About Dubai

Welcome to Dubai – where anything is possible.

Once a small fishing village in the Arabian Gulf, Dubai shares the spotlight with some of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world. One of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates, the city is home to more than 200 nationalities and offers an unforgettable experience to all visitors. Whether it is by the banks of the Creek, or at the top of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, Dubai lives and breathes a sense of possibility and innovation. And with an unparalleled coastline, beautiful desert and magnificent cityscapes, memories are just waiting to be made here.

Browse through our guide for fascinating information about Dubai – find out more about its traditions, transformations and the people who call this place home. Before you’re through, you’ll be inspired by our journey and better equipped to be a part of our growing narrative.


A brief history of Dubai


The Al Maktoum tribe establishes the fishing settlement of Dubai, continuing to rule Dubai ever since.


Pearling and maritime business begins to flourish. Traders from across the world arrive in Dubai to benefit from incredible deals and rates.


Dubai’s first school, Al Ahmadiya is built in Deira. The original building in Al Ras remains open as a museum, showcasing what life was like more than a century ag


Oil is discovered in Dubai, attracting foreign trade and stimulating the economy, which over several decades diversified with shipping, finance and tourism.


Dubai World Trade Centre, the city’s first skyscraper, opens. Formerly known as Sheikh Rashid Tower, the 38-storey building remains an icon on the city skyline


Dubai’s flagship airline, Emirates, is launched. The airline carries more than 50 million passengers per year with cabin crew from 130+ country


The Burj Khalifa becomes the tallest building in the world, soaring 828m high and welcoming thousands of visitors each year


Local Culture & Heritage

Typical Emirati Clothing

With around 200 nationalities represented in Dubai, how people dress is incredibly varied – yet the traditional attire of the UAE is bold and distinctive. You can see it all across the city.

Emirati national dress is a symbol of pride and identity that has been designed with the dual intent of providing comfort and adhering to religious beliefs. In Dubai, men wear an ankle-length, loose-fitting garment made of white cotton, known as a kandora or dishdasha. A ghutrah covers the head and is held in place by the agal, a type of black cord. This garment was originally used to protect the face from the harsh desert environment.

Traditionally, women in Dubai wear an abaya – a long, black flowing light coat over their clothing. This is worn over their Western clothes or a traditional long-sleeved full-length dress known as a jalabeya. A black scarf called a shayla is often draped over the head.

Typical Emirati Food

Do you know your karak from your chebab? Can you tell your luqaimat from your labneh? While Dubai is renowned for incredible dining options, local Emirati cuisine stands apart. Make your way to some of the many Emirati restaurants and sample the delicious dishes on offer. Here are some to get you started.

Camel: served in a variety of ways – often dished up with rice or made into burgers.

Dates: delicious, sweet fruit often stuffed with other goodies, such as nuts.

Fouga deyay: a rice dish with grilled chicken marinated in Emirati spices.

Gahwa: traditional Arabic coffee, often served from a ‘dallah’ pot.

Harees: boiled, cracked, or ground wheat, mixed with meat and seasoned.

Kabsa: basmati rice and meat, infused with saffron and nutmeg and other spices.

Karak chai: a mixed-spice tea that originated in the Indian subcontinent.

Luqaimat: sweet and sticky dumplings, drizzled with date syrup.

Shorbat adas: a delicious, delicately-spiced lentil soup – often a first course.

Shuwaa: slow cooked lamb, roasted nuts, raisins and rice – also known as ouzi.


Visa information

Do I need a visa to enter Dubai?

Whether you need a visa or not is dependent on your country of citizenship. Most passport holders are eligible for a visa on arrival at no cost. However, others may need to apply for a visa beforehand. Select your nationality from the dropdown above to find out the visa requirements.

How do I apply for a Dubai tourist visa?

If you require a visa to enter the UAE, you can apply via approved airlines, hotels, travel agencies or tour operators. You can also be sponsored by a UAE resident or company. Use the dropdown above to find out more

How long can I stay in the UAE?

Your length of stay depends on your visa type starting from 14 and up to 180 days. Please select your country of citizenship from the dropdown menu above to find out more.

What is the validity period of my visa?

All visas are valid for 60 days from the date of issue until entry to the UAE, except the 48-hour and 96-hour visa Transit Visa (valid for 30 days).


Weather in Dubai

Find out all about Dubai’s climate throughout the year and discover the best times to visit with our weather guide.

Winter in Dubai

  • Winter in Dubai
  • eautiful weather and a packed calendar of events combine to create a truly special season in Dubai. Visitors from near and far flock to enjoy the city’s blissful sunshine, world-class attractions, Michelin-starred restaurants, live entertainment from international superstars and so much more.
  • Outdoor attractions and activities take centre stage during wintertime. Here are a few suggestions to get you started – keep your eyes on Dubai Calendar for all the latest announcements and to ensure you don’t miss a moment of fun.
  • 1) Plan an adventure in Hatta– try hiking, kayaking or mountain biking
  • 2) Enjoy a relaxing day soaking up the sun at Kite Beachor Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR)
  • 3) Test your head for heights with Sky Views Dubai’s Edge Walk
  • 4) Go mountain biking in Mushrif National Park
  • 5) Journey 300m above Palm Jumeirah in The Dubai Balloon

How to make the most of your winter

  • 1) Although temperatures are cooler during Dubai’s winter season, you should still wear sunscreen, headwear and sunglasses to protect your skin from the sun’s rays
  • 2) Drink plenty of water throughout the day
  • 3) Night-time can be a little chilly, especially from December to February, so it’s advisable to bring a sweater if you’re spending the evening outside
  • 4) If you’re planning an overnight trip to the desert, remember that temperatures can drop lower than in the city once the sun goes down, so it’s best to bring extra layers

Summer in Dubai

What to do from May until September

During the summer months, Dubai remains a hot ticket for visitors. There are bargains aplenty to be found throughout the season, as temperatures rise and prices drop across the city’s hotels and attractions. Aquatic activities are particularly popular, with many hugely enjoyable ways to beat the heat. Whether you’d prefer to laze in a luxurious swimming pool, feel the adrenaline rush at a waterpark or head into the sea for watersports like jetboarding and kayaking, you’ll find it here.

You’re also spoilt for choice when it comes to indoor activities, including…

1) Theme park thrills at Dubai Parks and Resorts

2) A tropical rainforest adventure at The Green Planet

3) Virtual reality fun at Play DXB

4) A glimpse into tomorrow at Museum of the Future

And if you love to shop, the 2023 edition of Dubai Summer Surprises is taking place across the city from 29 June to 3 September – where you can enjoy incredible bargains and unmissable live entertainment.

How to stay cool in summer

1) Ensure you stay safe from the sun, high temperatures and humidity by regularly applying sunscreen, and wearing a hat and sunglasses

2) Pack light, breathable clothing to keep cool when out and about. Long-sleeved shirts can help protect against the warm sun as well

3) If you’re spending any period of time outside, it’s essential that you drink lots of water to stay hydrated


Average temperature: 21°C 

Transportation in Dubai: Getting to & around the city

By air

Dubai has two world-class airports that provide thousands of international flights each week. Dubai International Airport (DXB) has been the gateway to the emirate since the first airstrip was developed in the 1960s – it is now the busiest international airport in the world, and is Dubai’s main passenger airport. The newer Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC) is part of the expansive Dubai South development, which will eventually span 6.7 million square kilometres, including real estate, leisure facilities and retail – several airlines, mostly low-cost carriers, operate from DWC.

By land

The vast majority of visitors will enter Dubai by plane, but you can also easily reach the emirate from neighbouring countries by road. The UAE shares land borders with Saudi Arabia and Oman, and residents of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries can drive between them with few formalities. Some of the busiest borders include Hatta and Al Ain, where adventure-seekers can get quick access to the Hajar Mountains, or take road trips on the outskirts of Dubai. Visitors from outside the GCC may have some restrictions, including visa restrictions, when entering the UAE by land, so please plan accordingly.

By sea

Cruise tourism in Dubai has thrived thanks to the Dubai Cruise Terminal, located at Mina Rashid, and Dubai Harbour at Dubai Marina. If your cruise arrives at one of these luxurious ports, you’ll find they’re a great point to start exploring the emirate from – with tour operators, shuttle buses to sights including Dubai Mall, and plenty of other facilities including restaurants, minimarts, seating areas and free WiFi.

Getting around Dubai

Public transport in Dubai 

Dubai has a great public transport system including metro, tram, bus and marine transport services. You can access almost any form of public transport, from Dubai Metro to a water taxi, with a nol card – a contactless payment similar to London’s Oyster or Hong Kong’s Octopus cards.

How to use nol cards

The nol card is a rechargeable ticket which gives you cheaper fares and can also be used to pay for buses, trams and taxis in the city. You can buy a nol card at any Dubai Metro station, along with most bus stations, and at supermarkets such as Carrefour, Spinneys and Waitrose.

Once you have your nol cards – one for each person in your group – you can use them to tap in and out of any public transport in Dubai, as well as using them to pay for RTA parking. Adding credit to your card is easy: you can top up at metro and bus stations, or online. The minimum balance for a Nol card is AED7.50 and the maximum is AED1,000 (or AED5,000 after registration). Types of nol card include Gold, Silver and Blue (which offers concessions to students, seniors and people of determination). Tourists often opt for the Silver card, which provides an affordable and convenient way to journey around Dubai. Learn more about nol cards on the RTA’s website.

Dubai Metro

The Metro has two convenient lines – Red and Green – that run from Dubai International Airport (DXB) and through the busiest areas of the city. It is the world’s largest driverless train system, offering comfortable seating and affordable prices, and is fully air-conditioned. Discover more with our guide to Dubai Metro.

Dubai Tram

The city’s tram network operates around Dubai Marina and along Al Sufouh Road, providing a convenient link between Dubai Metro and locations including Palm Jumeirah via its monorail (see below).

Dubai Bus

Buses are a low-cost option to explore the city. You can hop on a bus at all of Dubai’s airport terminals, with routes intersecting every major neighbourhood. They run 24 hours a day and as often as every 30 minutes – just make sure to check your map to understand the extensive network. Buses only accept payment via nol card, so make sure you have a card with credit on it.

Water transport

Dubai emerged as a pearl diving community, so it’s no surprise there are plenty of ways to travel by water. Options range from the affordable AED1 Dubai Creek crossing aboard a wooden abra to luxury yacht rental packages for huge parties and events. The RTA also offers convenient water taxis and the Dubai Ferry, so visitors can tour the Dubai coastline and stop off at a number of neighbourhoods, including Jumeirah and Dubai Marina. Learn more about how you can discover Dubai from the water.

Palm Monorail

The only public transport system in Dubai which doesn’t use nol cards, the Palm Monorail runs from Al Sufouh Road to Atlantis, The Palm, with stops at many of Palm Jumeirah’s most popular attractions. Learn more about the Palm Monorail.

Dubai Currency Guide

All you need to know about the dirham, from exchange rates to helpful tips.

The dirham (AED) is the official currency of Dubai, as well as the UAE’s six other emirates. Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2023, the currency is pegged at AED3.67 to the US dollar. Here’s our comprehensive guide to getting the most out of your money in Dubai, from everyday price point comparisons to common visitor queries. You can also familiarise yourself with the coins and banknotes, and the artworks displayed upon them that celebrate the UAE’s rich history and culture. And finally, use the currency converter to check the latest exchange rates with other global currencies, such as the Indian rupee, the Pakistani rupee and the British pound.

Can I use my credit card in Dubai?

Dubai is a global city with world-class infrastructure, and international credit cards are widely acccepted. Before you travel, it’s advisable to check with your bank about overseas transaction fees to ensure you get the most value out of your visit.

Do taxis in Dubai accept US dollars?

Your taxi journey must be paid for in dirhams, the currency of Dubai and the rest of the United Arab Emirates. You can pay by card or cash, and US dollars will not be accepted.

Should I carry cash in Dubai?

You’ll find that the vast majority of businesses across the city accept payments by credit or debit card, as well as other methods such as Apple Pay. However, it’s always advisable to carry some cash on you just in case.

Where can I exchange US dollars in Dubai?

You can change your dollars to dirhams at exchange bureaus across Dubai. Credit and debit cards, as well as mobile payments, are also widely available throughout the city.

How much money do you need per day in Dubai?

Your daily spend in Dubai will depend on your interests and your budget. Whether you’re looking for luxury experiences or wallet-friendly fun, there’s plenty to enjoy in the city



Five-star resort or chic boutique hotel? Pick from an incredible range of options.

Luxury hotels

Dubai is famous around the world for its staggering range of luxury resorts and chic five-star hotels. The city is home to the world’s tallest hotel, as well as other record-breaking hospitality feats, such as the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, which is popularly known as the world’s only ‘seven-star hotel’. Whether it is a world of family fun at Atlantis, The Palm, beachside chic at Bvlgari, or Bedouin-style luxury at Bab Al Shams, Dubai is known to offer its guests the very best in hospitality.

Budget hotels

Your sunny escape doesn’t have to break the bank. If you’re seeking budget hotel options in Dubai, this city has an impressive range of affordable accommodation. For a central location and convenient facilities, try Rove Hotels – a homegrown hotel chain. With renowned brands like Hampton by Hilton, Aloft, TRYP and Citymax, you’ll be spoilt for choice with holiday funds to spare.

Hotel apartments

Staying a little longer or just want the convenience of an apartment-style stay? Dubai has a huge range of hotel apartments that offer you something extra, including kitchens with cookers, clothes washing facilities, office space and more. Hotel apartments are typically suited to long-stay guests and families but many visitors simply prefer the best-of-both, with room-cleaning services and restaurant options.

Home and apartment rentals

Dubai’s hotels have made waves around the world – and we have some amazing home rentals too. You can find your perfect holiday rental via Airbnb and other licensed websites, which have seemingly countless homes to choose from, all vetted and approved to ensure your stay is safe, comfortable and clean. Rest assured, you can enjoy your private villa or apartment experience with every convenience of being at home, and more.

Learn more


Indulge in tax-free shopping at high-end malls and charming souks.

Head to the most talked-about Dubai shopping malls, artisan markets, alfresco shopping precincts and traditional souks – from luxury to budget shopping, you’re sure to find everything you want here and more. And with seasonal sales and massive citywide retail celebrations taking place all through the year, it’s always a good time to go shopping in Dubai.

Shopping Malls

Ibn Battuta Mall

Mall of the Emirates

Dubai Festival City Mall

Dubai Mall

Souks & Markets

Textile Souk

Style yourself with fine silks and fabrics in Old Dubai

Gold Souk

Shop for gold ornaments and gemstones in Dubai

Dragon Mart

Explore the gateway for Chinese products in Dubai

Dubai Outlet Mall

A shopping hotspot with incredible bargains


Exclusive, luxury perfumes by a high-end perfumery

Al Fahidi Souk

For unbeatable offers and bargains on local items

Spice Souk

Spice up your Dubai experience at this vibrant bazaar

Souk Madinat Jumeirah

Indulge in Arabian retail therapy at Souk Madinat

Souk Al Bahar

Visit this Arabesque hub for shopping, dining and entertainment


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