The largest Emirate by population and second largest by land size, Dubai is a jewel in the United Arab Emirates crown. Visitors flock to the Middle Eastern metropolis to shop and stay in affluent surrounds, and indulge in traditional food and culture.
A global city and business hub – built from a prosperous oil industry – Dubai has attracted the world’s attention time and time again with innovative large-scale construction projects, revered sporting events and grandiose celebrations.
Population: Approx 2,262,000
Time Zone: GMT+ 4
Languages: Arabic (official), English
Currency: United Arab Emirates Dirham (AED)
Currency Exchange: Purchase your AED cash and travellers cheques before you leave Australia
Located south of the Arabian Gulf on the Arabian Peninsula, within the Northern Desert belt, Dubai’s climate is arid and subtropical. Generally hot and humid with a high daily average of sun hours, rainfall is irregular – as is typical for the Middle East. In summer temperatures reach around 38°C (100° F) during the day and 27°C (81° F) at night. During the cooler months temperatures range between 13°C (55° F) and 25°C (77°F).
Name: Dubai International Airport
Partner Airline: Etihad Airways
Airport Hotel: Dubai International Hotel, located in Sheikh
Rashid Terminal of Terminal 1 and Concourse 2 of Terminal 3.
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Dubai is a wild contrast of grand opulence and humble culture. As Time.com succinctly stated “You are unlikely to see a place where the divide between the "have nots" and the "have yachts" is so apparent”.
Imposing structures and recreational facilities sit dreamlike, between the desert and the ocean, towering over the city’s modest fishing villages.
While the disparity can be startling, it is this evident divide that gives Dubai an interesting blend of modern and traditional drawcards.
Shop and ski (… yes ski!) surrounded by desert at the Mall of the Emirates. Tee off at a number of distinguished golf courses, some of which were designed by golfing luminaries such as Colin Montgomerie, Ernie Els and Tiger Woods.
See first hand, one of the world’s most photographed buildings, the Burj Al Arab. Billed as the world’s only ‘seven-star’ hotel, the structure’s sail façade has become synonymous with Dubai.
Marvel at the audacious collection of man-made offshore islands – including Palm Jumeirah (the palm shape island that the city bills as the eighth wonder of the world) Jebel Ali, Deira and The World (a cluster of islands that forms a miniature world map).
Take a trip to the Heritage Village and witness a different Dubai, where local Emiratis revel in traditional song, dance and food. Stroll the endless alleyways at the souks (markets) and pick up local and exotic textiles, spices and gems.
Dubai is a city that exists to command attention. Its over-the-top structures and showiness might not be to everyone’s taste; however the city has something to entice even the most discerning traveller’s attention.
5 Star Property (often referred to as a 7 Star Property)
Soaring 321 metres into the air, Burj Al Arab towers over Dubai’s coastline. Legendary and symbolic, designed to resemble a billowing sail, the hotel attracts international attention and awe. Illuminated at night by a choreographed light show representing water and fire, the all-suite luxury hotel has been consistently voted the world’s most luxurious hotel.
5 Star Property
Dynamically shaped to represent a breaking wave, the Jumeirah Beach Hotel stands 93 metres high and 275 metres long, with 26 storeys curved in the structure’s shape. Vibrant and luxurious, the hotel is perfect for a family getaway, with 33,800 square metres of beach frontage and unlimited access to Dubai’s famous Wild Wadi Water Park – which sits conveniently beside the hotel.
5 Star Property
Famous for its spade-like cut out, Atlantis the Palm is the majestic focal point of Dubai’s Palm Jumeirah. Situated on its own 800 metre private beach, Atlantis offers spectacular views of the Arabic Sea, and houses an underwater aquarium, a labyrinth of water sides, and a dolphin bay. The resort’s plush décor and lavish surrounds honour its namesake, the lost city of Atlantis.
5 Star Property
Built on the edge of a lake in downtown Dubai, The Palace is a harmonious blend of Middle Eastern heritage and contemporary Dubai. Located on the Old Town Island, at the heart of a traditional Arabian village, The Palace is a short distance from all major attractions, and directly connected with the Souk Al Bahar.
4 Star Property
Located just off Sheikh Zayed Road, in the business and leisure hub of the city, the Novotel is an attractive option for both professionals and holidaymakers. It might not offer all the over-the-top facilities of Dubai celebrated five-star properties, but it is ideally positioned for guests to make the most of the city’s touted attractions.
4 Star Property
Ideally situated on the famed Bank Street – in the city’s commercial centre – Four Points by Sheraton Bur Dubai is the great hotel for tourists and business travellers alike. Located in the heart of downtown, guests can easily access the Dubai Museum, the city’s famous shopping centres, and the Gold, Spice and Textile Souks.
The only way to see the inside the world-famous Burj Al Arab is to stay or eat at the hotel. Choose from 10 restaurants and bars, and dine and wine in exclusive surrounds. Reserve a table or a private room at Al Mahara and indulge in a seafood degustation prepared by a Michelin Star trained chef. Or take in some of the best views of Dubai, from 200 metres above sea level, while dining on award-winning modern European cuisine at Al Muntaha.
A growing Indian influence sees the Dubai host a spectacular array of authentic Indian restaurants. Awarded Best Indian restaurant in UAE for 2011, Antique Bazaar, at Four Points by Sheraton, offers tasty meat dishes and an enchanting atmosphere. Ashiana – one of Dubai’s most famous and highly respected Indian restaurants – dishes up aromatic and spicy plates, amid a warm and friendly environment.
Taste the flavours of the region with traditional Middle Eastern menus. Visit one of Dubai’s busiest restaurants Al-Qasr, and feast on Lebanese dishes, while entertained by belly dancers and traditional Arabian Music. For Dubai’s top Persian dining experience, book a table at Shebestan, and take in a traditional assortment of Middle Eastern fare, overlooking the Creek.
When it comes to food in Dubai, it is hard to get more authentic than the fare on offer in the Jumeirah and Satwa areas. Try a kebab from a street vender. Sample a staple mixed grill. Wash down parcels of meat in pita with a freshly squeezed fruit juice. Or grab a treat from one of the areas’ legendary bakeries.
Boasting an indulgent array of luxurious shopping malls, Dubai’s retail scene must be seen to be believed. Destinations such as Souk Madinat Jumeirah and the Wafi Mall showcase world-renowned fashion labels, while others, like The Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates, house attractions to rival famous Las Vegas landmarks – i.e. Mall of the Emirates’ ski slope and The Dubai Mall’s fountain show.
In contrast, Dubai’s Textile Souk provides the perfect playground for the bargain hunter and textile aficionado. A traditional Arabic treasure trove of textures, colours and weaves, the Textile Souk attracts locals and tourists alike into a myriad of bustling alleyways, filled with a virtually unlimited display of fabrics, sold at negotiable prices.
Known as ‘The City of Gold’, Dubai sells gold and gems at almost unheard of prices. For a good deal on gold visit Dubai’s Gold Souk – where the streets are lined with shops that gleam with glittering windows, showcasing gold, diamonds, rubies, emeralds, opals, pearls and amethysts – and haggle with the locals.