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Dubai City Information Guide

03/09/2015 Dubai City Guide

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Dubai City Information Guide – Dubai is one of the seven emirates of the United Arab Emirates. It has the largest population and second-largest land territory amongst all the emirates. Dubai and Abu Dhabi are the only two emirates which have the veto power. The modern emirate was formed in 1971 after the British left the region.

Even though oil plays an important role in the country’s economy and forms the basis for it, yet in the present times, much of the focus has shifted towards the western style economic development. This has resulted in the rise of tourism industry, real estate and financial services. These fields provide a large chunk of revenue to the country. The recent large scale construction projects and sports events have also put a light on the development of the country.

Over the years, Dubai has managed to attract a lot of international visitors. One of the main reasons for this is the relaxation on the taxes for imports and exports. This attracted a large number of international brands here which made it their headquarters. Many of the visitors here are either on a business trip or simply to enjoy the pristine white beaches, the sun, the sand and the surf.

Dubai City Guide

Lying on the calm, blue waters of the southern Arabian Gulf and flanked by majestic desert, Dubai offers year-round sunshine and five-star luxury along with the adventure of a unique Arabian experience.

Dubai is the second largest of the emirates comprising the United Arab Emirates. It was established in the late 1950’s to serve a tiny coastal settlement. Today, Dubai is a modern metropolis with a population of over 700,000. It offers its citizens the finest in modern comforts. It is known internationally as a premier tourist destination.

Dubai is really two towns separated by Dubai Creek (Khor Dubai), an inlet of the Gulf. Deira lies to the north and Bur Dubai to the south. Both districts are packed with traditional architecture and bustling souqs, but the city center is in Deira. Glittering new office buildings along Shaikh Zayed Rd in Bur Dubai form the core of another burgeoning city center.

Twenty nine years ago the southern coast of the lower Gulf was a barren, under-populated land comprised of several autonomous states. Today, as the United Arab Emirates, it has become a dynamic, modern society with the infrastructure of contemporary twenty-first century life. Geographically, the region which is now the UAE stretches from the Indian Ocean in the east to the ends of the Empty Quarter in the west and from the mountains of the Sultanate of Oman in the south to the temperate waters of the Arabian Gulf in the north.

In the sixties the oil boom began the process of change, and in 1971 the Federation of the United Arab Emirates was formed, uniting seven Emirates, namely: Abu Dhabi (the capital and has the bulk of oil reserves), Dubai (the commercial center), Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah, Umm Al Quwain, Fujairah and Ajman. The Federation replaced the old association of the Trucial States which had been under British mandate and set out immediately to bring the benefits of the new world to people throughout the land. A new political structure was introduced, bringing closer together the individual Emirates which until then had each lived separate and independent life under the rule of their own Sheikhs.

Where ever you are in Dubai, you will not be far from a supermarket which offers most of what can be found in North America, Australia and Europe. In fact you are likely to find more variety as goods are imported to suit the needs of many different nationalities. Prices are comparable to most western countries.

Dubai city is well known in the region as ‘the city of merchants’, Dubai has welcomed seafarers and traders to its shores for generations. Today, this tradition of courtesy and hospitality lives on. Dubai’s streets are clean and safe, and travelers are sure to be charmed by the city’s warmth and friendliness.

Dubai city has something for everyone, from holidaymakers seeking a relaxing break away from the pressures of work, to active tourists looking for a new, exciting experience. The emirate is also rapidly emerging as an international conference, exhibition and leisure travel destination.

Dubai city has a seemingly endless variety of unique vacation opportunities! Some of the highlights are desert safaris, dune driving; exploring wadis (dry river beds) in four-wheel-drive vehicles; sand-skiing; moonlit Arabian desert barbecues, complete with traditional entertainment; camel racing, horse racing and falconry; cruises in traditional wooden dhow on Dubai Creek or into the Gulf; exploration of the old city souks (markets) and creekside dhow quays. Photographic possibilities include traditional architecture; majestic mosques, magnificent palaces, brightly dressed children, camel and goat herds, ancient windtowers, dusty Bedouin villages, lush oases and palm groves, and dramatic sunsets.

Dubai has facilities for swimming, sailing, fishing, windsurfing, water-skiing, jet-skiing, scuba-diving and snorkeling. There is golf on five championship-standard grass courses. Other sports include squash and tennis; horse back riding; trekking, paragliding, cycling, ice-skating, shooting, archery and bowling.

Families will enjoy the incomparable child- friendly parks and playgrounds. Driving in the desert, mountains or river beds (wadis) is a favorite weekend pastime for many people in the Emirates. There are numerous well known places for camping and picnicking. Shopping attractive traditional Middle Eastern gifts is easy and enjoyable. Offerings include rugs, silverware, jewelry, brass, inlaid rosewood furniture and much more.

Dubai is a modern city without any of the negative aspects often associated with city life, such as air pollution, traffic jams, poverty or crime. Dubai city is truly a vacation paradise.

Dubai City Information Guide

Health requirements: No health certificates are required for entry to Dubai, but it is always wise to check before departure, as health restrictions may vary depending upon the situation at the time.

Life expectancy: Women, 74; Men, 70

Currency: The monetary unit is the dirham (AED) which is divided into 100 fils. The dirham is linked to the Special Drawing Right of the International Monetary Fund. It has been held constant against the US dollar since the end of 1980 at a mid-rate of approximately US$1= Dh3.67.

Banks: Both the local banks and the many international banks represented by branches in Dubai provide the usual commercial banking services. Transfers can be made without difficulty as there is no exchange control and the dirham is freely convertible.

Bank: Opening hours are 8.00am to 1.00pm, from Saturday to Wednesday, although some also open from 4.30-6.30pm. On Thursdays, banks operate only from 8.00am to noon.

Exchange houses: Are open from 8.30am-1.00pm and 4.30-8.30pm.

The holy month of Ramadan: In many Muslim countries, labor laws stress that Muslims may be required to work a maximum of six hours daily during the holy month of Ramadan. Offices, shops, and other places of employment adjust to the reduced working hours. Restaurants close and food may not be consumed during the day by non-Muslims. Night turns into day with prayer and family life being the focus of activities. In the UAE, shopping centers are open late into the night, the streets are crowded with people, and television offers special late night viewing for the entire family.

Time zone: GMT + 4 hours (When it is noon in NY City by Eastern Standard Time; it is 8pm in Dubai) Daylight saving time is not observed.

Climate: The climate is hot and dry. The mean January temperature is 65°F. and the mean temperature in July is 92°F. The average annual rainfall is 6in.

Location: The second largest of the seven emirates which make up the United Arab Emirates, Dubai is located on the southern shore of the Arabian Gulf. It has an area of some 3,900 square kilometres. Outside the city itself, the emirate is sparsely inhabited and characterized by desert vegetation.

Visas: Citizens of GCC countries (Gulf Cooperation Council: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and the Sultanate of Oman) and British nationals with the right of abode in the UK do not need visas to enter the UAE. GCC nationals can stay more or less as long as they like. Britons can stay for a month and can then apply for a visa for a further two months.

For others, the easiest and most common way to enter the UAE is on a hotel-sponsored visa. This means either a 15-day transit visit or a 30-day visit visa. The difference is that the transit visas cannot be extended. The visit visa can be extended for another 30 days by the hotel that initially acted as sponsor.

Religion: Islam is the official religion of the UAE and there are a large number of mosques throughout the city. Other religions are respected and Dubai has two Christian churches, St Mary’s (Roman Catholic) and Holy Trinity (Inter-denominational).

Alcohol: Alcohol is available in hotel and club restaurants and bars. However, restaurants outside the hotels are not permitted to serve alcoholic beverages. Alcohol is prohibited for Muslims, yet the UAE is lenient to foreigners in this regard. Alcoholic drinks are available in private clubs, hotels, and restaurants in hotels. In addition, non-Muslim expatriates can get liquor permits for purchase and consumption of alcohol in their homes; however, as permit holders, they may not sell, serve or give liquor to Muslims.

Photography: Normal tourist photography is acceptable but it is considered offensive to photograph Muslim women. It is also courteous to ask permission before photographing men. In general, photographs of government buildings or military installations should not be taken.

Telephone: To call the UAE from abroad, the country code is 971 followed by the city code and the local number.

Average Temperatures (In Fahrenheit): High Low
January – March 80F 54F
April – June 97F 65F
July – September 103F 77F
October – December 92F 58F

Best Time to visit Dubai: The best time of the year to visit Dubai is between November and April, when the weather is coolest. The rest of the year you’re more likely to be running from one air-conditioned environment to the next instead of getting out and exploring. Ramadan, which takes place at a different time each year on the western calendar, is the Muslim month of fasting and is strictly adhered to throughout the UAE. That means that it’s illegal, not to mention rude, to eat, drink or smoke in public from sunrise to sunset during your stay. (In the year 2001, Ramadan falls between November 16 and December 14). The good news is that during that time hotel rates drop up to 70%.

Visiting Dubai in high summer (July and August) can be very uncomfortable. From May to September, daytime temperatures are in the low to 104-113 °F range. In the winter months, temperatures average in the low to 68-77 °F range. It can get very windy during these months.

Dubai has a sub-tropical, arid climate. Sunny, blue skies can be expected most of the year. Rainfall is infrequent and irregular, falling mainly in winter. Lightweight summer clothing is suitable for most of the year, but sweaters or jackets may be needed for the winter months, especially in the evenings.

Compared with certain parts of the Middle East, Dubai has a very relaxed dress code. However, care should be taken not to give offence by wearing clothing which may be considered revealing. At the pool or on the beaches, trunks, swim-suits and bikinis are quite acceptable.

Good quality sunglasses are advised, and photo- chromatic lenses for those who wear spectacles. Hats or some protection for the head are advisable when in direct sunlight.

Water: Tap water is quite safe to drink but visitors usually prefer locally-bottled mineral water and this is generally served in hotels and restaurants.


Dubai Public Holidays

Subject to change according to the sighting of the moon

  • Hijra New Year: Year 1424 began 4 March 2003
  • Prophet’s Birthday: A significant day for many Muslims
  • Israa’ Wal Miraaj: The Prophet’s miraculous night journey to Heaven
  • UAE National Day: 2 December, The official establishment of the United Arab Emirates
  • Eid Al Fitr: Feast of Fast Breaking at the end of the month of fasting
  • Eid Al Adha: Feast of Sacrifice; occurs during the pilgrimage to Mecca, commemorating the example set by Prophet Abraham
  • Accession Day: The day Shaikh Zayed Al Nahayan become ruler of the UAE

Getting There: The airport is on the mainland, about 18.6 mi north-east of the city centre. Dubai International Airport (DXB) has recently undergone a US$540 million expansion. New facilities include a spa, business and conference rooms, a five-star hotel and, of course, an expanded duty-free store, enlarging what was already one of the biggest in the world. The airport has a long-standing reputation as the Gulf’s travel hub.

The national carrier is Emirates, which flies to some 45 destinations in the Middle East, Europe, Australia, Africa and the Indian Subcontinent.. There is no departure tax leaving Dubai International Airport, although there may be in the future.
Dubai’s location at the cross-roads of Europe, Asia and Africa makes for easy accessibility. London is seven hours away, Frankfurt six, Hong Kong eight and Nairobi four.

Most European capitals and other major cities have direct flights to Dubai, many with a choice of operator.

Buses run throughout the region to other parts of the UAE and surrounding countries. Within the UAE, the only intercity bus route you’re likely to use runs to Hatta from the Deira bus station. To get to most other cities in the Emirates, take a Dubai Transport minibus. There are two buses a day to Muscat, Oman. Balawi Bus Service runs to Jordan twice weekly and Egypt on Wednesdays. To arrange buses to Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Syria, you’ll need to go to Abu Dhabi.

Long-distance taxis can take you to any other emirate on a shared or ‘engaged’ basis (which means you’ll either have to fill all five seats or pay for them). Settle the price before you leave. There is a tax as you cross the UAE border by land.
Passenger ferries make the 12-hour trip between Sharjah (a twenty-minute drive from Dubai) and the port of Bandaré Abbas in Iran daily. A passenger and car ferry runs from Jebel Ali (30 minutes south of the city center) and Umm Qasr Port in Iraq every Saturday. If you leave the UAE by boat, there’s a Dh20 port tax.

Getting Around: Buses run between Dubai International Airport and Deira bus station every half hour, and metered, beige-colored Dubai Transport taxis take new arrivals to any point in the Deira or Bur Dubai city centers. Although they can’t serve the airport, there are scores of private taxis in all shapes and colors. As these aren’t metered, you may need to haggle a bit about fares.

Local buses run from the Deira bus station, near the gold souq, and the Bur Dubai Station on Al-Ghubaiba Rd. Monthly bus passes, known as taufeer, get you unlimited travel on either side of Dubai Creek or throughout the city. Driving in the city of Dubai is considered an extreme sport. If you must rent a car, bring your credit card and a copy of your passport.

Drinking and driving earns jail time on top of a stiff fine. Note that all accidents, no matter how small, must be reported to the police. The older parts of Dubai, with their souqs, fascinating architecture and museums, are best seen on foot. Abras criss-cross Dubai Creek from early morning until around midnight, and are a great, inexpensive way to see the city.

Driving in the UAE is on the right-hand side.

Roads and highways: Over the past two decades, Dubai has built an impressive network of first-class roads connecting all parts of the city and surrounding areas. There are two bridges and a tunnel linking the two main districts of Dubai and Deira on either side of the Creek. Roads to all major towns and villages are excellent and a multi-lane highway heads southwards from the city to Abu Dhabi.

Water taxis: An interesting way to travel between Dubai and Deira is by water taxi across the Creek.

Dubai Tourist Attractions Guide

Dubai has been one of the fastest growing travel destinations in well over a decade. This popular United Arab Emirate has so much to offer travelers and tourists. If you are planning a trip to this excellent holiday destination then you will certainly have the time of your life!

The rulers of Dubai have invested billions of dollars from their oil revenue into the tourist infrastructure and this nation has become one of the most modern and exclusive holiday destinations. There are so many outstanding activities and attractions from which tourists can select.

The Dubai Museum

Dubai Museum is housed in Al Fahidi Fort which is an 18th century structure located on the Dubai Creek. This place exhibits the culture and history of the city, mainly focusing on the era when oil was yet to be discovered. The pearl industry which was at its best in those times is also showcased here as also the traditional Middle-eastern weaponry. This is the city’s flagship museum which attracts a lot of visitors the whole year through.

Narish Khyma Museum

Narish Khyma Museum is a unique place in itself. It is located within the city’s limits very near to the Al Fahidi Fort. Narish Khyama has a vast collection of local boats and showcases the watercraft of the city. Some of these boats are very much in use and can be often seen on the Dubai Creek. Apart from these, there are the traditional Abra boats which are exhibited here. These are made from wood and are capable of seating 20 passengers. They feature a small engine and simple canvas roof.

Sheikh Saeed House

Sheikh Saeed House was first a National Monument which has now been converted into the Museum of Historical Photographs and Documents. It is a fine piece of architecture and was the residence of Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum who ruled the city during the first half of the 20th century. Today his grandson has assumed this responsibility. The building houses the exhibits which speak about the life of the Sheikh and also about the various stamps, coins and the other local bits and pieces.

Dubai Creek

Dubai’s waterfront epitomizes the city’s personality. The best way to see the trading port is from the water. You can book a cruise or hire an abra (small boat); ask the captain to take you to Al-Maktoum bridge and back. Also take time to walk around the dhow wharfage on the Deira side of Dubai Creek, to the west of the abra dock. Dhows bound for ports from Kuwait to Bombay dock there to unload .

Grand Mosque

The Grand Mosque in Bur Dubai is home to the city’s tallest minaret. It was built in the 1990s in the style of the Grand Mosque, which dated from 1900 but was demolished to make way for another mosque in 1960. The new Grand Mosque’s sand-colored walls and wooden shutters blend perfectly with the surrounding old quarter of Bur Dubai. Jumeira Mosque, is known for its size and elaborate design. The best time to see it is at night, when it is spectacularly lit up.

The stunning Iranian Mosque has incredibly detailed blue mosaic work typical of Persian building design. Non-Muslims are not allowed to enter mosques in the UAE. Next door, the Heritage and Diving Villages have displays on pearl diving and dhow building, two of old Dubai’s economic mainstays. Another area re-creates traditional Bedouin and coastal village life, complete with barasti (Persian) homes, a traditional coffeehouse and a small souq where you can buy freshly made dosa (a flat, grilled bread). A museum with items from nearby archaeological sites is also interesting.

Jumeira Archaeological Site

The largest and perhaps most significant archaeological site in the UAE, Jumeira dates to the 6th century AD. The settlement is particularly interesting because it straddles the pre-Islamic and Islamic eras. Today surrounded by shopping centers plying the spoils of modern-day Dubai’s trade, this settlement was once a caravan station along a trade route linking Iraq to northern Oman. Excavations have unearthed a series of stone walls that surrounded a seven-shop souq and a storage facility.

Several homes, what is believed to be a governor’s palace and several other structures that keep the archaeologists guessing can be viewed from behind a fence. If someone is working, you may be able to talk your way in. Relics, including glazed pottery, copper and iron items, glassware and coins, are on display at the museum for the Heritage and Diving Villages.

Jumeira Beach Park

This lovely park fronts Jumeira Beach and a walk on the grass, irrigated at great public expense, is a real treat. There is a children’s play area, barbecue pits, picnic tables, walkways and kiosks. The long stretch of beach is clean and lined with shady palm trees. Lifeguards are on duty here. The park is usually open to all, but Saturday and Monday are reserved for women and children only. This is a good option for women who are hoping for a vacation tan, but don’t want to pay a small fortune at a hotel beach club or put up with the male attention they might get at a public beach.

Dhow Ship Building Yard

On Dubai Creek waterfront about 1km south of Al-Gharhoud Bridge in the Jaddaf district, there’s a marina where monstrous dhows are built in the traditional style. This means that the planks are curved and placed one on top of the other, and then the frame was fitted on the inside (in the West, this is generally done the other way around). They’re built by hand using basic tools and resilient teak and shesham woods, and are incredibly sturdy. One concession to modern shipbuilding is adding an engine in addition to (or instead of) traditional sails.

Hatta Rock Pools

Hatta, an enclave of Dubai nestled in the Hajar Mountains, is a great weekend getaway. The main attractions are its relatively cool, dry climate, the mountain scenery, and the magnificent Hatta rock pools. It’s an amazing experience to swim through the narrow rock corridors of this miniature canyon, roaring year-round with plunging waterfalls.

Dubai Zoo

Located in Jumeirah opposite Jumeirah beach. It is surrounded by lush green trees and is the greenest spot in the suburb. The entrance is from the Jumeirah road. Ample car parking is available both in the front and rear side of the Zoo. It covers a total area of 1.75 hectares providing spacious habitats for its occupants. Mammals: There are nearly 248 different mammals. Gorilla, Foxes, Hyenas, Pumas, Lions, Jaguars, Chimpanzees, Baboons, Monkeys, Deer, Bears, Porcupines, Giraffes and Sheep are some of the mammals in the Zoo. Birds: These feathered friends range from tiny budgerigars to tall ostriches, golden eagles to parrots. Reptiles: almost 403 reptilian specimens are exhibited for the visitors. Endangered Species: the Zoo also protects and conserves endangered animals including Barbary-Sheep, Waterbucks, Siberian and Bengal Tigers, Arabian Wolves and Wild Cats

Creek Park

This modern and beautiful green park is situated on the west shore of Dubai’s historical focal point, Dubai Creek. This park extends for 2.6 km between Al Maktoum and Al Garhoud bridges covering a total area of 96 hectares. A variety of facilities for children and adults are available. The highlights are a complete golf course, children’s games area. The park also has 14 picnic areas and a large amphitheater that can accommodate 5000 people providing great joy to visitors.

Safa Park

On the Dubai-Abu Dhabi highway near the second interchange, this park is one of the premier recreational spots of Dubai. Rectangular in shape and easily accessible, this park covers a total area of 64 hectares. The park has an air-conditioned hall containing electronic games. There are restaurants and a playground for children. The park also has many other outdoor sports activities like football, volleyball, basketball, tennis and a modern track for running or jogging. Ladies and children can enjoy exclusive privacy in a special garden reserved for them. Children love the maze and the games provided. The 21 covered barbecue sites and benches makes the setting complete with fun, games and food.

Jumeirah Beach Park

Located in Jumeirah, along the sea shore bordering the Indian Ocean. The park extends over a total area of 13 hectares. The park attracts all ages because of its ideal location and variety of recreational activities, particularly during the summer. There are special areas designated for picnics, and the beautiful surroundings provide for relaxing and enjoyable meals. The park also has an Amphitheater which offers dramatic and musical entertainment. The Children’s Playground is ideal for children of all ages. There are also volleyball courts.

Al Mamzar Beach Park

Situated on the north-west coast of Dubai, to the north of Al Hamriya port, the park extends over an area of 99 hectares making it one of the largest parks in Dubai. The beach has modern lifeguard stations, changing rooms and beach chalets. There are swimming pools and a children’s playground. There are also numerous picnic areas with grills, chairs and umbrellas. The large Amphitheater hosts evening programs. An observation tower offers a scenic view of the whole park.

Al Bastakia Area

Al Bastakia Area in Bur Dubai dates back to the early 1900s, and occupies the eastern section of the old town along the Creek, extending in a southerly direction. These houses were once the homes of wealthy Persian merchants. Most came from te Bastak District in southern Iran. The area has always fascinated visitors to Dubai and artists, who are impressed by the elegant wind-towers, gypsum decorations and woodwork, and the lanes that meander through the district. The wind towers provided relief from the desert sun and high humidity.

Al Ahmadiya School

Al Ahmadiya School was established by the late Shaikh Ahmed bin Dalmouk, for whom the school was named, in 1912. It was the earliest regular school in the Emirate of Dubai where instruction was given by some of the leading teachers of the day, and many distinguished scholars and dignitaries received their education. The school is located in the center of the residential Al Rass area of Deira, which was a convenient location for the children of the elite, and traders, who resided there. The school has been restored to its original structure and has been converted to a Museum of Education. It opened on March 7, 2000.

Shopping in Dubai

Deira Souq – Souqs, Arabic open-air markets, have long been part of Dubai society. They open for business in the early morning and between 5 and 8pm. The Deira Covered Souq offers textiles, spices, kitchen wares, clothes and henna (used by Arab women to mark the hands and feet with painted patterns).

The Spice Souq, also known as the Deira Old Souq sells trinkets, clothing, rugs and glassware. The overflowing bags of seasonings are concentrated at the eastern end, closest to Dubai Creek.

Gold Souq, with its intricate wooden lattice archway and windows filled with glittering gold, attracts buyers from throughout the world. Any type of gold jewelry, in any color can be yours for a price. The Perfume Souq, with European designer fragrances and strong, spicy Arabic scents. The Electronics Souq sells discounted electronic items.

The Dubai Souq, in Bur Dubai, has been beautifully rebuilt to appeal to tourists, but sells mostly items appreciated by the Indo-Pakistani expatriate community.

If you are planning a Dubai travel, then you probably have a big list of things to do during your stay. Among one of the favorite activities is Dubai shopping. Upon arrival you’ll be amazed by the enormous malls constructed in this beautiful city. I invite you to read on this article to learn more about shopping in Dubai.

You can easily set aside one full day for shopping; the malls are so big that they do not offer a lot of stores but also many attractions for people who also want to have some different kind of fun. They have delicious restaurants, big cinemas and more.

The biggest names when we talk about malls are: Deira City Centre, Wafi City and The Walls of Emirates. Each one of them offers a unique attraction to visitors, and you’ll probably never see your common mall the same way. Wafi City is a shopping mall decorated with an Egyptian theme with a lot of detail on its construction, while the competition down in the Walls of Emirates has an indoor snow field! Yes, you can even ski in there!

As for shops, you can find franchises of the major brands across the World, including designer shops and at similar prices. In a smaller amount you will find local shops and brands inside the malls. The best items to go shopping in Dubai are the electronic goods as you can find a lot of great prices and value. Of course there are also many interesting items with the local flavor, such as Arabian souvenirs, carpets and Bedouin jewelry.

What are the hours to go shopping in Dubai? Well, the malls open at 10am and close at 10pm mostly, some day they might close at midnight, and they are open every day of the week.

Dubai is a really interesting city to go shopping, thanks to the big malls, services and fun extra-activities to do while shopping. Add that to the fact that there is no sales tax and you won’t want to miss going shopping during your travel.


Dubai Events & Entertainments Guide

The main Islamic holidays are Ramadan, Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan, Eid al-Adha, which marks the pilgrimage to Mecca, and the Prophet’s Birthday

Dubai Festivals

Dubai hosts two major tourist-oriented events during the year. The fiercely promoted Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) runs from late March to late April, when shopping centers bust themselves to bring in the spenders. Entertainment for the kids, fireworks and free raffle tickets with every purchase are just part of the fun. The lower-key Dubai Summer Surprises is designed, along with cheap hotel rates, to attract tourists during the summer slump. Surprises include displays of traditional culture, cooking demonstrations, art shows and more raffle tickets.

Dubai Religious Holidays

Religious holidays are tied to the lunar Islamic Hijra calendar, so dates vary from year to year on the western Gregorian version, which runs on solar time. Eid al-Fitr (the end of Ramadan), Eid al-Adha (Pilgrimage), Lailat al-Mi’raj (the Ascension of the Prophet), the Prophet’s Birthday and the Islamic New Year are the main celebrations. Secular holidays include New Year’s Day (1 January) and National Day (2 December). Keep in mind that Thursday and Friday make up the Dubai weekend.

Ramadan in Dubai

The month during which Muslims fast from dawn to dusk, and it is in poor form to eat, drink or smoke in public. If a Muslim friend offers you tea or coffee during the daytime in Ramadan, Ms Manners would suggest that you politely refuse. Alcohol is not served publicly at any time during Ramadan, but those with a liquor license can purchase it for consumption at home. At sundown, the feast begins.

Daily Life During Ramadhan in Dubai

Muslims generally eat two meals each day: the first (sahoor) is usually eaten about an hour before dawn and must finish before first light, the second (iftar) immediately follows sunset, which in some places is announced by the firing of a cannon. Once the sun goes down, Muslims usually break their fast following the example of Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) by eating a few dates, offering prayers, and sitting down to dinner.

In many Muslim countries, labor laws stress that Muslims may be required to work a maximum of six hours daily. Offices, shops, and other places of employment adjust to the reduced working hours. Restaurants close and food may not be consumed openly during the day by non-Muslims or Muslims who are not fasting.

Night turns into day with prayer and family life being the focus of activities. In the UAE, shopping centers are open late into the night, the streets are crowded with people, and television offers special late night viewing for the entire family.
Allowances should be made for a marked slowing down of daily life and it may take longer than normal to transact business. More care should be taken in traffic as the level of concentration might slump due to fasting and lack of sleep. When making appointments, allow for more flexibility than would normally be required.

Eid Al Fitr in Dubai

Ed Al Fitr is the three-day celebration following Ramadhan. It is a festive and happy time during which Muslims do not fast; in fact, it is a time for feasts. The first day of Eid begins before dawn. After eating something (probably dates), showering, and putting on good or new clothes, Muslims gather in large outdoor areas for the first prayer of the day. Returning home from prayer, Muslims spend the day greeting friends and family. Homes are busy with visitors arriving throughout the day. Sweets, fruits, and snacks are offered to all and gifts are often given to children. Eid is a time to be thankful and generous.

The UAE also observes New Year’s Day, Lailat al-Mi’raj (Ascension of the Prophet) and National Day in (2 December). In Abu Dhabi, August 6th is a holiday marking the accession of Sheikh Zayed.

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