Port Rashid is exclusively for cruise ships and has three terminals all close by each other and with a view of Dubai skyline.
The Tourist building is close by and very large and impressive.
The interior has many amenities including shops, currency exchange, ATM, cafes, rest rooms, lounge area, prayer rooms, and free computers and wifi.
Travelers are not supposed to walk in port area but some of the smaller malls offer free buses, and taxis are available. In addition, the ship may offer a shuttle bus between the ship and a specific site. Taxis are metered but pay a port surcharge when picking up or dropping off passengers there, adding to their overall cost. The port is over a mile from the nearest part of town so taking a free bus to some mall and then a taxi to a specific place is the most economical way to get into town. The most prominent displays are by two vendors selling bus trips; Big Bus, and Hop on Hop Off.
They are similar in offerings and price and appear to be a better buy than the ships trip, but they know something we didn’t; the long distances traveled and the traffic mean that you spend a great deal of time sitting in a bus and can’t possible do all they offer. If you want a city tour, both companies have busses ready to go and will eventually bring you back to the port if you are cagey about planning your route and time.
Public buses transport passengers from the entrance of Port Rashid to the city center. Getting between the ship and the port entrance is a problem, however, because travelers are not allowed to walk within the port and must take a taxi.
Burj al-Arab. Completed in 1999 this all-suite hotel is built on its own artificial island and is shaped like the billowing sail of an Arabian dhow. It includes a heliport for two, an underwater
restaurant, and a gold encrusted lobby that would accommodate the Statue of Liberty. Known as the seven star hotel, you need room or restaurant reservations to enjoy the interior.
Burj Khalifa. As the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa stands 828 meters tall and is a mix of apartments and offices, and home of the Armani Hotel.
Souqs. The Spice Souq and Gold Souq are especially worth visiting.
Malls. The malls of Dubai are more than just places to shop; they also provide entertainment of various sorts. The Dubai Mall offers an ice rink, a huge aquarium, and indoor theme parks while the Mall of the Emirates features a snow experience called “Ski Dubai”;
You can rent all the clothing and equipment to ski, snow board, or romp in the snow.
Jumeirah Mosque. This beautiful mosque is the only one in Dubai open to non-Muslims, but only on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday at 10 AM when a very informative tour is given.
Palm Jumeirah. The Palm is the world’s largest man-made island and is touted as the “Eighth Wonder of the World”. Built to increase the coast line of Dubai, it is shaped like a palm tree with a central trunk and sixteen fronds. A crescent shaped breakwater protects the “palm tree” and provides sites for several large resorts, including Atlantis.
Miracle Garden. Located southeast of the Mall of Emirates about a $10 taxi ride away, this garden occupies 72,000 square meters and contains over forty five million flowers presented in elaborate topiary-like displays of many sorts such as hearts, pyramids, and stars. Admission is about $6.
Dubai is the name of a city but also of the emirate of which it is the capital. A total of seven emirates, including Dubai, formed the United Arab Emirates in 1971 after independence from England. The other six emirates are Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Fujairah, Ras al Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm al Qaiwain. All have a large degree of independence but are joined by a Supreme Council of Rulers made up of seven emirs, one from each state, who elect the prime minister and the cabinet. At the present time the prime minister is the emir of Abu Dhabi.
The emirate of Dubai is the largest of the emirates in the UAE in population with 2,262,000, and second in size, after Abu Dhabi. Early fishing villages on the coast of Dubai and good harbors that promoted trade probably existed over two thousand years ago. By the 1830s Dubai depended on fishing, dhow building, and pearl diving but by the early 1900s trade became increasingly important bringing in revenues as the pearl industry declined with the introduction of cultured pearls in the 1930s. The gold trade rose in importance at this time and was joined by the creation of a re-export trade and the discovery of oil in 1963. Dubai’s wealth, unlike that of other countries in the area, is not overly dependent on oil exports.
The present emir of Dubai is His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who is responsible for the huge growth in the city’s tourist industry since the 1980s. Previous Maktoum rulers, beginning in the 1960s, began to developed the infrastructure and diversify Dubai’s industrial base so that Dubai was economically secure before the discovery of oil. Revenues from oil reserves have helped finance some of these projects since the 1970s but other sources of money have been very important too.
The currency in the United Arab Emirate is the Dirham which is divided into 10 fils. Notes come in denominations of Dhs. 5 (brown), Dhs. 20 (light blue) , Dhs. 10 (green, Dhs. 100 (pink), Dhs. 200 (yellow-brown), Dhs. 500 (blue) and Dhs. 1,000 (brown-purple). Since 1980 the dirham has been linked to the US dollar at a mid-rate of $1 to Dhs. 3.6725. Tipping is 10% in hotels, restaurants, and cafes; it is standard practice to round up to the nearest Dhs. 5 in taxis and petrol stations.
The United Arab Emirate has stringent laws and expectations regarding drinking, revealing clothing, and public display of affections such as holding hands or kissing. Men and women should be covered from shoulder to knee. Photographs of women in traditional Arab dress should not be taken without their permission.