Mobile phones
Getting around

05.06-06.06: Munich -> Dubai
07.06: Dubai
08.06: Dubai -> Kuala Lumpur

Overview and overall impression
We briefly stopped for three nights in Dubai on our way to Malaysia. June is not the right season for Dubai, because it is too hot. Over 38°C already at 11am, high humidity. Even the seawater is hot, like a hot bath.
In June 2009 the whole of Dubai was full of construction sites, a crazy building boom. Work on some sites was on hold, probably due to the financial crisis.

Dubai is essentially a high cost travel destination, with costs for hotels mostly in line with European levels. Food is a different story, as there is a huge range of prices. I have been told by a long time Dubai resident that it is possible to spend very little, although the places in which we ate were almost as expensive as restaurants in western Europe. I guess those cheap eateries are not that easy to find. In places like the mall of the Atlantis hotel it is quite easy to spend a lot of money if you are not careful. Taxis are very cheap in Dubai.

There are food courts in all shopping malls. Lots of restaurants in the tourist area where we stayed. The food quality of the places we visited was not too impressive, also considering that the price level was almost as high as in Munich. The staff of the restaurant of the Hilton hotel would not let us in for dinner, because I was wearing shorts.

We stayed in a four star hotel in Dubai (Hilton Jumeirah). Nice beach, very good service. Very far away from the historic centre of Dubai however. The summer is low season in Dubai, because few guests come because of the extreme heat.

Money  / Exchange rate (June 2009)
1 Euro =  5.1  Dirham
1 Euro = 1.4 USD
For current exchange rates check the Universal Currency Converter.

ATM's are everywhere, so that you can easily get cash with a Cirrus/Maestro ATM card. You won't need traveller cheques.

Mobile phones and prepaid cards
We didn't buy a GSM prepaid card, although I suspect that these cards are available.


Internet access
Not so easy to find Internet cafes in the area in which we were staying. On the other hand Internet access in the Hilton hotel was quite pricey, so we didn't use the service. I just used the GSM mobile phone to briefly check if there was any important email (mobile data roaming).


Very hot and humid in June. 38.6°C at 11:30am (!). Even the sea water is hot, like a hot bath. No clouds, no rain, lots of haze.

Health / Vaccinations
Probably none required for Dubai (we didn't get any immunisations for the trip to Dubai). No swine flu screening at the Dubai airport in June 2009.

VISA / Entry requirements
A VISA on arrival is available for citizens of most developed countries as well as of some commonwealth countries. Citizens of other countries need to apply for a VISA in advance.

Very safe place, no risks. No harassment by beggars or other people.

Recommended things
  • The Atlantis hotel is nice, especially the mall and the aquariums.
  • The Emirates mall is huge and impressive. Many other malls in Dubai are nice as well.
  • Jumeirah beach is great, but perhaps choose the right season (avoid the hot months).

Things to avoid
  • The hotel area around the Hilton Jumeirah is a bit too artificial for my tastes. Too many skyscrapers on that beach, restaurants which lack character. Better to stay more close to the historic core of Dubai.
  • Don't go to Dubai in the hot season if you can avoid it.

Getting around
Taxis are cheap in Dubai and there were enough of them in the tourist areas.

05.06-06.06: Munich -> Dubai
Hotel Hilton Jumeirah. 118 Euro for a nice room with everything, except a hair dryer. They upgrade us to a sea view room at no extra charge. Internet access not included - costs 10 Euro/hour or 20 Euro for 24 hours. The hotel is a few km further along the coast from the Burj Al Arab hotel. It has a pool and a good beach (nice, long, white sand, crystal clear water), but it is surrounded by a forest of skyscrapers and at the time of writing some construction is ongoing near the hotel. Friendly reception, breakfast until 11am. Excellent breakfast.
Weather: sunny, blue sky, not a single cloud in the sky. Very hot and humid. At 11:30am the thermometer in the pool area of the hotel shows 38.6°C. You can't spend too much time outside during the peak hours of the day.

We leave home late and are finally at the check-in counter at 3:10pm (flight leaves at 3:45pm). Latest check-in ever in my life, the lady at the counter complains a bit, then checks us in. We actually have checked in online yesterday and are just dropping in the bags.

We then proceed through passport control and security and board the plane. The Emirates EK050 flight leaves with some delay and arrives in Dubai around midnight local time.

On Saturday June 6th we wake up at 9:30am, and at 10am go down to the restaurant for breakfast. Excellent breakfast buffet, lots of choice. Freshly squeezed orange juice, lots of fresh fruit, a cook preparing pancakes in any shape you want (Alissia gets a pancake in a Mickey Mouse head shape, face details painted with chocolate cream). You can even get freshly grilled chicken.

At 11 something am we head back to the room, get changed, then go to the pool area. Until 1pm we are around the pool with the kids, then head back to the room. While Shirley relaxes a bit with the children, I get out of the hotel and explore the area around it. It looks newly built, there are restaurants, cafes and shops. It's very hot and the sun is very strong. The air is humid and not clear. After some walking I find a supermarket where I buy some water and some groceries. Around 2pm I'm back in the room.

There Shirley is resting with the kids. Natasha (15 months) is sleeping. She didn't get any sleep yesterday in the plane, in fact she only slept a bit on the way to the airport. Shirley brings Alissia to the children area in the 3rd floor, where Alissia can play and somebody watches over her.

Around 4pm we leave the hotel and head to the Asian fast food for some very late lunch. The food is not that bad, but not good either. We'll avoid this place in the future.

Around 5pm we take a taxi (taxi is 26 dirham, quite inexpensive) to the Atlantis hotel. On the way we spot a small harbour for recreational boats near the Hilton Jumeirah hotel.

The Atlantis hotel is the newly built hotel at the tip of the big palm island. We have an ice cream in the parlour shortly after the entrance (Coldstone Creamery). We were thinking of having a small ice cream but the ice cream turns out to be quite big and expensive (75 dirham for three ice creams). Turns out that without asking they served us the largest possible size. The ice cream is not bad, but not that special. Long queue of people in this ice cream parlour.

Then, while Shirley shops around a bit, I get outside and take some pictures of the Atlantis hotel. At 6:35pm I meet again Shirley and the kids inside the Atlantis hotel. They have found the huge aquarium, full of fish and sharks. Very impressive, we spend 20 minutes there watching the fish. Actually in this Atlantis hotel there is another place with a huge aquarium, but the entry ticket is quite pricey (100 dirham).

Shortly after 7pm we leave the Atlantis hotel. The sun has just set. We take a taxi and ask the driver to bring us to a shopping mall near the Hilton Jumeirah hotel. The driver brings us to the Marina mall near the Hilton hotel.

We arrive there around 7:30pm. The mall is quite big, but does not contain too many shops (big spaces however). Quite upmarket, elegant and fashionable, lots of branded goods shops. We have a small snack at the KFC restaurant, then take a taxi back to the Hilton Jumeirah hotel.

The whole of Dubai, or let's say of this part of Dubai, is very upmarket. Huge building boom, makes you wonder if there is really a demand for so much real estate. Most likely huge electricity consumption to run all those air conditioners and huge water consumption given the large number of people living here.

Still, the beaches here are great and if you have sufficiently deep pockets you can have a nice beach holiday here. Avoid of course the hottest months and the coldest months. Dubai should be perfect in October-November and February-March.

07.06: Dubai
Hotel Hilton Jumeirah. In the evening we are refused entry to the restaurant of the hotel, because I'm wearing shorts and slippers (they tell us they have a dress code). Perhaps they should realise that they are a beach hotel and that outside temperatures are above 30°C.
Weather: sunny and extremely hot. High air humidity. Thick layer of haze/humidity, poor visibility.

I wake up at 7:30am and have breakfast at 8:20am I'm in a taxi to the Media City. The taxi driver complains a bit that he waited for two hours in front of the hotel and now he only gets a short trip. At 8:40am I reach the office tower where I'll hold my presentation.

After the presentation, at 3:20pm I jump into a taxi back to the hotel Hilton. There I meet Shirley and the children. Shortly after 4pm we jump into a taxi and head to the Emirates mall (taxi is 22 dirham). 

The Emirates mall is a huge upmarket shopping mall. Very impressive interiors, beautifully decorated. Tons of high end shops selling branded and luxury goods. Lots of activities for small children - a kid could spend a couple of days there without getting bored. Two food courts. An expensive place to shop however, perhaps even more expensive than Munich for many goods. Attached to the mall is this artificial snow resort, where you can ski every day of the year. Impressive piece of engineering.

After some time at the mall we take a taxi and get back to the hotel. Driver cheats a bit and brings us first to the Sheraton ("oh... you wanted to go to the Hilton...?"). We are at the hotel at 6pm.

Then while Shirley rests a bit with the kids, I go out to the beach and swim a bit. It's almost sunset but the temperature is still above 34°C. The beach by now is pretty empty. Surprise when I enter the water. The sea water is really hot, like a warm bath. Almost too warm to swim in it. This is really amazing, not even in the tropics the sea water gets so hot. After some swimming in the sea I go to the pool.

Around 7:20pm I'm back in the room. Some discussion, I manage to motivate Shirley to go out and have a dinner. We first go to the restaurant in the lobby of the Hilton. There we are denied entry because of the dress code (I'm wearing shorts and slippers).

So we go again to the Chinese fast food restaurant opposite the Hilton hotel. There they recognise us again and Natasha, our 15 months little girl, is the sensation. The waitresses take her over and play with her for a while.

After the dinner we have a walk and are back in the room around 8:30pm.

08.06: Dubai -> Kuala Lumpur
Hotel Boulevard, Kuala Lumpur.
Weather: foggy in the early morning in Dubai, poor visibility, hot. Tropical temperatures at night when we arrive in KL.

After breakfast we leave the hotel at 8:15am by taxi. At 8:55am we are at the airport. Free wireless internet access at the terminal 3 (the new one of Emirates Airlines).

At 9:45a we board the EK342 plane to KL. There we are in the plane. Nothing happens until about 11:30am (flight is supposed to take off at 10:30am. At 11:30am they disembark all passengers - broken aircraft, needs to be fixed. We are all sent to the gate 208 where another plane is waiting, new planned take off time is 1:30pm. We have some lunch, then proceed to the gate.

The plane will finally take off after 2pm and land in KLIA at 1am local time. Three and a half hours of delay, thank you very much Emirates. Shortly before 2am we are in taxis to the hotel (two taxis costing 87 RM, less than one family van which costs 233 RM - these are night prices, daytime the taxis cost less).

Copyright 2009 Alfred Molon