If you’ve always dreamt of a Middle Eastern adventure, there’s never been a better time to make those travel dreams a reality. With a flight time of under 7 hours, the glittering city of Dubai is now highly accessible and perfect for older travellers who want to mix modern luxury with profound tradition.
Much has changed since Queen Elizabeth’s tour of the Middle East back in 1979 and if you’ve never visited, perhaps this is the year to follow in her footsteps. Here are some handy travel tips to help you feel more confident during your trip.
1. Plan your trip between October and April You don’t know the meaning of ‘hot’ until you’ve been to Dubai in the summer. With temperatures that reach an average high of 41C, unless you want to keep yourself firmly indoors amongst the crisp air-conditioning, plan a winter visit between the months of October and April. You’ll be rewarded by beach weather and blue skies for your efforts.
2. Know your alcohol rules It’s certainly possible to enjoy a tipple legally in Dubai – just be aware that the sale of alcoholic drinks is restricted to hotel restaurants, bars and clubs only. You can’t buy your own booze unless you have a permit and public inebriation is against the law, but this needn’t hamper the enjoyment of your holiday.
3. Beware the PDAs While not the uber-conservative destination some believe it to be, public displays of affection can be highly offensive in Dubai. Reign in the hand-holding and keep the smooching out of sight as a sign of respect; otherwise you might upset the locals or even find yourself in trouble with the law.
4. Taxis are cheap Taking a taxi is by far the easiest way to get around Dubai, and it won’t burn that much of a hole in the wallet. While the Metro may be cheaper, the stations are situated in inconvenient locations, so grabbing a cab is the easiest option, especially for those with accessibility issues – and don’t forget to tip!
5. Double check your medication If you travel with medication, it’s very important to check that you can legally take it into Dubai. Some medicines, in particular those with any codeine or opiate ingredients, may be legal back home but are banned from the Emirate. Your GP should be able to advise you on this.
6. Dress for your surroundings While Islamic culture prizes modesty and you should always dress respectfully, the cosmopolitan population and widespread tourism of Dubai mean the dress code is more liberal than in other parts of the Middle East. You are perfectly free to wear regular swimming outfits on the beach – otherwise aim to remain covered from shoulder to knee.
7. You can visit Dubai on a budget While Dubai has a reputation for being a playground for the wealthy, if you avoid the fancy resorts, fine dining restaurants and luxury shopping malls, you can have a wonderful time on a budget. Sample Middle Eastern street food, shop for a budget hotel and flex your haggling skills at local markets – you’ll truly to get to grips with the culture in a much more affordable way.
Speaking of affordable… Medical Travel Compared can help you find the best value travel insurance policy for your trip, so that when you jet off to exotic Dubai, you know you’re in safe hands.