For the tourists

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For the tourists
Gulf News Web Report Published: November 02, 2007, 01:20

Climate: Dubai has a year round sunny climate with rain a very rare occurance, happening only a few times a year.

The winter months (November to March) are the most suitable for tourists, with the weather averaging a pleasant 30C and humidity on the low side. The summer months can become very hot, with frequent low visibility caused by sandstorms – with average daytime temperatures rarely dipping below 40C (and often rising about 45C) and high humidity to accompany the high temperatures at night.

Local laws: Although you are allowed to drink in many of Dubai’s numerous bars, remember this is a Muslim country. If you wander around the streets drunk then there is a good chance you will be arrested.

There is also zero tolerence towards drinking and driving. That means the legal limit is zero and being caught will usually end in a prison sentence.

Certain prescripton drugs which are legal elsewhere in the world are banned in Dubai. If you need to take these then you must ensure that you take a doctors prescription with you.

A list of which drugs are illegal can be found at the: US consulate to Dubai’s website

Clothing: You will only need summer clothes when you’re here, however it is a good idea to bring a few light sweaters or cardigans as the air conditioning in some restaurants and malls can be chilly.

While there is no official ruling about exactly what you can and can’t wear, Westerners will be expected to dress with more modesty than you would at home in similar temperatures.

This doesn’t mean that women have to cover up completely or wear a veil but they should try to wear clothes that are not too revealing. Men should avoid short shorts and bare chests. Dubai is a liberal emirate, but it is also part of an Islamic country. You should also be respectful of Gulf culture.

Transport: The car is king in this city, and with wide, fast roads criss crossing the emirate, it’s the easiest way to get around.

A car can be hired from any of numerous car-rental companies operating in the city and with such a competitive market, rates are pretty reasonable. A renter needs to provide original passport, two photographs, and a valid international driving license or national license.

Compared to Europe and the United States, taxis are very cheap in Dubai. They are also plentiful and you won’t usually have to wait more than a minute before one races past. An average 10km journey will set you back around Dh15 (around $3.50)

The bus service in Dubai is cheap, clean and popular, but it is also limited. It tends to run mostly in Deira and Bur Dubai although there are services running along the Shaikh Zayed Road.

If catching the bus, male tourists should be wary of sitting next to women they don’t know as this is frowned upon in Muslim culture.

A monorail system is currently being built in Dubai. It is due to be completed in 2009 and will be one of the longest mass transit systems in the world – stretching some 40km from one end of the city to the other.

The final – and most traditional way to get around Dubai is by abra. The abra has been the best method of crossing the creek for decades now and despite the presence of bridges and tunnels, each trip from Deira to Bur Dubai and back is crammed full of businessmen, workers and tourists.

Shopping: Many people come to Dubai solely to shop. Tax free Dubai is known as a shopper’s paradise. Most of the major designer brands in the world are available in the enormous shopping malls which populate every corner of Dubai.

Malls get much busier at the weekends (which are officially Friday and Saturday).

Annual shopping events include the Dubai Shopping Festival which usually takes place in February (see last years time table ) and Dubai Summer Surprises which runs during the scorching summer months.

Dubai is famous for offering top international brands at sale prices during these festivals. Independent shops are generally open from 10am until 1pm and from 4.30pm until 10pm.

Opening hours at shopping malls throughout the day are roughly from 10am – 10pm although some stay open until midnight. On Fridays, they open from 2pm – 10pm.

Away from the air conditioned haven of the megamalls, there are bargains to be had in Dubai’s souks (the gold souk and the spice souk are in Deira) as well as the textile specialist areas of Karama and Satwa where you will find both the material, and the tailor, to have bespoke clothing made for very reasonable prices.

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