Heading to Dubai but need a few facts before you leave? We’ve got the answers to everything you’ve been wondering about.
Dubai is an increasingly popular holiday destination for Aussies, and it’s easy to understand why. It offers much more than just a stopover on the way to Europe, with an array of extravagant activities. You can relax in style, indulge in sophisticated and luxurious shopping sprees, or embark on more challenging adventures.
If you’re planning the holiday of a lifetime but feel a little overwhelmed organising your itinerary, we’ve got some useful tips and handy advice that should cover the answers to your burning questions.
What to know before you go
Is Dubai a country?
It’s not uncommon for people to think that Dubai is a country, but it is actually a city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the capital being Abu Dhabi.
Is Dubai in the Middle East?
Yes. Dubai is the most highly populated city in the United Arab Emirates, which is a country situated within the Middle East.
Is Dubai tax free?
Dubai itself is not entirely tax free, but it’s as close to tax free as you can get. The government does not impose a federal income tax, even though legally it could do so. This is because in the Arab world, it is considered haram or forbidden to take unearned income, which is how taxes are treated.
It is necessary to pay import duties, and a small percentage of income goes to social security.
Is Dubai expensive to visit?
Dubai is as expensive as you wish to be extravagant. You can choose to dine in a 5-star restaurant every night or you can opt to eat more efficiently. Prices range from a massive $800 to an average $20 for a meal.
Taxis and the metro are relatively cheap transport options for getting around the city.
Does Dubai take US dollars?
Yes, you can actually use US dollars in most places. However, it is probably just as easy to exchange your Australian dollars for United Arab Emirates dirham.
Do I need a visa for Dubai?
Aussies do not have to make advance visa arrangements to visit Dubai.
Simply disembark from your flight at Dubai International Airport and proceed to Immigration, where your passport will be stamped with a 30-day visit visa, free of charge.
What is Dubai’s currency?
The name of the currency throughout the United Arab Emirates is the dirham. The AED or Arab Emirate Dirham is also commonly abbreviated to Dhs or DH. There are 100 fils in a dirham.
The conversion rate is (roughly and subject to change): 1 AUD = 2.87 AED
Is Dubai airport open 24 hours?
Yes. Dubai airport is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week; so if you’re planning a layover, it’s not a problem. What may be a problem is finding somewhere in the airport where it’s comfortable to sleep. Most of the chairs have armrests, and the open-plan design offers little privacy.
Questions about safety and health
Is Dubai safe?
Although crime rates are relatively low in Dubai, there are a number of issues that you need to be aware of.
Due to extreme temperatures, we advise against holidaying in Dubai during the summer months of May to October. The mercury can reach over 40°C during this period.
If you do decide to travel at this time of year, make sure you take the right clothes. Wear lightweight cotton clothing, and cover your head at all times to protect yourself from the sun.
Dubai is full of tourists, and there are a number of people who try to take advantage of this fact. In shopping malls, for instance, you might be asked to answer some questions in order to win a prize. This scam ultimately leads to trying to sell you a travel package.
The city has one of the highest rates of deaths per vehicle in the world, more than half being pedestrians, so it’s important to take care of your safety when you’re out on the streets. Dubai’s roads do have pedestrian crossings, but don’t expect drivers to stop. Adhere to the many traffic signal junctions where there are pedestrian lights signalling when it is safe to cross, and always keep your eyes on the traffic.
Does Dubai have the Zika virus?
The UAE Ministry of Health has addressed public concerns over the Zika virus, and has confirmed that it is not present in the United Arab Emirates.
Does Dubai have a sewage system?
In past years, there have been problems with sewage capacity and management in Dubai. However, more recently a lot of the city’s rudimentary sewage network has been replaced with modern treatment plants.
Where does Dubai get its water from?
Dubai's water is obtained from a desalination process. Water is taken from the sea, boiled and condensed. It is then filtered and treated to make it suitable for drinking, washing and industrial use.
Getting around and things to do
What’s the best water park in Dubai?
Aquaventure Waterpark is home to record-breaking rides and slides, and offers the opportunity to get up close and personal with sharks and rays. Or, you can just kick back and relax on the 700 metres of pristine private beach. To save on entry fees, book online in advance.
Does Dubai have casinos?
No. Gambling is illegal in Dubai.
Does Dubai have beaches?
Dubai has many beaches but many are owned by local hotels. Some of the best public beaches to add to your itinerary are:
- Jumeirah Beach Residence. A popular tourist spot with a quirky vibe, and a large number of restaurants sporting stunning sea views.
- Burj Beach. Playing football is a popular pastime on this stretch of beach, and there are some other sports facilities available, including volleyball nets.
- Kite Beach. Named after its kite-surfing congregation, this is a great place to watch the fun, or even have a go yourself.
Does Dubai have alcohol?
Yes. But, there are very strict licensing laws that prohibit alcohol consumption in public streets. The licensing laws require that venues serving alcohol must be attached to hotels and private clubs.
If you’re planning a boozy vacation, do your homework. Hotels that have been awarded an alcohol licence tend to be 4 and 5-star venues.
How does the Dubai Metro work?
The Dubai Metro is a driverless, fully automated metro rail network. Currently the Red and Green Lines are operational, and two further lines are planned for future development.
The Red Line stops at 29 stations, and runs from Rashidiya close to Dubai airport, to UAE Exchange, formerly known as Jebel Ali.
The Green Line has 20 stations and runs from Etisalat Metro Station to Dubai Healthcare City.
There are two dedicated stops for Dubai International Airport, Terminal 1 and Terminal 3, at the eastern end of The Red Line.
Does Dubai have Uber?
Dubai’s Uber options include UberSELECT, UberBLACk and UberXL. Uber is a convenient, competitively priced and safe way to travel around in the city.
What is Dubai famous for?
Dubai’s many attractions include the Dubai Mall, the world's largest shopping mall, and the Burj Khalifa, the tallest man-made structure in the world.
It’s also home to the world’s only 7-star hotel, Burj Al Arab. The city is famous for luxury and decadence, for beaches and water parks, and for being tax-free.