Wondering about the taste of the middle eastern culture? Visiting a whole new world might be exciting but a little tricky. Here’s all the tips that you are going to need when you visit the Land of Gold—Dubai! Brace yourselves for our basic tips when you meet face-to-face the real Dubai experience: All about the Land of Gold!
United Arab Emirates is composed of seven different emirates, represented by seven different colors of sands—yes, each has their distinct color of desert, namely, Ras Al Khaimah with white sand; Sharjah with brown; Dubai has red sands, Fujairah has black, Abu Dhabi (the capital city of U.A.E) with light red, Ajman is cream, and Al Ain has blue.
Among these emirates, Dubai has gained its famous reputation starting in 2007, housing exemplary destinations that everyone would want to experience. This article will help you know a bit of this place and provides tips in dealing with this whole new world. Any airlines that will take you to this country would probably serve the same kind of course meal once the plane enters the aerial territory of the middle east—fish, beef, or chicken. I guess, this could be the sign that you’re entering a muslim territory. And yes, for the pork lovers, this is going to be a real fasting for you. But shouldn’t be worried ’cause the place sure is going to serve you sumptuous meals.
But before we get to those drooling meals, let’s go with the some basics on things that we should do or where to go once our feet landed on Dubai Airport. Fasten your seatbelts because this is going to be a great Dubai Experience!
Arabic is the main language used in this country. Their words are written backwards, but English translations are all over the place so you really won’t need to worry that much. But to give you a step ahead, here are the basics:
- Assalamualaikum – a word used for greetings
- Ma Salama – goodbye
- To let – for rent
- Shukran – thank you
- Afwan – you’re welcome
- Mafi – none
- La’ – no
- Naam – yes
- Yalla – go
- Souk – store
- Khalas – finish or no more
- Insha’Allah – if Allah wills it
Numbers are read as this (please see the picture below):
As you can see, the numbers are written backwards and is represented by 0-9 numbers. Being familiar with the Arabic Numbers are really helpful specially during sales in malls, surely you’ll going to get discounts on items that you wanted to buy. There are also certain sign languages and expressions that are unique to this culture. An example will be when they shake their head, it means ‘yes’ to them; which is commonly known as ‘no’ to us.
Famous Hotels and must-be destinations
Of course, a visit in U.A.E won’t be complete unless you experience the authenticity of the Arabic culture. Whether for a stay or for a tour, U.A.E caters a lot of “best in the world” characteristics when it come to its hotels and entertainment amenities and places. Here are some of the list of the must-be destinations that you will surely love in this Dubai Experience!
- Desert Safari Tour
It is a half day experience in Desert Safari and a lot of first time experiences awaits you. Smart casual attire is recommended. When you go there during summer, make sure you wear rubber shoes, because you wouldn’t want to get ‘sand-burned’. The sand literally gets scorching during summer, even if it’s in the afternoon already. But if it’s winter days, no problem with the flip-flops.
Before going to the camp, you’ll experience the Dune Driving, it’s like a roller coaster, with no tracks, but sand! The ride will surely be free flowing with all the sands bashing through your window! It is a six-seater car where you can be with your friends while experiencing the ride. The exciting ride actually depends on the driver, when he’s the good one, you’ll surely have an spectacular rolling inside the car.
In the middle of the dessert, you are going to stop by to have a picture with the sunset, create footprints on the sand and have that melodramatic shot, and have the chance to throw-up in case you experience dizziness in the ride.
Upon reaching the camp, camels are lined-up ready to tour you for a short-time. Here’s a tip: camels stand starting from their back feet, then their front. So, you really have to be careful, just go with their flow, do not contradict their phase, or you might fall. But I guess, the sand won’t really hurt that much.
Inside the camp, you get to have free, unlimited drinks. Different choices, from water to softdrinks to juices. You also get to experience, shisha, the famous Arabic water pipe. Also, you get to have a free henna tattoo, but big ones with glitters, you have to pay an additional AED 10 or $3. Dirhams is U.A.E’s currency.
You also have this chance to look like an Arab with all those Arabic Costumes that you can wear and take a picture. There are sand skiing, and BBQ Dinner that is ready to serve during dinner. There are a variety of beef and chicken, and their substitute for pork—lamb chop! It is a nice try ’cause it really is juicier than pork. Also, they serve Biryani (arabic rice), and other side dishes.
For vegetarians, don’t worry because a different course meal is prepared for you! While eating there will be belly dancing performances in the middle, while all of you sit around the big center stage. Carpets are pre-prepared for you to sit on, and a little table. The night will end with a grand finale of the performance. For this great experience, it only ranges from AED 250 to AED 300 or $68 to $82. Just enough for a great Arabic experience!
- Burj Al Arab
The only seven star hotel in the world. The building itself has gold-coatings, making it grandeur in its look. The entrance alone will cost you AED 100 or $27. Upon entering, dancing water fountain will welcome you on the lobby with free high-class, preserved dates (emblematic fruit in U.A.E) that you can eat all you want!
There are various rooms to choose from depending on your choice. They also have 202 duplex suites colored in red and coated in gold, making it look more sophisticated—these are suites that has it’s own second floor. Each room is remote control-powered wherein the curtains and televisions is just a click away through your hands. It also has a good view of the ocean since it is located in the middle of Jumeirah Beach. The rooms will surely make you feel comfortable, like a King or Queem living in a palace. And with that prestige of the place, you will surely need an amount of money like a King or Queen because each duplex costs AED 20,000 or $5,500 per night! Golds are really precious… and costly.
- Palm Jumeirah
An island in a shape of a palm tree. On a top view, you would see its shape and would just be amazed on how a man created such! Yes, it’s a man-made island. This can be seen when you take an elevator ride in Burj Al Arab. It has various hotels and real estates where visitors has dynamic choices. It is also considered as the largest artificial island in the world!
- Madinat Jumeirah
Upon entering the hotel, a good smell will welcome you as the sweet aroma of flowers is scattered in the center of the hotel lobby. One of the unique features of the hotels is it has the privilege of boating inside the premises of the hotel. You can tour around the place with a boat.
There are villas inside the hotel where you can stay, and some even have its own swimming pool. Different functions rooms are even available where big events can be conducted. One prestigious event that existed here is the 113th Independence Celebration of the Philippines by the Philippine Embassy in Dubai. Various Filipino cooks designed up the function room as if its in the Philippines, adding up some sorbetes, dahon ng saging, and stalls in the market.
This hotel also has their Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project where they take care of the turtle and bring it back to the ocean in the right time.
- Atlantis Hotel
An under-the-sea-inspired hotel, the pillars and doors will make you feel like a mermaid with feet! It has a big aquarium inside the hotel that goes up to every room where 34,000 different species of fishes lives. There are also sea-inspired walls, paintings and decorations that adds up to the feel inside the hotel. It has different restaurants inside that serves different meals. Saffron Restaurant is one of the good restaurants inside that serves meals ranging form chinese, arabic, italian, and other courses. It has a dessert table with different fruits, a good selection of cakes and a giant chocolate foundue that will surely fill the kids and kids-at-heart cravings.
- Burj Khalifa
The tallest building in the whole world with 124 floors where you can go up to the top in just 5 minutes! The entrance to the hotel will cost you AED 100 or $27. In case you missed it due to budget issues, a miniature of it can be found inside Dubai Mall where you can take a picture with. Though, just outside the hotel, you could take a picture of it, but it is a bit challenging because of its height. Also, outside the mall and the hotel is a park where a man-made fountain can be found. Every 7pm, the dancing fountain performs together with the music and lights. It is a very good 5-minute performance that wows all the audience who would watch.
- The Sheikh’s Palace
- Wild Wadi
- Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo
Dates fruit came from a date palm tree. It is found everywhere in Dubai and serves as an emblematic fruit in U.A.E. It varies from fresh to preserved, but is very delicious in any way. It has a very natural sweetness and is used for breaking the fast after Ramadan during the ancient times.
Others would say that one dates a day will help you have healthy eyes for a lifetime. Also, seven dates in the morning gives you a wide variety of vitamins and minerals that your body needs.
It is a steamed-like rice usually paired with chicken, or other meat that makes the rice tastier. There are also plain ones, which has color orange in it only, because of the spices added to it.
Since this is a no-pork-allowed country, aside from chicken, beef and fish, lamb is their substitute. It tastes juicier than a pork and also can be cooked in different ‘pork-like’ ways: lamb bbq instead of pork bbq and lamb chop instead of pork chop.
Kubus or Parata is an arabic bread that is used as appetizer or side dish (usually free) in most restaurants. It is best served hot (and with cheese!).
Do’s and Dont’s
Conservatism is the game for this country. Although in Dubai, it became slightly liberated, other places are still strict in implementing decency, specially when in public places. Ignorance of the law is not an excuse, so better watch out, or you might see yourself behind bars and miss a great Dubai Experience!
A Filipino Community in Dubai released a Public Safety Awareness Booklet, in order to aware the people about the things that they should and should not do in a foreign country. Here are some of the rules implemented in the country.
- Do not wear shorts or short skirts in public.
- No PDA (Public Display of Affection). This involves, holding your hands together, or kissing in public.
- Do not eat or drink in public during fasting hours of Ramadan.
- It is illegal for couples to live in U.A.E when outside of marriage
- Bathing suits are only for hotels with pool amenities.
- No cross-dressing.
- During Ramadan month, people are expected to abstain from alcohol, dancing, chewing gum, smoking, and singing in public during the day.
- Eat or drink with your right hand. In the Arabic culture, using the left hand is unhygienic.
- If a Muslim is praying, don’t walk in front of him or stare at him.
- If you are not an Islam and you wanted to take a tour in their Grand Mosque (biggest Mosque), or other mosques, you must for permission first.
- Do not point fingers at others, it is considered as disrespectful.
- Drinking or possession of alcoholic drink without Ministry of Interior liquor permit, can lead you to fines and imprisonment.
- Dancing in a public is considered as seducing.
- Showing the soles of your feet implies disrespect to others
- Avoid using obscene hand gestures and use of foul words to a police officer.
Summer time starts in May to August. During summer it tends to go up to 50+ degrees hot when you step outside. Heat strokes are the common causes of death so drinking a lot of water is necessary.
Sandstorm also represents a higher degree of hotness in the next days to come. Sandstorms can be small ones where you can see the sand whirling outside, or sometimes, it can be big ones where zero visibility is possible. It is suggested to stay inside a house, car, or mall, to avoid meeting accidents.
On the other hand, winter starts from September to April. Nothing to worry that much since the coldness wouldn’t cause snow in the desert.
I hope this helps you in planning and trying out a Dubai Experience. You don’t have to be ignorant before you travel. Being informed makes your trip a real remarkable one and exciting one. Less hassle more fun!