Need to know – Dubai

Atlantis, The Palm is one of Dubai's most luxurious hotels.
Image courtesy: Atlantis, The Palm

In this extract from Lonely Planet India’s Dubai travel guide, we look at some of the important information you will need while planning a trip to the city.

Languages: Arabic, English, Malayalam, Hindi

Time: 1 ½ hours behind IST

Currency: United Arab Emirates (UAE) Dirhams (Dh).

Phones: GSM networks through pre-paid Etisalat and DU SIM cards.

Internet Access: Wi-fi is widespread and sometimes free in cafes, restaurants and malls.

Tourist Information: The Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing (DTCM) ph 2230000;; 24-hour information booths in Terminal 1 and Terminal 3 arrivals at Dubai International Airtport.

When to Go

• November to March: The weather is pleasant and there are lots of events happening around town. Since most tourists to Dubai arrive at this time, hotel rates tend to shoot up.

• April to October: Dubai turns into a sauna in the summer months. In July and August average daytime temperatures are around 43°C with 85% humidity which can easily shoot up to 48°C with 95% humidity. Just so you get a fair idea, it’s like combining the heat of Delhi with the humidity of Kolkata or Mumbai. It is easy to get bargains not only on hotel rooms but also on shopping. The Dubai Shopping Festival usually happens during the summers to promote off-season tourism. All hotels and most major shopping malls are air-conditioned.

What to Pack

The weather of Dubai, as with any city in the middle of a desert, varies hugely from season to season. While summers can be oppressively hot and humid, winters can be surprisingly chilly. It is wise to look at a weather forecast site before you go and pack accordingly. However, we recommend you carry these:

• Light wash-and-wear clothes.

• Slip-on shoes, slippers, sandals.

• Sunscreen, hat, shades, water and dust-proof money/passport bag.

• A scarf for women to cover their heads in a religious place, say, Jumeirah Mosque.

• If you are in Dubai during winters, light sweaters and jackets.

• Prescription drugs (retain purchase slip).

Getting Around

• Bus: RTA operates a fleet of fully air-conditioned buses throughout the city. Cheaper than taxis and excellent network.

• Taxi: RTA operates a modern fleet of taxis fitted with taxi meters. Meter starts at Dh10 (except at airports). Fares are fixed, leaving no chance for argument.

• Metro: RTA-operated metro connects every major landmark, mall and street.

• Water Taxi: The quickest and the most economical way of getting from Bur Dubai to Deira and vice versa. Abra ride costs Dh1 while water taxis cost Dh4.