India to Dubai travel guide

India to Dubai, UAE travel guide

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Dubai, often dubbed the ‘City of Gold,’ stands as a shimmering testament to modern architecture, luxury, and rich traditions, nestled within the vast expanse of the Arabian desert. For many Indians, Dubai represents more than just a travel destination; it’s a blend of familiar cultural nuances and exhilarating novelties. As airways bridge the gap between the bustling streets of Mumbai or Delhi and the towering skyscrapers of Dubai, it’s crucial for travelers to be well-prepared for their journey. This comprehensive guide aims to equip visitors from India with essential information, ensuring a seamless and memorable travel experience to one of the world’s most captivating cities.

Table of Contents

Brief overview of the cultural and economic ties between India and Dubai

India and Dubai share a profound and multi-faceted relationship that spans centuries. Culturally, the ties between the two regions can be traced back to ancient trade routes, where Indian merchants and traders would sail to the Gulf, fostering exchanges in goods, art, and traditions. Over time, this relationship has cemented with the Indian diaspora playing a significant role in Dubai’s cosmopolitan fabric. Indian festivals, cuisines, and Bollywood entertainment are celebrated with much fervor in Dubai, underscoring the depth of their cultural interconnection.
 
Economically, the ties are robust and dynamic. India is one of Dubai’s largest trading partners, with trade volumes spanning a wide range of sectors, from energy to electronics and textiles. Dubai has also become a pivotal hub for Indian businesses looking to expand their global footprint, offering a strategic location and state-of-the-art infrastructure. Conversely, many Dubai-based enterprises view India as a significant market due to its vast consumer base and burgeoning sectors like technology and e-commerce. The mutual investments, coupled with the consistent flow of professionals, tourists, and entrepreneurs between the two, are testimonies to their enduring economic partnership.

The importance of Dubai as a travel destination for Indians

Dubai, conveniently situated a short flight away from India, offers a unique blend of the familiar and the exotic, making it a favorite destination for Indian travelers. The city’s rich tapestry of cultural familiarity is evident in its numerous Indian eateries, vibrant Bollywood events, and spirited celebrations of Indian festivals. Beyond its allure as a shopping mecca, with events like the Dubai Shopping Festival and competitive rates on luxury items, Dubai mesmerizes with its architectural wonders such as the Burj Khalifa and Palm Jumeirah. However, it’s not just about modernity; the city’s historical sites, including the Dubai Museum and Al Fahidi Historic District, provide a deep dive into the region’s rich past. With its world-class infrastructure, safety standards, diverse entertainment options, and business opportunities, Dubai seamlessly blends comfort with adventure, making it an irresistible magnet for Indians seeking both leisure and opportunity.

Visa Requirements

For Indian citizens traveling to Dubai, understanding visa requirements is crucial to ensure a smooth journey. Here’s a general overview of the visa requirements for Indians visiting Dubai:
 

Type of Visas Available:

  • Tourist Visa: This is the most common type for travelers, and it’s typically valid for 30 days. There’s also an option to apply for a long-term visa which is valid for 90 days.
  • Transit Visa: For travelers who have a layover in Dubai and wish to leave the airport, they can apply for a 48-hour or 96-hour transit visa.
  • Visit Visa: For those visiting family or friends residing in Dubai, a visit visa can be procured. The resident in Dubai can also apply on behalf of the visitor.
  • Business Visa: For individuals traveling for business purposes.

Process and Documentation:

  • Passport: Must be valid for at least six months from the date of travel.
  • Photographs: Passport-sized photos as per specified dimensions.
  • Confirmed Return Ticket: Proof of a return ticket or onward journey.
  • Hotel Booking: Confirmed hotel reservation or proof of accommodation.
  • Sponsorship: For certain visa types, like the visit visa, a sponsor is required who could be a relative or friend residing in Dubai.
  • Financial Proof: Documentation to prove financial stability, such as bank statements.

Application Process:

  1. Visas can be applied for through the official UAE government website, airlines like Emirates and Etihad, or through registered travel agents.
  2. After submission, the visa processing typically takes 3-5 working days, but it’s advised to apply well in advance.
  3. Upon approval, the visa will be sent electronically.
  4. Fees:
  5. The visa fee varies depending on the type of visa applied for and the duration. It’s essential to check current fees before applying, as they can change.

Important Points to Note:

  • Overstaying without a valid visa can lead to fines and legal consequences.
  • Ensure all documents are genuine. Providing false information can lead to visa rejection and future travel bans to the UAE.
  • The UAE government has the right to reject any visa application without providing reasons.
  • Remember, while this overview provides general guidance, visa policies can change, and it’s always recommended to consult the official UAE consulate or embassy website or contact a reputable travel agency for the most up-to-date and detailed information.

Flight Information

However, specific flight information would depend on the time, date, and city of departure from India. For a generic outline of flight information between India and Dubai, here’s what you might expect:
 

Popular Departure Cities from India:

Mumbai (Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport)

Delhi (Indira Gandhi International Airport)

Bangalore (Kempegowda International Airport)

Chennai (Chennai International Airport)

Kolkata (Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport)

Arrival in Dubai:

Most flights from India touchdown at the Dubai International Airport (DXB), with some landing at Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC) during peak seasons or for specific routes. Traveling from major Indian cities like Mumbai and Delhi to Dubai typically takes around 3 to 4 hours respectively. With frequent flights due to strong business and cultural ties, travelers can choose from a host of airlines, including Emirates, Air India, IndiGo, SpiceJet, and FlyDubai. These airlines often provide in-flight entertainment, meals with Indian cuisine options, and the opportunity for duty-free shopping. The fare range is influenced by several factors such as season, booking time, and the specific airline, but travelers can expect competitive pricing given the high frequency of services. For the most updated flight information and fares, consulting airline websites, flight aggregator platforms, or travel agencies is recommended. Upon arrival in Dubai, visitors can conveniently opt for car rental at Dubai airport to navigate the city with ease.

Customs and Etiquette

Understanding the customs and etiquette of a destination is essential for travelers to ensure a respectful and enjoyable experience. In Dubai, a city with a rich cultural tapestry, being mindful of local customs can pave the way for smoother interactions. Here’s a guide to the customs and etiquette you should be aware of when traveling to Dubai:
 

Dress Code:

  • General Public Places: While Dubai is more liberal compared to some other Middle Eastern cities, it’s advisable to dress modestly. For women, clothing that covers the shoulders and knees, like long skirts, dresses, or trousers, is appropriate. Men should avoid wearing sleeveless shirts in public areas.
  • Beaches: Swimwear is acceptable at the beach, hotel pools, and private pools. However, once you leave these areas, ensure you’re covered up.
  • Mosques: Non-Muslim visitors are often allowed to visit certain mosques. Here, women should wear long-sleeved clothing and cover their heads with a scarf. Men should wear long pants.

Public Behavior:

While in Dubai, it’s essential to be mindful of cultural norms. Overt public displays of affection, such as hugging and kissing, are best avoided as they can be deemed disrespectful, although holding hands for married couples is generally accepted. Alcohol can be consumed in licensed venues within hotels, like restaurants, bars, and clubs, but public intoxication is against the law and driving under its influence attracts severe penalties. Additionally, during the holy month of Ramadan, where Muslims fast from dawn to sunset, visitors should abstain from eating, drinking, or smoking in public during daylight hours out of respect for local customs.
 

Language and Greetings:

Greetings: A common greeting is “As-salamu alaykum” (Peace be upon you). The reply is “Wa alaykum as-salam” (And upon you be peace). However, English is widely spoken, especially in business settings.
Physical Contact: When greeting someone of the opposite gender, wait and see if they extend their hand for a handshake. If not, a nod or smile is appropriate.
 

Tipping:

Restaurants: A service charge is often included in the bill. However, leaving a tip of around 10-15% for good service is customary.
Taxis: Tipping is appreciated but not mandatory. Rounding up the fare or leaving a small amount is sufficient.
 
Photography:
Permission: Always ask for permission before photographing people, especially local women. Avoid taking pictures of government buildings, military installations, and airports.
 
Business Etiquette:
Punctuality: Being on time is appreciated. However, understand that the concept of time can be more relaxed in this region.
Meetings: Initial meetings are often more about relationship-building than business. Be prepared for some personal discussions before diving into business matters.
Being aware of and respecting these customs and etiquettes will not only enhance your travel experience but also reflect well on you as a considerate visitor.
Customs and Etiquette in Dubai

Currency and Money Exchange

The official currency of Dubai is the United Arab Emirates Dirham, abbreviated as AED or sometimes represented as Dhs.
 

Money Exchange:

At Dubai International Airport, travelers can find currency exchange counters offering competitive rates, and throughout the city, major shopping areas, malls, and souks house numerous exchange centers. Additionally, most local banks provide currency exchange services. ATMs, which are abundant throughout Dubai, accept international cards and dispense dirhams, though they may charge fees for foreign cards. While credit cards are widely accepted in Dubai, it’s advisable to carry some cash for smaller purchases or at places that don’t facilitate card transactions. For the best deal, it’s wise to compare rates across a few locations and always retain the receipt of any currency exchanges.

Accommodation

  • Hotels:
Luxury Hotels: Dubai is renowned for its opulent hotel offerings like the Burj Al Arab, Atlantis The Palm, and the Armani Hotel.
Mid-Range Hotels: Plenty of options are available, including global chains like Novotel, Hilton, and Marriott.
Budget Hotels: While Dubai leans towards luxury, there are budget options, especially in older parts of the city like Deira.
 
  • Serviced Apartments:
Ideal for longer stays, these come with amenities like kitchens and laundry facilities. Popular chains include Jumeirah Living and The Address Residences.
 
  • Short-Term Rentals:
Platforms like Airbnb and Booking.com offer a variety of options, from luxury villas to budget-friendly apartments.
 
  • Hostels:
Gaining popularity among backpackers, hostels offer budget-friendly rates and shared accommodations.
 
  • Bed and Breakfast:
Though not as common, some B&Bs provide a homier feel and personalized experience.
 
Note :
Book in advance, especially during peak seasons and major events.
Always check guest reviews and ratings before booking.
Consider the location in relation to your planned activities to save on transport costs.
Dubai’s vast range of accommodations ensures there’s something for every type of traveler, from luxury seekers to budget-conscious visitors.

Transportation in Dubai

Dubai offers a plethora of transportation options for seamless city navigation. The modern metro system, with its Red and Green Lines, connects major attractions, while the Dubai Tram links the Jumeirah Beach Residence and Marina to the metro and Palm Monorail. The expansive bus network covers areas outside the metro’s reach, complemented by metered taxis found throughout the city. For a picturesque journey, water taxis or Abras ply the Dubai Creek, and the Palm Monorail provides a direct route to the Atlantis hotel from the mainland. Car rentals cater to those wishing to drive, but it’s essential to note that Dubai vehicles are left-hand drive. Ride-sharing platforms like Uber and Careem offer added convenience, and with the emerging dedicated bike lanes, cycling is gaining popularity, supported by various bike rental services. It’s advisable to keep cash on hand as not all transport modes accept cards, and for more efficient commuting on the Metro, Tram, and Buses, a rechargeable Nol card is recommended. Overall, Dubai’s multifaceted transportation ensures travelers can move effortlessly throughout the city.

Popular Attractions

Dubai is a city of contrasts, seamlessly blending the ancient with the ultra-modern. Here’s a concise overview of popular attractions in Dubai:
 

📍Burj Khalifa: The tallest building in the world, it offers a panoramic view of the city from its observation decks.

📍Dubai Mall: One of the largest malls globally, it houses a vast array of shops, an aquarium, an indoor ice rink, and leads to the Dubai Fountain.

📍Dubai Fountain: Situated outside Dubai Mall, this choreographed fountain show is set on the Burj Khalifa Lake and is a mesmerizing spectacle.

📍Palm Jumeirah: A man-made island with luxurious hotels, residences, and beaches. The Atlantis Hotel, with its waterpark and aquarium, is a key highlight.

📍Dubai Creek: The historic heart of Dubai, where you can experience the city’s heritage and take an Abra (water taxi) ride.

📍Gold and Spice Souks: Traditional markets located in Deira, offer a sensory overload of sights, sounds, and smells.

📍Jumeirah Mosque: A beautiful example of Islamic architecture, it’s one of the few mosques in Dubai open to non-Muslims.

📍Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve: Experience the serene beauty of the desert, with opportunities for dune bashing, camel rides, and star-gazing.

📍Dubai Marina: A man-made canal city, it boasts a picturesque skyline, luxury yachts, and a vibrant nightlife scene.

📍Dubai Frame: An architectural landmark, it offers views of both old and new Dubai.

 
  • Advice
  1. Consider purchasing a Dubai Pass for discounted access to various attractions.
  2. Given the city’s hot climate, it’s advisable to visit outdoor attractions early in the morning or late afternoon.
  3. Dubai’s attractions offer a blend of cultural, historical, and modern experiences, ensuring there’s something for every kind of traveler.
Shopping in Dubai

Shopping and Souvenirs

 Dubai is a shopper’s paradise, blending traditional souks with state-of-the-art malls. Here’s a brief overview of shopping and souvenirs in Dubai:

 

Malls:

  • Dubai Mall: Apart from being one of the largest malls in the world, it offers a mix of international brands, high-end boutiques, and even an indoor souk.
  • Mall of the Emirates: Known for Ski Dubai, it also boasts numerous fashion and lifestyle outlets.
  • Ibn Battuta Mall: Themed around the travels of the famous explorer Ibn Battuta, it offers a unique shopping experience.

Traditional Souks:

  • Gold Souk: Located in Deira, it’s a must-visit for gold jewelry enthusiasts.
  • Spice Souk: Nearby the Gold Souk, it’s a sensory delight with aromatic herbs and spices.
  • Textile Souk: Located in Bur Dubai, it offers a variety of fabrics, from cotton to silks.

Souvenirs to Consider:

  1. Camel Milk Chocolate: A unique treat that’s becoming increasingly popular.
  2. Arabic Perfumes (Attar): Concentrated fragrances often in ornate bottles.
  3. Pashmina Shawls: Fine cashmere wool products, ideal for gifting.
  4. Dates: Often available in luxurious packaging, they’re a favorite treat in the region.
  5. Arabic Coffee Pots and Cups: Traditional Dallah pots are both functional and decorative.
  6. Sand Art Bottles: Intricate designs showcasing desert landscapes.
Important notes about shopping in Dubai
  • Don’t hesitate to haggle in traditional souks; it’s part of the experience.
  • Many malls have seasonal shopping festivals, often aligned with global holidays, offering significant discounts.
  • The Dubai Shopping Festival, usually held in January-February, is a massive event with promotions, entertainment, and prizes.
  • From luxury designer items to traditional Emirati crafts, shopping in Dubai caters to every taste and budget, ensuring visitors take home a piece of their unforgettable journey.

Cuisine and Dining

Dubai’s cosmopolitan nature is vividly reflected in its culinary scene. Here’s a concise overview of the city’s cuisine and dining options:
 

Traditional Emirati Cuisine:

  • Al Harees: A dish made with just wheat, meat, and a pinch of salt. Traditionally cooked in clay ovens and often associated with festive occasions.
  • Al Majboos: A flavorful rice dish cooked with saffron, meat (often chicken or lamb), and a blend of spices.
  • Shawarma: Thin slices of marinated meat wrapped in pita bread, usually accompanied by garlic sauce, pickles, and vegetables.

International Dining:

Given its global populace, Dubai boasts an extensive range of international cuisines including Indian, Pakistani, Filipino, Japanese, Italian, and more.

Fine Dining:

Dubai is home to several Michelin-starred chefs and upscale restaurants offering panoramic city views, such as Pierchic, At.mosphere, and Zuma.

Street Food:

Explore areas like Al Karama or Deira for authentic street food experiences. Don’t miss out on dishes like falafel, manakish, and samosas.

Brunch Culture:

Friday brunches in Dubai are legendary. Many hotels and restaurants offer lavish spreads, often with live music or entertainment.

Desserts:

  • Luqaimat: Deep-fried dough balls drizzled with date syrup.
  • Kunafa: A sweet cheese pastry, often topped with pistachios and syrup.

Beverages:

  • Arabic Coffee (Gahwa): A lightly roasted coffee flavored with cardamom, often served with dates.
  • Karak Tea: A strong tea made with condensed milk, popularly consumed throughout the day.
Food in Dubai

Safety and Local Laws

understanding safety and local laws is essential for any traveler. Here’s a concise overview of safety and legal considerations in Dubai:
 
  • General Safety:
Dubai is often ranked among the safest cities in the world. The crime rate is low, and both tourists and residents generally feel safe at any hour.
However, like any major city, it’s advisable to be aware of your surroundings and avoid leaving your belongings unattended.
 
  • Dress Code:
While Dubai is cosmopolitan, it’s essential to dress modestly in public areas. Women should avoid sleeveless tops and short skirts/shorts. Swimwear is reserved for beaches, pools, and designated areas.
Men should avoid wearing sleeveless shirts or shorts in religious or traditional settings.
 
  • Public Behavior:
Public displays of affection, like kissing and hugging, are frowned upon and can lead to fines or imprisonment.
Swearing, rude gestures, or public drunkenness can result in hefty fines, deportation, or jail.
 
  • Alcohol Consumption:
Alcohol is only permitted in licensed venues like hotels, clubs, and private residences. It’s illegal to drink in public places or to be publicly drunk.
Driving under the influence is a severe offense and is met with heavy fines and potential jail time.
 
  • Drugs:
The UAE has a zero-tolerance policy for drugs. Possession, sale, or consumption can lead to severe penalties, including imprisonment.
 
  • Internet Restrictions:
Some websites and VoIP services, like Skype, are blocked. It’s advisable to use licensed VoIP services like Botim or to invest in a VPN.
 
  • Ramadan:
During the holy month, eating, drinking, smoking, and even chewing gum in public during daylight hours are prohibited.
 
  • LGBTQ+ Rights:
Homosexual acts are illegal in the UAE. LGBTQ+ travelers should exercise discretion.
 
  • Photography:
While there’s plenty to capture, avoid photographing government buildings, military installations, and local people (especially women) without permission.

Advice:

  1. Always carry a copy of your passport or Emirates ID.
  2. Respect local customs and traditions to ensure a pleasant stay.
  3. Dubai offers a harmonious blend of tradition and modernity. By being aware of and respecting the local laws and customs, visitors can enjoy a memorable and trouble-free experience in this dynamic city.

Conclusion

Dubai, an emblem of human ambition and a confluence of cultures offers a travel experience unlike any other. From its architectural marvels to its bustling souks, from its culinary delights to its golden sands, the city never ceases to amaze. However, beneath its glittering facade lies a rich tapestry of traditions and values that visitors should approach with respect and understanding. By immersing oneself in its customs, adhering to its local laws, and embracing the Emirati way of life, one can truly appreciate the essence of Dubai. Whether you’re seeking an adrenaline rush atop the Burj Khalifa, a tranquil evening by the Dubai Creek, or a shopping spree in its expansive malls, Dubai promises a unique blend of experiences. As with any global city, a little knowledge and awareness go a long way in ensuring a memorable trip. So, as you set your sights on this desert jewel, embark with an open mind and a keen sense of adventure. Safe travels!
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