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Ad of the Day: Dubai Tourism presents epic movie trailer with Jessica Alba and Zac Efron

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By Imogen Watson | Senior reporter

August 9, 2021 | 3 min read

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Dubai Tourism has gone full blockbuster in its efforts to entice holidaymakers. Commissioning director Craig Gillespie is to create a six-part ‘Dubai Presents’ film series alongside ad agency Mother. Each film is presented as a movie-style trailer, using multiple film genres to offer a different preview of Dubai and its cityscape.

Ad of the Day:

Jessica Alba and Zac Efron have teamed up for a blockbuster-style ad

“Dubai is a destination like no other. Our challenge was to create a campaign that allowed every aspect of it to shine,” explained Chris Gallery, partner at Mother. “There isn’t a single piece of content able to convey everything that Dubai has to offer; our solution, the Dubai Presents platform, is hard-wired to be flexible in showcasing Dubai as the ultimate destination.”

Starring A-list actors Jessica Alba and Zac Efron, the first film ‘A Five-Star Mission‘ is filmed in the style of the classic spy action genre featuring dramatic espionage-style sequences.

Shot on location, it sees Alba and Efron star as a sparring couple staying at the iconic Burj Al Arab. As the couple battle through the trailer, the film seamlessly visits top destinations including the Jumeriah Al Naseem and the overwater restaurant, Pierchic, before heading out on an epic desert caper to Dubai’s adventure capital, Hatta. For anyone who still thinks this is a movie trailer, the film ends with ‘now playing in Dubai’.

Dubai has been doubling down on tourism ads as the world opens back up. At 828m, Emirates has created one of the highest ads ever made, filmed at the tip of the Burj Khalifa.

Created to celebrate United Arab Emirates (UAE) being moved to amber on the travel list, the ad sees an Emirates cabin crew member stood in full costume at the top of the Burj Khalifa, holding up message boards as a nod to that famous scene in film Love Actually.

To get in touch about Ad of the Day, please email [email protected] .

dubai travel ad

Dubai Tourism: A Five-Star Mission by Mother

Overall rating 4/5, more from creative, industry insights.

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The Dubai Destinations

Dubai Destinations promotional campaign – Showcasing Dubai to the world

  • About the Campaign
  • Who Will the Campaign Involve?
  • Plans to Initiate the Campaign

Dubai is among the world’s most popular tourism hotspots. In fact, the name itself is synonymous with world-class cuisine, cultural wonders, epic retail hubs and thrilling adventures. The city offers an incredible array of experiences that are exciting for everyone, regardless of their age or ethnicity. While a lot has been told or written about Dubai, there are still some hidden gems that can be found with a little bit of digging! To keep visitors aware of Dubai’s vibrant culture, exciting offerings and centuries-old history, the UAE government has launched a key promotional campaign, called Dubai Destinations.

We’ve put together everything you need to know about this exciting new government venture and what to expect as the initiative gathers momentum.

ABOUT DUBAI DESTINATIONS PROMOTIONAL CAMPAIGN

woman capturing shots of Dubai

Launched in December 2021, Dubai Destinations is a global ad campaign that aims to promote tourism in Dubai. His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai had the vision to make Dubai the world’s best place to live and visit. This initiative is a significant step in that direction.

The campaign will bring government departments and Dubai’s burgeoning creative community onto the same page so they can share the best of what the emirate has to offer.

When asked about the initiative, His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed, chairman of Dubai Media Council said:

“Inspired by the vision of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, to make Dubai the world’s best city to live and visit, we are launching an initiative to enhance the profile of Dubai’s unique destination offerings by engaging with both the local community and regional and global audiences.”

OBJECTIVES OF THE CAMPAIGN

family at Dubai

The Dubai Destinations promotional campaign’s goal is to make people aware of Dubai’s culture, activities, sights, events and festivities so they are enticed to come and visit or live in the city.

The campaign will offer people a glimpse into the emirate’s leisure, cultural, dining and sporting experiences. The natural beauty of the Hatta region and Al Marmoon will also be shown to the world.

As per data compiled by Euromonitor International, a UK-based market research company, Dubai has been named first regionally and second globally amongst the Top 100 City Destinations Index 2021. The Dubai Destinations initiative is aimed at further boosting Dubai’s status as one of the safest places to visit in the world, both amidst and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

ORGANISATIONS PARTICIPATING IN THE DUBAI DESTINATIONS PROMOTIONAL CAMPAIGN

The Dubai Destinations promotional campaign will involve the following organisations:

  • Department of Economy and Tourism
  • Roads and Transport Authority (RTA)
  • Dubai Municipality, Dubai Culture and Arts Authority
  • Dubai Holding
  • Dubai Sports Council
  • The Government of Dubai Media Office

Dubai Media Office will also hire photographers, videographers, animators, influencers and digital media content creators to showcase Dubai’s top tourist attractions .

PLANS OF DUBAI MEDIA OFFICE TO INITIATE THE CAMPAIGN

Dubai destinations calendar.

Dubai Media Office will create a Dubai Destinations calendar with a key focus on outdoor activities.

The campaign will include guides that will offer people an insight into Dubai’s campsites, homegrown restaurants, outdoor activities and adventurous experiences.

Talking about the campaign, Her Excellency Mona Al Marri, Vice Chairperson and Managing Director of Dubai Media Council and Director-General of Dubai Media Office said,

”[Dubai Destinations Promotion Campaign] is a celebration of all that the city has to offer, the innovative campaign aims to introduce both domestic and global audiences to new experiences and encourage them to discover hidden gems, enjoy exciting activities, and share unforgettable moments in Dubai.”

Expo 2020

The world’s largest fair, EXPO 2020 has helped Dubai attract thousands of visitors from across the globe. Thanks to over 192 EXPO 2020 pavilions , each offering a range of activities, the emirate has recorded over six million footfalls from all over the world since it opened in October 2021. This has elevated Dubai’s profile and opened up the eyes of the world to all the emirate has to offer.

Now, Dubai Destinations plans to offer Expo 2020 visitors other amazing experiences in the emirate. From public parks to entertainment venues, there’s so much that they can enjoy.

WHAT ARE THE BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN DUBAI?

Dubai has plenty of places that you can visit while you’re in the emirate. Here is a list of the most popular places in Dubai that can help you plan your itinerary.

ARE THERE ANY FREE PLACES IN DUBAI?

If you want to roam around the city without breaking the bank, plan a day out at some of the best places to visit in Dubai for free . From roaming the streets of Al Seef to a camel racing festival, there is much you can do during a budget tour.

And with that, we wrap our guide to the Dubai Destinations promotional campaign. We hope it encourages you to plan a trip to this truly unique city.

If you need any guidance with regards to visiting the emirate, read our travel guide on the dos and don’ts of visiting Dubai . If you need some help with packing or accommodation, learn all that and more while planning your first trip to Dubai .

For more information about Dubai or its neighbouring emirates, stay tuned to MyBayut.

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Dubai Travel Guide

Last Updated: August 31, 2023

The towering and iconic Dubai skyline lit up at night

I found myself loving my first visit here so much that I extended my stay.

Dubai is a city trapped between worlds. It’s a place with a conservative culture and old-world customs while at the same time a Middle-Eastern Vegas where anything goes (so long as it’s behind closed doors). There’s a lot of partying that happens here.

But, beyond that, I was surprised at how much there was to do in this city. This city is more than just a flashy place to spend money. There’s a lot of cultural activities, museums, attractions, tours, and things to do here.

Dubai is a fascinating, multicultural city that deserves a lot more than a stopover. This travel guide to Dubai will help you plan your trip, save money, and make the most of your visit.

Table of Contents

  • Things to See and Do
  • Typical Costs
  • Suggested Budget
  • Money-Saving Tips
  • Where to Stay
  • How to Get Around
  • How to Stay Safe
  • Best Places to Book Your Trip
  • Related Blogs on Dubai

Top 5 Things to See and Do in Dubai

The sprawling sands and dunes of Dubai rolling into the arid distance

1. Visit the Burj Khalifa

The tallest building in the world, which opened in 2010, boasts a whopping 163 floors. You can go up to the 125th floor for 169 AED for epic views of the city. And for 399 AED you can climb even higher to floor 148 and visit the exclusive lounge. From there, you get panoramic views of the city and desert. Towering 555 meters (1,820 feet), the iconic tower contains a hotel, private residences, corporate offices, and a bar/lounge. At night, the building is illuminated by a spectacular light show of fish, palm trees, and other scenes while the fountain below dances to music. Get your tickets in advance here .

2. Take a desert safari

If you want to get a taste of the desert, head out on a day-long safari . You’ll be able to explore the desert, watch for birds and other wildlife, eat some traditional food, and take in the sweeping vistas. Tour offerings include desert jeep tours, camel riding tours, and horseback riding excursions. A day-long excursion starts at around 439 AED per person.

3. Visit Global Village

This is a massive entertainment extravaganza, with shopping, dining, and live performances all coming together to create an incredible cultural experience. It’s like Epcot Center at Disney World, except it showcases the different cultures of the Middle East. Enjoy ice-skating at Snowfest Ice Rink, visiting Ripley’s Believe It or Not, or taking a thrilling ride at Carnaval amusement park. Admission is only 18 AED.

4. Explore the Dubai Miracle Garden

This quirky and colorful garden opened in 2013 and is spread over 72,000 square meters (775,000 square feet), making it the world’s largest natural flower garden. It’s home to over 150 million flowers and all kinds of flower and plant sculptures. In addition to the natural beauty, you can experience various performances that change each week, and a daily flower parade with live music and choreographed dancers in full flower garb. If you get hungry during your visit there are more than 30 food and beverage options including cafes, candy shops, and healthy juice bars. Admission is 75 AED.

5. Have fun at Kite Beach

If you’re into kitesurfing or water sports, this is a cool place to catch some waves. The artificial beach is one of the most popular in Dubai and features lots of sugary white sand, kids’ activities, food and beverage vendors, fitness areas, and even a library. The winds pick up in the afternoon, making it a good time to hit the water or just sit back and watch others do it. If watersports aren’t your thing, come here to catch some rays and relax as it’s free and open to the public.

Other Things to See and Do in Dubai

1. wander the marina.

The marina area is surrounded by tall buildings and is composed of a beautiful scenic boardwalk. Here you’ll find lots of fancy boats, beautiful condos, and bars and restaurants overlooking the harbor. Be sure to check out Pier 7, which is seven floors of restaurants and bars on the water. Personally, I liked Asia Asia, with its gaudy Asian theme.

2. Hit the mall

Malls in Dubai are not like malls anywhere else in the world. There are over 65 malls in the city with more on the way. People love going to malls here! Between the Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates, you’ll find a ton of amazing things to see and do. There’s luxury shopping, nightly fountain shows, an aquarium inside the Dubai Mall (which has a 270-degree underwater tunnel you can walk through), and even indoor skiing at the Mall of the Emirates (the Mall of the Emirates also has over 650 stores and 100 restaurants). You can also visit the world’s largest themed mall, the Ibn Battuta Mall. It has a Moroccan theme and is named after the eponymous explorer (it has over 270 stores and 50 restaurants too). Be sure to dress appropriately and avoid tank tops, shorts, or mini-skirts.

3. Visit the Grand Mosque

Located in nearby Abu Dhabi, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is definitely worth a half-day trip. Built between 1996-2007, the mosque and its surrounding gardens span over 30 acres. It’s almost all white too, giving it a very majestic look. It’s a 90-minute drive from Dubai (about 290 AED each way in a taxi or 25 AED on the bus). You’ll want to make sure you wear appropriate clothing since it is a place of worship (they have cover-up items available for anyone without suitable attire). During Eid, upwards of 41,000 people visit the mosque each day. Admission is free.

4. Explore Old Dubai

This is Dubai as it used to be. Markets (like the famous gold market) pepper the area, small shops line the streets, and you can get lost in a dizzying maze of alleyways. Take a boat across Dubai Creek to Deira (you can ride an abra, a traditional wooden boat) and wander aimlessly around the streets, eat at some of the traditional restaurants, explore the art district, and see Dubai as it is away from the glitz of the malls and high-rises. Don’t miss the Dubai Frame (a landmark offering the best views of the city), the gold market (which has upwards of 10 tons of gold at any time), and the spice souk (a large spice market you can browse).

5. Tour the Jumeirah Mosque

Opened in 1979, this beautiful mosque is one of two in the city you can actually visit. Built in the Fatimid style, it consists of one large room and there is a guided tour every day at 10am and 2pm (except Fridays). It’s 35 AED and comes with a great breakfast spread. If you don’t know much about Islam or the role it plays in the UAE, it’s a pretty interesting and educational tour.

6. Go deep-sea fishing

It’s quite easy to book a spot on a boat and head out to sea if you want to try your hand at deep-sea fishing. Tour operators cater to all ages and levels of experience, and most packages even include lunch. Prices vary depending on what sort of vessel you book and how long you go but expect to pay 1,500 AED for a 4-6-hour trip.

7. Relax at Jumeirah Beach

This white-sand beach is a fantastic place to sunbathe and stroll along the boardwalk. Located along the coast just south of the city’s historic district, there are lots of shops to visit, and there is even an outdoor movie theater. Not only is this a great place to visit, but it’s a great area to stay because you’re surrounded by so many things to do. There are playgrounds here for kids as well as areas to BBQ. It’s perfect for picnics but gets super busy on the weekend so try to enjoy it during the week to beat the crowd.

8. Wander the Palm Islands

On this famous man-made palm tree-shaped island , you’ll find a large shopping walkway, the Atlantis resort, the Aquaventure waterpark, and a host of fancy restaurants, bars, and clubs. It’s beautiful to walk around and explore during the day (at night, it’s pretty boring!).

9. Visit the Souk Madinat Jumeirah

This souk (market) is in a modern building designed to look like something out of Aladdin but it’s actually home to some incredible restaurants. There’s a beautiful inner courtyard pond in this complex, too. Come here if you want to splurge if you’re a foodie! Don’t miss Al Makan for local dishes, Anar for Persian cuisine, and The Noodle House for tasty Asian eats.

10. Binge at brunch

Brunch is a tradition among locals and expats. Every Friday, everyone flocks to a midday buffet of unlimited drinks and food. As the day goes on, it often turns into debauchery that would make Nero proud. However, brunch is not a cheap affair, costing as much as 700 AED. Ask your hotel/hostel staff where the cheapest brunches are. You can usually find some for under 200 AED.

Dubai Travel Costs

A huge mosque lit up at night near the water of Dubai

Budget hotel prices – Budget two-star hotels start at 285 AED in peak season. In the off-season, budget rooms cost around 90 AED. Expect basic amenities like a TV, tea/coffee maker, and AC.

There are lots of Airbnb options in Dubai. A private room starts around 100 AED per night though you should expect to pay double (or even triple or quadruple) if you don’t book early. Enrire homes/apartments start around 250 AED per night, however, they average triple that price so book early.

Food – Emirati cuisine takes influences from its Middle Eastern neighbors. More recently, as an international hub, you can find all kinds of internal flavors here as well. Popular dishes in Dubai include hummus, shawarma, shish tawook (grilled kebabs), and knafeh (a sweet cheese pastry topped with rose syrup and pistachios). Dates and fish are common staples, with camel milk being a more traditional addition to the diet. Popular spices include saffron, cinnamon, and turmeric.

In Dubai, a meal out costs around 65 AED while dinner for two with drinks usually averages 190-300 AED. For fast food like McDonald’s, expect to pay around 30 AED for a combo meal.

A large pizza costs around 45 AED while Chinese food is around 50 AED. A beer is about 45 AED while a latte or cappuccino is 19 AED. Bottled water is around 2 AED.

If you cook your own food, expect to pay around 500 AED per week for groceries including pasta, vegetables, meat or fish, and other basic staples.

Backpacking Dubai Suggested Budgets

On a backpacker budget of 260 AED per day you can stay in a hostel, cook all your meals, take public transportation to get around, skip drinking, and do mostly free activities like enjoying the beach and visiting the malls and mosques. If you plan on drinking, add 40-80 AED extra per day.

On a mid-range budget of 870 AED per day, you can stay in a cheap hotel or Airbnb, eat out for a few meals, enjoy a couple drinks, take the occasional taxi to get around, and do more paid activities, such as a desert safari.

On a “luxury” budget of 1,425 AED, you can stay in a hotel, eat out for every meal, drink as much as you’d like, go out for a brunch, take paid tours, visit the Burj Khalifa, and rent a car for some day trips. The sky is the limit here!

You can use the chart below to get some idea of how much you need to budget daily, depending on your travel style. Keep in mind these are daily averages — some days you’ll spend more, some days you’ll spend less (you might spend less every day). We just want to give you a general idea of how to make your budget. Prices are in AED.

Dubai Travel Guide: Money-Saving Tips

Dubai is an expensive city. If you’re hanging out in the malls and restaurants that cater to expats, you’re going to spend a lot of money. That said, there are a few things you can do to cut costs so you don’t blow your budget. Here are some quick tips to help you save money in Dubai:

  • Use Groupon – Groupon is huge in Dubai and you can find tons of discounts, 2-for-1 specials, and deals on the website. If there is something you want to do, check there first as there is a high chance you’ll find a discount.
  • Get The Entertainer – The Entertainer is a magazine and app that offers discounts and specials on restaurants, hotels, and activities. Pick up a copy when you arrive in Dubai. It’s not cheap but sometimes you can find the app 50% off or get a free trial. There are monthly subscriptions starting at 35 AED per month and a “lite” version that is free. If you plan to see and do a lot, it’s worth the price.
  • Find happy hours – Dubai is full of happy hours. Plan your drinking accordingly to avoid the city’s high-priced booze.
  • Skip the booze – Outside the happy hours and all-you-can-eat brunches, drinking is expensive so I would go easy on the drinking during your visit — or skip it altogether if you’re on a budget.
  • Eat in Old Dubai – Step away from the hotels, malls, and fancy souks meant to make you think you are in Aladdin and head into Old Dubai for cheap eats.
  • Pick accommodation near the metro – Make sure your accommodation is near a metro stop. You don’t want to be walking around unnecessarily when it’s scorching hot and public transportation is much cheaper than taxis.
  • Bring a reusable water bottle – The tap water is safe to drink in Dubai so bring a reusable water bottle to reduce your single-use plastic usage. LifeStraw makes a reusable bottle with a built-in filter so you can ensure your water is always clean and safe.

Where to Stay in Dubai

Dubai doesn’t have a lot of hostels so you’ll want to book in advance if you plan to stay in a hostel. Here are my suggested places to stay in Dubai:

  • Green Sky Apartments
  • Bombay Backpackers DXB
  • Bohemian Backpackers

How to Get Around Dubai

Trees lining a narrow waterway with towering buildings in the background in Dubai

Public transportation – Dubai’s metro consists of nearly 50 stations. You can get to wherever you need to go, or close to it, with public transportation. Hours of operation depend on the day but both lines start operating from around 5:30am until about 1am. On Fridays, however, the trains don’t start running until 10am.

You’ll need a Nol Card to get around and you can buy the card at any of the ticket offices at the metro stations for 25 AED.

Fares depend on which of the zones you are traveling to. A standard ticket for one zone is 4 AED, for two zones it’s 6 AED, and if you are traveling through 3 or more zones it’s 8.50 AED.

If you can’t get to where you’re going by subway, the bus will get you there. Like the metro, the bus has different zones, and the Nol card is used as payment.

Ferry – The ferry in Dubai runs daily from three different terminals in the marina. Evening trips on the ferry are much busier, so be sure to get to the terminal 30 minutes early. Tickets range from 15-50 AED for silver class (seats in the main section of the boat) and 25-75 AED for gold class (more comfortable seats at the front of the boat).

Taxi – Taxis start at 12 AED and go up by around 2.50 AED per kilometer. Skip them if you can. They add up quickly!

Ridesharing – Uber and Careem are the two main ridesharing apps in Dubai. They aren’t usually cheaper than a standard taxi but they tend to be a lot more convenient.

Bicycle – Bikes can be rented from Nextbike for around 20 AED per hour or 80 AED per day.

Car rental – If you’re leaving the city, cars can be rented for around 190 AED per day. I would only rent one if you’re leaving the city. Otherwise, just use public transportation to get around. It will be much faster!

When to Go to Dubai

The most popular time to visit Dubai is between November-April. The weather is cooler and perfect for desert safaris, with daily highs averaging around 27°C (80°F). Flights and accommodation will be more expensive during this time though so plan accordingly.

May-August is the low season as Dubai just gets too warm. Daily highs average around 41°C (106°F) and make exploring the city unbearable. I visited in August and it was brutal. Skip the summer if you can!

The shoulder season between September and October is when the sea becomes perfect for swimming and water sports. It’s much less busy during this time so you’ll find fewer crowds and cheaper prices too.

How to Stay Safe in Dubai

Dubai is a very safe city. Violent crime is incredibly rare here. Petty theft and pickpocketing can occur, though they’re quite rare too. As long as you keep your valuables secure while you’re out and about you likely won’t have any issues.

Be aware that many activities that are legal in other countries are not legal in Dubai, such as displays of public affection between unmarried or LGBTQ partners, drunken behavior, dressing immodestly, swearing, photographing people without their permission, and criticizing UAE’s government.

You’ll need to dress and act conservatively here. All the wild and crazy stuff in the city happens behind closed doors. It’s a see no evil kind of thing. Don’t push the limit in public or you’re likely to get into serious trouble. Be extra cautious about being wild or “immodest” here.

Solo female travelers should generally feel safe here. However, the standard precautions apply (never leave your drink unattended at the bar, never walk home alone intoxicated, etc.) when you’re here. For an extra layer of safety, use the female-only cars on the metro. For more information, check out one of the many solo female travl blogs on the city to help you out.

Scams here are rare. If you’re worried about getting ripped off, you can read my post on common travel scams to avoid .

If you experience an emergency, dial 999 for the police, 998 for an ambulance, and 997 for the fire department.

The most important piece of advice I can offer is to purchase good travel insurance. Travel insurance protects you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. You can use the widget below to find the policy right for you:

Dubai Travel Guide: The Best Booking Resources

These are my favorite companies to use when I travel. They consistently have the best deals, offer world-class customer service and great value, and overall, are better than their competitors. They are the companies I use the most and are always the starting point in my search for travel deals.

  • Skyscanner – Skyscanner is my favorite flight search engine. They search small websites and budget airlines that larger search sites tend to miss. They are hands down the number one place to start.
  • Hostelworld – This is the best hostel accommodation site out there with the largest inventory, best search interface, and widest availability.
  • Booking.com – The best all around booking site that constantly provides the cheapest and lowest rates. They have the widest selection of budget accommodation. In all my tests, they’ve always had the cheapest rates out of all the booking websites.
  • HostelPass – This new card gives you up to 20% off hostels throughout Europe. It’s a great way to save money. They’re constantly adding new hostels too. I’ve always wanted something like this and glad it finallt exists.
  • Get Your Guide – Get Your Guide is a huge online marketplace for tours and excursions. They have tons of tour options available in cities all around the world, including everything from cooking classes, walking tours, street art lessons, and more!
  • The Man in Seat 61 – This website is the ultimate guide to train travel anywhere in the world. They have the most comprehensive information on routes, times, prices, and train conditions. If you are planning a long train journey or some epic train trip, consult this site.
  • Rome2Rio – This website allows you to see how to get from point A to point B the best and cheapest way possible. It will give you all the bus, train, plane, or boat routes that can get you there as well as how much they cost.
  • FlixBus – Flixbus has routes between 20 European countries with prices starting as low 5 EUR! Their buses include WiFi, electrical outlets, a free checked bag.
  • SafetyWing – Safety Wing offers convenient and affordable plans tailored to digital nomads and long-term travelers. They have cheap monthly plans, great customer service, and an easy-to-use claims process that makes it perfect for those on the road.
  • LifeStraw – My go-to company for reusable water bottles with built-in filters so you can ensure your drinking water is always clean and safe.
  • Unbound Merino – They make lightweight, durable, easy-to-clean travel clothing.
  • Top Travel Credit Cards – Points are the best way to cut down travel expenses. Here’s my favorite point earning credit cards so you can get free travel!

Dubai Travel Guide: Related Articles

Want more info? Check out all the articles I’ve written on backpacking/traveling Dubai and continue planning your trip:

How to Save Money in Dubai (and 9 cool things to do there!)

How to Save Money in Dubai (and 9 cool things to do there!)

Dubai: The Las Vegas of the Middle East?

Dubai: The Las Vegas of the Middle East?

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How Emirates filmed their incredible Burj Khalifa flypast stunt

Emirates Burj Khalifa advert. Image courtesy of Emirates/YouTube

Editor's Note

What do you get when you cross an Emirates flight attendant with the world's tallest building and add an A380 jumbo jet?

Answer: A tear-jerkingly expensive, but spectacular, airline promotional video!

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In Emirates' latest commercial released on Jan. 14, a woman dressed in the company's iconic uniform stands on the uppermost pinnacle of Dubai's Burj Khalifa holding a sign that reads: "I'm still here."

The joke, of course, is that she's been standing there in the swirling winds of the earth's troposphere for five months since the last time Emirates did a similar stunt for an ad last August.

Related: Get 2,000 free miles just for signing up for this lucrative mileage program

Then – in what is surely a nod to Bob Dylan's 1965 "Subterranean Homesick Blues" music video or maybe that scene in "Love Actually" where Andrew Lincoln tells Keira Knightly he loves her while her boyfriend watches TV – she pulls away the card to reveal another: "Wow! I can see Dubai Expo."

The world's greatest show brings friends together on top of the world's tallest building. Enjoy a free @Expo2020Dubai day pass with every ticket. Fly Emirates, Fly Better. @EmaarDubai pic.twitter.com/JyKebztZaF

— Emirates Airline (@emirates) January 14, 2022

And as if it weren't terrifying enough to see her teetering, and smiling, over half a mile above ground, an Emirate's Airbus 380 booms into the shot, so close that you think she could reach out and touch it.

Related: 14 things that caught me off guard in Emirates' new premium economy

Before the advertisement ends, she manages to get through a few more cards explaining that the reason she's up there is to tell you to fly the Emirates A380 to the Dubai World Expo, that's currently taking place in the UAE's millionaire's playground.

It is a genuinely jaw-dropping piece of filming, that took weeks to organize, plan and execute.

And to prove there were no green screens involved in the making of the ad, Emirates has also released a "making of" video to show how it was really done.

Emirates Burj Khalifa commercial. (Courtesy of Emirates/YouTube)

The star of the ad is American skydiver and stuntwoman Nicole Smith-Ludvik , who climbed the iconic tower before sunrise to get to the top in time for the dawn light on Oct. 14, 2021.

Related: What it's like dining in the world's tallest building, Burj Khalifa

She and the crew took the lift to the 160th floor of the Burj Khalifa, and then spent an hour climbing a narrow winding staircase to get to the very top.

There, she was attached by a safety harness to a specially-designed platform, where she stood for five hours while the A380 flew past 11 times (at 145 knots) to get the perfect shot. The flypast required the colorful A380 to fly at 2,700 feet, the same height as the Burj Khalifa.

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Dubai's air command even closed down the air space above the city so no other planes might get in the way of the jumbo jet as it circled the city for just over three hours.

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It's the second time the airline has pulled a stunt like this, coming five months after it filmed a similar advert without the A380, which you can view below.

Reconnect with your loved ones or take a fabulous vacation. From 8th August travel to the UK gets easier. #FlyEmiratesFlyBetter pic.twitter.com/pEB2qH6Vyo

— Emirates Airline (@emirates) August 5, 2021

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Home to an iconic skyline, miles of pristine beaches, family friendly water and theme parks, and world-class shopping, Dubai is a buzzing city that has something for everyone. A short drive out from the city opens up a world of outdoor and sports activities including helicopter rides, hot air balloons, desert safaris and camping, dhow cruises, kayaking and more.

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Caution October 19, 2023

Worldwide caution, update january 10, 2024, information for u.s. citizens in the middle east.

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United Arab Emirates

Travel Advisory July 13, 2023

United arab emirates - level 2: exercise increased caution.

Reissued with obsolete COVID-19 page links removed.

Exercise increased caution in the United Arab Emirates due to   the threat of missile or drone attacks and terrorism.

Country Summary:  The possibility of attacks affecting U.S. citizens and interests in the Gulf and Arabian Peninsula remains an ongoing, serious concern.  Militant groups operating in Yemen have stated an intent to attack neighboring countries, including the UAE, using missiles and drones.  Missile and drone attacks in early 2022 targeted populated areas and civilian infrastructure.

Due to risks to civil aviation operating within the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman region, including the United Arab Emirates, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued an advisory Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM). For more information U.S. citizens should consult the  Federal Aviation Administration’s Prohibitions, Restrictions and Notices .

While residents and visitors generally find a safe and secure environment in the UAE, the country continues to face the threat of terrorism.  Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets, shopping malls, and local government facilities.

Read the  country information page  for additional information on travel to the United Arab Emirates.

If you decide to travel to the United Arab Emirates:

  • Monitor local media for breaking events and be prepared to adjust your plans.
  • Enroll in the  Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)  to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Follow the Department of State on  Facebook   and  Twitter .
  • Review the  Country Security Report  for the United Arab Emirates.
  • Visit the CDC page for the latest  Travel Health Information  related to your travel.
  • Prepare a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the  Traveler’s Checklist .

Embassy Messages

View Alerts and Messages Archive

Quick Facts

6 months validity after date of arrival. 12-page U.S. emergency passports are not accepted. Passports with the “X” gender marker are not accepted.

One page required for entry stamp

Not required for tourist stays under 30 days

Embassies and Consulates

U.s. embassy abu dhabi.

Embassies District, Plot 38, Sector W59-02, Street No. 4. Abu Dhabi, U.A.E. Telephone: +(971) (2) 414-2200 Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(971) (0) 2-414-2200 Fax: +(971) (2) 414-2241 Email:   [email protected]

U.S. Consulate General Dubai Corner of Al Seef Rd. and Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Rd Dubai, U.A.E. Telephone: +(971) (4) 309-4000 Emergency Telephone: +(971) (4) 309-4000 Fax: +(971) (4) 311-6213 Email:   [email protected] The normal work week in the UAE is Monday through Friday.

Destination Description

Learn about the U.S. relationship to countries around the world.

Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

COVID-19 Requirements: There are no COVID-related entry requirements for U.S. citizens.

U.S. citizens are subject to all UAE immigration laws.

  • Passport Validity:  A passport valid for at least six months beyond the date of entry is required to enter the UAE. The UAE government does not accept 12-page emergency passports for entry to the UAE. The UAE government also does not accept passports with the “X” gender marker for travel to, in, or through the UAE. Travelers with these passports will be denied boarding or entry.
  • Personal travel of 30 days or less:  A U.S. citizen with a regular (non-emergency) passport with an M or F gender marker may obtain a no fee visitor visa upon arrival. The UAE government does not accept passports with the “X” gender marker for travel to, in, or through the UAE. Travelers with these passports will be denied boarding or entry.
  • Stays longer than 30 days:  Visitors on a 30-day visa may request a visa extension, which is at the discretion of immigration officials. Anyone planning to work or study in the UAE must obtain the appropriate visa.
  • Medical Exam:  A full medical exam is required for work or residence permits. The exam and tests for HIV/AIDS, viral hepatitis B, tuberculosis, leprosy, and pregnancy must be performed after arrival. U.S. citizens have been detained and deported for testing positive for HIV, active tuberculosis, or hepatitis. Medical exams performed outside of the UAE will not be accepted.
  • Travel on Diplomatic or Official Passports:  U.S. citizens traveling to or through the UAE on diplomatic or official passports are required to obtain a visa before travel (transit passengers only require a visa if exiting the airport). This requirement is strictly enforced by UAE officials and those not meeting the requirement will be denied entry. U.S. military travelers should not assume military ID cards will be accepted, but should consult the Foreign Clearance Guide.

Land Exit Departure Fee:  All travelers who depart the UAE by land and who are not citizens of a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) country must pay a departure fee. The fee is 35 UAE dirhams and is payable only in the local currency.

Please verify this information with the  Embassy of the United Arab Emirates  before you travel.

Exit Controls:  The UAE maintains tight exit controls. All travelers must exit the country with the passport on which they entered. Travelers should visit a UAE immigration office prior to departure to obtain an exit pass if they plan to leave the UAE without the passport on which they entered.

Travelers both departing the UAE and transiting will be barred from exiting the UAE if there are any criminal or civil legal cases against them. Travelers have been arrested at the airport and have had their passports seized due to outstanding financial cases, unsettled legal disputes, and late credit card payments, including for cases that were previously unknown to the traveler. In such cases, some individuals have been arrested and detained for long periods of time. Individuals will be barred from leaving the UAE until legal cases are settled in full. This affects all persons whether they are in the UAE as residents, tourists, or transit passengers with no intention of exiting the airport. UAE residents can verify with UAE authorities whether they have an exit ban due to outstanding cases in Dubai or Abu Dhabi. More information on this process can be found on the  UAE Government Portal .

The Government of the UAE requires that all persons residing in the country have a national identification card. U.S. citizens who are working or living in the UAE should visit the  Emirates Identity Authority website  for more information on card registration procedures and requirements.

Cancellation of Visas:  All UAE visas must be formally cancelled through the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) before a new visa can be issued. This includes visas that have already expired or have never been used. Travelers may be denied entry to, or not permitted to depart, the UAE if previous visas have not been properly cancelled. More information on the process is available on the  UAE Government portal .

Dual Nationality:  The UAE does not recognize dual nationality. The UAE recognizes only the citizenship of the passport on which a person enters the UAE. The embassy may be prohibited from providing certain consular services to those who did not enter the UAE on a U.S. passport.

The UAE has imposed HIV/AIDS travel restrictions on all foreigners seeking residency. Travelers for tourism are not tested or requested to provide information about HIV/AIDS status. Please verify this information with the  Embassy of the UAE  before you travel. Information about  dual nationality  and the  prevention of international child abduction  can be found on the embassy website. For further information about customs regulations, please read the embassy’s  Customs Information page .

Current restrictions:

Weapons and Law Enforcement Equipment:  The transportation of arms or items that may be considered law enforcement or military equipment is strictly prohibited without written approval from the UAE government. Do not transport any arms or items that may be considered law enforcement or military equipment. Such items include, but are not limited to:

  • Weapon parts and tools
  • Functional, inert, or decorative ammunition, even one bullet
  • Empty or spent shell casings
  • Any other military or police equipment

U.S. citizens, military personnel, and U.S. government/military contractors found to be carrying such items, even in the smallest quantities, will be arrested and face strict criminal penalties, including imprisonment, large monetary fines, forfeiture of the items, and deportation , even though airlines and U.S. authorities allowed shipment on a U.S.-originating flight.

Other prohibited items:  Importation of the following items is also prohibited under UAE law: pornographic material, non-Islamic religious pamphlets for missionary activities, e-cigarettes, fireworks, ivory, chemical and organic fertilizers, laser pointers, radar jammers/other unauthorized communication devices, products and medications containing cannabidiol (CBD), endangered animal species, and any objects, sculptures, paintings, books or magazines which do not adhere to the religious and moral values of the UAE. Possession of any of these items can lead to detention and lengthy jail sentences.

Safety and Security

Terrorism: Terrorist groups and those inspired by such organizations are intent on attacking U.S. citizens abroad. Terrorists are increasingly using less sophisticated methods of attack – including knives, firearms, and vehicles – to more effectively target crowds. Frequently, their aim is unprotected or vulnerable targets, such as:

  • High-profile public events (sporting contests, political rallies, demonstrations, holiday events, celebratory gatherings, etc.)
  • Hotels, clubs, and restaurants frequented by tourists
  • Places of worship
  • Shopping malls and markets
  • Public transportation systems (including subways, buses, trains, and scheduled commercial flights)

U.S. citizens in the United Arab Emirates should exercise a high level of security awareness. The possibility of terrorist attacks against U.S. citizens and interests in the Gulf and Arabian Peninsula remains a serious concern. The UAE’s normalization of relations with Israel in September 2020 has increased the potential for attacks in the UAE, including by Iran-backed entities. Separately, rebel groups operating in Yemen have stated an intent to attack neighboring countries, including the UAE, using missiles and unmanned aerial systems (drones). Yemen-based Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for missile and drone attacks against the UAE on January 17 and January 24, 2022, targeting populated areas and civilian infrastructure.  The January 17 attack resulted in multiple impact sites in Abu Dhabi and three fatalities. The Houthi rebels have publicly stated their intent to continue such attacks. In the event of a missile and/or drone strike, follow the guidance found here .

Both historical and current information suggest that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), al-Qaida, and affiliated organizations continue to plan attacks against Western targets; these attacks may employ a wide variety of tactics, including suicide operations, assassination, kidnapping, hijacking, and bombing.

For more information, see our Terrorism page.

Boating: The UAE and Iran have had a long-standing dispute concerning jurisdiction of Abu Musa, approximately 20 miles from Dubai. Fishing or sailing in these waters may result in seizure of vessels and detention of passengers and crew in Iran. Obtaining consular assistance in Iran for U.S. citizens is difficult and can only be done through the Swiss Embassy in Tehran , which acts as a Protecting Power, providing limited U.S. consular services.

Crime: Violent crimes and crimes against property are rare. U.S. citizens should take the same security precautions in the UAE that one would practice in the United States or any large city abroad.

Harassment and Assault: U.S. citizens, especially women, should take precautions against the possibility of verbal and physical harassment or sexual assault when walking alone, consuming alcohol, or riding in a taxi cab. Taxi passengers should avoid sitting in the front seat of a taxicab and should be sensitive that "small talk" can be misinterpreted as over-friendliness or even a form of propositioning by some taxi drivers. Taxis driven by women for the exclusive use of female passengers are available in some airports and by dispatch. Female travelers can identify these dedicated vehicles by their pink roofs.

Some victims of sexual assault have been prosecuted for violating laws against sexual relations outside of marriage. The law puts a high burden of proof on the victim to demonstrate that sex was not consensual. In cases where the victim has failed to demonstrate so, both parties have been prosecuted, and sometimes sentenced to jail time, followed by deportation.

International Financial Scams:  See the  Department of State  and the  FBI  pages for information.

Internet romance and financial scams are prevalent in the UAE. Scams are often initiated through Internet postings/profiles or by unsolicited emails and letters. Scammers almost always pose as U.S. citizens who have no one else to turn to for help. Common scams include:

  • Romance/Online dating
  • Money transfers
  • Lucrative sales
  • Gold purchase
  • Inheritance notices
  • Work permits/job offers
  • Bank overpayments

Victims of Crime: U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault are encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy for assistance. Report crimes to the local police at 999 and contact the U.S. Embassy at +971 2 414 2200. Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crime.

See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas .

  • Help you find appropriate medical care
  • Assist you in reporting a crime to the police
  • Contact relatives or friends with your written consent
  • Provide general information regarding the victim’s role during the local investigation and following its conclusion
  • Provide a list of local attorneys
  • Provide our information on victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
  • Provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
  • Help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
  • Replace a stolen or lost passport

Domestic Violence:  U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy or Consulate General for assistance.

Tourism:  The tourism industry is generally regulated and rules with regard to best practices and safety inspections are regularly enforced. Hazardous areas/activities are identified with appropriate signage and professional staff is typically on hand in support of organized activities. In the event of an injury, appropriate medical treatment is widely available throughout the country. Outside of a major metropolitan center, it may take more time for first responders and medical professionals to stabilize a patient and provide life-saving assistance. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on  insurance providers for overseas coverage .

Local Laws & Special Circumstances

Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Individuals establishing a business or practicing a profession that requires additional permits or licensing should seek information from the competent local authorities, prior to practicing or operating a business.

As each emirate has its own independent judicial system, legal procedures and penalties vary throughout the country.

Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the United States, regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

Arrest Notification:  UAE authorities do not routinely notify the U.S. Embassy or consulate of a U.S. citizen’s arrest.  If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy or consulate immediately.  If you are not allowed to do so, ask a friend or family member to contact the U.S. Embassy or consulate. See our webpage for further information.

Alcohol:  Alcohol is sold only in very limited areas including certain restaurants and hotels. Public drunkenness and driving under the influence, regardless of one’s blood alcohol content level, are considered very serious offenses. Persons arrested on alcohol-related offenses are regularly detained for many days as they await a court hearing. Penalties may include hefty jail sentences, substantial fines and, for Muslims (even those holding U.S. citizenship), lashings. Note: The possession and consumption of alcohol is prohibited in the emirate of Sharjah.

Drugs: UAE law imposes the death sentence for convicted drug traffickers. Possession of even trace amounts of illegal drugs (including in the bloodstream) can result in lengthy prison sentences of up to 15 years. Bail generally is not granted to those accused of drug crimes.

Possession or consumption of marijuana in any form, including detections of trace amounts in the bloodstream, is illegal in the UAE, even if a doctor’s medical card is presented. Products containing cannabidiol (CBD) are illegal in the UAE. Possession or importation of CBD products, including those found in prescription and over the counter medications in the United States and other countries, are prosecuted in the same manner as marijuana possession. The UAE's anti-narcotics program also includes poppy seeds on its list of controlled substances. The importation and possession of poppy seeds in any and all forms, including as dried decorative plants, are strictly prohibited.

Persons may be charged and convicted even if the controlled substances were ingested outside of the UAE as long as traces are still present in the bloodstream upon arrival in the UAE. If suspected of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, individuals may be required to submit to blood and/or urine tests and may be subject to prosecution.

Travelers with questions regarding the items on the list of controlled substances should contact the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi or the U.S. Consulate General in Dubai .

Codes of Behavior and Dress: Public decency and morality laws throughout the UAE are much stricter than in the United States. Penalties for public displays of affection or immodesty may be imposed. Sexual relations outside marriage are illegal in the UAE and convicted individuals have been punished by lengthy jail sentences. Pregnancy outside of marriage can result in arrest and detention. Doctors may ask for proof of marriage during pre-natal visits, and those giving birth in the UAE must present a marriage certificate to receive medical care and register the child’s birth. Failure to do so has resulted in the arrests of both unmarried mothers and fathers, as well as deportation.

Individuals may be arrested, fined, and/or deported for committing any of the following acts: making rude gestures, swearing, touching another person without his/her permission, and making derogatory statements about the UAE, the royal families, the local governments or other people. Travelers should keep in mind the cultural differences among the many people who coexist in the UAE and should be cognizant that unwitting actions, including clothing choices, may invite unwanted attention.

Debt and Financial Crime:  Crimes of financial fraud, including passing bad checks and non-payment or late payment of bills (including hotel bills, hospital bills, traffic or parking fines, and late payment of credit cards, utility bills, etc.), are regarded seriously in the UAE and often result in imprisonment and/or fines. A personal check written as a guarantee for the payment of a personal or business debt may be submitted to a local bank for collection at any time for the full amount of the check. If the account holder does not have sufficient funds, he/she may be charged with passing a bad check. Bail generally is not available to non-residents of the UAE who are arrested for crimes involving fraud. Debtors can be held in prison until their debts are paid or until an agreement is reached between the parties. Passports may be seized by the UAE government to guarantee that debtors settle their cases. Financial cases may be further complicated by debtors being unable to work in the UAE without passports while still being held responsible for their debts.

Photography:  Taking photographs of UAE military facilities, sensitive civilian sites, airports, some beaches, or foreign diplomatic missions – including the U.S. Embassy or Consulate General – may result in arrest, detention, and/or prosecution by local authorities. Travelers should be aware of signs which indicate where photography is prohibited. Note that it is illegal to take photographs of other people without their consent. In addition, engaging in mapping activities, especially mapping that includes the use of GPS equipment, without coordination with UAE authorities, may have the same consequences. (This does not apply to use of publicly available online maps.)

Drone Operation: The flying of drones is prohibited in certain areas and may result in arrest and imprisonment. Individuals should not operate drones without prior approval from local authorities.

Social Media:  The UAE has strict laws regarding use of the internet and social media. Individuals have been arrested and criminally convicted for posting information on social media sites (such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.) that local authorities determined was disturbing to the order of the UAE. Users of social media should be cautious about online posting of information that might be deemed to insult or challenge the local or national government. Individuals should avoid posting insults or derogatory information about governments, institutions, or individuals.

Charity and fundraising activities are closely regulated by the UAE government, and it is against the law to conduct any private fundraising activity online (including those conducted on popular fundraising websites for personal causes).

The UAE National Media Council implemented new rules in 2018 for conducting business as a social media influencer in the UAE. Influencers must apply for trade and e-media licenses in order to promote brands on social media in the UAE. For more information please review the website of the  National Media Council .

Terrorist Organizations List: On November 15, 2014, the UAE government announced a list of 85 groups it considers to be terrorist organizations. Individuals who are associated with groups on the UAE list could be detained at UAE borders, have their assets frozen, and/or be prosecuted for membership in a terrorist organization.

Religious Proselytizing: While individuals are free to worship as they choose, and facilities are available for that purpose, religious proselytizing is not permitted in the UAE. Persons violating this law, even unknowingly, may be imprisoned or deported.

Employment in the UAE: Although it is common for a local sponsor to hold an employee's passport, it is illegal to do so under UAE law. Many contractual or labor disputes can be avoided by clearly establishing all terms and conditions of employment or sponsorship in the labor contract at the beginning of any employment. Should a dispute arise, the UAE Ministry of Labor has established a special department to review and arbitrate labor claims. If an employee leaves his/her job without properly canceling the employment visa, the employer can file charges that can lead to imprisonment, fines, and/or deportation. The U.S. Embassy and Consulate General do not intercede in employment disputes.

U.S. citizens have become involved in commercial or financial disputes that have prompted local firms or courts to take possession of the U.S. citizen's passport, effectively preventing the individual from leaving the UAE. In addition, local firms have been known to file criminal complaints, which may lead not only to travel restrictions but possible criminal penalties, including jail time. A list of local attorneys is available from the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the U.S. Consulate General in Dubai.

Document Authentications: U.S. citizens intending to reside and work in the UAE are generally required by the UAE government to present authenticated personal documents for themselves and accompanying family members such as marriage and birth certificates, adoption and custody decrees, certificates of good behavior from police, and educational documents to include diplomas and certificates. The authentication of U.S. documents is done completely in the United States. For information, contact the State Department’s Office of Authentications or see the U.S. Embassy website . Determining the exact requirements with one’s prospective employer is strongly recommended before arrival in the UAE.

LGBTQI+ Travelers: The UAE government does not accept passports with the “X” gender marker. This applies to travel to, in, or through the UAE. Although the U.S. Embassy and U.S. Consulate General are not aware of any recent arrests or prosecutions for consensual, same-sex relations and cross-dressing, they remain illegal in the UAE. See our LGBTQI+ Travel Information page and section six of our Human Rights report for further details.

Travelers with Disabilities: While in the UAE, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodations somewhat different from what they find in the United States. The law prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities in employment, education, air travel and other transportation, access to health care, or the provision of other state services, and the law is enforced. The UAE government refers to persons with disabilities as “people of determination.” Social acceptance of persons with disabilities in public is as prevalent as in the United States. The most common types of accessibility may include accessible facilities, information, and communication/access to services/ease of movement or access.

The UAE has several modern cities with good services and accessibility of lodging, public transportation, sidewalks, and buildings. Outside of newly constructed areas, accessibility is not comparable to the United States and navigating with a visual impairment or using a wheelchair is difficult due to sidewalks in disrepair or without curb cuts, poor road crossings, and inaccessible buildings and public transport. Public transportation in Dubai is wheelchair accessible. However, the buses that connect Dubai with the other emirates in the UAE are not wheelchair accessible. See the UAE government information on accessible transport and parking facilities. See our  Traveling with Disabilities  page.

Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers .

Students: See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.

COVID-19 Testing: COVID-19 testing is available throughout the UAE at private facilities and official government health centers. Testing is generally paid for by the U.S. citizen. Test results are usually sent via text message or email. Additional information on COVID-19 testing can be found on the SEHA website .

COVID-19 Vaccines:  The COVID-19 vaccine is available for U.S. citizens to receive in the UAE. According to the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention, residents and visitors may receive COVID-19 vaccines at any SEHA vaccination center, but only residents may receive vaccines free of charge. For additional information, please see the Ministry of Health and Prevention website .

Visit the FDA's website to learn more about FDA-approved vaccines in the United States.

Adequate health facilities are available, but health care in rural areas may be below U.S. standards. While most common conditions can be appropriately treated in the UAE, complex medical conditions may be better treated in the United States. Providers may recommend a large number of procedures and tests, some of which may be unnecessary.

  • Hospitals usually require advance payment or proof of adequate insurance before admitting a patient, except in emergencies.
  • Travelers should make efforts to obtain complete information on billing, pricing, and proposed medical procedures before agreeing to any medical care.
  • Patients bear all costs for transfer to or between hospitals.

For emergency services in the UAE, dial  999 .

Ambulance services are widely available.

We do not pay medical bills.  Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas. Most hospitals and doctors overseas do not accept U.S. health insurance.

Medical Insurance:  Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. You may be denied care, even in an emergency, if you are unable to provide a cash deposit up-front. See  our webpage  for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage. Visit the  U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  for more information on type of insurance you should consider before you travel overseas.

We strongly recommend  supplemental insurance  to cover medical evacuation.

Medication:  Many prescription and over-the-counter medications are prohibited in the UAE, and possession of such substances without the appropriate approval is generally treated the same as possession of illegal narcotics. All tourists and residents of the UAE should seek prior approval, via an online form, before carrying certain types of medications, narcotics, or chemical substances to or through the UAE. The service can be accessed directly on the Ministry of Health and Prevention’s  website . Travelers can also find updated lists of prohibited medications requiring prior approval on the same website.

Travelers with prescription medication must have their prescriptions issued by licensed doctors and authenticated by the appropriate authorities. In order for a U.S. prescription to be fully authenticated, it must be authenticated by the Secretary of State of the U.S. state in which the prescribing doctor is licensed, then by the U.S. Department of State, and finally by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC.  Additional information on authentication of documents  can be found on the State Department’s website and on the  Embassy and Consulate General website . Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription.

Further queries may be directed to the  UAE Ministry of Health’s Drug Control Department  in Abu Dhabi.

Vaccinations:  Be up-to-date on all  vaccinations  recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For further health information, go to:

  • World Health Organization
  • U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  (CDC)

Air Quality:  Visit  AirNow Department of State  for information on air quality at U.S. Embassies and Consulates.

  • Air pollution is a significant problem in UAE. Consider the impact seasonal smog and heavy particulate pollution may have on you, and consult your doctor before traveling if necessary.
  • People at the greatest risk from particle pollution exposure include:
  • Infants, children, and teens
  • People over 65 years of age
  • People with lung disease such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema;
  • People with heart disease or diabetes
  • People who work or are active outdoors

The U.S. Embassy and Consulate General maintain a  list of doctors and hospitals . We do not endorse or recommend any specific medical provider or clinic.

Travel and Transportation

Road Conditions and Safety: Traffic accidents are a leading cause of death in the UAE. Drivers often drive at high speeds. Unsafe driving practices are common, especially on inter-city highways. On highways, unmarked speed bumps and drifting sand create additional hazards. Pedestrians should also use great care on the roads of the UAE – over 25 percent of road fatalities are pedestrians.

The police emergency number and ambulance number is 999 . Response time by emergency services is adequate; however, medical personnel emphasize transport of the injured to the hospital rather than treatment on site.

Traffic Laws: Country-wide traffic laws impose stringent penalties for certain violations, particularly driving under the influence of alcohol. In the UAE, there is zero tolerance for driving after consuming alcohol.

Persons involved in an accident in which another party is injured automatically go to jail until the injured person is released from the hospital. Should a person die in a traffic accident, the driver of the other vehicle is liable for payment of compensation for the death (known as "dhiyya"), usually the equivalent of 55,000 U.S. dollars. Even relatively minor accidents may result in lengthy proceedings, during which both drivers may be prohibited from leaving the country.

In order to drive, UAE residents must obtain a UAE driver's license. Foreign driver’s licenses are not recognized for residents of the UAE; however, U.S. citizen visitors who are not UAE residents can drive using a valid driver’s license issued by his or her state. An international driver’s license may be required in some emirates. The UAE recognizes driver's licenses issued by other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states only if the bearer is driving a vehicle registered to the same GCC state. Under no circumstances should anyone drive without a valid license.

If you are in an accident, UAE law mandates that you remain at the scene until authorities arrive. The use of front seat belts is mandatory in the UAE. Driving is on the right side of the road. Speed limits are posted. Making a right turn on a red light is not permitted unless there is a special lane to do so with a yield sign. Parking is not allowed where the curb is painted black and yellow. Digital cameras are used extensively on Emirati roads for registering traffic violations, including speeding. Fines can be substantial and must be paid prior to departure from the UAE. Individuals with outstanding traffic fines may be detained at airport immigration.

Please see our Road Safety page for more information .

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of the United Arab Emirates’ Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of the United Arab Emirates’ air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.

Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to the UAE should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts . Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard Homeport and the NGA Broadcast Warnings website.

For additional travel information

  • Enroll in the  Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)  to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Call us in Washington, D.C. at 1-888-407-4747 (toll-free in the United States and Canada) or 1-202-501-4444 (from all other countries) from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
  • See the  State Department’s travel website  for the  Worldwide Caution  and  Travel Advisories .
  • Follow us on  Twitter  and  Facebook .
  • See  traveling safely abroad  for useful travel tips.

United Arab Emirates was cited in the State Department’s 2023 Annual Report to Congress on International Child Abduction for demonstrating a pattern of non-compliance with respect to international parental child abduction. Review information about International Parental Child Abduction in  United Arab Emirates . For additional IPCA-related information, please see the  International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act ( ICAPRA )  report.

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Vacations in Dubai

Vacations in Dubai

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Cheap Dubai package deals

Most popular dubai flight and hotel deals, all inclusive vacation packages to dubai, last minute vacation packages to dubai, search by stars, search by review score, search by board, search by price, search by freebies, when to book a vacation in dubai, tips for finding dubai package deals.

  • There are loads of types of vacations in Dubai and the cost will depend on what type of trip you’re taking and for how long you’d like to stay. Here are the latest prices for a 3 night trip for 2 travelers: Top vacation $666; Family vacation $593; Romantic vacation $805; Luxury vacation $759; Budget vacation $462.

Why should you book a vacation package to Dubai?

With a good Dubai vacation package, you can experience this Persian Gulf emirate's famous 4X4 Desert Safaris and races, visit the Burj Khalifa, skydive over the world-famous Palm Jumeirah Island or take your kids to the Dubai Sky Polar pass or Dubai Atlantis Aquaven

When should you book a vacation package to Dubai?

The winter season in Dubai is the perfect time to take a vacation on the white sands of the Persian Gulf. From November to March it's the rainy season, which is the only cool period. The rains are short lived, however. Book your stay in advance to get the best Dubai package deals.

Where should you stay in Dubai during your vacation?

For any vacation type in dubai:.

Rove Downtown Dubai "is made for social media." The special hang out lounge features comfy sofas, a wall full of artworks and an eclectic collection of bric-a-brac. Many of the spacious rooms feature interconnecting doors perfect for families, 48-inch interactive TV screens, sofa beds for extra guests, a mini fridge, secure safe and in-room coffee and tea stations.

Located at the further end of Dubai Marina, Grosvenor House is a sophisticated twin tower hotel designed with marble floors, plush carpets, and mahogany furnishings. It's famous for offering the best Asian spa, heated pools, free spacious parking, a superb club lounge, airport transfers and shuttle bus services, and more.

For family vacations in Dubai:

The JA Jebel Ali Beach Hotel is a family-friendly resort located on the shores of the Persian Gulf. It offers a 9-hole golf course and horse riding. The breakfast-inclusive stays give your family access to temperature controlled swimming pools, shuttle bus services, and airport transportation.

Popularly known as the "House By The Sea," the Beit Al Bahar stand-alone villas offer complete privacy for your family. The hotel offers bed and breakfast, shuttle bus services, dry cleaning services, WiFi and room service, and is located in Jumeirah St next to the Wild Wadi Waterpark.

For romantic vacations in Dubai:

Located at the entrance to Jumeirah Island, the FIVE Palm Jumeirah Dubai Hotel is the perfect hideout for couples who want to reignite their passion and create their own epic stories at the beach while sharing inspiring moments. The hotel has a contemporary architectural design, has shuttle bus services, airport transfers, hot tub and air conditioning in all rooms, as well as plenty of parking space.

Atlantis, the Palm Hotel is a gem of sheer beauty located off Crescent Road. Atlantis provides breakfast, airport transportation, and dry cleaning services. The award-winning chef restaurants, aquarium and waterpark, and the Ocean Deluxe rooms are a must experience for couples.

For luxury vacations in Dubai:

With rotating beds that have a view of the city, the Burj Al Arab is the most luxurious hotel in Dubai. The opulent interiors are designed with towering golden pillars and stairs made of marble and gold. The hotel's Dubai travel package gives you the opportunity to arrive by helicopter, experience VIP services and have a 24-hour private butler.

The one and only Palm Dubai offers peace and tranquility in Dubai's breathtaking western portion of the Palm. Enjoy the bed and breakfast, Moorish and Andalusian design terraces and balconies or a suite with a private plunge pool.

For budget vacations in Dubai:

City Max Hotel Bur Dubai offers value for money comfort with breakfast, in-room refrigerators, access to an outdoor pool and free parking included in its Dubai vacation packages

Located a few meters from Dubai Creek, the 4-acre Arabian Park Hotel offers free and ample parking, an outdoor pool, bar/lounge, quiet surroundings, a shuttle bus service, and transport to and from the airport.

Where to stay in Dubai

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Headout Blog

Like a local | 17 Dubai travel hacks for first-timers

Things to do in Dubai Dubai Travel Guide Travel Tips And Hacks Dubai

Not so long ago, UAE barely surfaced in bucket lists for globe trotters. Within a matter of decades, the middle-eastern country has given the world not one, but two of the most luxurious destinations for a vacation. Currently, Dubai happens to be one of the most popular haunts for all kinds of travelers. The city has done a commendable job in developing the city to fit the tastes and preferences of people belong to any demographic. As such, you may require a little help to curate your trip to your liking. Read our guide below find useful hacks and money-saving tips for your trip to Dubai.

Dubai Essentials

Starting with the essentials, here's what you must know before getting to Dubai.

Language Arabic

Time zone GMT+4

Country Code +971

Socket Type C, D and G

Currency AED

Best Time To Visit Dubai

There are a number of factors that need to be considered before deciding on a time to visit Dubai. If there is one thing that is not ideal in Dubai, it is the weather. Summer in Dubai spans from May to September and sees extremely hot weather. Winter sees better weather but also experiences a sharp spike in the tourist footfall. If you had to pin it down to specific months of the year, February and November are the best times to visit Dubai. However, it must be noted that Dubai is never completely devoid of tourists. Here is a complete guide on the Best Time to Visit Dubai .

dubai in Jan

Dubai Travel Tips 101 - A First Timer's Holy Grail

Below are the tips and hacks you're here for. Read on and thank me later!

#1 Grab a Go Dubai Card with no second thoughts

The Go Dubai Card is the smartest investment you can make upon reaching Dubai. This card allows you to save on the admission rates to many of Dubai’s top attractions. The card currently includes access to the top of Burj Khalifa, Dubai sightseeing tours, and many other activities that would otherwise cost you dearly.

Read all about creating a money-saving itinerary using the Go Dubai Card

#2 Let your belongings be

Dubai is one of the safest cities to be in. The government administers the city with an iron fist and as such, the rate of crime is negligible. So you can stop worrying about your belongings and enjoy the sights and attractions of the city.

#3 Know the Dubai Airport well

Fittingly, the Dubai International Airport is huge in every sense of the term. It will take you quite some time to get from one part of the airport to the other. Do not plan any activities immediately after arriving. Also, leave for the airport well in advance to board your flight.

Here's all you need to know about Airport transfers in Dubai .

#4 Dubai's not as conservative as you think

Dubai Travel Tips - First Timers

You may have heard horrific stories of foreigners being locked up for PDA, public inebriation and homosexuality. All that said, Dubai is way more liberal than most Islamic countries. There are no concrete laws in Dubai that forbid anybody from wearing any kind of clothes but being a country with conservative values, it is preferable and respectful to wear clothes that cover the shoulders and knees. The nightlife is quite happening and you'll find expats and tourists drinking and canoodling in the many bars and clubs in the city. There's even a healthy gay community in Dubai! As long as you steer clear of cultural insensitivities, you're good to go in Dubai.

Dubai local's guide

The ONLY guide you need to explore the best of Dubai

#5 make inquiries about your medications.

There are some substances that may be legal in your country but are forbidden in the UAE. Most notable amongst them are medicines containing codeine or opiate ingredients. Visit your doctor beforehand to know the composition of your medications and change your prescription if required.

#6 Limit your liquor to bars & indoors

UAE being an Islamic nation follows the decrees dictated by the religion quite closely. Alcohol is not permitted outside the licensed restaurants and bars. You cannot be seen inebriated in public. A wide variety of drugs are also illegal in Dubai and their use is a punishable offense. Even electronic cigarettes are confiscated upon arrival.

#7 Check the calendar for Islamic events

During Islamic holidays like Eid, Ramazan etc, most happenings in the city are slim and limited. This may also affect the transport system within the city. In special cases, like during the holy month of Ramadan, food and beverage are not available before sunset. Plan your trip and daily sightseeing with these in mind.

#8 Don't forget to check out the Spas

Dubai Travel Tips - First Timers

Image Courtesy : Jumeirah

Not many people know Dubai for its spas, but once you go to one of the city’s spas, you will know why this point exists. The luxury hotels of Dubai have these spas that will change your opinion of spas forever. You can give the beauty clinics in the malls a miss.

Check out the top rated spas in Dubai

#9 Malls have a lot more than just shops in Dubai

While malls are mostly earmarked as a place to grab some food and shop, Dubai’s malls are way beyond this limited identity. Most malls have fun activities like gaming zones, ski slopes, aquariums or something that is definitely worth sticking around for. Moreover, if you thought that shopping at a Dubai mall would be a routine experience, you are wrong.

Here's all that you can do in Dubai Mall with this all access Dubai Big Ticket .

#10 Shed your inhibitions when eating out

Possibly the biggest issue that most people face when traveling to another country for the first time is getting accustomed to the food. In Dubai, being conservative when picking your food can only mean that you are losing out. Apart from the delicious local dishes, the city also serves Iranian, Filipino, Yemeni, Bangladeshi, Ethiopian, Pakistani, Afghan food to name a few.

dubai travel ad

Top 23 Instagrammable Places in Dubai

#11 here's one for the shopaholics.

Dubai Travel Tips - First Timers

If shopping is your primary agenda in Dubai, plan your visit during the Dubai Shopping Festival (January) or Dubai Summer Surprises (July) for the best deals and heftiest discounts. Name it and you'll find it on sale during these months.

Read our complete guide to Dubai Shopping Festival and plan your shopping expedition better!

#12 Weekends in Dubai start on Friday

Dubai Travel Tips - First Timers

While the rest of the world powers through Monday blues, those in Dubai have Sunday blues. This is because weekends in Dubai are Friday & Saturday, with the weekday resuming on Sunday. So shift your sunday brunch plans to Friday brunch plans because that is how this part of the world works.

#13 Dubai's not a city for walking

Those who love exploring a city on foot will be disappointed because this is one city that is explored better in a car. For starters, the heat is unbearable and secondly, the city is not designed for pedestrians. While it is pedestrian friendly, you probably won't feel safe walking on a footpath flanked by cars swooshing past 120km/hr. The only places you'll feel safe and comfortable walking are the malls which make up for the lack of footpaths!

#14 Should you tip?

Tipping isn’t norm in Dubai, but it is a common practice. Taxi drivers don’t expect to receive a tip, but luggage carriers and supermarket baggers are given a small tip for their services by most locals.

#15 Nightlife in Dubai is actually LIT

While most people may be apprehensive about Dubai's nightlife, you must know that Dubai's nightlife is vibrant and happening with a top-notch choice of bars, nightclubs and restaurants to lounge in and party. Parties often go on till 3:00 AM, so put on your best heels and party the night away while in Dubai. Yacht cruises in Dubai are also a great way to drink, dine and party; a common extravagance among locals.

Check out these clubs for the most happening nightlife in Dubai .

#16 Discover Dubai beyond the skyscrapers

Dubai Travel Tips - First Timers

Dubai has a rich history, and the city's culture is absolutely fascinating if you scratch beneath all that gold. Make your way to the spice and gold souqs that fringe the Dubai Creek and haggle your way through turquoise trinkets from Iran, spices from Morocco and silver from Oman. Gold prices in Dubai are relatively cheaper, hence the gold souq is a great place to spend some big money if you're interested in buying some.

#17 Camel Races are a treat

Dubai Travel Tips - First Timers

Image Courtesy : Timeout Dubai

Camel racing is not so common in most parts of the world, but it Dubai's favourite sport and a real treat for one who has never seen camels racing before. Did you know there are no actual jockeys on these camels, but rather small robots that sit on top of the animals and are controlled by someone nearby!!! The camel-racing tracks are massive that you can barely see the participants from your grandstand perch, but this one makes for a great experience.

Tips For Saving Money On Transportation In Dubai

  • Book your flight tickets to Dubai tickets well in advance to get the best prices. Not to forget, searching for flights on incognito is a good tactic to avoid cookies marking up prices based on your previous searches.
  • Take a flight to Abu Dhabi instead of Dubai as the flight rates to Abu Dhabi are cheaper. Direct buses are available from Abu dhabi to Dubai and you'll reach in less than 1.5 hours.
  • Grab a NOL Travel Card soon after reaching Dubai as cash is not accepted on most public transport modes, except cabs. NOL Card also saves some money as it is a unified payment mode valid over a long period of time. Check out this steal combo - Dubai NOL Metro Card + SIM Card
  • Metro is the cheapest and the fastest way of traveling through the city with tickets starting from AED 4.
  • Buses are pricier than metros and take longer, but they have better connectivity.
  • Refrain from using cabs in Dubai as they are extremely expensive and can run up your costs.
  • Use the ferries to traverse through the Dubai Marina. This mode of transport adds an element of sightseeing to the experience, especially after sundown.
  • Taking an abra ride across the Dubai Creek is a great way to experience the city's historic mode of transport. A one-way ticket per person costs only AED 50, economical and exciting!

Tips for Saving Money on Food in Dubai

  • After you've had your fill with the high-end bougie restaurants in Dubai, walk into the bustling alleys and devour a plate of shawarma and kebab. Not only is it cheaper, it promises an explosion of flavours and authenticity.
  • Ordering takeout in Dubai is not an expensive affair. The online delivery market leaders are UberEats, Zomato delivery and Talabat so feel free to laze at home and order in food at no extra costs( except a nominal delivery fee)
  • One of the cheapest and most delicious options for food available in Dubai is shawarma. It is available with different types of meat ( and vegetarian option of Falafel) and makes for a filling meal.
  • Choose Dubai packaged tours from Headout that offer a bundled meal option to save some more money on your trip.

More Tips To Save Money In Dubai

  • Use online coupons for meals and other deals to save a considerable amount on the actual rate. Zomato Gold, Groupon, Headout Offers are a few you must consider.
  • Choose a hotel close to a metro stop so that you can avail the cheapest and the fastest mode of transport in Dubai.
  • Use the city’s couch-surfing community to save on accommodations.
  • Skip drinking at restaurants and bars outside the happy hours as the normal price of alcohol at bars and restaurants are exorbitantly higher than the actual selling price.
  • If you're staying in Dubai for longer than 3 days, a service apartment or Airbnb works out to be cheaper than a hotel. That way you can even cook your own food and save the hefty service charges that hotels levy.
  • Use the Smart Palms that can be found in the streets of Dubai. These artificial structures that look like palm trees have charging ports and provide free WiFi.

Top Things To Do in Dubai

With your itinerary all sorted, here are our top favourites in Dubai. If any of these are missing from your itinerary, make sure you squeeze them in! There are a few recommended tours for each attraction, so if you haven't grabbed tickets as yet, now would be a great time.

1 Burj Khalifa

The Burj Khalifa, one of the most recognized sights in the world, is located in the center of Dubai. With a height of 2,717 feet and 162 floors, this architectural marvel holds the Guinness World Record for being the tallest building in the world. Visitors may go all the way to the top of this engineering wonder and gaze upon the stunning views below.

dubai travel ad

2 Dubai Frame

The Frame of Dubai, a stunning architectural marvel with two towers and a 93m long bridge linking them at the top, contains a void in the center rising from Dubai's Zabeel Park. The Frame of Dubai was built to "frame" Dubai's transition from a simple fishing village to the gleaming cosmopolitan metropolis it is today.

dubai travel ad

3 Ski Dubai

Avoid the heat of Dubai by going skiing in UAE's winter wonderland, Ski Dubai! The first indoor ski resort in the Middle East is located at the Mall of the Emirates. Ski Dubai has a 22,500-square-meter covered area with real snow all year that may be visited.

dubai travel ad

4 Dubai Desert Safari

The most fascinating of these excursions is the Dubai desert safari. After all, what can be more thrilling than a 4x4 vehicle journey into the adjacent desert? Dune bashing, fat bike riding, four-wheeling, and sand boarding are just a few of the interesting activities that make up a typical Dubai desert safari.

dubai travel ad

5 Dubai Dhow Cruise

Dhow cruises are famous for their unusual sightseeing and dining experiences, as they cruise the waterways of Dubai Creek and the contemporary Dubai Marina. Sailing past prominent monuments while enjoying a delicious meal is an experience you will never forget.

dubai travel ad

6 Aquaventure Waterpark

The Atlantis, The Palm Resort is located on the outer ring of the famed Palm Islands. The Aquaventure Waterpark, which is located within its borders, is the largest waterpark in all of the Middle East and Europe. Experience record-breaking water rides and slides, swim with sharks and rays, or simply relax on beautiful beaches while visiting an underwater world.

dubai travel ad

7 Ferrari World

Ferrari World Dubai is an indoor theme park located in the United Arab Emirates. The park is operated by Meraas Holding and features rides, attractions and shows based on the Ferrari brand.The park opened to the public on 4 November 2016. It is located on Yas Island, which also houses Abu Dhabi International Airport and Yas Marina Circuit.

dubai travel ad

8 Wild Wadi Water Park

The United Arab Emirates is home to some of the world's best water parks, including thrilling slides, one-of-a-kind rides, and relaxing rivers. While selecting a favorite may be difficult, Wild Wadi stands out for many people.

dubai travel ad

9 Yas Waterworld

Yas Waterworld quickly rose to become one of the world's top 10 water parks. It is one of Abu Dhabi's favorite activities and serves as one of the Middle East's largest water parks with a 37-acre footprint.

dubai travel ad

10 XLine Dubai Marina

The Xline Dubai Marina Zip Line is a thrilling journey that combines speed with a breathtaking view. Get on board and enjoy the rush as you plummet over 80 feet from the Amwaj Towers, across the Marina, and straight into the Dubai Marina Mall. Ride alone or with someone special in this one-of-a-kind zip-line adventure.

dubai travel ad

How long should I stay in Dubai to make the best of my visit?

Depending on the kind of things you want to do and your budget, anywhere from 3 days to 7 days makes for an ideal time to explore the city. You can check out our carefully curated 3 day Dubai itinerary and 7 day Dubai itinerary .

What are the things I should avoid doing in Dubai?

Some of the things you must definitely avoid in Dubai are cross-dressing, drinking in public, bringing pork into the country, public display of affection and eating in public during the month of Ramadan. For a more exhaustive list of things that you must avoid in Dubai, head here .

Can I drink the tap water in Dubai?

Tap water in the UAE has been rated safe to drink but only as long as tanks and pipes storing and bringing water to the home are clean and in good condition. However, bottled mineral water is better preferred over tap water.

Is there anyway I can budget my Dubai trip?

You can foresee the average costs for your Dubai trip by using the budgetyourtrip tool.

How much is the customary tip in Dubai?

While most restaurants add service charge on the final bill, it is still common among most diners in Dubai to tip the service staff. A figure between 10 - 15% is customary, but this is dependent on the quality of service.

Can I hail an Uber in Dubai?

Yes! You can hail an Uber in Dubai or use the official city taxis (Dubai Taxis Corporation). Taxis fares in Dubai are cheap when compared to western cities and drivers are known to be courteous with reasonable English. The best way to know the fare for the official city taxis would be to download the DTC app and type in your origin and destination .

Is Dubai safe for solo women travelers?

Dubai is one of the safest places to travel in the world, and naturally safe for solo women travelers as well. A majority of the places are well lit after dark and police patrolling is well in place. Here's a quick guide to traveling solo in Dubai that will answer all your questions!

What are the video calling services allowed in Dubai?

All Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services like Whatsapp, Viber, Skype and FaceTime that allow free calling via an internet connection, are banned in the UAE. Note, their messaging platforms are permissible.

Botim is the only VoIP service that is legal in Dubai. It is a paid service and is integrated with your SIM card. It costs AED 50/Month and provides unlimited voice and video calls. To know more about Botim head here .

Do tourists need alcohol license Dubai? 

Tourists to Dubai can buy their liquor at any of the 17 designated outlets of Mercantile and Marketing International (MMI), an authorized retailer of alcohol and issuer of liquor licenses to residents as well. This 30-day license is issued to tourists free of cost and only requires one to sign a form affirming their tourist status and an acknowledgment undertaking of the rules and regulations with regards to purchasing, transporting and consumption of alcohol in Dubai.

Know more about the Tourist alcohol license here .

See more Dubai. Save more money.

Save AED 20 on your first booking with Headout when you use promo code GODUBAI .

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Lakshmi Menon

Born to parents bit by the wander bug, Lakshmi calls her love for travel "hereditary and habitual". Perpetually ensconced with a book in her hand and a mug of coffee in the other, she has been to over 15 countries in her 23 years of existence and is currently saving miles and money for her solo trip to Iceland. Always hustling towards the least trodden path, she has encountered some wonderful people during her escapades and if you ever meet her, she won't stop gushing about them.

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Dubai Nol Card: Everything Tourists Need to Know Paying for Dubai’s Public Transport & More!

New to dubai and looking to navigate the nol card system for public transport.

You’ve come to the right place, as we will talk you through everything you need to know about this contactless smart card so you can hit the ground running when you reach Dubai.

If you intend to use public transport in Dubai, you will need a Nol card . Nol in Arabic means fare.

Nol or a Nol card is a rechargeable chip card. You need a Nol to travel on Dubai’s RTA (Roads and Transport Authority) Metro, buses, taxis and trams. Your Nol is not only for Dubai Metro tickets, it can also be used for many other services in Dubai, including public park entry, parking meters, museums, and even paying for groceries at convenience stores!

There are several Nol card choices, though, which we know can confuse newcomers. We will talk you through all your Nol card options, zones for ticket prices, and what you should expect to pay, which is essential for getting around in Dubai .

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What Types of Nol Card are there?

Which nol card suits my needs best, nol fares compares by nol card, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual passes with nol card, how to use the dubai nol card, more frequently asked dubai nol card questions, more on dubai public transport.

There are several different types of Nol cards. Dubai Nol cards come in:

  • Red Nol ticket

Silver Nol Card

  • Gold Nol Card
  • Blue Nol Card

Who needs a Nol Card?

All passengers aged five years and over need a Nol to use public transportation in Dubai.

The only exemption for paying fares in Dubai is “People of Determination”- the name given locally to people with disabilities who can use public transport for free. They must, however, apply for a personal nol card – more below!

How much is a Nol card in Dubai?

The physical card and ticket prices depend on what colour card you initially buy. 

A Silver Nol, for example, costs AED 25 ($6.80), of which AED 6 is for the card, and AED 19 is a credit on your card, whereas a Red Nol only costs AED 2 but has no pre-loaded credit – more below !

How much does each Metro trip in Dubai cost?

The tariff you pay per trip on Dubai public transportation depends on which card type you use and the zones travelled.

Dubai Metro Zones

Dubai is divided into seven zones. The number of zones you travel on a single journey will determine the rate that will be taken from your Nol Card. These zones apply for travelling by Metro & Dubai Tram . To keep it easy, there are only three rates.

  • Tier 1 / 1 Zone : travel within 1 zone or less than 3 km, crossing two zones
  • Tier 2 / 2 Zones : starts in one zone and ends in a neighbouring zone
  • Tier 3 / 3+ Zone s: crosses three or more zones

The amount you pay per journey is automatically calculated when you tap in and out at stations/stops.

Dubai Metro Map

How can I get a Nol card in Dubai?

There are several different ways you can purchase your Nol card.

  • You can purchase from ticket offices in all Dubai Metro stations and some Dubai Bus stations using a debit or credit card, or cash.
  • Dubai’s Nol Silver Cards and Nol Red Tickets can be purchased from some Ticket Vending Machines.
  • You can also purchase Nol Silver Cards in Dubai from RTA Customer Service Centres and RTA-authorised sales agents.
  • Nol blue cards can be purchased online only.
  • NEW – buy your No card online using the Nol Pay Application.

So, with the option of four different Nol cards (Dubai Metro cards, which can be used for multiple forms of transport, including Dubai bus and tram), which type of card is best for tourists?

Most tourists will opt for Red or Silver Nol cards – here’s what you need to know about each.

Nol Red Ticket

The Nol Red Ticket is a paper-based ticket (card) that can be purchased from ticket machines for only AED 2. It is an anonymous card (i.e., it doesn’t need registering) and is best for occasional users of the Dubai Metro, including tourists.

You must then load credit onto your Red Nol Ticket (Red Nol Card). It can be loaded with up to 10 Single Trips or 5-day passes.

Nol Red Ticket key features

  • Low ticket price – only 2 AED upfront ($0.54 USD)
  • The minimum balance to recharge is 7.50 AED
  • Valid for 90 days
  • Can be bought from any ticket vending machine at any time
  • Allows you to pay for the exact trip only

Example costs with a Red Nol Ticket

You will need to load these amounts onto your Nol Red card before using the Metro

  • 1-day regular pass 20 AED (for use on one type of transport only)
  • 1 day pass gold pass 40 AED
  • 1 zone 4 AED
  • 2 zones 6 AED
  • 3+ zones 8.50 AED

The Nol Silver Card is the perfect Nol starter card for regular use with an e-purse that can be loaded with up to AED 1000.

The Silver Nol Card costs 25 AED upfront, which includes 19 AED e-purse value, and the ticket holder is anonymous, i.e. you don’t need to register your card.

Silver Nol Card key features:

  • Automatically calculates the cost of your trip and deducts it from your e-purse
  • Valid on all modes of transport
  • Maximum journey duration 180 minutes
  • The minimum balance is 7.50 AED
  • Valid for five years

Example fares for the Silver Nol Card

Although the Silver Nol is 4 AED more than the Red Nol Ticket, you get cheaper fares on the Silver card. You can only travel in regular class:

  • 1 zone 3 AED
  • 2 zones 5 AED
  • 3+ zones 7.50 AED

Generally speaking, the Silver Nol will be your best option as a tourist if you are in Dubai for several days and intend to catch public transportation on several occasions.

Nol Gold Card

The Nol Gold Card allows the holder to travel in luxury and comfort in the Gold Class Cabin of the Metro. It is also an anonymous Nol card with the same features as the Silver Card, but with the added benefit of giving you privileged access to the Dubai Metro’s Gold Class seats for a premium fare.

The Gold Nol Card costs 25 AED upfront, which includes 19 AED e-purse value.

Gold Nol Card key features:

  • Access to Gold Class cabins on the Metro & Tram
  • Valid on all modes of transport (premium seating only on Metro & Tram)
  • Valid for 5 years

Example fares on a Gold Nol Card

  • 1 zone 6 AED
  • 2 zones 10 AED
  • 3+ zones 15 AED

If you prefer a bit of comfort and space on your journey then the Gold Nol could be your best choice, though note it does not guarantee you a seat if the Metro is busy.

Nol Blue Card (Personal Nol cards)

The Nol Blue Card is a secure, personalized smart card that is best for daily commuters. You can use the Blue Nol card on all types of public transport that are part of the Nol Card scheme.

The major difference between Blue and Silver is that Blue Nol cardholders can enjoy a secure card balance if their card gets lost or stolen.

The Blue Nol Card costs 70 AED upfront, which includes 20 AED e-purse value. You can load your registered Blue Nol Card with up to 5000 AED in value.

Blue Nol Card key features

  • Secure card balance if your card gets lost/stolen
  • Personalized with a photo
  • Variety of secure online services, as well as SMS & email notifications to keep you posted
  • Students, Senior Citizens, or social welfare holders pay 50% of the regular fare

The Metro fares are the same as you’d pay for a gold or silver card but with the added benefit of securing your balance. You can top up larger sums immediately without fearing losing your balance.

You can apply for personal Nol cards online or through the Nol Pay application.

Water Bus Fares

The Water Bus in Dubai Marina charges a flat 2 AED per journey.

In addition to the single-use fares above, frequent travellers on the Dubai Metro or other RTA services can pay upfront for the following fares (Students, Senior Citizens and Concession holders pay 50%):

NB Anonymous Silver/Gold Cards can only apply for a 7-day pass; For anything longer, you need to register your travel pass product

7-Day regular pass

  • 1 zone 50 AED
  • 2 Zones 80 AED
  • 3+ Zones 110 AED

7-Day Gold pass

  • 1 zone 100 AED
  • 2 Zones 160 AED
  • 3+ Zones 220 AED

30-Day regular pass

  • 1 zone 140 AED
  • 2 Zones 230 AED
  • 3+ Zones 350 AED

30-Day Gold pass

  • 1 zone 280 AED
  • 2 Zones 460 AED
  • 3+ Zones 700 AED

90-Day regular pass

  • 1 zone 330 AED
  • 2 Zones 550 AED
  • 3+ Zones 830 AED

90-Day Gold pass

  • 1 zone 660 AED
  • 2 Zones 1100 AED
  • 3+ Zones 1660 AED

365-day regular pass

  • 1 zone 1060 AED
  • 2 Zones 1770 AED
  • 3+ Zones 2670 AED

365-day Gold pass

  • 1 zone 2120 AED
  • 2 Zones 3540 AED
  • 3+ Zones 5340 AED

So, now you’ve sorted out what type of Dubai metro card you need, how does it actually work?

  • Make sure you have at least 15 AED on your Nol card before you use it
  • Place your Nol card on the card reader to “check-in”
  • Wait for the beep or green light to know you’re successful and pass through the gate/entrance
  • At the end of your journey, place your card on the e-reader and wait for the beep or green light, then pass through the gate
You can now use the Nol Pay application too ( Apple | Google Play ) as a virtual card. If you have uploaded your Nol card information you can make a single tap with your phone in place of a physical card or ticket.

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Topping Up Your Nol Card

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When the balance is running low on your Dubai travel card, there are now several ways you can top up:

  • At any RTA ticket machine or ticket counter (Note that the minimum top up now at a ticket office is AED 20)
  • Download the Nol Pay Application and top up with your debit or credit card
  • Online through the RTA website
If you’ll be using Apps and otherline services during your time in Dubai, make sure you have a Dubai Sim card and enough data!

This depends on what type of Nol card (Dubai Metro ticket/Dubai bus ticket) you want to purchase. There are different price categories for one-off/infrequent users (Red Nol), regular users (Silver Nol), and those who want to travel in a premium cabin (Gold Nol). You can also get a registered ‘Blue Nol’ – though you’ll pay the same fare on a Blue Nol as Silver or Gold, depending on what fare type you top your card up with.

You can purchase your Nol for the first time from any Metro station kiosk or vending machine, as well as many bus stops and tram stations. If you are arriving in Dubai from DXB, there are plentiful ticket vending machines at the Metro station, and staff are on hand to help.

You can top up your Nol card at Nol recharge stations found all over the city, as well as online via the RTA website or with s’hail app .

Dubai Metro Fares are calculated not only on zones but also on the type of ticket you are using. Use the price guidelines above and keep a minimum balance of 7.50 AED on your card (NB, that 7.50 AED can be used on your last journey)

Whilst a Nol card can be used to pay for taxis in Dubai , taxis still accept cash and card payments other than Nol. If taxis are the only transport you will use in Dubai, there’s no need to go out of your way to get a Nol card unless you’d like one for paying for park entry, shops and other handy features.

Blue Nol card is the only card that allows you to apply for a refund. It is wise to use any of the other electronic cards to top up only to the amount you think you’ll need to use.

You don’t have to be a resident to benefit from the registered Blue Nol card. If you are a frequent Dubai visitor or think you’ll be heavily using the card during your trip to Dubai, then it would make sense to go to the extra effort of having a Blue Nol card registered, though be mindful you’d need an address to collect it from.

You can use your Red Nol Ticket to pay as you go for use on regular or Gold; just make sure you top up the right amount and bear in mind Gold tickets cost more on a Red Nol Ticket than if you outright buy a Gold Nol Card.

You can use your Red, Silver or Gold Nol card for the women’s and children’s cabins on the Metro; it is the same price as other regular pass cabins, just designated for families only. It is clearly marked with pink lines at one end of the train (front or rear, depending on which way the train is going). The only cabin that needs a different fare is Gold.

There are now over 2000 outlets in Dubai that allow tap and pay with Nol card; you can find them listed here. You can also use your Nol at Public parks that have a small entry fee.

Previously, the Palm Monorail operated completely separate from the RTA system. Recently, the relevant authorities in Dubai changed this so that Nol cards could be used to pay the separate fare for the privately-operated Monorail – learn more about the Palm monorail here .

You can use the Nol card to pay your fare on the Intercity buses that run from Dubai to Abu Dhabi ). You cannot, however, use your Nol on Abu Dhabi’s public transport system, you would need a Hafialt Smart Card – learn more here .

The best place to start is the RTA website , or telephone queries (within the UAE) to 800 90 90

We hope this Nol Card/Dubai metro pass guide will help you navigate your way across Dubai. It is a big, sprawling city, but using the Metro can really help tourists get between the key attractions , and compared to other worldwide public transport systems, it is relatively low-cost, clean and easy to use.

Fares are correct as of our last review in July 2023. Please confirm pricing for 2024 before purchasing with the RTA directly.

Planning your travels around Dubai, you may also be interested in:

  • Our complete guide on how to transit between Dubai and Abu Dhabi (hint: there’s no Metro all the way!)
  • How water buses and water taxi work in Dubai Marina
  • Explore Palm Jumeirah on the Monorail (now connected to the Nol card system!)
  • Everything you need to know about catching a taxi in Dubai
  • Here’s what you need to know about the new Blue Line Metro in Dubai

Before you go… More important things you should know when planning a trip to Dubai

  • Pop into our essential planning information page, it includes everything you need to know about getting around Dubai , a handy guide on what to pack , and top tips for first-timers on the do’s and don’ts, laws, and customs to be aware of.
  • Check out this incredible list of 150+ places you should visit when you’re in Dubai .
  • Pick up a Dubai Pass from iVenture or a Go City Dubai Pass to save up to 50% on top Dubai attractions.
  • Don’t forget to pack your travel insurance !!!
  • Discover the best areas to stay in Dubai , or bag a bargain on your accommodation here:

Take me back to the Dubai essential planning information home page

Please note we are not a travel agency. This site is a travel blog to help newcomers to the UAE and transit passengers self plan their trip, we cannot book your flights, hotels, visas or connections for you. We may make a small commission if you click on any of our recommendation links . Dubai Travel Planner

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Greetings, please I wish to enquire if a tourist on a tourist Visa are obligated to pay fines levied on nol bus card upon exiting the UAE, thanks

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I’m afraid we don’t know the exact answer to this. If you were fined in person and they took any form of ID from you then you could run into serious trouble when leaving the country, no matter how small the amount they take unpaid debts very seriously here in the UAE.

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Hi I wish to inquire that if a person travels in bus without nol bus card and also have only visit visa then I want to know that is there any fine if it is then how can he pay without any slip

We do not known the exact consequences, but given traveling on public transport without a valid ticket is against the law anywhere in the world, why would you do it? Even a tourist can be fined for breaking the law. If you have an outstanding fine on leaving the UAE you will be held by border police until payment is made – we understand cash and credit card payment are accepted. If you cannot pay, a travel ban can be applied. Simply put, don’t break any laws in Dubai as consequences can be severe.

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Hi, Is a Silver nol cart for personal use or can pay with it for two or more people at the same trip?

Hi Peter, each passenger over 5 years old needs their own Nol card to go through the gates at Metro stations, unfortunately there’s no card sharing.

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If you need to keep 7.50 on your NOL card does that mean you have to have 7.50 unused on it at the end of your Dubai trip or can you use the 7.50 on your last public transport trip?

Our understanding is you need this when you start your last journey, so you do not exceed the maximum fare for that trip.

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een nol silver 7 dagenpas (110 aed), kan ik hiermee onbeperkt reizen gedurende 7 dagen of enkel tot de 110 aed opgebruikt is ?

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