Language: While Arabic is the UAE’s official language, English is the language of business and is spoken by almost everyone in Dubai.
Currency: Dirham (Dhs). The exchange rate as of the time this article was written is Dhs 3.67 to USD 1.
Credit Cards and Banks: Cash is still king here. While most places accept credit cards, it’s best to always carry small change.
Climate: Summers are extremely hot in Dubai. Daytime temperatures are sometimes over 106 degrees while nights rarely fall below eighty-eight degrees. Winters are much more comfortable with temps between sixty and seventy-five degrees.
Good to Know: The minimum drinking age is twenty-one and there are areas where photography is prohibited, so watch out for signs.
Dress Code: It can get very hot in Dubai, but you should be aware of keeping your clothes more on the conservative side. Be sure to pack light layers with a few long-sleeves and full length bottoms.
THE HARRISON WAY
Harrison’s Travels embarked upon our inaugural trip to Dubai on February 11, 2018. We traveled with 14 other guests. The group consisted of travelers from various backgrounds.
Our flight departed the Hartsfield-Jackson (ATL) Internation Airport at approximately 8:35 pm via KLM Airlines. We reserved the basic economy seats (which were more economical). The seats were really comfortable and came with two free checked bags, two meals and a cocktail. The first leg of our flight was about 6 hours with a two hour layover in Paris-de Gaulle (CDG). The last leg of our flight from CDG to Dubai (DXB) was a little over 8 hours.
WE MADE IT TO DUBAI
It was definitely love at first sight for us when we landed in Dubai. The anticipation and excitement was unbelievable. We waited in the customs line for nearly 25 minutes. It was a fairly smooth process. Our tour operator met us at the airport with a sign so we could easily identify them. From the moment we left the airport, Dubai was one big WOW.
After clearing customs, we headed to our hotel. Our home away from home was the Avani Diera Hotel. This hotel was centrally located and in walking distance to restaurants and shops. It did not disappoint us at all. The food and drinks were amazing. There were a variety of options available for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
DAY 1: DUBAI CITY TOUR
We spent a fabulous day discovering Dubai, one of the world’s most futuristic cities with its dramatic skyline. We began with a photo stop at Dubai’s signature landmark, Burj Al Arab, the celebrated sail-shaped hotel facing the Persian Gulf. We then continued to the Jumeirah Pal, a man-made island, which was built in the shape of a palm tree and houses, residential buildings, villas and luxury resorts. We drove to the end of the island, to visit the iconic Atlantis, The Palm hotel. At the hotel, we were surrounded by the astonishing aquarium inhabited by thousands of marine species from around the world. We continued our journey on Sheikh Zayed road to visit the world’s tallest tower Burj Khalifa. While there, we got the opportunity to ask questions while on level 124 of the building. We took pictures that made the experience even more memorable. We were also given a few hours to have lunch and explore the Dubai mall. Afterwards, we drove to the oldest part of Al Fahidi Fort, which has survived two centuries. We took the tour through the cloth markets and ended up at the Abras, where local water taxis took us across the Creek area of the spice and gold souks. We later returned to our hotel and enjoyed a group dinner and cocktails in the hotel restaurant/bar.
DAY 2: ABU DHABI CITY TOUR
Today began with an excursion to Abu Dhabi, the ultra-sophisticated capital of the United Arab Emirates, often called the “Arabian Jewel”. We drove past Jebel Ali, the largest man-made port in the world before arriving at the magnificent Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque, iconic symbol of Abu Dhabi. This was one of the most amazing experiences ever. I had no idea the mosque was so beautiful. Pictures does no justice for this place. I highly recommend it.
We continued day two viewing the blue waters glittering on one side and shimmering skyscrapers lining the other. At the Breakwater, we took photos of the city’s fabulous skyline. Then, we went on to Heritage Village, a reconstructed traditional desert village. While there, we journeyed to the past to experience life in Abu Dhabi before oil revenues altered the landscape. At the village, there were many aspects of desert life displayed in the open-air museum along with workshops, where craftsmen demonstrated traditional skills while women sat around weaving and spinning. We then had lunch. After lunch, we visit Zayed House for a fascinating peek into the life of the late Sheikh Zayed, “Father of the Nation”. We then returned to Dubai via Yas Island, where the Ferrari World theme park and brand-new Formula I race track was located. We had the most amazing gelato from the food court there.
We ended our night with one of the best dinner cruises I have ever had. The Dhow dinner cruise was so awesome. Dhows have been the traditional ships used in the UAE for many centuries. The sumptuous buffet dinner and music was far beyond my expectations.
DAY 3: FULL DAY IN DUBAI
Our morning was basically a free morning. We had the opportunity to experience the city of Dubai on our own until our group activities began. Some of us went back to the Dubai Mall. Some of us had massages, some slept in…..we just did what we wanted to do.
In the afternoon, we participated in amazing Desert Safari. We boarded a 4×4 vehicle and headed towards the highest sand dunes of the surreal surrounding desert. We felt the thrill of the dune bashing as we spiraled up and down the enormous golden dunes. We stopped to watch the beautiful sunset before reaching the Bedouin campsite. We were welcomed with traditional Arabic coffee and had the opportunity to ride camels. This was so fun and was definitely the highlight of the trip. We then enjoyed a barbecue dinner prepared especially for us. We were also entertained with a captivating belly dancer before we returned to our hotel.
DAY 4: FULL DAY ON YOUR OWN
Most of us spent the morning and afternoon exploring the vibrant city on our own. I had the opportunity to visit Global Village. It is the region’s first-ever, family multicultural festival park. Global Village Dubai is located on Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road Dubai. Global Village Dubai combine the world 90 countries cultures at one place. Global Village Dubai, claims is the world’s largest tourism, leisure, shopping and entertainment project. It is definitely worth the visit. Global Village opens from October 30 – April 6 of each year.
DAY 5: DEPART THE UAE
We departed the hotel at approximately 10:30 pm to transfer to the airport for our flight back to the US.
Overall, on the scale of one to ten, I rate the whole Dubai experience a 10. It is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience that everyone should try.
If you would like to visit Dubai “The Harrison Way”, start planning your trip now!