5 Things You Didn't Know About Dubai

1 March 2016

Think you know all there is to know about Dubai? Did you know there are over 200 nationalities living in the city of superlatives, and more than 5,400 eateries? Or that you can go snorkelling and shark cage diving in a shopping mall, or try skiing and snowboarding indoors? There are plenty of misconceptions about the flashiest emirate of the UAE, but here are some things you might not know about Dubai.

 I'll have a martini and a view of downtown Dubai, thanks! (Image: Getty)

 

1. It's the desert, but it's not dry

One of the common misconceptions about the emirate is that Dubai is dry and there’s not a drop of bubbly or beer to be had (see brunch). Alcohol is available in licensed bars, lounges, clubs and restaurants, which are usually attached to hotels in Dubai. Non-Muslim visitors can also buy duty-free alcohol when you arrive at the airport. Note: the legal drinking age in Dubai is 21 years.

 Dubai gets the thumbs up from expat families. (Image: Getty)

 

2. It's one of the safest cities in the region

The Middle East may be somewhat volatile, but Dubai is an oasis of calm. According to global human resources company Aon Hewitt, Dubai is first in the region on the People Risk Index, which ranks the safest cities around the world for expats. Dubai is considered by expats to be quite safe compared with other large cities around the world.  Street crime is rare, and walking around on your own is very safe. Females can even book a pink taxi, driven by women and exclusively for female passengers. The Dubai public transport system also has separate carriages or section exclusively reserved for female passengers and their families.


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 Where else but Dubai can you ski in a shopping mall? (Image: Getty)

 

3. It's hot then it's cold...

Yes, it’s hot. Really hot. Like rarely-dipping-below-40-degrees-Celsius-in-the-hottest-months-of-July-and-August hot. Even when it’s baking outside, you’ll still feel comfortable inside with plenty of indoor attractions and air-conditioned facilities to stop you melting in the humid heat. Plus, there’s the added novelty of ice-skating at The Dubai Mall or hitting up Ski Dubai at Mall of the Emirates – the world’s largest indoor ski area. Remember to head out with a wrap or light cover-up if you feel the chill at night or indoors at air-conditioned shopping malls and restaurants.

 French toast, Dubai-style. (Image: Getty)

 

4. On Fridays we brunch!

Weekend brunching is a reward for your 9-to-5 life. On holidays, you should indulge in the Dubai institution of Friday brunch where you can nosh poolside at Vida Hotel, straight from the open kitchen at Park Hyatt Dubai or have acrobats accompany your cheese and charcuterie at The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi, all accompanied with top-shelf cocktail concoctions and bubbles. Because, what would brunch be without copious amounts of food and mimosas?

 Stay cool and classy in the desert city. (Image: Getty)

 

5. What to wear?

If you’re concerned the cultural mores and laws of this Muslim city will curtail your style, don’t be. Dubai has a reputation as the most modern and relaxed emirate of the UAE, but respect the local culture by dressing modestly. Swimmers are fine at the beach and around the pool, but leave the mini dresses for the club. T-shirts and shorts (not short shorts!) are fine in most places, but be sure to cover your shoulders and legs at the malls and attractions (it gets pretty chilly indoors anyway).

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Visit your local Flight Centre store or call 131 600 for more advice and the latest deals on travelling to Dubai.

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Cassandra Laffey

Consumed with unrequited wanderlust, I get my fix in 24/7 cities and hippie retreats. I'm still looking for the ultimate combo of secluded beach and major metropolis, and my happy place is a 5-star hotel room all to myself - sigh.