Dubai has positioned itself as the liberal, tax-free transit lounge between Europe and Asia. After several slow years following the financial crisis, the city is back in business and attracts visitors as diverse as Lebanese entrepreneurs, moneyed Saudi princes and sunburnt British tourists with a penchant for partying. The first city in the GCC to build an urban rail network, Dubai is home to some of the Gulf’s finest hotels including the landmark Burj Al Arab and Burj Khalifa. The best time to visit is between October and May – unless you enjoy 40C heat.

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  1. It is prohibited to chew gum or carry take-away food or drinks on the metro.
  2. Don’t photograph local women unless you have permission.
  3. Friday/Saturday is the weekend. Don’t plan on doing any business on a Friday, it’s a day for rest and prayer.
  4. When introduced to a Muslim woman, wait for her to offer her hand. Some prefer not to.
  5. Don’t reject an offer of tea or coffee and always have more than one cup.

Two-hour tour

  • Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood — Peaceful warren of old courtyard houses and windtowers.

    Bur Dubai

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  • Alserkal Avenue — Dubai has become a hub for contemporary art, with many galleries showing provocative work from Iran and the rest of the Arab world.

    Al Quoz

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  • Aerial city tour Seawings, Jebel Ali — The only way to get your head around Dubai is from the sky.

    +971 (0)4 807 0708

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  • Independent and easy


    Jumeirah Lakes Towers

    +971 (0)4 356 0000

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  • Dependable chain

    The Address Downtown Dubai

    Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard

    +971 (0)4 436 8888

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  • Premium

    Zabeel Saray

    The Palm Jumeirah

    +971 4 (0)453 0000

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  • Fast breakfast

    Baker & Spice

    Marina Promenade, Dubai Marina

    +971 (0)4 362 4686

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  • Business breakfast

    La Serre

    Vida Downtown Dubai

    +971 (0)4 428 6966

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  • Working lunch with colleagues

    Café Belge

    Ritz Carlton, DIFC

    +971 (0)4 372 2323

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  • Lunch on your own

    Tom & Serg

    Al-Joud Centre, Al Quoz 1

    +971 (0)56 474 6812

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  • Afternoon tea

    Sahn Eddar — (Advance reservations essential)

    Burj Al Arab

    +971 (0)4 301 7600

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  • Dinner with colleagues

    Al Nafoorah

    Emirates Towers

    +971 (0)4 319 8088

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  • Private dinner


    Gate Village, DIFC

    +971 (0)4 425 5660

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  • Big dinner with partner/clients


    Atlantis, Palm Jumeirah

    +971 (0)4 426 0760

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  • Drink after dinner

    Mercury Lounge

    Four Seasons, Jumeirah Beach Road

    +971 (0)4 270 7777

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  • Late bite


    Sheikh Zayed Road

    +971 (0)4 327 6060

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  • On the tiles

    40 Kong

    The H Dubai, 1 Sheikh Zayed Road

    +971 (0)4 355 8896

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  • Mid-morning coffee

    The Magazine Shop

    Gate Village, DIFC

    +971 (0)56 432 9761

  • Need-to-impress-clients lunch

    La Petite Maison

    Gate Village, DIFC

    +971 (0)4 439 0505

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  • Bookshop


    The Dubai Mall, Sheikh Zayed Road

    +971 (0)4 434 0111

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Thank yous

  • Dates and delicacies


    The Dubai Mall

    +971 (0)4 339 9819

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  • Something you can't get anywhere else

    Salt-and-pepper shakers shaped like the locals from Souk Madinat Jumeirah

    6 Al Sufouh Road

    +971 (0)4 366 8888

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  • Lost luggage - where to buy shirts


    The Dubai Mall

    +971 (0)4 350 5333

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  • Something for someone you love

    Classic and very rare timepieces from Momentum — Classic and very rare timepieces, including Rolexes first made for the UAE military’s top brass

    The Gate Building, DIFC

    +971 (0)4 327 4320

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  • Something for yourself

    Bespoke — Suit up with the help of Dubai’s oldest tailoring dynasty, the Parmar family

    DIFC, The Gate

    +971 (0)4 363 7237

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  • Something for the kids

    Camel dolls by The Camel Company

    The Dubai Mall

    +971 (0)4 330 8117

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Alternative diversion

  • Ski Dubai — Indoor ski/snowboard piste in Mall of the Emirates (plus penguins).

    Sheikh Zayed Road

    +971 800 534 7873

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  • Taxis — Opt for taxis rather than renting a car (though Hertz has branches across the city;, +971 4 206 0206). Some hotels provide guests with airport transfers in addition to their own services. When taking a taxi to destinations outside of mainstream malls, it makes good sense to jot down the telephone number of where you’re headed to give to the driver for directions. The cheap and clean Metro now has two lines, servicing the downtown area and stretching to the major malls: Dubai Marina and Jebel Ali. Use whenever possible, as Sheikh Zayed Road is often reduced to a crawl during rush hour.


  • Good gym

    U Energy

    Gate Village, Dubai International Finance Centre

    +971 (0)4 422 8721

    Visit website

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