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At first glance, Dubai looks like a vast desert expanse with the monotony only broken by huge hills. But as you get closer and look beyond the palm trees, a futuristic urban sprawl made of glass, steel, and lights unfolds like a shimmering mirage in the Arabian Desert. Add leisure shopping to this and you’ve got yourself the perfect holiday destination. Tourists from around the world flock to Dubai between the months of November and March to enjoy all that this city has to offer. The famous shopping festival also happens during this time.
Dubai is a beautiful conglomeration of age-old traditions and futuristic ideas and ambitions, making it one of the most interesting places to visit in the world today. For Indians, it is a great weekend getaway considering its proximity to the subcontinent. You can head to Bur Dubai for a taste of the city’s history or visit the more recently-developed region of Jumeirah for all your shopping and leisure activities. And if you think that Dubai is only a place for the rich and famous, think again! You can enjoy all that the place has to offer in a budget of as little as Rs.3000 a day. And of course, if you’re looking to spend more, the sky is the limit. Luxury holidays start at around Rs.6000 a day.
How to reach Dubai
Dubai is well-connected to the Indian subcontinent and rest of the world through most major airlines. In fact, Dubai is a very popular stopover destination and the Dubai International Airport is one of the fanciest and busiest airports of the world.
Nationals from 45 countries are eligible for free visas on arrival (valid for 30 days) in the UAE. These tourist visas can be extended once for a period of 30 days for a fee of Dh500.
Owing to the desert city’s arid conditions, Dubai tourism sees maximum traffic during the winter months. November to April is the best time to visit Dubai to indulge in the Middle-Eastern Vegas’ many attractions. Dubai tourism sees many tourists pouring in to the glittering desert city in January and February due to the Dubai Shopping Festival which is a major event and makes Dubai city come alive. However, you might prefer avoiding the popular Dubai tourism season in order to escape the crowds. Here’s a breakdown of Dubai weather in order to pick the best time for the perfect Dubai trip. Dubai Travel Seasons
November – April: The season that pulls in throngs of people to Dubai tourism, this period between November through April includes the mellow seasons of late autumn and early spring. Dubai weather during these months is blissful. Enjoy sunny and bright days with clear blue skies which are ideal for tourists looking to indulge in Dubai’s attractions such as picnics, beach trips, and thrilling desert safaris or even walking through the metropolis. Evenings during this period are cool and breezy with occasional bouts of rain. This is Dubai tourism’s peak season and hotel rates are high during this period.
May – October: May marks the onset of summer in Dubai and temperatures soar to 23 to 36 degrees Celsius. Dubai weather gets harsh and sultry around July and August which is probably not the best time for an outdoor Dubai tour. However, water babies will enjoy swimming in the sea as the water is perfect for swimming during this time and you won’t have to encounter too many people. Days in September tend to be hot and sticky but by October the weather mellows down enough to enjoy activities such as rooftop dining.
June – August: Dubai tourism doesn’t see much traffic in this season as temperatures are high along with heavy humidity. July and August are the harshest months with temperatures hitting the 40 degrees Celsius mark. It is not the best time to visit Dubai as visiting beaches are impossible unless you’re up and hitting the sand in the early hours of the morning. Dubai tourist places, especially the outdoor attractions are virtually impossible to enjoy during this period. The Ramadan month also takes place during this season and as a result, most cafes and restaurants remain closed during the day. Dubai tourism is inexpensive during these months due to reduced rates in hotels around this time.
The desert town with its top-notch infrastructure, Dubai tourist places, extravagant shopping destinations, desert safaris and more have been luring in more tourists to Dubai tourism. With a spot on Forbes’ list of the top 10 visited cities in the world, Dubai has been witnessing a growth in the number of tourists pouring in to partake in its revelry. Here are some details on how to get a Dubai visa in order to experience this oasis in the Middle East:
Dubai tourism has streamlined the process of getting a tourist visa, making it a smoother and easier process. Indian citizens can opt for a 14 day Dubai tourist visa or a 30 day Dubai visa.
If you opt for the 14 day tourist visa then you’ll be allowed to stay in the UAE for a period of 14 days. This visa is ideal for those who have a limited period of time for their Dubai trip. The visa is valid for two months beyond which entry is not permitted. You can stay in Dubai city for 14 days starting from the day you land. This visa will cost you anything between ₹5,800 to ₹6,500.
You can opt for a 30 day Dubai tourist visa in which Dubai tourism allows you spend more time in the gleaming metropolis. With this Dubai visa, you can stay in the country for 30 days and explore other cities in UAE. If you opt for this visa, you must complete your Dubai tour plans within 60 days of issue of visa after which the visa expires. This visa will set you back by ₹6,100 to ₹7,000.
In case you need to travel to the city on multiple occasions, you can opt for a Multiple Entry Visa.
Indians can obtain a visa for a Dubai trip if they have a local sponsor who could be friend, family, travel agent or a hotel. You must get the visa application completed which is fairly straightforward and easy thanks to Dubai tourism. If your friend or family stay in UAE then they can apply for a Dubai visa on your behalf.
In exceptional circumstances, Dubai tourism officials might ask for a certain amount to be kept as security deposit. The amount is refundable and is returned when the tourist leaves the country.
There are a few mandatory documents that Dubai tourism needs in order to issue a tourist visa. You must have a valid passport. The passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months for Dubai tourism to process your visa application. Another requirement is that of your travel itinerary. This Dubai travel guide will make sure you pin down your Dubai itinerary along with Dubai tourist places and Dubai hotels that you’ll be staying at during your trip. You must submit your travel dates and copies of flight tickets along with details of the hotel you’ll be staying at. You will find all other requirements for the visa application process on the Dubai tourism website. So pack your bags, book your tickets and put in a Dubai map in your backpack to start exploring the multi-cultural city.
Dubai tourism has plenty of attractions to indulge in, in the flamboyant and extravagant desert town. However, there are some must-visit places to visit in Dubai that you can’t miss out on. Refer to the list below to make sure you tick all these attractions off your travel list:
One of Dubai tourism’s glittering attractions, the Madinat Jumeirah has three kilometres of clear waterways which you can navigate through on an authentic abra, a traditional wooden boat. There are around 50 restaurants and bars and the architecture of the resort is similar to that of Arabian citadels. The place includes the Al Qasr, Mina A’Salam and Al Naseem which are elegant hotels as well as the Al Malakiya Villas and Al Masyaf summerhouses. The rooms are tastefully decorated and don’t border on loud. The place even has a traditional Arabian souk which is an open-air marketplace which were pretty common earlier but harder to find in the modern age.
One of the most religious places in Dubai, the Jumeirah Mosque welcomes people of all faiths. The architecture of the mosque is impressive with two minarets and a huge white dome. The place is big enough to accommodate almost 1,200 people at a time. If you want an introduction to the local religion here then this place is worth a visit but make sure to dress conservatively. Dubai tourism offers 75-minute guided tours in English for all those who want to delve deeper in the history and splendour of the place. You can even sample some of the local snacks sold outside such Arabic coffee and dates.
Dubai Miracle Garden
The Dubai Miracle Garden is home to a whopping 109 million varieties of flowers. Dubai tourism’s claim to fame, the world’s largest floral installation here in the shape of a plane is made of five million flowers and has earned a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records. It also has an 18-foot Mickey Mouse figure made up of 100,000 blooms and weighs 39 tons. The garden remains shut from October till April because of the sweltering heat in the region.
It is no secret that Dubai tourism’s specialty is glamour and one such attraction with plenty of glam factor is a night out at the Dubai Opera. The theatre is located next to the Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall. The opera’s interiors are vintage and have a boat-like appearance. The structure can comfortably seat around 2000 people. The theatre is known for its musicals, dance events, singing performances and celebrity appearances. People come dressed up for the big night and love getting photographed in front of lit-up water fountain in front of the theatre.
Dubai Parks and Resorts
Dubai Parks and Resorts is evidence to the fact that Dubai tourism has plenty to offer in terms of thrills. The venue is the biggest theme park in the world and is made up of several smaller parks such as Bollywood Parks Dubai, Legoland Dubai, Legoland Waterpark, Motiongate Dubai and Riverland Dubai. You can ride on several high intensity rides such as the Bullet Train in the Hunger Games zone or look at the world’s most iconic buildings made out of building blocks or treat yourself to colourful visual of Bollywood dance shows. The park doesn’t have entry fee so you can choose to take a stroll around or purchase a ticket to lose yourself in the colourful chaos.
Dubai Gold Souk
In Dubai, all that glitters is gold. Dubai tourism caters to the gold craze in the Middle East and otherwise with its Gold Souk. There are rows of shops with glass windows adorned with an array of shiny gold jewellery on display. There are 379 shops in this souk with a variety of gold artefacts. Browse through delicate rings, necklaces with excellent craftsmanship or opt for heavy bracelets and sets made specifically for a show of wealth. Pretend to be a local in order to bargain heavily. Prices of the jewellery can go down to half if you bargain fruitfully.
Wild Wadi Waterpark
This one’s for the water babies. Dubai tourism boasts of possessing the Wild Wadi Waterpark which is one of the best water parks in the world and has more than 30 rides for people to have a splash in the water. The park has a mystical Arabic folklore theme which revolves around the tale of Juha and his donkey. People can do beginner level surfing here or look at the Burj Al Arab while floating around in a pool. The park hosts ladies nights during summer for women who don’t prefer wearing swimwear in public and can choose to let their hair down with their girl gang.
The Dubai Fountain
Built on the massive Burj Lake, the Dubai fountain is a visual extravaganza which reaches heights of 450 feet. The fountain is the world’s largest choreographed fountain, much to the fame of Dubai tourism. The structure was created by California-based WET who is also the creators of the Fountains of Bellagio in Las Vegas.
The fountain has five circles of different sizes and two central arcs. As big as 18 football fields, the water spectacle has 6,600 WET lights and 25 projectors that create a kaleidoscopic, incredible sight in front of your eyes. The beam of light used in the fountain is so bright that it is visible from space. The fountain dances along to songs in Arabic, English and Swahili and occurs daily. If you want to avoid being a human sandwich amidst the crowd then watch the show from Thyatira restaurant which has a terrace at Palace Downtown.
Dubai Garden Glow
Dubai Garden Glow is an amusement park which plays with light to create fantastic shapes. The venue opens in the evening to help people appreciate the beauty of the lights against the dark night sky. There are glow-in-the-dark attractions such as Sea World, Happiness Forest and Colourful Zone as well as entertainment zones such as Ice Park, Dinosaur Park and Happiness Street. The park was painstakingly created by 500 craftsmen and opened in 2015. Dubai tourism has arranged for live shows here along with international cuisines on offer for visitors to satisfy their hunger pangs.
One of Dubai tourism’s noteworthy tourist places, the Dubai Mall happens to be the biggest mall in the world. The place has an astonishing variety of features such as an ice rink, a waterfall, haunted house, movie halls, aquarium and hotel among other attractions. The mall is so big that there are buggies plying to get visitors from one place to another. There is also a virtual reality park, glittering showrooms of top brands as well as sleeping pods where you can nap in after a strenuous round of Dubai shopping. Art lovers can gaze at the artwork in the shopping centre which has themed enclosures.
Dubai is an extravaganza of spellbinding tourist spots and attractions. From historical architecture, swanky shopping malls and hotels to man-made islands on the coastline, Dubai tourism prides itself on having something for everyone. If you’re confused as to where to start, this Dubai lists all the must-do things in Dubai for a fun-filled Dubai trip.
Get a bird’s eye view on top of the Burj Khalifa
One of the most iconic structures in the world and the crowning jewel of Dubai tourism, a view from atop the Burj Khalifa is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Considering the Burj Khalifa is the world’s tallest tower (2717 ft), it has some of the most incredible views on offer. Climb up all the way to level 124 which has an observation deck for an awe-inspiring view of the city. The Top Sky Lounge on the 148th floor spells luxury with fine food and drinks and truly exceptional views. Dig into mouth-watering food with views of fluffy clouds wafting by at Atmosphere on level 122.
Shop till you drop at the Dubai Mall
The sprawling shopping complex has 1,200 shops ranging from high-fashion, cosmetics, jewellery to other luxury goods. Shopping is just one of the things you can do here. The Dubai mall has an indoor waterfall, an ice rink, an indoor theme park, an outdoor fountain, an aquarium and an underwater zoo among other things making it a truly exceptional attraction of Dubai tourism. If you get tired of shopping, simple sample some of the food at the 150 restaurants present here.
Explore the man-made island of Palm Jumeriah
The Palm Jumeriah is a man-made island in the shape of a palm tree. A commendable task, this artificial island happens to be one of the largest of its kind in the world and is another feather in Dubai tourism’s cap. Stroll down the island to indulge your inner foodie at the Palm’s vast number of hotels including the Waldorf Astoria, Fairmont, One & Only, Jumeirah Zabeel Saray and Atlantis, The Palm. Dubai tourism has made it easier to reach this wonder thanks to the monorail which connects to the mainland's tram system.
Delve deeper into Dubai Creek’s waterways and souks
Dubai Creek, a saltwater estuary has quite a history behind it. This is where the Bani Yas tribe had settled originally and its waters were means to income derived from pearl diving and fishing earlier. Dubai is now a vista of glittering towers and skyscrapers but Dubai creek is where it started. Haunt the recesses of the creek to find a network of alleyways with gold, spice and textile souks. Don’t forget to take a boat ride on the abra, a traditional wooden boar which bobs along slowly. A ticket to an abra ride costs just ₹18.
Have fun at Dubai’s urban beach district
Dubai tourism also caters to beach bums with their urban beaches replete with shopping, dining and entertainment options. The Beach opposite Jumeirah Beach Residence has options for shopping, an open-air cinema to help you catch a movie along with the soothing sea breeze and restaurants to sate all hunger cravings. There are DJs spinning tracks to keep people on their toes as well as a water park for some fun splashing around.
Indulge in water sports on Kite Beach
The Kite beach with its pristine stretch of white sand is Dubai tourism’s water sports hub. There are activities like kite-surfing, beach tennis, beach volleyball and kayaking. Go for a dip and then wash off in the many shower stalls there. There’s Wi-Fi for you to post those insta-worthy snaps. Watch skaters perform incredible stunts in the skate park or relax and soak in the views of the Burj Al Arab. There is a seaside market put up here every Friday where you can browse through handicrafts. If all the water sports get your stomach rumbling then get yourself a snack from a food truck or unwind at one of the many cafes there.
Take a stroll on Dubai Marina
Take a leisurely stroll by the water on the world's largest man-made marina, Dubai Marina. Look over at the glittering skyline made up of the world’s tallest building buildings or set sail on the Dubai Marina Yacht Club to enjoy the sea breeze as you revel in the beauty of Dubai.
Discover Dubai’s desert dunes
One of Dubai tourism’s major attractions, the Arabian Desert is a drive away from the streets of Downtown Dubai. Put on your shades and a sun hat before setting off on a desert safari. The more adventurous souls can try off-roading, quad biking and sand boarding. For those looking to kick back and relax, there are barbeques churning out delicious roasted dishes and camel rides to put you at ease.
Apart from these activities, there are a host of festivals in this oasis in the Middle East which celebrate life, religion and well, shopping. Take a look at these extravagant festivals you can participate in to get a taste of Dubai’s culture and zest for life.
Dubai International Jazz Festival
One of the biggest music festivals in the Middle East and great crowd-puller for Dubai tourism, the festival has a stellar line-up each year with artists like Sting, John Legend and James Blunt belting out tunes to a screaming crowd.
Taste of Dubai
Those on the prowl for good food will love this festival. There are a lot of cooking events such as a cooking challenge where anyone can sign up and whip up a storm with celebrity chefs. Chow down on the piping hot food available at the many stalls there with live music playing in the background.
Eid ul Fitr
Dubai tourism encourages everyone to celebrate their cultural diversity and Eid is one such occasion which is celebrated with a lot of pomp and mirth. When the holy month of Ramadan comes to an end after fasting from dusk to dawn, Eid is celebrated with massive feasts and other traditional rituals. During the month of Ramadan, people from the Islamic community fast from dawn to dusk. However, in the evening people congregate at banquets under iftar tents and the event goes on until late at night.
The Dubai Shopping Festival is one of the highlights of Dubai tourism. The whole month of January is devoted to this retail-extravaganza where discounts are handed out and shoppers flock to Dubai to get their annual shopping done. Live concerts, lotteries, fireworks and flash mobs add to the energy of the festival.
Cuisine & Best Places to Eat In Dubai
One of the best parts of travelling to a different region is its food and Dubai tourism has a lot to offer in that respect. Emirati cuisine has recently been gaining attention with its delicious breads, pastries, coffee and even camel burgers. Get your stretchy pants on and try some of these local dishes for a foodgasm.
Camel meat was not popular with Emiratis but with burgeoning Dubai tourism and more exposure, chefs are trying to create delicious variations of camel meat. From camel sliders, to camel biryani, burgers and stews, there is a large variety of dishes on offer for anyone looking for a taste of the ungulate. Camel milk is healthier than cow milk in terms of protein, cholesterol and vitamins. If drinking a glass of milk, which is slightly salty in taste, is not you thing then try camel milk ice cream! Cafes here serve camel milk ice cream in flavours like chocolate, date and pistachio.
Dubai tourism entices with its spirits as well. We’ve all had our share of margaritas and LITs; try some Turkish cocktails with Turkish flavours infusing the drink with an edge. Ruya serves up Turkish cocktails such as the Anatolian Fizz at Ruya, made with sparkling wine, pomegranate molasses, citrus, rose and raspberry.
This pastry dish has its origins in Palestine but is a hot favourite of locals here. Sour cheese, crispy sugar syrup and dough are combined to create this sweetmeat. This dessert is very popular during Ramadan and is eaten during iftar. Head to Qwaider Al Nabulsi in Deira who dole out the best and softest knafeh in town.
Luqaimat are hot dumplings which taste akin to doughnuts. Cafes bake fresh batches which give off a heavenly aroma and are served with a side of sticky date sauce, studded with sesame seeds. Head to Local Bites Café in Jumeirah for breakfast where you can gorge on this delicacy with piping hot coffee.
Arabic coffee and dates
Arabic coffee is made of lightly roasted coffee beans and cardamom and served with dates. For a taste of traditional Arabic coffee, head to Café Bateel.
This dish is a spicy, tomato-based stew with meat, turmeric, cumin and bezar. There are various versions of the dish, some with baby marrow and potato and some with chicken or lamb. The chicken margoogat dish is worth a try at Aseelah in the Radisson Blu Hotel and will leave you licking your fingers.
Dubai is an expensive city in terms of accommodation and food. The burgeoning Dubai tourism has led to many flight options between Indian and the desert metropolis.
A one-way flight from Delhi to Dubai, if booked early on, will cost you around ₹ 11,000 to ₹7,500.
There are a lot of budget hotel options for budget travellers. A night’s stay at a budget hotel will cost you anything between ₹3,000 to ₹6,000.
If you’re looking to splurge on a luxury hotel or resort, this could set you back by ₹11,000 to ₹37,000 per day.