Dubai the largest and most liberal of the 7 different UAE states.
Dubai was established in the 18th century as a small fishing village to grow in the early 21st century as a mega city focused on tourism and luxury with many five star hotels and the Burj Khalifa the tallest building in world over a half a mile tall.
Located on the eastern Arabian Peninsula of the Persian Gulf the city operates as a transport hub close to India and Emirates airline operating as importer and exporter of many product to/from the Middle East and North Africa. The city operates as a regional and international trading partner as a result.
The development of the huge tourism industry was created as an alternative to oil revenue.
The city has a population around 3.5 million of which close to 85% are foreign worker to support the airline, tourism, travel and other industries in the city.
With 85% of the countries population being foreign the attitudes are more liberal than each of the other 7 states in the UAE but Muslim culture and traditions are to be followed and respected.
The countries attitude to LGBTQ rights is conservative but unmarried opposite sex couple traditionally are not allowed to live in the same household perhaps encourages same sex relationships.
The public transport network metro lines is the most popular way to get around the city or by taxis which are available 24 hours per day with several taxi firms owned by some of the royal families. The cost of local transport is cheap due to country being a oil producer and low tax regime. The metro is fully automated and driverless.
There is a tram and high speed rail network to travel to some of the bordering Middle East countries. The generally warm climate makes walking in sun or open air except at the hottest times of day when a air conditioned taxi or metro to get around is more pleasant.
Dubai RTA operates a service from the airport terminals to the metro stations and take between 15\20 minutes depending on the terminal. Alternatively a taxi to the city centre take between 10/15 minutes depending on the location and will typically cost much less than the rest of the world due to low oil price. Suggest you check approximate cost via Uber to get an indication of the current price due to diesel\petrol price changes.
Places to stay
Two of the most popular places to stay are Downtown Dubai and Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR). Both offer very different experiences depending on your preference! The location is essential as you want to find the best one to suit your needs.
Downtown Dubai has the great benefit of being surrounded by must-see attractions and venues, so you are unlikely to miss out. In fact, you will be in the heart of the action! Downtown Dubai is home to the famous Burj Khalifa, The Dubai Fountain, The Dubai Mall, and the Dubai Creek and many of place to see. Due to the tourist nature of the downtown location there is also a good range of restaurants serving different cuisines and food shops for you to enjoy but on the downside it is around 5km to the nearest beach
Jumeirah Beach Residence is located at the shore of the city by Dubai Marina. JBR is ideal for those looking for a sandy and scenic getaway. It is a very popular neighbourhood for families for this reason. JBR has all sorts of fun water based entertainment so if you are looking for thrilling and fun activities, it’s ideal for you. There are jet skis, yachts, parasailing, skydiving, and kayaking, all a short distance away. You can also unwind and enjoy the beautiful seaside views, whilst being in walking distance from a diverse range of restaurants which accommodate for a variety of budgets.
Either way if beach or city centre is your preference you can easily get around to see both side of the city.
Things to do in Downtown Dubai
- Burj Khalifa
- The Dubai Mall
- The Dubai Fountains water display in the evenings
- The Dubai Opera
- Burj Park
- Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo
Things to do at JBR
- The Beach @ JBR
- Water sports
Bars, Clubs & Parties
The open minded nature of the city means there are bars, clubs and parties for the foreigners to enjoy there time off or when on vacation. The majority of the bars, clubs and parties obviously cater for the heterosexual community.
In spite, of strict restrictions all over the city on homosexuality, there is a well-spread Underground Gay Network all over the city. The Gay bars essential operate as gay-friendly as this is more acceptable but where majority of cliental are male. If you use a LGBTQ app such as grindr or another propose you message a local and ask them to provide you with some current tips rather than me naming places.
Cafes & Restaurants
Alcohol sale and consumption, though legal, is regulated. Adult non-Muslims are allowed to consume alcohol in licensed venues such as cafes, hotels and restaurants. There are many restaurants which do not service alcohol to not offend local so you need to check when entering each business to ask what is there policy. Foreigners need to apply for a licence to buy and possess alcohol at home.
The choice of cuisine is enormous with many of the major brand operating in Dubai along with traditional restaurants serving the local cuisine popular with the many nationalities working in the city. Arabic and Lebanese cuisine is very popular and worth trying while visiting.
The shopping malls and areas where all the large hotels are locations are where you will find the more expensive restaurants catering for tourists.
Closer to where the foreign workers live you will find the cheaper more traditional restaurants. There is something for all budgets and not just 5 star luxury as the image of Dubai the media portrays.
There are hammams\saunas in Dubai which are mainly for locals or tourists to visit for a massage. They are not used for sexual encounters as happens in some other Middle Eastern countries.
Dubai consider the shopping capital of the Middle East has huge malls with all the major brands stock as well as local brands and hand made items but tend to be the most expensive place to shop. It is worth checking the price of an foreign brand the price of the item at home as despite the low tax status the item might not be such a bargain. Electrical products such as computers, laptops, mobile phones and other electrical items can be some of the best bargains when shopping in the UAE depending on the exchange rate.
There are also souks which are local markets to explore were you can buy Arabian essence, gold and local product as lower and sometime great prices.
Main LGBT Events
There are no LGBTQ event in Dubai due to the Muslim culture.
Currency – Arab Emirates Dirham (AED)
Language – Arabic, English
Visas – Entry into the UAE is subject to immigration approval. All visas are valid to enter Dubai for 60 days from the date of issue, except the 96‑hour and 48‑hour visas, which are valid for 30 days from the date of issue. Check before booking trip
Best Time To Visit – All year
Timezone – Gulf Standard Time (GMT+4)
Homosexual Activity – Illegal so be very discreet. Dubai is more relaxed than other states of UAE. Attitude towards foreigners is more relaxed than to locals but displays of affection in public should be minimal
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