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Need to know: Dubai

Need to know: Dubai



Dubai is located on the southeast coast of the Arabian Gulf and is one of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Covering 3,900 square kilometres, it is the second largest emirate after the country’s capital, Abu Dhabi, which lies to the south. The emirate of Sharjah is situated to the north.

Getting there

Dubai has two international airports: Dubai International (DXB) and Al Maktoum International – Dubai World Central (DWC). DXB, the world’s busiest airport for international passenger traffic, is expecting more than 85 million passengers in 2016. Meanwhile, DWC is developing to accommodate future demand. The existing passenger terminal is being expanded to boost capacity from seven million passengers a year to 26 million, with a completion date of 2018. Ultimately, DWC will become the world’s biggest airport with capacity for 240 million annual passengers.

Customs advice

Before you fly, check the rules on restricted and prohibited goods, which lists home-made food as a banned item, for instance. Also bear in mind that you may need a doctor’s note in order to bring in certain prescription medicines.


Falling within the subtropical zone, Dubai’s climate is generally hot and arid. There are around 340 sunny days each year and temperatures range from a low of about 10.5°C (50°F) to a high of around 48°C (118°F), although the thermostat has been known to rise above this at the peak of summer. January is the coolest month of the year.

Local time

UCT +4.


Dubai’s currency is the UAE dirham (AED), pegged to the US dollar at US$1 = AED3.67.

Public transport

Dubai boasts one of the most advanced transport infrastructures in the Middle East. It is home to Dubai Metro – the world’s longest driverless rail service and the first metro in the region. Its two lines – Red and Green – link Jebel Ali to Dubai International (DXB) and beyond. Tickets cost from US$0.60 (AED2.20). Bus routes across the city transport 170,000 residents and tourists every week. Also popular is Dubai Tram. Launched in November 2014, the first phase spans 10.6 kilometres starting from Dubai Marina and ending at Al Sufouh, with trams running every six minutes.

Business hours

The working week in Dubai is from Sunday to Thursday. Government offices are closed on Fridays and Saturdays, although some private sector offices remain open on Saturdays.

Most shops and malls open at 10am and close around 10pm, although they tend to shift to a later pattern during Ramadan, other festivals and public holidays. Banks, embassies and consulates are generally open from 8.30am to 12.30pm, Saturday to Thursday.


Arabic is the official language of the emirate, although English is widely spoken and understood. Dubai has a cosmopolitan population thanks to the numerous expatriate workers that reside in the emirate. Hence, many other languages, such as Hindi, Tagalog and Malayalam can be heard throughout the city.


Islam is the official religion.


Muslims fast during the Holy Month of Ramadan, abstaining from eating, drinking and smoking during daylight hours. As a sign of respect, visitors are also required to refrain from these activities in public. In 2017, Ramadan is expected to begin around 27 May and end around 25 June, depending on the sighting of the moon.

Dress code

Although Dubai has a reputation as one of the more liberal cities in the Gulf, visitors should be aware of local sensibilities and avoid wearing clothing that could be deemed revealing or offensive, especially in public spaces such as shopping malls and restaurants.


Tourist photography is allowed in most places, but it is considered offensive to photograph Muslim women. It is always courteous to ask permission before taking photographs.


Marhaba: Hello

As-salam alaykum:

Peace be upon you (Islamic greeting)

Wa alaykum as-salam: And peace be upon you (answer to Islamic greeting)

Min fudluk: Please

Shukran: Thank you

Afwan: You’re welcome

Na’am: Yes

La’a: No

Ma’assalama: Take care

Wada-aan: Goodbye