Dubai was lots of fun! We only spent a day in Abu Dhabi so I will not discuss it. I will say, The Aloft Abu Dhabi has the sexiest pool -eva! I will also say that if you a Black or Brown person, you may face inappropriate looks and pre-judgments before they hear your lovely accent. Why? A lot of the exposure to Brown and Black people in the UAE tend to come the conception of prostitution, drug selling, or “The Help” from African immigrants.
From talking to a friend who lives in Dubai, he explained that there is not much Racism in Dubai, but more Classism! Certain passports are just weighted heavier than others. From his perception it was, Emirati —> US, UK, Canadian, other Euro countries —> Oil heavy African countries (read: $$$ and read Nigeria) —> Everybody else.
We had a few interesting pre-misconceptions, but after a little straightening. . . all was well!
Anywhoo! These are the cheapest ways I found that we got through Dubai!
Cabs are REALLY inexpensive in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. We stayed across the street from a metro station, however, found that:
1) it took too damn long to get to various destinations
2) by the time you finish paying for metro tickets and transfers, we would have paid for a cab ride!
3) cabs were a better experience! Imagine the stench of hot bodies crammed into a metro car – ugh
If you are staying closer to the downtown area, I would suggest the metro since you would be in a more centralized location. If not, I would suggest taking the metro to see some of the sites within the city! Take it once for the experience, but other than that, it’s not worth it.
Also note, there are “regular” cabs and the cabs that are Lexus. Obviously, the Lexus is going to cost you more than the regular cab.
If you are traveling with a large group, and would like to do a city tour, get to/from the airport, or get from Dubai back to Abu Dhabi then I have an awesome private driver for you. I forgot his name (I think its Abassi?), but he drove us back from Dubai to Abu Dhabi, gave us a city tour, and it ended up costing about $13/pp! Like anything else in the Middle East, negotiate everything.
Dubai Cab Driver: +971 55 263 6165
I STAN for AirBnB. Point. Blank. And the Period.
Again, depending on how many people you are traveling with, this is the best, most inexpensive, and authentic way to stay!
We stayed at Jumeirah Beach Residence (HIGHLY recommend this area!), which is a huge complex of about six high-rise buildings. This area has EVERYTHING you need inside, including a 24-hour grocery store, Starbucks, restaurants, hookah stops, money exchange centers, etc. The best part? It is right across from the beach!
We rented a four bedroom/3 bathroom condo for about $160/night for seven people. . . You do the math! No hotel fees or taxes and much more spacious than a typical hotel room.
I am not going to mention the company that we boated with. However, I would suggest, if you have the time, definitely rent a yacht or speedboat for a few hours!
Make sure to do your RESEARCH with various companies. Many are better than others. Check out TripAdvisor to read reviews on the companies.
Go here for everything!
Below are some of the items we got and you can get Groupons for!
Desert Safari: We used Gateway Tours. It was pretty cool. Essentially, it seems that no matter which company you book through, we ALL meet at the same destination and do the same stuff. There are at least six other tour companies doing the same stuff.
Brunch: Unfortunately, we missed the infamous Friday brunch, however, I would suggest finding a Groupon now if you can. A friend of mine went to a brunch that she said was AMAZING (unlimited Hennessy and champagne mimosa – amazing) but ended up short of $140 because she missed the Groupon. #Bummer
Burj Khalifa (Tallest Building in the World!): We snatched a “Fast Pass” to get to the top of the building and skip the long lines. If it is still running, grab it now! The cost (~$32) the same as regular admission and allows you to get on the elevator before everyone else (trust me – the lines can be long).
Burj Al Arab: World’s Only 7 Star Restaurant! We had dinner here. Listen. It cost a damn arm and leg but at least we can say we did it, right?! They may have Groupons for lunch or High Tea!
Gold Souk Market:
Honey, this is the “real Dubai,” as in where the folks without millions/billions live! I love exploring areas like this because this is the true heartbeat and culture of most countries lay. Anyway. This is where you can get all your merch’ and souvenirs like the abayas (the pretty dresses and traditional garb), shoes, gold jewelry, etc.
They will also be trying to sell Brazilian hair and bags! Funny to me… but quite a great marketing strategy! They understand the influx of Black and Brown folks from the West and capitalizing on the opportunity!
Make sure you have on your poker face and negotiate everything! I would not pay more than $5-10 for certain scarves (silk, cashmere, etc), NO MORE than $30 for the really intricate abayas, and I think I paid $8 for some of the traditional shoes.
*Pro Tip: The more stuff you buy the better price you can negotiate. So stock up with everything you want and negotiate down to one set price.
We only went to two clubs while in Dubai. The rest of the times were kicking it at our boy’s condo, the pool, or beach.
Saturday: “White” at The Meydan Hotel is POPPIN. All white everything types of deal.
Monday: “Cirque” was a lot of fun! The entire theme of the club was a circus! They had a free photo booth, a young lady serving popcorn and cotton candy, and acrobats and fire breathers and sh**. Seriously next level.
*Pro Tip: If you are not on a list or with someone vouching for you, my advice with the clubs is to take your passports and get there ON TIME. A few of my friends mentioned not getting into the clubs because they got there too late.
For those who have gone to Dubai, what are some of your best travel saving tips?
Until next time. Journey on.