Dubai Travel Guide– Dubai is often the first choice for Indians when they think about a quick vacation. After all, the flying time between the two destinations is less than four hours. Readout our exclusive guide to Dubai from India and for Indians.


DUBAI FOR INDIANS?

As per the data put out by the Dubai Tourism, in the first half of 2019 alone, Dubai received around one million Indians. Unsurprisingly, it’s one of the dream holiday spots for most Indians.

So if you’re one among them and considering a trip here, this exclusive Dubai travel guide for Indians, covering everything from visa information and culture and customs to the city’s top attractions and entertainment options, will prove helpful to plan your perfect Dubai holiday.

DUBAI: ESSENTIAL INFORMATION

Burj Khalifa Dubai

  1. Dubai is one of the seven emirates of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
  2. It’s the second-largest city in the UAE, after Abu Dhabi which is also the country’s capital city.
  3. HH Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is the ruler of Dubai. He’s also the country’s prime minister and the vice president.
  4. Arabic is the local language.
  5. Emiratis constitute less than 20% of the overall population, with over 80% being the expat community from over 150 countries.
  6. The UAE Dirham or AED is the local currency and is pegged to the US Dollar, exchangeable at a rate of AED 3.67 per one USD. As per the current rate, one dirham is equivalent to a somewhat 19.5 Indian Rupee.
  7. There are ATMs and reliable money exchange bureaus all over the city.
  8. Dubai International Airport is the world’s fifth-busiest airport. There is also Al Maktoum International Airport in Dubai South.
  9. Dubai’s eclectic neighborhoods like Bur Dubai and Karama have the greatest concentration of Indians.
  10. Unlike India, the weekend in Dubai falls on Fridays and Saturdays.

CULTURE & CUSTOMS

Skyline of Dubai

Skyline of Dubai

Dubai is a part of the Islamic nation means its culture, customs and traditions are deeply entrenched in its religious roots. Despite its conservative culture, it’s a liberal Arabian metropolis which respects and (of course) welcomes diverse world cultures and traditions wholeheartedly.

And as for the language and other aspects, Indians will find it easy to communicate and navigate the city, with the majority of the expat community being people from different parts of India.

PLAN YOUR TRIP

  • Best Time to Visit: You can travel to Dubai during any part of the year, however, the most recommended time is during the cool, pleasant winter months (November to April), particularly if you enjoy outdoors or want to participate in popular events like DSF (Dubai Shopping Festival). Al though Dubai never slows during summer months (May to September), it’s still good to know that the temperature outside will be exceedingly high reaching up to 55 degrees Celsius.
  • Recommended Duration: With tons of attractions and experiences to discover, you’ll need at least four to five days to take in Dubai’s top attractions.
  • What to Pack?
    • Dress: This should be according to the time you’re planning to visit. When it comes to what dress to pack, check your travel itinerary and pack accordingly:
      • At Religious Sites: Ladies should wear loose clothing that covers your head, shoulders, and knees.
      • Theme Parks: Choose comfortable clothing that is not revealing.
      • Beaches: You can wear whatever you usually put on your beach visit. But, make sure that you dress modestly and don’t go topless.
      • Must-have: Now even if it’s summer or winter, dress modestly. Also, carry a cardigan as the malls and other indoor attractions are air-conditioned and hence super cool in every climate.
    • Cosmetics & Medications: Besides your regular beauty creams and medications, be sure to pack a good quality sunscreen as Dubai has year-round intense sunshine.
    • Other accessories: Hats, sunglasses, and a pair of good quality footwear.
    • Gadgets: There is so much to see in Dubai means it also allows for some insta-worthy pictures. So come prepared with (camera, tripod, etc) to capture the best ever clicks.
  • Where to stay? Choose an accommodation that provides easy access to all attractions and experiences covered in your travel program. If shopping and entertainment are high on your priority, consider accommodation in Al Barsha or Downtown Dubai. If you’re looking for budget-friendly choices, there are some decent choices across Dubai’s Bur Dubai and Deira regions.

DUBAI VISA INFORMATION

Dubai visa or UAE visa can be used to travel anywhere in the country. Indians planning for a short trip to Dubai can apply for a Tourist Visa, Visit Visa or a Transit Visa. There is also a multiple-entry visa which is especially ideal for those who wish to fly in and out of Dubai multiple times during the duration of the visa.

Some Indians are eligible for a Visa on Arrival (check below for more details) too. Apart from these, people traveling to Dubai or UAE during the period from July 15 to September 15 don’t have to pay any visa charge for their kids (under 18 years). All tourist visas except for 30-day visas are non-renewable. 

  • Tourist Visa: Depending on the number of days you wish to spend here, you can apply for a tourist visa valid for 14 days, 30 days, or 90 days. You can apply for a tourist visa via a reputable visa service provider or through the airlines. The following are the requirements of a tourist visa.
    • Accurately filled out tourist visa application form.
    • A valid Indian passport which holds a validity of at least six months from the date you plan to enter Dubai or UAE.
    • Scanned copies of the first and last pages of your passport.
    • Clear passport size photographs of passengers taken against a white background.
    • If you’re female planning to travel alone, attach a NOC from your father or husband.
  • Visit Visa: This is particularly ideal for Indians who are visiting their friends or relatives settled in Dubai. You can approach a reliable service provider or get this visa applied or sponsored through your acquaintance in Dubai, but whose salary should be at least AED 6000. This includes 30-day and 90-day visas. And the requirements for its application include:
    • A letter which details the purpose of your visit.
    • A valid Indian passport which holds a validity of at least six months from the date you plan to enter Dubai or UAE.
    • Scanned copies of the first and last pages of your passport.
    • Clear passport size photographs of passengers taken against a white background.
    • Your Dubai sponsor’s passport and resident visa copies.
    • A security deposit of up to AED 2000 per visa. This is refundable but only once you submit the proof of your exit from the country.
  • Transit Visa: Now if you’re planning to visit Dubai on a layover to another destination, you can obtain a free 48-hour transit visa from the airport. However, a nominal charge of AED 50 is applicable if you wish to extend it for another 48 hours. The following documents are required for its application:
    • A valid Indian passport which holds a validity of at least six months from the date you plan to enter Dubai or UAE.
    • Scanned copies of the first and last pages of your passport.
    • Clear passport size photographs of passengers taken against a white background.
    • The confirmed air ticket of your onward journey
    • Confirmed hotel booking
  • Visa on Arrival: This is applicable to only those Indians who hold a residency visa of the UK or European Union.

OK to Board?

This is a mandatory procedure to be adhered to by Indians planning for a short or temporary visit to the UAE. If you don’t know what Ok to Board is, it’s a simple procedure wherein your airline conducts a check in order to ensure the legitimacy of your UAE travel documents, mainly passport, UAE visa, etc.

In fact, you’ll be able to board the plane and travel only if your airline verifies all documents and update your PNR status as ‘OK to Board.’ Apart from this, you can seek the help of your visa service provider to get this process done for a nominal charge.

DUBAI ATTRACTIONS & EXPERIENCES

Burj Khalifa

This list is especially for first-timers traveling to Dubai. Additionally, check out our detail blog on places to visit in Dubai.

  • Burj Khalifa: Towering over Downtown Dubai, Burj Khalifa is the world’s tallest building. A picture against this mammoth, 828-meter high structure makes a great souvenir picture of your Dubai visit. You can further take to its observation deck on 124th level or 148th level for the most panoramic views over Dubai and beyond.
  • Dubai Mall & Dubai Dancing Fountain Show: Right next to the Burj Khalifa is Dubai Mall which is one of the world’s biggest malls. If you think it’s just for shopping (with over 1200 outlets), the reality is that it’s an ultimate leisure and edutainment spot, with attractions such as Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, KidZania, VR Park, etc. Placed amid Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall is the fabulous ever Dubai Fountain which blows you away with the largest of its choreographed water show. 

Bastakiya Quarter

  • Bastakiya Quarter: One of the best ways to get your fill of Emirati culture and past is to make a visit to the Bastakiya Quarter or Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood. This heritage site is well preserved with its ancient sand-colored structures complemented by wind towers and traditional courtyards. Besides a trip to its top attractions such as Dubai Museum and Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding, you can take an abra ride along Dubai Creek. 
  • Ski Dubai: This is undoubtedly Dubai’s coolest attraction. Located within the Mall of the Emirates, this gives you the chance to participate in authentic snow activities even when Dubai simmers with a temperature of over 50 degrees Celsius. 
  • Dubai Parks and Resorts: This is the region’s first-of-its-kind integrated resort with three theme parks and a water park under its roof, such as Motiongate Dubai, Bollywood Parks Dubai, Legoland Dubai, and Legoland Dubai. Yes, you guessed it right; Bollywood Parks is dedicated to your favorite Hindi movies and iconic characters.
  • Palm Jumeirah: The palm-tree shaped Palm Jumeirah is probably the first thing that comes into the mind when one thinks about Dubai. The exquisiteness of this man-made island is best experienced from a sky-high viewpoint on a helicopter ride or a sky diving adventure. If this is not affordable, go on a sightseeing tour or take a monorail ride which covers almost the entire of Palm Island, from Al Sufouh Gateway Station to Aquaventure Waterpark within Atlantis, The Palm Hotel. 
  • Burj Al Arab: This is yet another attraction that stands as an epitome of Dubai’s unrivaled grandeur. After all, it’s touted as the world’s only seven-star hotel. Now if you want to experience its regal interiors, book a table at one of its many opulent dining venues.
  • Desert Safari: This is one of the best ways to get introduced to Dubai’s untouched desert landscape. Besides heart-racing experiences like dune bash, sandboarding, etc, it allows you to sink into the best aspects of Bedouin culture and traditions, with activities including a camel ride, Shisha smoking, and falconry.
  • Dinner Dhow Cruise: Onboard a traditional wooden Arabian dhow, this cruise along Dubai Creek or Dubai Marina promises you a magical night out in Dubai with the most stunning views, scrumptious food, and scintillating live performances.

SHOPPING IN DUBAI

Dubai Local Market

From the traditional Arabian bazaars (souks) to the coolest shopping malls, Dubai is a true shoppers’ haven. Even if you aren’t into shopping, you can’t help but stop at its many extraordinary shopping hotspots.

While each of its 65 plus malls is a world unto itself, don’t overlook its atmospheric souks, particularly Gold Souk which is definite to leave you in awe with its hundreds of shops selling striking gold jewelry.

WHERE TO EAT?

Dubai Dates Culture

Dubai offers almost everything that your taste buds crave, from sumptuous local treats to specialties from acclaimed fast-food chains like KFC, McDonald’s and Papa Johns to authentic Mexican, American, Malay and Chinese cuisines.

Now if your liking for Indian cuisines is stanch, you’ll be spoilt for choices with a staggering array of Indian restaurants all over the city. Peppermill and Options by Sanjeev Kumar are just a few of them. And the best thing is that the city caters to every budget, no matter you’re looking for high-end dining options or super affordable venues.

 GETTING AROUND

Dubai Ferry

Metro: This is probably Dubai’s most popular transport option. Being driverless and completely automated, it’s a must-experience during your Dubai vacation. The major plus is that it’s super swift and affordable too.

Public Bus: With over 1500 air-conditioned buses, this is a budget-friendly option to travel anywhere in Dubai.

Cab: Hiring a cab is undoubtedly the most hassle-free option to get around in the city.

Dubai Ferry: With five ferry terminals, this water transport is ideal for anyone looking for an exotic way to discover Dubai’s stunning sights.

All of the above transport options are operated by the Dubai Government’s Road and Transport Authority (RTA). Purchase an NOL card that can be used to make payment for all RTA transport.

TOP DUBAI TRAVEL TIPS

  • Pre-book to lock in the best rates for your accommodation, flight tickets, etc.
  • For the best value, choose an all-inclusive package with sightseeing, cruise, and desert safari.
  • Don’t eat or drink in public if you’re visiting here during Ramadan.
  • Penalty may be imposed if you’re found smoking or drinking in public.
  • Be cautious while taking pictures; capturing images government buildings, locals (particularly local Emirati women) are not allowed.
  • Apart from visa and passport, carry your important documents like travel insurance and international driving license if you plan to drive your own.

CONCLUSION

Dubai Fountain Show

A trip to Dubai can be overwhelming without a proper plan or travel program. We hope that this extensive Dubai travel guide will come in handy to plan your dream Arabian holiday.


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