Dubai is a testament to the impossible becoming reality. Where else can you find lush green islands in a desert country, a 200-foot ski slope in the middle of a mall, a month-long shopping festival that attracts over three million visitors every year, the world's tallest building, and a 7-star hotel which boasts a fleet of Rolls Royce cars?
Whether you love or hate Dubai's extravagance, you definitely can't ignore it. While you're here, you may as well jump into the thick of things and enjoy a sophisticated afternoon tea service at the Burj Al Arab or take in spectacular views of Dubai's skyline from the Burj Khalifa observation deck for views that you might have missed while your flight to Dubai was landing. Foodies can enjoy a variety of cuisines at cheap prices in Karama or Satwa ranging from the local Arabic fare, to Indian, Lebanese, and Chinese and if adventure is what you're looking for, ride a camel on a desert safari or put a more modern spin on things with a 4x4 dune-bashing ride that will put your driving skills to the test.
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Dubai International Airport (DXB) is a hub for Emirates Airlines, the state-owned carrier which flies to destinations across the world and has direct flights to Dubai from Toronto. Besides Emirates, airlines like Delta, Continental, United, and British Airways also offer services to Dubai via stops in Europe and East Asia. Air Canada has codeshare agreements with carriers like Air China, Cathay Pacific, and Emirates for Dubai flights.
Dubai's climate is a mix of desert heat and subtropical humidity, resulting in average summer temperatures of about 40-45°C from June to September. This is not the best time to travel to Dubai, as the high temperatures and humidity makes it extremely uncomfortable to be outdoors for even a short time. The peak tourist period is from November to March when the city is host to a number of festivals and sporting events and airfares are more expensive during this time so book your flights to Dubai as soon as you can if this is when you're visiting. For cheap last minute tickets and milder weather, travel to Dubai in the shoulder seasons in May or October when there are fewer events, but still plenty to see and do in the city.
Dubai International Airport (DXB) is divided into Terminals 1, 2, 3, and F. While the first two deal with the majority of international and regional UAE flights, Terminal 3 is dedicated to Emirates Airlines only while Terminal F is for cargo traffic. Passengers with connecting flights can use the 24-hour inter-terminal shuttle bus which connects all three passenger terminals or use the Metro train system for travel between Terminals 1 and 3. First-time travellers on Dubai flights should remember to collect their boarding passes from the transfer desks before heading to their connection's departure gates.
Public Transit: Buy a Nol Red Ticket for approximately $0.50 CAD if you're planning on making a single trip on public transport but if you're here for a few days, it is cheaper to buy a reusable Nol Card that you can top up as you travel. These can be used on buses, trains, water buses, and paid parking meters. You can also get discounts on tickets for children under five years of age.
Bus: Buses on Routes 4, 11, 15, 33, and 44 stop at Terminal 1 while Route 2 includes Terminal 2. Passengers can travel on these buses to connect to destinations across Dubai as well as metro and water bus stops.
Train: The Dubai Metro's Red Line connects all three passenger terminals with stops in the city. This is the quickest and cheapest way to travel from the airport to Dubai.
Hotel Shuttle: While some hotels provide their guests travelling on Dubai flights with a courtesy shuttle service, others simply provide the contact details for radio taxis which can be summoned on arrival. Be sure to check if an airport pick-up is included in your hotel booking as it will save you time and money.
Taxi: Taxis are the most popular mode of transportation from the airport and you can find stands outside each terminal's exit. Fares from the airport are metered but are subject to a starting fare of $5-$6 CAD.
Car Rental: Car rental companies at DXB include Avis, Budget, and Hertz and are located in the arrivals area of each terminal. Given the high volume of passenger traffic at this airport, advance bookings are recommended to ensure you get the car of your choice. From the car rental kiosks, company representatives will direct you to the designated pick-up areas.
Other: The airport offers a few exclusive services called Marhaba, Ahlan, and Al Majlis, each of which includes different levels of meet-and-greet services like lounge facilities and assistance through the arrivals procedures to your awaiting transport. You can reserve these online and get additional discounts for family bookings.