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Dubai (دبي) is one of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates. It is rather like an independent city-state and is the most modern and progressive emirate in the UAE, developing at an unbelievable pace in the tourist and trade sectors especially. Recently Dubai won the bid to host EXPO 2020, a Universal scale Registered Exposition approved by the Bureau of International Expositions (BIE), Paris.
A relatively new tourist destination, Dubai was gaining popularity in recent years until the global economic crash of 2008. Dubai is essentially a desert city with superb infrastructure, liberal policies (by regional standards), that became popular for its excellent tourist amenities. Just 5 h from Europe and 3 h from most parts of the Middle East, the Near East, and the subcontinent of India, Dubai makes a great short break for shopping, partying, sunbathing, fine dining, sporting events, and even a few sinful pleasures. It is a city of superlatives: for the fastest, biggest, tallest, largest and highest, Dubai is the destination. It has the largest immigrant population in the world. The weekly day off is on Friday. Note that, since September 2006, a harmonised weekend of Friday and Saturday has been adopted for the public sector and schools. Government departments, multinational companies, and most schools and universities are now off on Friday and Saturday (after years of a mixed bag of Friday/Saturday and Thursday/Friday weekends). Some local companies still work half a day on Thursday with a full day on Saturday, but larger companies tend to permit relaxation and time off work for their employees on Friday and Saturday.
Dubai’s main airport is the Dubai International Airport. You can also enter Dubai by using Sharjah International Airport (SHJ) in the nearby emirate of Sharjah and Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) in nearby Abu Dhabi. Frequent visitors from countries granted automatic visa on entry may wish to purchase an e-gate card to speed up immigration formalities and save passport pages. The e-gate card office is situated in the upstairs foodcourt area of the terminal 1 departures concourse. The card will cost AED 200. Note: If you intend to buy an e-gate card in Dubai, you must have entered UAE via Dubai airport.
Airlines are often having price wars to glamorous destinations like Dubai and this can work to your advantage by careful planning and comparison of the various airlines serving Dubai. Emirates is Dubai’s official airline carrier which connects Dubai to over 100 destinations while FlyDubai is Dubai’s low-cost carrier. Etihad has shuttle services from their exclusive check in facility in Sheikh Zayed Rd or Central Business District of Dubai to and from Abu Dhabi Int’l Airport, you can also fly with Sharjah’s low-cost carrier; Air Arabia which flies to over 46 destinations within the Middle East.
The top hotels in the city all have at least one restaurant serving (most commonly) some form of international cuisine – Italian, Japanese, Indian and so on. Quality tends to be high, along with price, but non-guests are able to reserve tables as well, thus allowing the rest of us to experience a bit of these hotels.
Al Fanar Restaurant & Cafe, Festival City Dubai, ☎ +97142329966. The first and the only authentic Emirati Cuisine in UAE. A complete mesmerizing experience of Emirati traditions, authentic Emirati cuisine and Middle Eastern hospitality, in the ambience of Dubai recreated from the 1960’s. AED30 – AED200.
Manhattan Grill, Grand Hyatt Dubai. Is a fine dining restaurant, its specialty are steaks. A suitable venue for romantic dinners and family gatherings. AED30 – AED300.
Kiku, Le Meridien Dubai, ☎ +971 4 282 4040. Japanese cuisine. Very high quality and very popular. AED 150.
Khazana, Al Nasr Leisureland, Karama, ☎ +971 4 336 0061. Run by famed Indian TV chef Sanjeev Kapoor. Drinks Served. Reservations recommended especially on Friday nights. Very costly, but fantastic service.
Options, Jumeirah, ☎ 971 4 329 3293. Also run by famed Indian TV chef Sanjeev Kapoor. Drinks served. Reservations recommended especially on Friday nights.
Asha’s, Wafi Centre, Bur Dubai, ☎ +971 4 324 0000. Indian Cuisine run by Asha Bosle. Good food but little expensive.
Shang Palace, Shangri-La Hotel, Shk Zayed Road, ☎ +971 4 343 8888. Exceptional Chinese food. AED 200.
Al Mahara, Burj Al Arab, ☎ +971 4 301 7600 (fax: +971 4 301 7000). 12.30 PM- 3 PM, 7 PM – midnight. Part of the Burj Al Arab hotel, and as you would expect is also very high quality! Seafood. AED 700.
Legends Steakhouse, Dubai Creek Golf Club, Deira, ☎ +971 4 295 6000. This restaurant is part of the Creek Golf Clubhouse. Highly popular with residents but, unfortunately, not known to tourists is this fabulous waterfront restaurant. Situated overlooking the Dubai Creek, it provides an excellent meal and views. Very reasonably priced for the ambience and food. Around AED 200 per head.
JW’s Steakhouse, JW Marriott Hotel, Deira, ☎ +971 4 607 7977. This is the Marriott’s signature restaurant. Highly popular with Dubai residents. AED 350 per head.
Cafe Chic, Le Meridien, Garhoud, ☎ +971 4 282 4040. Beautiful nouvelle French cuisine, served in a comfortable and sophisticated atmosphere, run by Michelin star chef Michel Rostang. By far one of the best restaurants in town, but extremely pretentious as well. Expect to pay AED 300, but it’s definitely worth it.
The Royal Budha, Holiday Inn Dubai Al Barsha (Sheikh Zayed Road, 115443), ☎ +971 4 323 4333. 7:pm -11:30 pm. The premier fine dining restaurant at the Holiday Inn Dubai – Al Barsha serves authentic Thai food. This contemporary Thai restaurant is the perfect blend of tradition and innovation.
Gharana (Indian Restaurant), Holiday Inn Dubai Al Barsha (Sheikh Zayed Road, 115443), ☎ +971 4 323 4333, . 7:pm -11:30 pm. For Indian fine dining experience in Dubai visit Gharana at Holiday Inn Dubai Al Barsha. Gharana offers finest Indian food with the live music. More Info: Dubai