Dubai is now home to two mega airports: Dubai International Airport, where most international flights land, and Dubai World Central – Al Maktoum International Airport. Australians get a 30-day visit visa on arrival where duty-free cigarettes, perfume and drink purchases are allowed (check these when you buy in Australia or Dubai). The easiest way to get into town is by cab, either a standard Dubai Taxi, or a Pink Taxi, driven by women and exclusively for female passengers.
Pedestrianised areas and footpaths are easy to navigate. If you’d prefer movement via wheels, taxis are plentiful and inexpensive. Flag one down on the street, or book via phone (+971 4 2080808) or the RTA Smart Taxi app (available on iTunes or Google Play; for standard taxis only). You’ll also find luxury cars out the front of most five-star hotels, although these cost more than a standard or ladies’ taxi. Alternatively, you could download the Uber app (uber.com/cities/dubai) and order a car. Dubai has an excellent metro system too, which covers most of the city (including Dubai International Airport), and a tram system that connects Dubai Marina to the Al Sufouh area. You’ll need to buy a Nol smartcard first (available at metro stations), which can be used on the metro, tram and bus network. All three have a separate section or carriage reserved just for women and families.
Weather and climate
The Emirate has a sub-tropical desert climate, which means blue skies and beach weather in winter (Dec-Jan) and warm and humid summers (Jun-Sept). The best time to visit is from October to April when temperatures are in the mid-20°Cs to low-30°Cs. July and August are the warmest months as the mercury rarely dips below 40°C, still the city accommodates this with several indoor attractions including aquariums, ski slopes, plenty of family-friendly activities with four new theme-parks and a new Opera House opening in 2016.
The language low-down
English is so widely spoken that you won’t get much of a chance to try Arabic.
The local currency is the dirham (Dhs or AED), which is divided into 100 fils.
Although Dubai is a cosmopolitan destination, it is a Muslim city, so respect the local culture by dressing modestly. Shorts and t-shirts are fine in many places, but short shorts, low-cut dresses and skimpy tops are not appropriate for public places such as the malls. Cover your shoulders and knees in more conservative areas like old Dubai (around Dubai Creek). If in doubt, take a pashmina. Showing a bit more skin in a bar is acceptable and wearing your swimmers on the beach and around the pool is perfectly fine.
Dubai is safe compared with other large cities. Street crime is rare and walking around on your own is very safe.
Smartphones and technology
Buy a pre-paid local SIM card with a data package from mobile providers Etisalat or Du (you’ll find stores in the airports and malls).