Jul 21, 2021
8 mins read
Visiting Dubai can be an exhilarating experience at the best of times.
Its high on everything. Its big in everything - supersize an idea and The Dubes (pronounced Doobes) is on it!
A country where anything is possible, its built for the folks with the flash cash. Not saying others can't enjoy a humble visit, but I have promised myself that when I do go back, I will be having a go on the luxury side of things with the blessing of the universe.
You can experience anything you want to experience in Dubai. As I currently live nowhere in particular and I like heat I thought i'd give it a wack. I stayed with a fried for two weeks till my lucl ran out and I moved to my own apartment.
One of the first things I noticed was that fresh fruit and veg wasn't the cheapest. You have to remember that everything is imported so its going to be sold at a premium to make up for the cost of shipping in.
Because it's a country catering to the cashflow bubble of the expats, the majority of your shopping experience will be centred around that. Expect Zara to be a little more expensive than in Europe and ensure when in the shopping mall and given the choice of which currency you pay in, always choose AED!!
A point to mention here is to try to get to know the money FAST lol! I managed to spend £60 on a body wash that wasn't from Chanel hahaha - I can laugh now but at the time I was fuming once I did the conversion. So try and take as many of the things you need from your home county because in Dubai it sometimes triples in price.
The majority of people opt for hotels as their stay is going to be short and sweet. I do recommend this if you are going for a break from your usual routine and want to experience a little luxury - Dubai is definitely the place to do this. It’s the only place in the world that I’ve actually seen a Perrier water bottle coated in gold! Luxury all the way darling! But if like me you’re roughing it a bit, there are multiple options for Airbnb’s, flat shares, although I do not recommend the latter mainly because a lady once told me that someone else also had the key to her room - girl!
Airbnb’s are actually the best ways to get into a flat of your own as you can just speak to the owner and they will arrange a deal for you outside of airbnb without you having to pay separately for gas and electricity. Make sure you have it in writing. If they don’t get back to you after negotiations - leave! There are so many other places for you to stay comfortably without an issue. I moved about 3-4 times for many reasons. Air con breaking down. If you’ve lived in Dubai or visited you will know on any given day if there’s no air con you gotta get out of there it's just not acceptable! Another thing I should mention here is about the vents in the apartments. Now, the spaces are usually beautiful as we know the one thing The Dubes has is space. But the one thing you don't account for are the aromas/smells that are possible through the vents. I stayed in a real convenient place in the Marina. Everywhere was walkable, which is rare in Dubai so if you want somewhere that is close to shops, access to walk daily, The Marina is the place for you. So for the convenience and reasonable price my nostrils were continually being permeated with food smells. At first I thought it was a one off but as the days went on people I was awoken in the middle of the night with smells of curry. On any given day this could be interesting if I was offered some but some of the smells we not just curry - I will leave that there!
I moved to the JVC which was suitable for me as I like peace and quiet - if you like to be out and about this is probably a bit far away from the action for you. Lots of space once again with most things you will need daily close by its almost like a writers retreat it's that quiet. You will need a vehicle to get around because let me tell you I needed a cash point one day and I asked a lady in the mall she said to me yes it’s walkable 15 mins. Now, fifteen minutes can feel like thirty minutes in the Dubes because of how potent the heat is. Anyway I attempt it. Girl. By the time I walked 10 minutes I realised not only was it too damn hot, my move was potentially dangerous! There was just no feasible pathway for a human to make it! With what looked possible when I left the the mall, now looked like a Tom Cruise Mission Impossible movie waiting for the script to arrive! It went from Americanised mall to dessert within a few seconds such was the vastness of the street with not a single human or pathway in sight! I obvs just opted to go back towards the mall with no cashpoint and got a taxi to the Mall with multiple cashpoints. One of the lessons I learned that day is not to look for things in Dubai that are in isolation eg a place that would only have one cashpoint - what if there’s no cash? This happened to be a few times it means you then have to find another location and get a taxi to it! And this could take 15-20 mins depending on location as the roads are built in these beautiful spirals that become annoying when you want something quickly.
The old town is where you can discover the real Dubai - how things once were. You can take a boat across the water to the souks, walk around the fishing ports. Seeing the old side of town, shows that the newer side is a massive bubble that doesn't get burst till you lose your job as they keep everything pretty much under control in a way that other countries cannot due to human rights sanctions, but I'm not here to talk about that.
If you don't have consistent income it's not really a place to rough it like how you could in Bali for instance but you can eat some fantastic food in some of the cheaper non touristy areas a little outside of main Dubai like Deira - dress a little more covered and you could indeed pass for a local and therefore will attract local price points...
Must have essentials
Driving license: Now this is of course optional but if you plan to stay for longer than a few weeks, its worth having a vehicle to get around as petrol is cheap and
Monzo card - its cheaper for transactions
Beaches and lazy days
So many options if you are about that life! For me I prefer natural beaches which Dubai has but it's definitely not what they advertise as they want you to blow as much cash as possible. The majority are there for that experience. the built up beaches which are self contained with their own coffee shops etc etc but if you’re looking for something natural, you’ll need to go to Al Soufouh (The Secret Beach) not a coffee shop in sight, and the sunset is really special. You don’t have to pay for a bed just take all the things you need - always better if you’re driving as its a little off the beaten path but Taxis are readily available in Dubai one of the best things about the place.
The more man made beaches can be lush too as everything is at your disposal without you having to carry your life around. Beds I remember start at 100AED which is approximately 20 pounds. In the more boujier places you can pay up to 700AED all levels of luxury are catererted for people.
If coffee is your thing there is a lot to choose from.
The most expensive coffee in the world has to be Arabica - I’ve never paid so much for a coffee and somehow the price was always changing even though I consistently ordered the same thing everyday! The coffee is good but the service isn't that great. They liken themselves to the artisanal coffee world but its a chain so - no! The thing that is worth braving the shit attitude is the ice cream that can only be gotten at The Dubai Mall. These people act like they in Intelligencia on Abbot Kinney (CA) lol! No offence at all here but the attitude is one that needs to shift and it's not as good as Inteligiencia. It’s a given I was there during Ramadan so maybe folk were a little more sensitive especially with what the world was going through - so maybe I’ll go a bit easier here hahaha…
Great things: They are on deliveroo and if you order iced it's just as good as when made in the shop - the hot option depreciates as it oxidises with the weather...
Terrible things: The attitude
Decor is nice though very attractive and I enjoyed their uniforms with flat caps camel coloured aprons, very dapper…
This was the best experience I ever had in a coffee shop anywhere. Its a speciality coffee house and offer many blends and options by the time I selected my option and they bought over a bunsen burner I knew I was onto a winner - I continued to go there 3-4 days in a row and each time I was greeted like a friend to the company - this goes a long way in my book...
Great things: Many options to have an experience with speciality coffee
Terrible things: Nothing. This is the best experience I've had anywhere...