Getting to Dubai
Dubai is home to two airports: Dubai International Airport (DXB) and Dubai World Central – Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC). Dubai International is the world’s busiest, offering connections worldwide from its own Emirates airline and other international carriers. For visa information, consult the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.
Dubai’s transportation system is efficient and well-connected. Taxis, ride-sharing services, and the Dubai Metro make getting around the city easy. Renting a car is also an option for those wanting more flexibility. Traffic can be heavy during peak hours.
Time zone: Gulf Standard Time
Currency: 1 USD = 3.6725 AED
Official language: Arabic, though English is commonly used in workspaces, schools and public spaces
The districts of Dubai
Dubai has six main areas: Bur Dubai, Deira, Hatta, Jabel Ali, Jumeirah and surrounding suburbs.
Bur Dubai: This is Dubai’s historic district, a central location to museums, elegant boutiques, discount stores, art galleries, and concerts and sports events in Zabeel Stadium.
Deira: Known as the heart of Dubai’s gold trade, this district is home to the iconic Gold Souk and the smaller Spice Souk.
Hatta: An exclave (a territory surrounded by another state) of Dubai, Hatta is perched high in UAE’s Hajar Mountains. Travelers visit Hatta for its popular heritage village, natural views, camping and kayaking.
Jabel Ali: This seaport is the largest in the Middle East. Popular attractions in this area include Jebel Ali Beach and Soul Beach. Al Maktoum International is located in Jebel Ali, 70 km (approx. 43.5 miles) from Dubai International Airport.
Jumeirah: This coastal residential area of is likely to show up in a social media reel. Visitors will experience world-class hospitality, award-winning spa services, top dining destinations, iconic hotels and more.
Suburbs: Though known for its glittering skyscrapers and bustling business and entertainment districts, Dubai also is home to meticulously designed suburbs with greenspaces, supermarkets, golf courses, restaurants, and gyms.
Key Dubai business districts
Key business districts include the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), Business Bay, and Dubai Internet City. These areas host numerous corporate offices, making them convenient for business meetings. DIFC, in particular, is a financial hub with a range of dining and networking options.
Etiquette for Dubai business meetings and meals
Dubai’s business culture values professionalism and respect. It’s customary to exchange business cards, and a handshake is a common greeting. Never shake the hand of an Emirati woman unless she offers first. Dressing in smart, conservative attire is recommended, especially when meeting with local business partners. Punctuality is crucial, and meetings often begin with small talk before turning to business. At meals, use your right hand for eating and drinking.
Understanding cultural sensitivities in the UAE
Respect local customs and traditions. Dress modestly, especially when visiting religious sites, and be aware of Islamic practices. During the holy month of Ramadan, be mindful of fasting hours and cultural sensitivities. Visitors must comply with local norms and laws or risk the consequences.
Drinking in Dubai: Consuming alcohol in Dubai is legal and permitted in licensed restaurants, hotels and bars attached to licensed hotels. Drinking in public places, including the beach, is strictly prohibited and punishable. Any display of public intoxication could result in detainment or arrest. Do not drink and drive at all. Dubai sets extreme penalties for driving under the influence.
No public displays of affection (PDA): Dubai follows Islamic principles; modesty and conservative behavior are highly valued. PDA is regulated by laws rooted in cultural and Islamic principles. Kissing, holding hands, or hugging in public can lead to fines or legal action.
Do not curse or use obscene gestures: Using swear words or even sticking out your tongue can mean jail time in Dubai. Even slapping a steering wheel out of frustration in heavy traffic could land you in trouble.
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