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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Arriving In Dubai By Air

For almost 40 million travelers every year, Dubai is an essential stop on a journey between Europe and the Orient. Unlike most other areas of the Middle East, Dubai can be thought of as a luxury destination. Arriving there for the first time is indisputably an experience, but whether it turns out to be a good one or a bad one depends very much on your expectations and how well prepared you are.

Essential knowledge
Dubai is part of the UAE, and while it's a lot more relaxed there than in the surrounding countries, you should still bear in mind that it's a Muslim country with strict religious and moral values. As such you should avoid doing or possessing anything that might cause religious or moral offense.

There isn't room here to list everything you should avoid carrying with you, but the most essential ones are:

  • Anything related to drugs. This is so obvious, it shouldn't even need to be said, but you'd be surprised what things can be considered as being "related to drugs." It includes, for example, a bread roll with poppy seeds, and over-the-counter paracetamol tablets.

  • Anything related to sexuality. If you have a need for anything of this nature, you shouldn't have any difficulty purchasing it at your destination. There's no need to carry it from home.

  • Anything related to religions other than Islam. Attempting to convert Muslims to another religion is seen as a very grave crime in all countries where Islam is the dominant religion, so if there is even the slightest hint that this might be your intention, you could be in trouble.

  • Anything made in Israel. These guys dislike Israel so much, they won't allow anything connected with the place into the country. If your passport has an Israeli stamp in it, both you and your passport could be denied entry, in which case you may be returned home without being allowed to travel on to your next destination.

  • Anything insulting to Islam. This covers a broad range of possibilities, but generally anything that mocks or denounces the religion or anything connected with it is a bad idea to have in your possession.

Immigration formalities
If you faithfully avoid carrying anything on the above list, getting through immigration in Dubai is a snap. You won't need a to apply for a visa in advance if you are not from what would be considered a developing nation. However, of the developing nations, only Malaysia is exempt from requiring a visa in advance.

The immigration officers expect most visitors are just passing through, and they're not likely to grill you very extensively unless you look like somebody who is coming to Dubai for employment. It's not really the kind of country where most people tend to want to overstay. That being said, your mind will boggle at just how many expats are running small businesses in Dubai.

Transfer from airport to city
There are many different options for travel into the city from the airport. The distance is about 26km, and journey should take between 20 and 30 minutes to complete, depending on your mode of transport. There are buses you can get, but these won't be advisable if you have a lot of luggage or if you're in a hurry. Likewise, you should avoid buses if you don't already know your way around in the city.

There are also taxis outside which are a solution to the luggage problem, but can also be notoriously unreliable, and sometimes dishonest. The first contributor to this problem is that there are so many tourists passing through Dubai, it makes this a seller's market. The second part of the problem is that many of the drivers are foreigners, with the goal to make as much money as possible to send to their families back home, so scams and dodges are not uncommon.

A better option
A much more recommended way to handle your Dubai airport transfer is to use a private chauffeur service, such as Blacklane, for example. This offers many advantages, not the least of which is that you hire for a fixed fee. Your driver will be waiting to greet you when you exit the immigration area, and will assist you with all your luggage as you are escorted to your luxury vehicle. You are thus assured of a safe and comfortable journey with a trustworthy driver and reliable vehicle.


Those are the reasons why using a service like Blacklane for your Dubai airport transfer is the most sensible idea. The extra luxury and VIP treatment are not such bad reasons either. In any case, it is an affordable indulgence that will smooth out your journey and eliminate the stress and hassle normally associated with arriving in an unfamiliar city for the first time.

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