The UAE is a scenic and delightful holiday destination and taking your holidays in Dubai travel and its surrounding areas can be a rewarding and fascinating experience. The tourism industry in Dubai has undergone a number of changes and the country has adopted a number of western outlooks and customs. There are however a couple of important aspects to keep in mind if you want to get the most out of your holiday and avoid offending members of the local population.
The emirate of Dubai is viewed by many as being the pearl of the Middle East. Every year tourists from around the globe flock to the destination, eager to experience the magic of its endless, white beaches, sensational shopping malls and luxury hotels.
Interestingly enough, the city of Dubai was originally a small fishing village which was known for being a source of pearls. It was not until the late 19th century under the rule of Sheikh Maktoum that the city really began to emerge as the commercial heart of the east. The discovery of oil and continued trade saw Dubai developing into the business and tourism giant that it is today.
In the past, many westerners were weary of visiting Dubai due to its strict Muslim laws and customs. The Dubai of today is both liberal and tolerant and provided that tourists are respectful of local traditions, Emirate citizens will be willing to overlook and forgive any indiscretion occurring as a result of ignorance. General guidelines include dressing modestly in public, only consuming alcohol in designated areas and being considerate of local religious practices. Keep in mind that non-Muslims are typically not allowed into mosques under any circumstances , so avoid wondering into any no matter how great the temptation may be. Those expressing an interesting in Islamic religious practices are entitled to scheduled, guided tours of the Jumeriah Mosque, which is explicitly the only exception to the former rule.
The majority of hotels in the city have at least a four star rating. Be warned, if you are working on a tight budget you may struggle in Dubai. In most cases no expense has been spared in ensuring that hotels offer the ultimate in amenities and service. As is the case with most things in life, however, you pay for what you get and rates charged by most hotels would definitely not be classed as low cost.
At hotels like the Crowne Plaza Dubai, the Fairmont Hotel, the Hyatt Regency and the Oasis Beach Hotel, room prices start at around $220 per night and suites go for anything from $280 per night to $2800 per night depending on what you are after. Hotels like the Millennium Airport Hotel and the Hilton Jumeirah and Hilton Dubai Creek generally offer slightly cheaper rates. It is advisable to do a bit of research before booking your accommodation as, due to the competition factor, many hotels regularly offer specials.
Tours of Dubai
The city itself has so much to offer that it is difficult to know where to start. Organized tours are often the best way to get the most out of your holiday, especially if you are pressed for time. Bus tours are also a far more economical way of getting around than metered taxis. Historical tours, bus tours and shopping tours are offered by tour companies throughout the city and run both day and night.
Finally, no holiday to Dubai would be complete without a trip through the numerous souks in Bur Dubai and Diera. Shopping tours offer morning and afternoon trips to the most well known souks in the city.
Trips out of the city allow for a more rounded experience of the Emirate, so if you get the chance to experience one they are definitely recommended. A trip to the tranquil Jebel Ali Beach can easily be done in a day, while trips to the historical town of Hatta, located in the spectacular Hajar Mountains, may require more time due to the fact that there is simply too much to see in a single day. Popular tours to areas surrounding Dubai include desert tours and wildlife tours which more often than not include activities like dune driving and camel riding. The more adventurous can also indulge in activities like buggy racing and sand skiing. If you have time to spare, tours into one of Dubai’s neighbouring emirates like Sharjah, Abu Dhabi or Fujairah provide for a culturally rich and fascinating experience.
Hotel and leisure infrastructure developments are underway in various parts of the Arabian Gulf to ensure that they remain at the forefront of advancement to meet the anticipated future demand of the discerning traveller. Dubai in particular, has developed a reputation for its bold and innovative approach in creating architectural wonders, and for its cutting-edge infrastructure, architecture and design. It is recognised by Dubai Tourism that any unavoidable disruption is to be kept to a minimum and hotels make every effort to ensure that guests have an enjoyable holiday.
The developments are not under Voyana’s control nor are we always made aware of them in advance. Should it be known to Voyana that certain works are at, or in the vicinity of, your accommodation and may directly affect the enjoyment of your holiday, Voyana will strive to inform you as soon as possible to avoid inconvenience.
There is currently substantial ongoing building work in Dubai. This is likely to affect some holidaymakers travelling to the area. The building works include development of numerous residential towers, a marina and man-made islands off-shore. Beach hotels in the Jumeirah area are particularly affected by these developments and the marina project. We cannot guarantee that guests staying at any of our featured hotels will be unaffected in any room as work can run for 24 hours.
Holy Month of Ramadan – commences approximately between 2 September – 1 October 2008
NOTE: It may be the case that during the holy month of Ramadan certain restaurants, tours, hotel facilities, entertainment and other tourist services may not be available or may be available in a restricted or in an abridged manner. Accordingly customers should consider this when making their holiday decisions.
The month of Ramadan is the ninth month in the Muslim Calendar. It is the period during which Muslims commemorate the revelation of the first verses of the Holy Quran. Ramadan should commence approximately between 2nd Sept – 1st Oct 2008 and will last for 30 days. However, because it is dependent upon the sighting of the moon, this can vary slightly and we advise you to check with our staff for specific dates. During this period Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. Eating, drinking (Alcohol is prohibited) and smoking in public areas during daylight hours is usually discouraged out of respect.
All of our featured hotels make concessions for their clients and keep a restaurant open during the day for resident guests. Alcohol will usually not be served during this time, however, in Dubai alcohol is served in restaurants and bars after sunset for non-Muslims (from 07.00 PM until 02.00 AM). In each hotel, only one bar will be permitted to serve alcohol to guests.
In Abu Dhabi, Oman & Qatar alcohol will not be served at all. Limited restaurants will be operational in the hotels. Live entertainment, loud music and dancing are prohibited during this period.
Sunset marks the start of the Iftar, which is the breaking of the fast. This begins with a traditional meal of dates, dry fruits and fresh juices, followed by a lavish feast of grilled meats, flavoured rice and other typical Arab fare including sweetmeats.
Most businesses and shops are open only for a few hours in the morning and re-open after sunset until well after midnight which makes shopping during Ramadan even more interesting!
The month of November has one of the best weather conditions in the year with highs of 32/35 Celsius and lows of 22/25 Celsius. Throughout Ramadan conservative dress should be worn in public. All excursions will continue to take place as scheduled. The only exception is the Dune Dinner Safari which will not have the Belly Dance show as this comes under the category of live entertainment.