Dubai, United Arab Emirates
A sprawling mega city of glass, concrete and steel, Dubai rises out of the desert as the biggest – and the most well-known – of the seven United Arab Emirates. An international gateway to the Middle East, Dubai is a city of contrasts with a modern veneer and an ancient heart.
Conservative Muslim traditions are alive and well. The old world marketplaces that stand just blocks away from newly built five star hotels provide a fascinating glimpse into Arabian culture.
Dubbed the ‘Las Vegas’ of the Middle East, there is plenty of entertainment for all travellers visiting Dubai – whether for business or leisure. Although developing rapidly, Dubai’s large-scale infrastructure and tourist amenities have been designed with the needs of western visitors and businesses in mind. Whether it’s shopping for gold or silk fabrics in mega malls, high octane indoor skiing experiences or opulent poolside experiences with cocktail in hand, get ready to relax and relish in all that’s on offer in the Middle East’s premier tourist destination.
International cruise ships dock at Port Rashid in the Arabian Gulf, approximately 11 kilometres from downtown Dubai. Port Rashid is an impressive growing facility with three separate terminals that welcome more than half a million arrivals each year. The new terminal completed in 2014 is officially the largest cruise terminal in the world. It allows the port to handle up to seven cruise ships simultaneously.
The Dubai cruise terminal is well equipped, with facilities at each terminal including check-in and baggage facilities, free Wi-Fi and a concierge.
Other facilities include:
- Tourist help desk and information centre
- Currency exchange
- Post office
- Souvenir, jewellery, gifts and electronic stores
- Taxi ranks
- Mini mart and cafés.
All terminals also have free shuttle buses to transfer passengers to major shopping malls and the city centre.
How to Get Around
While it may look close to the city centre on the map, leaving the port on foot is a difficult journey due to a lack of pedestrian facilities along the major motorways. Therefore, taxis and shuttle buses are the best way to get from the port to onward destinations.
In town, the city boasts an impressive (and growing) metro system. Buses and trams are also used, with visitors able to purchase a day pass for unlimited travel on all three networks.
Travel times from the port:
- It is a 17 minute journey to The Dubai Mall
- It is an 18 minute journey to Mercato Mall in Jumeirah.
- It is a 20 minute journey to Jumeirah Beach
- It is a 21 minute journey to the historical district of Bur Dubai
- It is a 25 minute journey to Dubai International Airport.
- Currency: Dubai uses the United Arab Emirates Dirham (AED.) Coins are available in 1 dirham and 20 and 50 fils denominations (100 fils is equivalent to 1 dirham). Bank notes are available in 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1,000 dirham denominations.
- Time Zone: Dubai operates in the United Arab Emirates time zone, which is 4 hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).
- Weather: Dubai experiences a tropical desert climate with hot humid summers and short warm winters. Visitors can expect warm to hot temperatures during the year; however, the heat can be oppressive during summer with average July temperatures of 40.8 degrees Celsius.
- Desert Safari: Hit the sand dunes by 4X4, tearing over the sweeping hills of the Arabian Desert and then enjoying picture-perfect sunsets. Many tours can be booked from the cruise terminal and may include a visit to a traditional Arabian campsite, barbeque lunch or dinner, as well as the chance to ride a camel.
- Palm Jumeirah Man Made Island: A famous man-made island in the shape of a palm tree, Palm Jumeriah is dotted with luxury high rises and indulgent activities. With hotels and other operators offering day passes for pools and water sport activities, not to mention plenty of day spas, this is the place to come for some R&R.
- Shopping Malls and Burj Khalifa: No trip to Dubai is complete without experiencing some of the world’s most impressive and enormous shopping centres. After a trip up the Burj Khalifa (the world’s tallest building at 163 floors) admire the world’s largest mall – the Dubai Mall. In addition to shopping boutiques, this mall features Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo and an indoor waterfall. The Mall of Emirates is home to Ski Dubai, a winter wonderland where snow, ice and all manner of indoor winter sport activities are possible.