Dubai is the quintessential home of sand, sun and shopping. A century ago, it was a tranquil town whose coral-and-gypsum huts housed Bedouin traders and pearl divers. Today the merchants have gone international and science-fiction skyscrapers stand alongside the mosques and wind towers of Old Dubai.
The audacity of the city's rulers is breathtaking. Running out of coastline to build hotels? Build vast artificial islands with 120km (74.5mi) of new beachfront. Need better connections with the world? Build up an award-winning international airline in 15 years.Dubai
When to Go
The best time of the year to visit Dubai is between November and April, when the weather is coolest. The rest of the year you're more likely to be running from one air-conditioned environment to the next instead of getting out and exploring.
Ramadan, which takes place at a different time each year on the Western calendar, is the Muslim month of fasting and is strictly adhered to throughout the UAE. That means that it's illegal, not to mention rude, to eat, drink or smoke in public from sunrise to sunset at this time. On the 'up' side, hotel rates drop to 50% of their usual cost.
Don your Gucci sunglasses - Dubai is rich, lavish and abfab
Dangers & Annoyances
Familiarizing yourself with local customs relating to dress code and alcohol is your first step to keeping out of trouble. On the whole, Dubai is a very safe city, but you should exercise the same sort of caution with your personal safety as you would anywhere. One very real danger in Dubai is bad driving.
Be aware when driving and walking near busy roads that speed limits, indication and other safety related road rules do not apply for many in Dubai. We don't recommend that you swim, water-ski or jet-ski in the Creek.
The tides in the Gulf are not strong enough to flush the waterway out on a regular basis so it's not clean, despite what the tourist authorities might tell you. Also, be careful when swimming in the open sea. Despite the small surf, currents can be very strong and drownings are not uncommon.
Dubai is really two towns merged into one and divided by Dubai Creek (Khor Dubai), an inlet of the Gulf. Deira lies to the north and Bur Dubai to the south. Both districts are home to traditional architecture and bustling souqs, but the old city centre is in Deira. Glittering new office buildings along Sheikh Zayed Rd (known as Trade Centre Rd) in Bur Dubai threaten to supplant it as the city's real centre of gravity.
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