Dubai is the largest and most populous city in the UAE (United Arab Emirates). UAE is one of the world’s richer countries. Their economy relies largely on trade, tourism, aviation, financial services, and real estate, with oil contributing a small percentage. It’s the home of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa standing 2717 feet tall with an observation deck at 555 meters high.
Dubai sits on the Persian Gulf at an elevation not much above sea level, surrounded by sandy desert. It has a hot desert climate with annual rainfall of just over 4 inches. Dubai is in a monarchy and the crime rate is very low. Things that are commonplace in western countries like PDA (public displays of affection) are basically not allowed in this Islamic country. Currency is the UAE Dirham. 1 USD is equal to over 3 ½ UAE Dirham. Dubai’s workers mainly come from foreign countries, and make up the majority of the population. Natives to the country living in Dubai tend to be independently wealthy.
It’s funny how in some places in the USA people won’t put up Christmas decorations for fear of offending non-Christians, yet in Dubai, which is a Muslim country, in December the touristy places are all decorated up for Christmas. Women wearing abayas and hijabs or niquibs shopped happily among the Christmas decorations at all the malls and souks without looking the least bit offended.
Abayas are the traditional dress or robe-like usually black outerwear worn by women of the region. Hijabs are their headscarves, and niqabs the face-covering veil some of them wear leaving only the eyes exposed. Often in the groups of women we saw who were together some had the just the hijab while others wore the niqab as well, even among wives of the same man. We went to Global Village one day. There were lots of little food shacks there, which kind of brings up the question of how the ladies wearing the niqab get anything to eat when they are out and about. Women in the gulf region do not generally wear burkas, which cover everything including a mesh screen over the eyes.
The men’s traditional clothing is a usually white robe called a dishdasha, kandura, thawb or thobe and a headress called a keffiyeh or shemagh. It is a traditional square cotton scarf, often held in place with a double row of black cord called agal, also spelled iqal, egal or igal. We took a van tour at one of our port stops and the driver had a white robe on so I asked him why the men wear white and the women wear black, but he just said tradition. In a hot desert country wearing black would make people even hotter since black absorbs heat, but it must be pretty hard to keep all that white clean so I’m not sure which would be better. Personally I wear black a lot more often than white, but I also live in a place that hardly ever gets hot.
DUBAI CRUISE PORT
Dubai’s cruise terminal is located at Port Rashid, about 15k from the airport. It has a coffee bar and deli, business center with free wifi, currency exchange, ATM, and a concierge who can set up day tours. Free shuttles leave on the hour to Mercato Mall. Taxis are available. There is a surcharge on all taxis leaving the cruise terminal or airport which will add an extra $5+ to the fare (about $15 to the airport or $10 to town). You can avoid paying that fee by taking the free mall shuttle to town and catching a taxi there. Our ship, the MSC Lirica, overnighted there. We found it cheaper to take an Uber than to use the taxis. The brownish beige taxis cost less than the black ones, but with Uber we got the black car for even less.
Online info said there is a 24 hour help desk with free maps and advice, a post office, shops and mini mart, outlets for aerial and coach tour operators, help desks for shopping malls that offer free shuttles (Mercato Mall, AL Guhrir City, Dubai Outler Mall, and Burjaman which is the closest one to a metro station).
Most of that was not open during our visit. The only mall help desk was for Mercato mall, which was also the only one with a shuttle running. The information desk was open, but not very helpful. Walking from the terminal is not allowed and the terminal is not close to town. The HOHO busses were there, but quite pricey because Dubai is huge and the hop on hop off bus has 3 long routes with connecting points to cover it all.
MSC Lirica docked at terminal 2 at the cruise port in Dubai. It’s a large port with 3 terminals. A ship from Azamara and a German ship docked nearby. Across the harbor we could see the Queen Elizabeth 2 which is a permanent fixture at that port, now used as a hotel.
As you disembark the ship you are given a port entry card, much like the ports in Oman. As in the ports there, nobody ever asked to see it. Security screens your bags as you leave the port building.
THINGS TO DO IN DUBAI
Dubai’s most well-known attraction is the world’s tallest building (Burj Khalifa) & Dubai fountain, which is next to the Burj Khalifa. Fountain shows last 5 minutes and run every half hour from 6-11pm. There’s lots more to do in Dubai including indoor skiing, ice skating rink, malls, gold and spice souks, water sports, museums, golf, desert safaris, dhow cruises, beaches, old town area (Bastakiya quarter),Global Village, Burj al Arab hotel, boat ride on Dubai Creek, Jumeirah Mosque (must cover up to enter, clothing provided), Wild Wadi Waterpark, Dubai Miracle Garden, Palm Jumeirah palm shaped manmade island, Aquaventure Waterpark at Atlantis Hotel, Dubai Marina, x-line world’s longest urban zipline, Al Fahidi historical neighborhood, Dubai Canal, indoor theme park, other theme parks, city walk, and Dubai Frame with panoramic city views and a clear glass bridge between buildings.
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