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1st Time Dubai trip

Having to visit Dubai on business in 2020 for first time. Will be relatively short staggered visits throughout year.

Although our business hosts will have itinerary set up for each excursion, we welcome feedback regarding your experiences with:

—- weather
—- etiquette
—- best clothing for business smart attire in all seasons there
—- your tips & lessons learned

Any feedback welcomed. Thank you in advanced.

Posted by
4583 posts

Weather? Depends on when you're going but generally it's hot.

Etiquette? Dubai, as part of the UAE, follows the particular variant of Islam that considers women as second class citizens. The immigrants who work in the construction and service industry are considered even less favourably. The culture is one of misogyny, sexism, racism, xenophobia, homophobia and general intolerance. Do not show any public signs of affection, I was even admonished by a security guard in a mall for giving my five year old son a kiss on his forehead because he'd said something cute yet they emiratis feeel it's ok to touch his head and hair because he's blonde without seeking any permission from him or his parents.

If you are involved in a dispute with an Emirati, you will automatically be considered in the wrong.

Driving is combative and there is no element of courtesy. It is, by far, the worst place I've ever travelled in a car, the standards are seriously dangerous.

I can't comment on business attire. I was there for leisure and dressed accordingly. Non Emirati business people tend to wear the standard business attire common throughout the world.

Lessons learned? I detest the place, you couldn't pay me to return. An attitude and culture that has no place in the 21st Century but for some reason it's accepted and given credence by those who repeatedly travel there.

Posted by
5473 posts

I am heading there for 4 nights next month en route to Sri Lanka, as we are flying Emirates and need to change planes there. I don’t think it’s going to be my kinda place, but I haven’t been there.

My research shows that you can’t cover up too much of your body - certainly no bare shoulders or knees on display and no signs of affection in public.

Business attire is business attire the world over.

It’s easy to look up global weather on google. Surprisingly, at present, it’s only about 21-22 degrees at noon. I always have the impression that it’s 30+ all year round!

Posted by
5324 posts

I have traveled to several Arabic and Middle Eastern countries, as well as living in Saudi Arabia for five years.

JC did make some valid points, however, the UAE, compared to Saudi Arabia is way more open.
90% of the people living in the UAE are not citizens, but workers from largely India, Pakistan and the Philippines.

I found the people that we interacted with in the UAE to be very friendly and helpful. The country is virtually a desert environment, but since it is on the Persian Gulf, its major cities Dubai and Abu Dhabi are seaports with an interesting history.

We did the Singapore to Dubai Celebrity Cruise, that apparently, you are doing. Our cruise ended in Dubai and we had a full day there in port prior to disembarking the ship to fly home.
We did a great tour called the 7 Emirates tour that I don't think is available, but I think there is a 6 Emirates tour that covers all the Emirates except Abu Dhabi.

Dubai has an interesting old town, with a fort and port. Also, you can go up the tallest building in the World. We didn't do that, but you can.

We were there in April and it was hot. Most of the year it is hot, expect temps in excess of 50 degrees C in the Summer. Don't go into the desert without a guide, if you get lost and don't have enough water, you can die of dehydration.

As far as clothing, you must dress conservatively. Cover your limbs and have a scarf for your hair (women). Guys should wear hats to protect you head from the sun. No shorts, long pants. For business attire, you would likely need to dress up, with men wearing suits.

Never use the left hand when dealing with anyone.

Traffic is bad there, but frankly tame compared to driving in Cairo or Saudi Arabia.

Alcohol is available, but not widely, don't plan on bringing any with you.
Here is my review of our trip in 2015: Singapore to Dubai

Posted by
3661 posts

Dubai only a half-century ago was a tiny fishing port with nothing else but sand. Now it is a metropolis with irrigated lawns. That alone is a feat worth witnessing. Three fundamentals: petroleum, air conditioning, desalinated sea water. The population split I've heard is 80 per cent expats, 20 per cent Emirate citizens. None of the 80 per cent will ever become one of the 20 per cent. Two layers of guest workers: The poor labourers from South Asia (lots of newspaper attention to Bollywood) and white-collar professionals (lots of Internet attention to international soccer.) Laws are strict: No chewing gum on the mass transit; no dirty cars; only limited availability of alcohol. They are less strictly observed. At the airport, duty-free booze is sold to in-coming as well as departing visitors. Some hotels have bars, carefully screened. Some hotels have hookers on the street out front, but only for a short time in the late afternoon. It boasts one of the world's tallest buildings, sandy (of course) beaches, an artificial skating rink, and nearly as many shopping centres as mosques. The array of foreigners equals lots of interesting food. I was happy to be a visitor.

Posted by
99 posts

Thank you, everyone.
I also read the links provided. Those were equally helpful.

Greatly appreciated all comments, thanks extended to y’all.

Posted by
5381 posts

We spent three nights in Dubai a few years ago, to time-adjust on our way to an East Africa safari. Emirates air service was amazing, but we got a taste of real elitism on our return flight: Although we had pre-paid Business Class seats, window-Aisle in the 2 part of 2-5-2, we found, without warning, that we had been moved to the middle seats of the 5, so that a fat-cat "member" (and I'm sure he/she spends plenty of money at Emirates) could have our private 2 seat section. (Note: This is, in effect, "Domestic" business class, not the over-water, very private partitions that never have you hip to hip with ANYONE.)

We hated Dubai. It was vacation season, 110 degrees in the daytime. An historic building in Dubai is one that's over 15 years old. So there is no real "history" there. Even the civic museum, which could have been an emissary to foreigners like us, had the charm, quality, technology, and dust of a New England "barn museum"! We're not shoppers, so we couldn't find much to do in the heat. Restaurants were expensive and franchise-y.

To save money, we stayed at a Hilton with a Club Floor. The club was inhabited by vast numbers of expatriate professionals, all of them (?) lonely, talkative, affect-disordered, and borderline alcoholic. (The drinks are free at the Hilton Executive Club, if you don't know ... ) Our room did have a magnificent view of the only historic thing we saw, the loading stages for the older dhow (?) small shipping boats.

I'd like to tell you I learned something in those three days, because I did learn something in, for example, East Germany before the wall came down, and I didn't "like" it there either.

Edit: I thought of a positive! Like an idiot, I left my pricey Bose noise-cancelling headphones in the seat back pocket. Amazingly, after my lost-and-found call, Emirates found them, and sent them to the Manhattan Emirates office for free, where I could pick them up.

Posted by
161 posts

We will be stopping over one night on our way to Edinburgh from Australia. Very cheap flight but departing Melbourne 5 am and overnighting Dubai.
We have usually bought a block of time at one of the Changi transit hotels when flying via Singapore so might look into that option in Dubai. It has little appeal to me as a place to visit. I have been to the airport before on the way to Nepal.