Everything You Need to Know Before You Visit Dubai

Published September 27th, 2021 - 06:00 GMT
Dubai skyline
Dubai is a worldwide travel and tourism destination all year long. (Shutterstock: Anastasiia Vasylyk)

For about two decades now, "Visit Dubai" has been amongst the favorite travel destinations on tourists' bucket lists, which is understandable given the many marvelous spots that make the city a great place to explore.

Tourists who would love to enjoy every aspect of a tourist trip in one experience often end up choosing to travel to Dubai, for the big city has something to offer to everyone. 

Generally speaking, Dubai is known as a business hub, probably the biggest and most important in the Middle East. But for years, Dubai has been offering its visitors a countless number of experiences, whether in terms of hotels, beaches, restaurants and pubs, amusement parks, or desert gateways.

In terms of a tourist experience, Dubai has it all. Even though it is not the capital city of the United Arab Emirates, Dubai has become the most prominent city in the country, kind of like the New York of the UAE.

Visa to Visit Dubai

Dubai's visa policies are quite similar to that of the UAE. Citizens of many countries around the world are exempt from the long process of applying for a visa before traveling to Dubai, rather the UAE welcomes them for visa-free visits for up to 30-days. Citizens of all other five GCC countries get to enjoy this free pass to the UAE; Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Qatar. 

Another group of countries also enjoy an easy travel process to Dubai, as UAE authorities can stamp their visas on their passports upon arrival without extra charges. Those countries include; Andorra, Australia,  Brunei, Canada, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Kazakhstan, Macau, Malaysia, Mauritius, Monaco, New Zealand, Republic of Ireland, San Marino, Singapore, Ukraine, United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, United States of America, and the Vatican City.

Citizens of other countries will have to apply for UAE visas through UAE embassies and consulates in their respective countries so they can enjoy the travel experience to Dubai.

Dubai Visa Types

Travelers to Dubai can arrive at the city through one of 9 different types of visas; Tourist visa, Service Visa, Visit Visa, Employment Visa, Residence Visa, Student Visa, Golden Visa, Green Visa, and of course the Transit Visa.

Each type of visa to the UAE has a different set of requirements that can be easily met by the right traveler.

Visiting Dubai During COVID-19

Due to the health risks varying in different parts of the world and in order for authorities in Dubai to keep the virus outbreak under control in the country with one of the world's highest rates of vaccinations, travelers to Dubai might need negative PCR tests before and upon arrival to the country.

For citizens of Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Uganda, Vietnam, Zambia, travelers need a valid negative COVID‑19 PCR test certificate with a QR code issued within 48 hours prior to departure from an approved health facility in addition to a rapid PCR test report with a QR code for a test conducted at the departure airport within six hours of departure.

Currently, all passengers traveling to Dubai from any other country must have proof of a negative COVID‑19 RT‑PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before departure, except for travel from Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Uganda, Vietnam, Zambia (for which specific requirements are stated above).

Travelers to Dubai from Afghanistan, Angola, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Brazil, Cambodia, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Georgia, Ghana, Greece, Guinea, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Ivory Coast, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Morocco, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Poland, Philippines, Qatar, Rwanda, Russia, Senegal, Slovakia, Somaliland, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Zimbabwe will require a PCR test on arrival too.

Be Mindful of Dubai's Culture

When visiting Dubai, tourists should be careful to show respect for the local culture and the country's rules. While Dubai is the most cosmopolitan and open area in the UAE and probably in all of the GCC, it is still important to know some general rules to follow, to guarantee to have an ultimately great experience.

- While there is no official dress code in the UAE, everybody is expected to dress modestly when in public. Both men and women are advised to not wear traditional Emirati attire unless they have been invited to do so by a local, which usually only happens during safari trips to the nearby deserts.

- PDA is not common in Dubai at all. Tourists are usually advised to respect the local culture, often described as conservative, and refrain from expressing any form of physical intimacy when in public.

- The UAE applies strict rules when it comes to recreational drugs, even ones that are legal elsewhere. Individuals with illegal drugs anywhere in the UAE might risk major legal consequences.

- While Alcohol is not illegal in the UAE, the country still does not allow drinking in public. Individuals who wish to enjoy a few drinks should head to pubs, restaurants, or hotels that serve them or purchase them to be consumed in private spaces.

Expo 2020 in Dubai

Even though this long-awaited international event was scheduled for October 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced authorities in Dubai to postpone it for another year, similar to many other global events that were rescheduled for 2021 for health and safety considerations, such as the Olympic Games that were held in Tokyo last July.

The event has been confirmed to take place between 1 October 2021 – 31 March 2022 in Dubai, under the theme Connecting Minds, Creating the Future.

Participants at Expo 2020 as well as enthusiasts will have easy access to visa services across the world, as UAE authorities have announced resuming issuing visas prior to the global event.

Moreover, Emirates Airlines and flydubai have announced free day passes for each traveler aboard the airlines during the six months during which Expo 2020 will take place in Dubai.

Best Luxurious Hotels in Dubai

Burj Al Arab

Burj Al Arab Visit Dubai
Burj Al Arab - Source: Shutterstock


Not only is this 7-star hotel the tallest in the world, but it is also one of Dubai's most famous landmarks that attract visitors all year long. The group is managed by the Jumeirah hotel group. Building Dubai's Burj Al Arab started in 1994 and it was opened in 1999. The hotel has 202 bedrooms in total, in addition to 6 different restaurants. 

Atlantis, The Palm

Atlantis, The Palm Visit Dubai
Atlantis, The Palm - Source: Shutterstock


This is yet another well-known landmark by which the world can recognize Dubai photos. This hotel/resort is located on the man-made Palm Jumeirah Island and features a variety of breathtaking spots, including the Aquaventure water park and the Lost Chambers Aquarium. 

Grand Plaza Mövenpick Media City

Grand Plaza Mövenpick Media City Visit Dubai
Grand Plaza Mövenpick Media City - Source: Twitter

This 5-star hotel is amongst the top-rated hotels in Dubai. It is located in the heart of Dubai Media & Internet City - a vibrant business district - and close to the emblematic Palm Jumeirah and Dubai Marina district It offers a wide variety of experiences to visitors traveling in Dubai. 

Rixos Premium Dubai JBR

Rixos Premium Dubai JBR Visit Dubai
Rixos Premium Dubai JBR - Source: Shutterstock


Here is another 5-star Dubai hotel right by the famous Jumeirah Beach Residence highly popular amongst Dubai visitors who wish to enjoy the city's sea view and try its beach sports activities.

Address Sky View

Address Sky View Visit Dubai
Address Sky View - Source: Twitter


This, too, is a 5-star hotel in Dubai, which is tourists' favorites due to its location in Downtown Dubai. Travelers who choose to stay at the Address Sky View get to enjoy the robust life of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashed Boulevard, which is the very heart of Dubai city.

Caesars Palace Dubai

Caesars Palace Dubai Visit Dubai
Caesars Palace Dubai - Source: Twitter


Located on the Bluewaters Island of Dubai, this 5-star hotel offers residents an exceptional view of the Gulf as well as the Dubai skyline. 

Dubai's Best Spots

Burj Khalifa

Burj Khalifa Visit Dubai
Burj Khalifa - Source: Shutterstock

You can not visit Dubai without heading to the world's tallest tower which was opened in January 2010. The skyscraper consists of 163 floors and hosts residential units, shopping centers, offices, and a hotel.

The Dubai Mall

The Dubai Mall Visit Dubai
The Dubai Mall - Source: Shutterstock

Just right next to the world's tallest skyscraper, you can see The Dubai Mall, which is the second-largest shopping center in the world by total land area. 

The Dubai Mall is home to over 1,300 retail outlets including the world's most famous and most extravagant brands.

Dubai Fountains

Dubai Fountains Visit Dubai
Dubai Fountains - Source: Shutterstock

Walking from the Burj Khalifa towards The Dubai Mall you can not miss the choreographed fountain system that takes place several times a day every day in the Burj Khalifa lake.

This is the same spot where thousands of people gather every New Year's Eve to celebrate the new round around the sun, watching the annual marvelous fireworks show.

Dubai Frame

Dubai Frame Visit Dubai
Dubai Frame - Source: Shutterstock

Visiting the Zabeel Park in Dubai, most travelers take a stop by the Frame, which is the biggest picture frame in the world, to take a few memorable photos to mark their Dubai visit. 

Dubai Creek

Dubai Creek Visit Dubai
Dubai Creek - Source: Shutterstock

A visit to Dubai can not be complete if you do not visit the saltwater creek that is extended to Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary. The area is also home to Mohammed Bin Rashid Library that has 1.5 million printed books, two million digital books, and one million audiobooks.

Best Shopping Malls in Dubai

The Dubai Mall

As mentioned earlier, the Dubai Mall is the second-largest shopping mall in the world and is located right next to the world's tallest skyscraper.

Dubai Mall - Source: Shutterstock
The Dubai Mall - Source: Shutterstock 

The Dubai Mall is home to thousands of retail stores including many of the world-class brands. The Dubai Mall has a total of 1,200 retail stores, two anchor department stores, and more than 200 food and beverage outlets.

Global Village

Nowhere in the world but in Dubai can you visit pavilions of 90 countries at once for shopping and leisure all year long.

The Global Village in Dubai
The Global Village in Dubai - Source: Shutterstock

This is what the Downtown-located Global Village is for, helping both residents and tourists have multicultural experiences that reflect the diversity of Dubai.

Mall of the Emirates

Mall of the Emirates
Mall of the Emirates - Source: Shutterstock

Built in 2005 by the Majid Al Futtaim Group, is one of the most popular shopping malls in Dubai with 630 retail outlets, 7900 parking spaces, over 100 restaurants and cafés, 80 luxury stores, in addition to 250 flagship stores.

At Mall of the Emirates, people can also go skiing in the city's indoor ski resort with 22,500 square meters.

Best Museums in Dubai

Dubai Museum

This is the oldest museum in Dubai. It was built in 1971 to showcase the traditional aspect of life in Dubai, including the many cultures that have historically influenced the area and its population. It also includes the Al Fahidi fort which was built in 1787, which is the oldest existing building in Dubai.

Dubai Museum and Fahidi Fort
The Dubai Museum and Fahidi Fort - Source: Shutterstock

* Note: The Dubai Museum is undergoing renovations throughout most of 2021. Before you schedule your visit, please make sure to check information over whether it is open to the public yet.

Coffee Museum

The Coffee Museum
The Coffee Museum - Source: Shutterstock

Coffee enthusiasts will have a great break visiting this place, as they get to wander through the coffee culture in different parts of the world, including roasting and brewing styles, in addition to showcasing the utensils used to make it.

Museum Of Illusions, Dubai

Whether you are traveling with family or not, this spot is guaranteed to help you enjoy your time.

Museum Of Illusions, Dubai
Museum Of Illusions, Dubai - Source: Twitter @dubaitourism

The museum contains six different; The Chair Illusion, Ames room, Anti-gravity Room, Rotated Room, Infinity Room, and The Vortex tunnel.

History of Cinema Museum 

The museum which was built in 2014 traces the history of moving pictures and showcases the development and the evolution of visual entertainment, presenting more than 300 antique items including cameras and monitors. 

Best Parks in Dubai

Dubai Miracle Garden

Dubai Miracle Garden
Dubai Miracle Garden - Source: Shutterstock

Launched on Valentine's Day in 2013, this flower garden has attracted millions of visitors over the years, as it represents a marvelous springy scene all year long, with over 50 million flowers and 250 million plants.

Dubai Miracle Garden is the world's largest natural flower garden.

BollywoodParks

BollywoodParks
BollywoodParks - Source: Shutterstock

Enthusiasts of Indian cinema and drama will have the time of their lives visiting a theme park with an Indian setting. This family-friendly part has 9 rides and several spots to enjoy.

Legoland

Legoland Dubai
Legoland Dubai - Source: Shutterstock

The first Legoland park in the Middle East and was the seventh worldwide was open in Dubai in 2016 offering visitors great experiences, especially for kids who love to put lego together. 

Affordable Accommodation In Dubai

Besides thousands of hotels and residential apartments available for Dubai tourists who are on a budget, Dubai has thousands of Airbnb listings from which travelers can book their accommodation in advance and in their favorite spots around Dubai. 

Sleek Updated Studio Apartment in JLT $89/night

Very nice Skyview studio 19 floor Dubai Marina $75/night

ShehkZayed Rd Emirates tower $23/night

Luxuries Studio Apt By Savoy Central-Studio $64/night

Pleasant Studio with Natural Light in Business Bay $78/night

Bonus:

8 Touristic Hidden Gems in Dubai


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