1. Food is expensive. Very expensive. A plate of fried rice at the food court costs AED 30 (RM 27)! And that’s about the cheapest meal you can get. So unless you cook or starve, bring lots of cash for food.
2. Dubai Metro is not fully operational yet. Best is to take a taxi everywhere. Don’t worry, taxis are safe, plenty and comfy. They use meter with a minimum charge of AED 10 (RM 9). One trip is about AED 30 (RM 27) or so, depending on the distance. So bring lots of cash for taxi.
3. Most taxi drivers are foreigners, mostly from India, Pakistan or Egypt. In fact I didn’t come across any local taxi driver at all. Because of that, the drivers are normally unfamiliar with new or unpopular places. Don’t be surprised if they end up asking you for directions! Therefore, it’s a good idea to have some info on the place you wish to go to i.e. in which part of the city it’s located, major landmarks surrounding it and even the roads leading to it if you can get the details.
4. Hotels charge 10% service charge and 10% tourist tax on top of room charges. That’s 20% extra, which is a lot! By the way, only tourists have to pay tax. Local people never heard of that word.
5. Desert sand is incredibly fine. The particles get into camera’s tiny corners easily, but hard to get out. So no matter how excited you are to get a good shot of the dunes, try not to put your camera on the sand. Trust me, I almost spoilt my red baby!
6. Dune bashing causes similar motion sickness like riding a roller coaster. Almost as scary too. So if you plan to do it, have an early meal on the day of activity and keep your tummy empty until you finish the thrill ride. Once you reach the campsite you can eat all you want.
7. Yes, Dubai is a safe place to go to. Those who think otherwise have never been there, clearly. It’s also a modern, affluent and clean city. Imagine Singapore, but hotter and less crowded.
8. Halal food is everywhere. Let me rephrase that, non-halal food is almost impossible to find! It’s illegal to sell alcohol in public, the only place you can find it is in hotel bars or something like that. Non-muslims are permitted to keep some for personal consumption, but only up to their monthly alcohol allowance limit, which is closely monitored by the authorities.
9. There are plenty of fancy restaurants and food joints that you won’t be able find halal ones anywhere else but Dubai. So take the opportunity to try them all!
10. Summer sale makes going to the mall a dangerous activity, especially if you are into designer items. Imagine this, even luxury boutiques like Gucci and Burberry have sale! Totally unheard of anywhere else, not in KL for sure!
11. Souks generally don’t accept credit card so bring lots of cash there, with the exception of large modern souks like Souk Madinat Jumeirah.
12. Textile items are cheap and really beautiful. The area at Bur Dubai near the abra station is where you can get fabrics on wholesale, the stores only sell them in rolls. For personal purchases, go to the shops at Meena Bazaar which is also at Bur Dubai, somewhere near Dubai Museum.
13. Taxi drivers and store operators are always delighted to see fellow Muslims. Though my friends and I wear headscarves, they often ask us “Are you girls Muslims?” just to be sure. There’s a reason to that - they usually charge much cheaper prices to fellow Muslims as compared to other customers. Many times the store operator would whisper the discounted price into our ears and ask us to make the payment quietly behind the counter. No wonder Allah bless them with so much rezeki *touched*. May they receive even more in return!
Untaku lari gagah berani!
Pic was taken by Arabian Adventures crew. The original photo actually has far better quality, so I’m blaming the scanner for the color distortion :-p
P.S.: As always, I’ve put up quick links to entries on my adventure in Dubai on the right hand panel. Happy reading!