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Updated by Joanna James on May 02, 2024
Headline for How to Navigate Dubai as a First-Time Visitor - Tips for First Timers Heading for a Dubai Holiday
Joanna James Joanna James
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How to Navigate Dubai as a First-Time Visitor - Tips for First Timers Heading for a Dubai Holiday

Tipped to be one of the Middle East's most dynamic holiday hotspots, Dubai is a city unlike any other in the UAE. Offering visitors a wealth of new experiences both in terms of cultural encounters as well as leisure activities, navigating the vibrant landscapes of the desert capital may be daunting to first-time travellers. From timing the trip to avoiding faux pas that can land one in hot water, here are some practical vacation tips for first-timers heading to Dubai.


Timing Matters in the Desert

While all holiday destinations have a peak tourist season, it is imperative that travellers stick to this most popular time of year when planning a holiday in the desert. Although timing your vacation in the wrong season or time of year can bring about unpleasant circumstances in most holiday hotspots, they can be especially disastrous in a city such as Dubai, which is inhospitable during the summer months. As a rule of thumb, it is best to stick to the winter season from November to the end of February for a trip to Dubai as this is as cool and temperate as the city gets. This is also the only time of year when outdoor excursions and activities are possible and accessible as high temperatures during the sweltering months render the same activities impossible.


What to Wear

Although Dubai is very cosmopolitan in its attitudes and architecture, it would be a mistake to assume that the city is a liberal and tolerant cultural melting pot. While Dubai has made great strides toward modernity in recent years, its cultural and religious heritage, which is primarily Islamic still, dictates how locals perceive tourists, their attire, and their behaviour. This means that wearing skimpy tank tops and shorts when sightseeing around Dubai is a big no. In fact, it is best to keep swimwear and all other forms of "revealing" clothing confined to your resort base whether it is the Avani Ibn Battuta Hotel Dubai or any other rest. Although shopping is one of the top things to do in Ibn Battuta, those who intend to visit various religious and cultural sites near the mall should dress conservatively or cover up with a scarf or shawl when entering heritage hubs.


Getting Around

It is prudent to remember that the traffic situation is very chaotic during weekdays. Friday and Saturday, the official weekend in the UAE, are when roads are much less crowded and the Dubai Metro is also likely to be more tourist-friendly. Taxi services are another great way to explore the city as there are several cab companies offering affordable rates for quick transfers to key highlights.


What to Avoid

As an Islamic nation, first-time visitors should be careful not to smoke or drink in public when holidaying in Dubai. PDA or public displays of affection are also frowned upon by the local populace and this means no hand holding, kissing, or hugging, even if it is a member of the same gender. Loud and rude behaviour in public places will also garner unwanted attention.


Ramadan Period

It is best not to visit Dubai during the holy Ramadan months as most businesses are closed for most hours of the day. Eating and drinking in public are also prohibited across the UAE during this auspicious time when most of the residents of Dubai will be engaged in fasting. This makes the Ramadan season the least appropriate time to holiday in Dubai or any other city where the populace is made up of Muslims.