Getting around is a nightmare
It’s really hard to locate anything here, streets don’t really have names here, houses don’t have numbers etc. You need to know exactly where you’re headed because there’s no way to ask for directions. I stayed at the Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard and when I asked the locals, they had no idea where it is, while it’s just right outside of Burj Khalifa. They navigate through some skyscrapers or hotels/restaurants nearby, any kind of big building that you would easily notice. Also, everybody here has a car, so walking is very unusual for people and they just don;t know how to get anywhere, unless they drive there. So basically, addresses don’t exist here 😀 Make sure you have some really good app with maps! I had 3 of them, all working offline and sometimes it was a nightmare trying to get places even with maps.
Free shuttle bus to the airport terminal 2
So terminals 1 and 3 are connected to the red metro line. But terminal number 2 is not and getting there might be a pickle. On the official website of the airport it says there is a free shuttle bus to terminal no.2. But once you get there, it turns out the shuttle bus is more expensive than a taxi and also takes longer, so you will probably miss your flight. I was trying to get a cab for 15 minutes and paid 20 dirhams, stressing out and being stuck in the traffic for the longest time. The driver, from Pakistan was really nice though, reassuring me we will make it on time. He promised we make the trip within the limit of 20AED because I told him that’s all the cash I have on me. Later, his taxi meter was showing 22 AED but the said it’s fine. Such a cool guy! So, the free shuttle bus leaves ONLY from the green line, station you need is called Dubai Airport Free Zone. I got off the red line which has stations called Airport Terminal1 and Airport Terminal3- don’t get out there unless you wanna run around looking for a cab.
Don’t visit in summer
I was in Dubai in winter and it was 27 degrees Celsius and I was swimming in the Persian Gulf. That is winter in the desert, it’s just like a European summer. When it is summer here, temperatures go as high as 50 degrees and you cannot possibly stand being outside. That is why you have air-conditioned bus stops here. Walking up to your car from a cooled building makes you sweat as a pig and people faint or bleed out of their noses when they stay outside. So make sure you pick the right time of the year to come here- winter, spring or autumn. Not summer because it’s humanly impossible to survive the weather. Well, it is a city in a desert after all. Just look at how hard they need to work to grow some flowers here!
Don’t get too hyped for the stuff you read about online
Dubai is famous for it’s camel milk. Or so it says online, in documentary movies and in every single guidebook to Dubai. So I wanted to try the famous camelchino, which is a cappuccino prepared with camel milk. The truth is, I walked into every single cafe in Dubai, during my 5 day stay, and I never found it! What’s more- everyone looked at me, like I just made that up! Camelchino? What is that? We got soy milk or coconut milk if you want… No! I want my camel milk Goddammit! So, basically there’s maybe on or two places that actually have it. It’s probably not that delicious anyway, since camel milk is salty. I did eat the chocolate made of camel milk and it wasn’t such a bomb.
Be respectful to the Islamic tradition! But only in certain places…
Before we go somewhere, we always have certain hopes, expectations or fears. My fear was that I will not be respectful towards the Arab culture and I might offend someone by what I wear or do, since I was raised in a western world. But nope! There’s no reason to fear, unless you wanna visit a mosque (then it’s an important issue). The other place where you should watch out is The Dubai Mall, it has warnings about wearing inappropriate clothes, but I’ve seen people wearing usual clothes and no one seemed to mind. When you’re in a club, dancing , going wild and you try kissing someone the security will give you a warning. If you still keep on showing any kind of affection publicly you will have to leave and you might get in trouble. So basically no PDA is allowed here.
You will not meet locals here
Since the great majority of UAE population is expats, people from all over the globe, there’s probably around 3% of Emirati people living in there and you will not see them a lot. It’s also kinda sad, since Emirati people are not all around the place, you don’t have a chance to soak in the culture and learn about their traditions. The best way to discover every country is to make friends with locals and here it’s almost impossible. Emirati people are too rich to hang out with you, they spend days spending the oil money 😀 LOL It’s actually truth! Now the government implemented a program called Erimatization of the workplaces. So they try to hire more Emirati people and whenever a new position opens up it’s probable that an Emirati will be hired. The only problem is that if they don’t wanna work (they obviously don’t have to) no one can really make them. Life is rough when you’re insanely rich…
Pick a reliable company for a desert safari
It all looks like fun when you read about it online. Seems like a perfect thing to do while in UAE, going into the desert, catching the magical sunset there, belly dancing, camel riding, dunes bashing & barbecue. Perfection! And all for a price of approximately 30 $. Only it very much varies between companies. Let’s just say one company makes it a priceless experience and other… Well, they do take you into the desert, yes. But first you travel outside of the city with a bus, where people are crammed like crazy- 18 people in a space designed for 10 people. Then you go to the desert with 4×4 cars, but it’s not really what it’s all cracked up to be. There’s not enough food for everybody, so you get only leftovers, if you are lucky. Then it turns out, you were not so lucky to eat it after all, cuz everyone gets food poisoning (I guess food goes bad real quick in the desert). So, it’s all about taking the risk- you either get a cool experience, or not so much…
But don’t get me wrong- Dubai is awesome. But you can’t trust everything you read/watch online. Not even me! You just have to go there, and find out yourself!