bur Dubai). The city's tap water is potable, but many people prefer to drink bottled water. Respiratory illnesses are common in Dubai and elsewhere in the Gulf. One in three people suffer from allergies here, triggered by pollution, airborne dust, and sand. Dubai's sun is extremely intense. The UV rays are most dangerous from May to September. Avoid excessive sun exposure, especially when visiting the beach. Adequate sunscreens, sunglasses, and some form of head protection (such as a hat or visor) are important. It's important to drink plenty of water, and try to stay out of the sun during the middle of the day.
Tap water is desalinated from the Gulf and is generally safe to drink, but most visitors prefer bottled mineral water, which is offered in most Dubai hotels and restaurants.
Western-style restrooms and toilets are widely available in shopping malls, restaurants, and hotel lobbies. Public toilets on the streets are uncommon.
Dubai is one of the safest cities in the world with very low crime rates, so you can be assured of your personal safety. Basic precautions must still be taken like leaving your original documents in the hotel locker and carrying photocopies of all important documents along with you. With great emphasis on hygiene and cleanliness, Dubai has no health hazards and you can be rest assured of a safe and healthy experience in the city.
Some people imagine that visiting Dubai as a women is more difficult and stressful than it is. So let's debunk some of the most common myths:
- You don’t have to wear a burka, headscarf or veil.
- You are allowed to drive a car.
- You won’t be constantly harassed.
- It's safe to take taxis, stay alone in hotels and walk around on your own in most areas.
Some of the biggest misunderstandings between Middle Easterners and people from other parts of the world occur over the issue of women. Half-truths and stereotypes exist on both sides: foreigners sometimes assume that all Middle Eastern women are veiled, repressed victims, while some locals see Western women as sex-obsessed and immoral. Traditionally, the role of a woman in this region is to be a mother and matron of the household, while the man is the financial provider. However, as with any society, the reality is far more nuanced. There are thousands of middle- and upper-middle-class professional women in the UAE, who, like their counterparts elsewhere in the world, juggle work and family responsibilities.
There are a few things women travelers will want to be aware of. Women have all the same legal rights as men and are free to dress as they please, although modest attire is encouraged out of deference to the local culture. Many public places offer special sections for women as well as special hours during which only women are allowed, which is intended to show respect for women's privacy. This may include public transportation, banks, post offices, libraries, city parks, and even some health clubs and spas.
Emirati men often do not directly address a foreign woman, which is also meant as a sign of respect in the local culture. They may stare, however, and this is usually a result of curiosity rather than rudeness. Sexual harassment is officially censored, and the Dubai government punishes offenders by "naming and shaming" them. Although women should feel safe traveling alone, they should be cautious about visiting lower-end hotels, bars, or nightclubs where prostitution may be an issue and single women are sometimes propositioned.
During the Futuristic Dubai tour, we will travel by bus and on foot, and we'll be taking several leisure boats. This is one of our least strenuous tours, but to be able to fully enjoy the tour and participate in scheduled activities, you need to be able to walk, at a leisurely pace, up to 3 miles throughout the day. You should be able to stand unassisted for up to 30 minutes, you should be able to climb stairs, get in and out of vehicles without assistance and manage your own luggage without assistance.
Dubai is located close to the Tropic of Cancer and the Northern desert belt. This is what gives the city its year-round tropical desert climate. Summer is humid with daytime temperatures averaging around 90°F and winter is cool, getting down to around 50°F at night. Despite its extremes, Dubai can be enjoyed in maximum comfort no matter what time of year you visit. All resorts and venues boast some of the world’s most advanced technologies and, as a result, are magnificently climate-controlled to help you regulate!
Dubai’s winter extends from October through the end of March. Temperatures drop considerably and rainfall can be expected. Daytime high temperatures average 75°C and lows sit around a cool 34°F. Rains fall predominantly between December and March though showers are short-lived. In recent years, the amount of rain has increased though the annual recorded amount is still only around 5.9 inches. When travelling in winter, it’s a good idea to pack some light layers just in case you feel the cold!
Most Dubai's venues have free WiFi, including malls, cafes, restaurants, museums, hotel lobbies and even some open areas like Al Fahidi, although they usually ask for your email address in exchange. Cellular phone coverage is very good in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The hotel, where we’ll be staying also has WiFi Internet available for its guests.
The official language of Dubai is Arabic, though English is even more widely spoken. With the exception of some local Emiratis, who make up a small percentage of the total population, almost everyone living in or traveling to Dubai speaks at least passable English. Street signs and public documents are written in Arabic and English. In hotels, restaurants, shopping centers, beach clubs, sports facilities, entertainment complexes, and other public places, information is usually posted in both Arabic and English (or just English), and the staff invariably speaks English. In some of the city's more traditional areas, particularly Deira and Bur Dubai, you will also hear Hindi, Urdu, and Farsi. It can also be helpful to know some basic Arabic, including ‘min fadlak’ (please), ‘shukrun’ (thank you), ‘marhaba’ (hello) and ‘maasalaamah’ (goodbye or with peace).
The monetary unit of the U.A.E. is the dirham (designated as Dhs or AED, which stands for Arab Emirate Dirham), which is divided into 100 fils. Bills come in the following denominations: 5 (brown note), 10 (green), 20 (light blue), 50 (purple), 100 (pink), 500 (blue), and 1,000 (burgundy). The notes are written in English on one side and Arabic on the other. The exchange rate from USD is roughly 3.6 which means that $1 USD is equal to approximately $3.6 AED. Most shops, hotels and restaurants accept major credit and debit cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, etc.). Most ATMs across Abu Dhabi bear the Visa, MasterCard, American Express Cirrus, Maestro or Plus logos, which means credit card owners can withdraw cash against their accounts from them.
Dubai is increasingly expensive, with inflation on the rise. Hotel prices are now among the highest of any city in the world, and the price of everything from food to entertainment continues to climb. Taxis remain relatively inexpensive.
All restaurants', guides' and drivers' gratuities are included in the tour cost. When on your own, although tipping is not mandatory in Dubai, it is always expected. Dh 10-20 is the ideal tipping amount to porters, waiters or bellboys. 10% of the total bill amount should be given as tip in restaurants and cafes. Tipping taxi drivers is not expected.
10 best souvenirs to bring back from Dubai
1. Camel milk chocolate is a true home-grown delicacy in Dubai. It is manufactured by just one company, Al Nassma. These products used to be exclusively available in Dubai but has since been exported to Europe and other Asian countries. Al Nassma camel milk chocolate bars come in five varieties: whole milk, 70% cocoa, dates, macadamia, and spiced (Arabia). There are also camel-shaped chocolates that are perfect as quirky souvenirs.
2. Dubai Dates (Dried Fruits). Dates are a sweet part of Middle Eastern culture. It plays a prominent role during Ramadan where it is given as gifts and eaten at the end of the fast. They are source of fiber, potassium, iron, calcium, and magnesium, among others. Dates are believed to have many health benefits like energy boosting. To buy fresh and gourmet dates, make your way to Bateel shops. They have over 20 varieties of dates and Khidri, Sokari, Madjool and Kholas are just a few favorites. Their almond and hazelnut bars are also among the must-tries.
3. Persian Rugs & Carpets. Persian rugs and carpets are on the expensive side of the souvenir shopping list. It is considered as an investment but you have to check the quality and authenticity if you decide to buy. Affordable carpets are available at Dubai souks. For high quality carpets, buy at National Iranian Carpets or Persian Carpet House. If you don’t like the items on display at these places, you can have one specially made for you.
4. Oudh and Bakhoor Image. If you notice a distinct aroma while exploring Dubai, you may have smelled a whiff of the traditional oudh or bakhoor. Oudh is an expensive fragrance oil derived from agarwood resin. This mesmerizing scent gift is available in forms of pure oil, mixed oil of Oudh and other floral oils like rose and jasmine, and oudh fragrance perfume (Ajmal and Ne’emah) Bakhoor, on the other hand, is the term for agarwood chips that are burned to produce an aroma that permeates an entire room. It is a good alternative to candles and incense. Bringing home a true Middle Eastern scent is always a brilliant idea.
5. Arabic Attars (Perfume Oil). Attar is the term for essential oils derived from plant sources. These alcohol-free perfumes are widely used by both men and women in Dubai. There are various kinds of attars sold the city. The vendors at the Perfume Souk in Deira can recommend scents for you if you have a hard time choosing. Want to make your own perfume? Just experiment with different mixtures and ask the seller to prepare it for you. You can also opt for the branded versions in popular perfume shops like Anfasic Dokhoon, Hind Al Oud, Khaltat, and Amouage.
6. Pashmina Shawls. Real pashmina shawls can be expensive. They are made of cashmere that is produced from the hair of goats in South Asia. The cashmere is often blended with 30% silk to produce a soft and smooth fabric. This makes pashmina shawls a special gift for women who are dearest to you. To test the authenticity of the shawl, try pulling the whole shawl through a ring. It should pass through easily. Otherwise, you are holding a shawl made of viscose but being passed off as real pashmina. If you are on a tight budget, you can buy the silk or viscose versions. Just make sure you pay the right price for the right product.
7. Gold Jewelry. Gold can be the ultimate souvenir from Dubai. This lasting gift is widely available in Dubai and costs much less than in most big cities. These treasures are perfect gifts for extra special people in your life like your spouse or a parent. When buying gold in Dubai, you don’t have to look any further than the Dubai Gold Souk. The wide array of gold products at this souk is simply astounding that you might have a hard time choosing. Don’t forget to haggle for a good bargain!
8. Coffee and Arabic Coffee Pot. The term Arabica coffee is a testament to the long tradition of coffee farming in the Middle East. Arabic coffee may not suit the taste of some coffee drinkers but it is highly regarded by those who have come to love it. To complete the Arabic coffee drinking experience, look for copper Arabic coffee pots that are suitable for daily use. These designed pots, called “dallah”, can be also used for decorative purposes. Go for the cheaper options if it is only meant for display.
9. Dubai Spices. If you want to bring home the flavors of Dubai with you, then you might be interested in buying some spices from the famous Spice Souk. The Spice Souk is a treasure trove of popular spices as well as rare spices that cannot be bought in supermarkets or anywhere else in the UAE. Their strong aromas make your meals flavorful but make your carry-on luggage smell badly. Just pack them well and put inside your check-in luggage. To save you from further hassle during travel, buy only the spices that you cannot find back home and in smaller quantities.
10. Hookah Pipe/Shisha Pipe. Hookah and shisha are often used interchangeably though they differ in their actual meanings. Hookah refers to the pipe itself that is used to smoke shisha. Shisha is the flavored substance that you smoke through a hookah. Shisha is also the term used to refer to the practice of smoking through a hookah. Shisha is a popular pastime in the Middle East. If you walk past a shisha bar, you might catch a whiff of the luscious scents of strawberry, apple, honey, cinnamon, or mint. Shisha-smoking is not necessarily healthier than cigarette-smoking. However, this does not mean that you should be discouraged from buying the beautifully-designed pipe as a keepsake or home décor.