Dubai: Things to know

All the essential info you need, from weather and when to visit to getting here and getting around. Pack your swimwear, your sunnies, and leave the umbrella at home…


Arabic is the national language; English the language of business

Time zone

GMT +4 hours


UAE Dirhams (AED or Dh)

Dialling code



November-February for moderate ‘winter’ temperatures (in the 20s), although January can be cloudy. April-October is scorching hot (high 30s, on average) with high humidity. June-August, when temperatures are in the mid 40s, is best avoided unless you plan to stay in the air-conditioned cool

When to visit

Dubai is famous for its year-round sunshine, so any time if your aim is to work on your tan. Otherwise: December-March for international sporting events; arts, cultural and shopping festivals; and outdoor activities; and June-August for summer bargains when hotel prices drop enormously


Many citizens can get a free 30-day visa on arrival, which can be extended for 30 days for a fee at a UAE immigration office. Other countries can pre-pay, although some hotels and tourist companies can apply for one on your behalf. See here for more information


None required or recommended


Type G (three-prong plug)


Discretionary but appreciated – consider 10-15%


Dial 999 (police), 998/999 (ambulance), 997 (fire department).

Tourist info

Dubai Tourism ( has desks at all major shopping malls.

Getting there

Airlines and airports: Dubai International Airport is served by most international airlines

Transfers: The airport is well served by cabs, private transfer services and public transport. While the Dubai Metro (which services the entire city from terminal 1within an hour and costs under AED 5) and Dubai Airport Bus are more affordable, taxis are the most convenient; the bus in particular can be confusing for newcomers. Ignore the unofficial touts and use the government-operated (and therefore regulated) Dubai Taxi Corporation cabs; prices vary depending on time of day and distance, costing up to AED 100 to the farthest parts of the city. You can also look into car hire here

Getting around

Public transport: Air-conditioned buses are more useful to residents than visitors. The sleek Dubai Metro is increasingly convenient as services expand. Still, it’s handiest for getting to shopping malls rather than business meetings, hotels and restaurants. The multi-use Nol card can be purchased from vending machines, Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) customer service centres, and Dubai Metro and Water Bus ticket offices and used on all forms of transport

Water transport: Traditional abras (open-sided wooden boats) criss-cross Dubai Creek from 5am to midnight; pay the fare (AED1) to the boat captain. Air-conditioned modern water buses operate along Dubai Creek and Dubai Marina from 7am-10pm (AED2-5; Nol only). Private water taxis can be hired from over 25 marina stations (from AED65), while the tourist-focused Dubai water ferry, a high-speed catamaran, zips along the Arabian Gulf coast (from AED50)

Cabs: Catch metered Dubai Taxi Corporation cabs from taxi stands at malls, from hotels, or flag them down on the street (this can be challenging during peak hours)

Hotel Offers

Worldwide deals and discounts for American Express Cardmembers