Nuts-and-bolts information to plan your trip, plus a checklist of essentials to include when you pack and a list of links to local media


Entry Requirements: U.S. citizens need a valid passport.

Security: Americans visiting Dubai and the U.A.E. are asked to exercise a high level of security awareness as attacks against U.S. citizens are a concern throughout the world.  Visit the U.S. Department of State Web site for the latest information on the U.A.E.

Time: Dubai is nine hours ahead of U.S. eastern standard time during the winter and eight hours ahead during the summer (Daylight Saving Time).

Money: The currency of Dubai is the United Arab Emirate Dirham (AED, Dhs, or Dh). For current conversion rates go to OANDA Currency Converter.

Phone Calls: U.A.E.’s country code is 971, Dubai’s area code is (0) 4. Local mobile numbers in Dubai come with a (0) 50 or (0) 55 prefix. For international calls, dial 00 followed by country code.

When to Go: The best time to visit is winter (December to February) when temperatures average 75°F (24°C). From May to September the weather is stifling, averaging 105°F (40°C) in July and August. Other months are fine but very warm.

Getting There: Busy Dubai International Airport (DXB) receives direct flights from New York, Atlanta, and Houston. Other flights from the U.S. generally arrive via London.

Getting Around: Driving in Dubai is on the right side of the road. The top highway speed is around 75 mph (120 kph); traveling within Dubai it’s better to use taxis, which are affordable and plentiful.


Tips: “Pack a light jacket—shopping malls and hotels are air-conditioned to the point of freezing.”—Rachel Sharp, editor-in-chief, Harper’s Bazaar Dubai.

Passport/Visa: U.S. citizens don’t need a visa to enter the U.A.E. if they plan to stay for less than a month. They’ll get a (free) tourist visa stamp on arrival at Dubai’s immigration.

Sunscreen and Self-Tanning Lotion: Dubai’s high temperatures and scorching sun mean you’ll burn fast. Take a high SPF sunscreen. “Forget sunbathing: fake tans save both your skin and time to shop.”—Rachel Sharp.

Hat: A baseball cap or straw sun hat is essential for walks and cruises on Dubai Creek.

Sunglasses: Dubai’s clear skies mean glaring light, especially in summer. Pack strong UV-filtered sunglasses or, as Rachel Sharp suggests, “Buy sunglasses here—designer brands are relatively cheap and there’s a massive selection.”

Footwear: Around the city and swimming pool, sandals or leather flip-flops are best—Dubai specializes in glam varieties. For the desert safari, camel ride, and sandboarding, you’ll need closed shoes (sneakers or hiking boots). Going out? “High-heel girls will be in heaven. Four-inch Christian Louboutins at lunch are the norm.”—Rachel Sharp.

Day Attire: While spaghetti straps and shorts are fine at the beach resort, Emiratis think you’re in your underwear—wear shorts/skirts below the knees and sleeves to the elbows. Loose, long linens and cottons protect the skin, let it breathe, and are respectful of the local culture and Muslim religion. “By day, smart casual will take you almost everywhere, but the more traditional the area you’re in, the more modest you need to be. Throw a pashmina in your handbag so you have it ready as a quick cover-up.”—Claire Turrell, editor, VIVA magazine.

Night Attire: “Leave that subtle little black dress at home—Dubai’s dressing’s all about sparkle and color. We love to dress up—cocktail dresses to brunches aren’t out of the ordinary.”—Rachel Sharp.

Toiletries: Leave them at home. Dubai’s five-star hotel bathrooms have beautiful toiletries, from L’Occitane to Dead Sea products. French cosmetics are often cheaper in tax-free Dubai than they are in France.

Web Links

Secret Dubai Diary

Best of the myriad blogs on Dubai, with musings on living in the city from an expat perspective.

Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing

Dubai’s official tourism Web site, packed with useful information.

Time Out Dubai

Frequently updated to cover the latest club, bar, and restaurant openings.

Burj Dubai

The slick Web site for the world’s tallest building, with a startling height comparison of the Burj to other monumental edifices.

Sheikh Mohammed CEO of Dubai Inc.

Sheikh Mohammed and Dubai’s success are inexorably intertwined and his Web site does little to dispel that notion.


This free daily newspaper tackles issues the others won’t. The “Letters to the Editor” section is legendary.

Gulf News

The best of the local rags (not exactly a compliment) in online form.

Local Media


Glossy aimed at jet-setting expat women living in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, U.A.E., Oman, and Yemen); interviews with successful women; local and global issues; entertainment, fashion, beauty, travel.


Vibrant Middle East culture and arts magazine tackling misconceptions about the region and its diaspora; Dubai-based editor; sections on art shows, film festivals, and museums.

Dubai Eye 103.8 FM

Dubai’s talk radio station in eight languages; programs cover topical issues, entertainment, travel, sport, and health.


Eye-opening glossy aimed at the gulf’s 300,000 millionaires, 68,000 of whom live in the U.A.E.; luxury goods, travel, yachts, investments, society art openings, and book launches.


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