Tell us a bit about yourself and your Dubai journey?
My name is James; I am recently 22 years old and have lived in Dubai for nearly 2 years now. I was born in Bristol in the UK and at the age of 12, my family and I relocated to France for the next 8 years.
My Dubai journey all started on the 31st of August 2013, at 7:30 am, when I arrived on a flight from London Heathrow to meet my father who has lived here for the past 3 years. The reason why I came to Dubai was to live and study business at Heriot Watt University. I had previously visited Dubai on numerous occasions to visit my father who relocated here for work, however I had only visited during the winter months and arriving in summer was a completely different experience! At 7:30am it was close to 40°C, which was quite something, welcome to Dubai!
What do you love most about Dubai?
There are a few things I really like about Dubai, however each are quite different. Firstly, the opportunities that are available in Dubai are endless! If you can dream something, you can achieve it in Dubai. If you envisage setting up your own company it is possible by simply creating a company with a relatively small fee, depending on which Freezone you choose.
Secondly, the quality of life. The quality of life you can experience in Dubai is far superior to that of many other places in the world, predominately due to the tax-free nature of Dubai.
Lastly, a more personal reason, the cars! I am a huge car fan and the cars that are in Dubai are unlike anything I have previously seen. Also, due to the absence of tax, the insurance and the fuel prices are ridiculously cheap; you can therefore easily afford to have a really nice car for the fraction of the price in the likes of Europe.
What are your top 5 tips for tourists in Dubai?
The top 5 tips that I would give to tourists visiting Dubai are fairly basic however are probably more important than you could imagine.
1:Respect the fact it is a strict Muslim country, so respect the culture. This is mainly to avoid getting into trouble with the law and therefore enjoying your time in Dubai. So dress respectfully to the religion, avoid being drunk in public and be extra cautious during the Holy month of Ramadan, so no eating or drinking in public during the day.
2:If you can avoid driving somewhere, do it! A downside to Dubai is that the driving is truly shocking! Basically if you think something is not humanly possibly to do in a car, they will do it! So honestly if you can avoid driving please do, for your own safety, stick to public transport, like the metro, which is brilliant, it is always on time and goes to/near most of the main tourists attractions. Buses are good but can sometimes get lost in the desert somewhere and come 10-20minutes later than they state. Avoid the newly installed Dubai tram (unless it is the summer months then you can take shelter from the heat on it) because it is painfully slow! At some points on the line it would simply be quicker to walk.
3:Drink lots of water! It sounds a little bit ridiculous as one of my top 5 tips, however it is vital that you do as you become dehydrated far quicker than you expect! So drink lots of water and if you catch the sun easily, apply lots of sun cream regularly throughout he day if you are spending time outdoors.
4:In a restaurant, if you just want some water with your meal and you are not fussed by having a specific brand like San Pellegrino, be sure to ALWAYS ask for local still water, as generally if you just ask for still water they will bring you an extremely over priced and unnecessary bottle of water from Fiji or somewhere like that, the local water is very good.
5:Avoid getting into a posh Lexus type taxi, they are not always licensed and they charge an absolute fortune to take you anywhere. The standard taxis do the job perfectly and compared to Europe, they are extremely cheap.
What made you stay in Dubai?
My studies are what have kept me in Dubai for the moment and my whole family is here now, so I see no reason why I should leave. However, I love Dubai and I intend to make the most of this great opportunity that I have been given and for which I am hugely grateful.
What are your top 5 restaurants in Dubai?
This is a difficult one because I personally haven’t been out too much to enjoy the lovely restaurants in Dubai. A few of the restaurants that I have been to and recommend highly are the following:
-The Cheesecake Factory (Mall Of The Emirates): The food and portion size are absolutely incredible for the money, and the staff all seem really pleasant. Be careful not to eat too much and save some room for the amazing cheesecake!
-Sloanes, The Grosvenor House Dubai Marina. I was very fortunate to be able to experience my first brunch in Dubai in this restaurant and it was impeccable! The food was amazing, with a large variety of different things to savor. I highly recommend this restaurant for brunch on a Friday!
-Cucina, The Courtyard Marriot Hotel, Dubai Investment Park. Albeit far from the main drag, this Italian restaurant is exceptionally good and offers a wide range of different Italian dishes to indulge anyone’s taste buds.
-Chor Bazaar, Movenpick Hotal, Ibn Battuta. This was the first ever restaurant I dined in when I arrived in Dubai. It is an Indian restaurant that serves some of the best Indian food I have ever tasted, the food is exceptional, if a little pricey compared to other restaurants in Dubai. However, despite the high prices, if you shy away from the alcohol, the bill is relatively reasonable. Outstanding food, impeccable service and a genuinely nice environment.
-This last restaurant I have personally never visited however many people have told me the food is amazing and if you wan the nicest steak this is the place to go. The Butchers Shop, it can be found in most malls (Dubai Mall, Mall of The Emirates and Mirdiff City Centre for sure)
What are your top 5 tourist attractions/must go places for our readers who are maybe thinking to visit?
1:The most obvious, Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall. You cannot visit Dubai and not go up the tallest building in the world and visit what was once the largest shopping mall in the world (and is still one of the largest)
2:Souk Madinat/Burj Al Arab, this is the place that made me fall in love with Dubai. It is an amazing place and it still reminds me of the first time I visited Dubai and why I wished to live here.
3:Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, albeit not in Dubai, whether you be Muslim or not, this place is a MUST see! The architecture of the building is absolutely incredible and amazes me every time I see it.
4:Jumeirah Beach Park, this beach is, in my opinion one of the nicest Dubai has to offer, it is clean, tidy and has some stunning views of Burj Khalifa, Burj Al Arab and even Atlantis on a clear day.
5:The desert. Have a change of scenery from the skyscrapers of downtown Dubai and experience the amazing dunes that are only a short drive from the center of Dubai.
There are many other places obviously and I recommend you see as many as you can when visiting Dubai, some of them are truly amazing!
What is the highlight of YOUR DUBAI?
The highlight of MY Dubai would have to be my friends. I have made some of the best friends I could ever wish to meet out here and I hope that I will know them for many years to come, and I thank Dubai for bringing us together.
Any other comments you would like to share?
Make the most of your stay if you intend on visiting Dubai, the beaches are lovely, however you can top up on your tan somewhere else where there is not so much to see as Dubai. I recommend a relaxing day on the beach for your first day in Dubai, to get over the travelling followed by days full of sightseeing as much as you can so that you don’t leave feeling as though you have missed something and then have one last day before you leave unwinding on the beach. Enjoy your stay in Dubai and hopefully you will all find your own Dubai.