Dubai: Explore the Emirate Next Door

Dubai has several monikers ranging from the city of gold to the business capital of the Arab world, but Abu Dhabi residents know it more humbly as a ...

Sep 21, 2013

Dubai has several monikers ranging from the city of gold to the business capital of the Arab world, but Abu Dhabi residents know it more humbly as a weekend getaway. If you feel like you need a change of scene city-wise, then Dubai is the place to go. With ten million visitors in 2012, it is not too hard to lose yourself in the crowd and enjoy one of the fastest-developing and most prosperous cities in the world.
There are many ways to travel between Abu Dhabi and Dubai. The most popular and reasonably-priced choice is the bus, operated jointly by Dubai and Abu Dhabi Public Transport, which costs between 15 to 25 AED each way. You can also hire a cab through a taxi company, but this will set you back 250 to 300 AED one-way, depending on your pick-up and drop-off locations. Hiring a cab will take less time, but it might not be worth the extra money.
"I've taken both the bus and ... a taxi. The bus is the best option," said Dubai resident and freshman Dinara Iskra.
Finally, if land travel is not your style, you can always buy an airplane ticket from Rotana Airlines with a one-way ticket costing 150 AED.
To get around in Dubai using the city buses or the metro, you will need a Nol card, an electronic smart card that can be purchased at any metro station, Carrefour, Spinney’s or Waitrose.  Rather than buying a ticket, you top it up with dirhams then scan it when you enter a bus or metro station. To find a hotel, take a look at the selection on TripAdvisor. Dubai is not known for being budget-friendly, so if you find a good deal, make sure it’s not too far away from the city’s attractions.
There are many places to explore around the city, but don't rule out visiting one of the many malls, which contain many movie theaters, fast-food joints and mid-range restaurants. Once the Dubai Shopping Festival begins in January, malls play host to parades, music shows and carnivals.
For culture and history buffs, a visit to the modest Dubai Museum will offer a peek into the day-to-day life of the emirates before the oil boom. You’ll also encounter beaded jewelry and tools unearthed from archeological sites in Dubai. The museum is a few blocks away from Meena Bazaar, the hub of South Asian culture in Dubai that is replete with bangles, bargains, and Indian restaurants.
For art enthusiasts, Dubai offers many galleries in the Al Quoz, Al Bastakiya and Dubai International Finance Centre quarters. Al Quoz is an industrial area, primarily known for its labor camps and warehouses. However, some of these modest warehouses disguise leading galleries. DIFC, on the other hand, is filled with modern architecture and financial institutions. Al Bastakiya is the older, historic part of Dubai found near the Creek in Bur Dubai with traditional wind towers rather than skyscrapers.
Dubai hosts several live events throughout the year including plays, musicals and concerts. Community members produce and act in many plays at the Dubai Community Theater and Arts Center and contribute to international productions where most of the cast and crew are flown in from abroad. As the weather gets cooler, international musicians come to perform in Dubai; previous concerts include performances from Coldplay and Bruno Mars.
As winter approaches, outdoor eating becomes an appealing dining experience. The Walk at Jumeirah Beach Residence is lined with restaurants ranging from Japanese to Italian cuisine. As a popular site for both residents and tourists, and with the waterfront on one side and futuristic high rise buildings on the other, the view is distinct. Both Marina Walk and The Walk are located in Dubai Marina, an artificial canal city that is accessible by either taxi or metro.
A city of sleek luxury, Dubai bears the stereotype of being both expensive and touristy. Yet the city offers much more beyond Marhaba Week activities like Burj Khalifa tours and ostentatious fountain shows — so grab a friend, hop on the next bus and explore all that Dubai has to offer.
Ayesha Khan is a contributing editor. Email her at 
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