This post is our first in what will hopefully be a successful theme that takes the reader outside Europe. In the “Beyond Europe” series the reader will get acquainted with some nice places all over the world. We will start the theme with tips on how to do Dubai on a budget.
1 AEDirham = $2,7
Dubai was once a small fishing village in which pearl fishing was a large part of the inhabitant’s income. However, because of new ways of growing pearls in Japan, Dubai’s pearl industry became stagnant. When oil was found in the area in the 1960’s the economy got an upswing again and soon, Dubai together with the United Arab Emirates are today one of the world’s largest exporters of petroleum. Dubai has learnt from its past though. The plan for when the oil runs out is: tourism! The city’s skyline consists of plenty of skyscrapers of which some is luxury hotels. However, it is still possible to do Dubai on a budget if you can’t afford to stay at a seven star hotel!
In the older parts of Dubai, Deira for example, there are plenty of apartment hotels. Here you can rent an apartment for a good price and cook your own food. Bring your oatmeal and coffee in your luggage and breakfast is server every day. Add some milk from the local grocery store. Enjoy some Halal Chicken burgers for lunch and fry some fish and chips for dinner. If you go to a restaurant to grab a snack, there are plenty of choices in all price ranges. All the common fast food places can be found here together with some south Asian inspired restaurants. We can recommend Asfar Hotel Apartments in Deira. It is a quite hotel in a quiet area with no noisy night clubs or similar near.
Dubai Mall, fountain and Burj Khalifa
Dubai Mall is a large complex with 1200 stores and attractions. It lies at the feet of the world’s highest building: the Burj Khalifa. The red metro line will take you here. Do some eye shopping! If you want to go up in the Burj Khalifa, tickets can be bought in advance at https://tickets.atthetop.ae (125 AED per adult).
When you get down on the ground again, make sure to catch one of the shows at the Dubai Fountain that starts at 6 pm every evening. Every half hour, a beautiful water show accompanied by music and blinking lights at the Burj Khalifa will take place here. It is well worth a visit, or two.
At weekends the metro at Dubai Mall might be pretty packed so it might be a good idea to take a taxi back to the hotel. Make sure you only use government taxis with proper signs. “Private taxis” are forbidden and usually charge a lot more. A taxi from Dubai Mall to Deira costs about 30-40 AED.
Dubai Creek is one of few areas in the city that are suitable for walking. Start at the Al Maktoum bridge near Deira Clock tower and follow the water on the Deira side. Dockworker’s that are scarred by the seas are performing back breaking work loading goods near the bridge. Then, you can check out a yacht or two together with some tourist boats. Take a seat and relax by the creek. When you are done, take a water taxi to the other side (Bur Dubai). It is a nice trip and does not cost much (4-8 AED).
There are some nice, traditional museums with exhibitions from Dubai’s history. For example, Heritage house and Al Ahmadiya School in Deira (free entrance!). If you have arrived at Bur Dubai with water taxi, make sure to pay a visit to Dubai Museum (4 AED entrance).
Sun and bath in the Persian Gulf
There are plenty of beaches in Dubai. Many are private and comes with a hefty price tag. There are exceptions though. Al Mamzar Beach Park lies in the northern part of Deira. Entrance is 5 AED. A taxi from the hotel areas of Deira costs around 25 AED. At Mamzar Beach Park you will find four beaches and plenty of green areas. Mondays and Wednesday = ladies only. At weekends, many families come here to barbeque and the beach might be a bit crowded. Some days it feels like you have the whole place for yourself though (almost :-)).
Some general tips:
Save your money for transports. Take a taxi when needed to save time and energy.
Beware of scammers. Although Dubai is a generally safe place, there are some shady figures lurking in the shadows every now and then.
Behave. Use common sense. Blend in. People are in generally respectful in Dubai, with over 200 nationalities sharing space.