Dubai has been on my travel list as long as forever. Being one of the most attractive tourist centre in the world, I have always wanted to explore the beauty of the country. When the opportunity presented itself with Flyboku, I was so excited and looked forward to it.
My First To Do
Immediately I knew I was traveling to Dubai, I started researching about the city. There were so many articles to read online, I almost got confused. I spoke to a friend who resides there as well and he was kind enough to share a lot with me. I read about the weather in November, the type of clothes to pack for, how affordable are their clothings, places to look out for, food prices, common food, hotel cost, flight cost etc.
It was fun doing all these and few weeks before my trip, I already have like 40% knowledge about the city I’d be going to.
After that, I started packing my bag. Remember, I’m one who loves to pack weeks before traveling but this time, I didn’t pack until 2 days before. While I had already prepared my traveling list, I was so laid back about putting them in a box.
After packing, I ensure I had all my papers ready: e-ticket, visa, hotel reservation, and international passport. If you’ve ever gone on an international trip, then you’d know how annoying the guys at the immigration can be. Especially if you are not a frequent traveler.
Most times, when traveling to any country, it is important to change to dollar first and then change from dollar to the country’s currency at their airport depending on the country you are traveling from.
But the good thing was I got Dirham directly from my Bureau de Change contact in Abuja. I was lucky to get the rate at the same price everywhere else: 1 AED at 100 Naira (28 cents).
Immigration Papers Checklist and Experience
Flyboku has sent me my visa, tour ticket and itinerary as well as my flight details about 5 days before the trip.
Traveling to Dubai requires a visa before you travel. You can get a visa for $130 or $150 depending on who’s helping you with it.
I printed all of this alongside my passport and yellow card. I kept all in a brown envelope and kept in my backpack to make it easily accessible at the airport.
Traveling to Dubai does not require a yellow card as I eventually found out but it’s best to have it on you to be on the safe side. The last time I went to South Africa, I had to get another one at the airport because I forgot the one I had at home.
The immigration point would ask you tricky questions like:
Where are you going?
Is this your first time traveling out?
Who’s sponsoring the trip?
What are you going there for?
What’s in your bag?
Then there’s the part they would ask you how much you have on you, just tell them about $1000 or else, you’d go and find more money to reach up to that amount. They are not likely to search your bag except you fidget like a real first timer.
If you dare flinch, they’d enjoy delaying you and you’d end up bribing your way through. So help you God, you’ve changed all you cash to foreign currency, you’d be tipping heavily.
Flying Emirates Airline
I have read about Emirates airline but reading about it is nothing like the first hand experience. A bit expensive unlike other airlines to Dubai like Egyptair, Rwandair and Ethiopian Airlines but it’s worth every penny. A return trip to Dubai on Emirates costs an average of N300,000 depending on promo at that time or if Flyboku help you get a special deal with Emirates.
If you want a hassle free trip without worries about all these, it’s best to use an travel agent like Flyboku, they would make the trip seamless and leave you worrying only about your luggage.
November to March is like the peak period in Dubai. But if you decide earlier on traveling, you can use travel agency to make it easier for you as they have access to time you can get cheap flights.
The flight was for 6:25pm and I arrived at the airport 2 hours before to beat the immigration and security check points before boarding time. Unlike local flights where delays are predictable, international flights hardly delay so it is important you arrive at the airport 2 hours before your flight time. I left home at 3:15pm, as my house was about 30 minutes drive to the airport.
By the time I was done with immigration, check in and security check, it was already 5:00pm. I sat down to wait for boarding. At exactly 5:30, we started boarding for a 6:25pm flight! I was awed.
By 6:20, everyone was already seated and all hand luggage had be securely kept in the overhead storage. And we were ready for the direct 6 hours trip to Dubai.
The In-Flight Experience to Dubai
As a food lover, I enjoyed the 3-course meal with wine or fruit juice of your choice. And in-between the 6 hours trip after the 3 course meal, you get another dessert refill. I was thrilled.
Also, you have access to watch movies, play games, charge your phone and even access their Aeromobile WiFi. The WiFi was only available for the first 2 hours, after which it didn’t connect again.
Ensure you wear thick clothing when traveling long distance especially if it’s an overnight trip. While the airline always have cotton cover clothes for you, ensure you carry an extra thick clothing you can wear over your clothes before leaving home. No matter the weather in your home country, keep a cardigan handy for the in-flight weather.
We arrived at Dubai airport at 1am Nigerian time, thanks to my wristwatch as my phone has betrayed me already and changed to the local time, 4am. I was in Zone E, so we had to wait for Business, First Class and Zone A-D travelers to alight first. Different buses were waiting for us, some were for people going to Dubai while some were for travelers joining a connecting flight. Ensure you ask this well before you’d find yourself in a wrong bus. It is such a big airport and the distance did not seem close at all.
There was another immigration check where my passport was stamped to allow me entry into the country. This was done quickly, as the attendant only asked for my passport and took a picture of my face and that was it.
I headed to the carousel to pick my baggage and viola, I was in Dubai. I noticed however, that there was no one to check my tag against my bag to ensure I did not pick or steal another person’s bag. That was careless and wrong. I wouldn’t even know what excuse to make for the person responsible for this check.
A young man was standing by the Arrival Gate with my name and he took me to my pick up car which took me straight to my hotel. I checked into the hotel with my e-reservation ticket and got myself a room. I was already exhausted by the time I got in and I went straight to bed.
Calls and Data Issues
I wasn’t going to stay for a long time, so I found it ridiculous to ditch my line for just 7 days. How many people would I have to call to tell I am in Dubai and can only be reached on a particular line? And I had only a phone, it’s more expense to start getting another phone for a new sim. Hence, I ditched the idea of a new sim that cost about N6,500 when sim is just N100 or free in my country.
The downside about not buying a new sim is that you pay so much to make or receive any call. MTN charges N60 per minute to receive a call. And please, never forget to turn off your mobile data, I learnt this the hard way as I was charged about N10,000 for leaving my data on for just 2 hours and it never worked at all. When I called MTN customer care, I was informed it cost more when you use browse outside Nigeria. Also note that Whatsapp calls are blocked when you attempt to use a Dubai line for it.
It was so funny, I refuse to pick any calls that I know will just be bants and only picked family calls. If it’s important to reach the person, I either send a WhatsApp message, call or video. That saved me the phone calls dilemma. I was also told IMO works well for calls either with the local or international lines.
Then I had to worry about internet. The hotel I stayed in gave me access to WiFi and it’s pretty fast and smooth. But once I’m out of the hotel, that’s the end of internet access except the place I’m going to has free WiFi. Most of the free WiFi requires a local phone number for you to access their network, which I think is really unfair to tourists. I had to make do with what I had and endure this till I return back home.
What To Wear in Dubai
About this, I read and read and every site I came across kept talking about how you have to be well covered and all because of the UAEculture. They lie! While during Ramadan, you have to be fully covered, you can pretty much wear anything as long as you are not going nude.
We went to some places and I felt I was even the most covered person in the room. Don’t get me wrong, you may get quite some stares when your outfit is too revealing but you’d find more people like you.
People easily snuggle into their short and tees to places like Malls, market, and museum. If you have an itinerary like mine, read up on those places and just get clothing that you know would fit. Do not be restricted by rules and fear of been arrested for indecent dressing, you are a tourist and not a local. Locals would only stare at you and enjoy the feed.
Weather and Clothing Types
Another thing you should know is that UAE has just two weather, the very hot and the hot. November to March is the hot period and you can travel with light clothing.
But be sure to have some thick clothing too for night time when the weather can be a little chilly. Especially the hotel rooms, I still do not understand how outside would be hot and the room would be like 15 degrees cold even without the use of air conditioner.
This is quite tricky as the official language is Arabic. A few of them speak very coherent English while some others converse with twisted tongues. It can be annoying when someone speaks to you and you make them repeat themselves and you still can’t make out the words. When such happen, I just laugh and nod like a fool and pretend like I understood.
Language is incomplete when there’s no understanding but there’s little you can do in such situation. Except if you are gifted with a quick discerning spirit, then maybe you wouldn’t have so much problem with that.
If you traveled as a tourist with a tour company, you’d have little or no problem with transportation as they’d take you on a return trip as Flyboku did with me.
But if you are traveling without one, then you’d have to consider transport cost. I went out on a 28km trip and paid N6600 (AED66, $20) using a taxi.
But if you decide to use a metro train, you’d only be paying about N2,000 (AED20, $6) for a similar trip. If you can afford the luxury however and would love a glimpse of the city, then taxis or buses are your best shot.
Foods are quite affordable in Dubai. But then affordability differs to different people. The most common food here is pasta and rice. You’d find it in different varieties and in different colors. They have other types of Arabian food which I never tried because my body always oppose food I’m not used to.
The cost of food also ranges from AED10 and above (N1000, $3) depending on what you want to eat. The quantity is always much and if you are not much of a eater, you can eat the food twice. There are also restaurant in Deira market where you can get African food. If you love to eat peppery food like myself, be sure to tell them so they can make the food extra spicy.
I stayed at Ibis Deira City Centre and it comes with free breakfast and I only have to worry about lunch/dinner. I always have a late lunch, using one stone to kill two birds thereby saving more.
Shopping in Dubai
If you are a lover of brands, I would advise you shop at the malls. There are quite a good number of brands at different malls in Dubai. You’d find top UK and US brands and their prices are fair and quite reasonable. However, if you prefer to shop copy brands items, you can go to Deira market and Global Village. UAE is a tax-free country which makes you get various items at unbeatable prices in various shopping places.
Departing Dubai is quite easy unlike coming in. Ensure you know your terminal point when coming in so you don’t have to walk too much as it’s quite a big airport. Once you locate the entry point, take note of the boards to know where you’d check in. My departure was terminal 3 and I told the driver immediately I was picked up from the hotel.
There are various check in points for Platinum members, Business Class and Economy. Once you identify your class, enter through it to check in. Emirates baggage allowance is 2pcs by 23kg but if you get a promo ticket like I did with Flyboku then you get 3pcs by 23kg. That was like a blessing as I was already worried of my extra luggage of about 40kg.
After getting your boarding pass, you proceed to passport check and then immigration to confirm your passport and boarding pass, and that’s it. After this, confirm your gate number and sit there while you await boarding as this is the spot you’d be called from for boarding.
Do note that you can check in food items into the flight, there are no strict rules against that as long as it is purchased from the country. I was really famished on the morning of my departure and I had no Dirham left on me again to buy food as I ensure I spent all. And to think I left my almond in my luggage and I had already checked it in.
Places to Visit
Dubai is such a big city and you cannot get everywhere in such a short time except you live there. You can only touch the important and popular places in a short time.
I’d share my itinerary as offered by Flyboku and more information about these places which afforded me a good glimpse of the city in another post.
To contact Flyboku for your bookings:
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Phone number – +234 8183 642 514, 0700flyboku or +234 7044 987 102-109
Have you ever been to Dubai? What do you love most about the city? If you are yet to visit, what experience do you look forward to the most? If there’s anything else you’d love to know about Dubai, please ask me in the comment section, I’d do my best to answer.
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