Dubai is a holiday destination for tourists across the globe, but where do the city’s residents choose to fly to for a getaway? We spoke to Emirates and Flydubai, Dubai’s two major carriers, to discover the most popular flight paths from the UAE. The results are in alphabetical order, rather than listed by popularity, because the airlines wanted to keep the winners under wraps – which one do you think is top dog?
Bangkok, Thailand This buzzing city is a tourism hub that is both a destination and a gateway to Thailand’s many islands and regions. A trip here is all about local markets, shopping, food and nightlife – and then some more food. From Dhs3,010 return, including tax.
Beirut, Lebanon The Paris of the Middle East is a mere three-and-a-half-hour flight from Dubai and is popular not only because of its natural beauty, epic nightlife and quirky spirit but also because of the huge Lebanese contingent in the UAE. (It’s also interesting to note that the actual Paris didn’t make the cut.) From Dhs1,710 return, including tax.
Istanbul, Turkey This city, where East meets West, is home to one of the most beautiful yet haphazard skylines in the world. Our highlights include the souks, moreish Turkish cuisine (obviously), eateries lining the Bosphorous river, the contemporary art scene and the inimitable Turkish people. From Dhs2,010 return, including tax.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia The capital of Malaysia is a fairly safe and hassle-free destination, filled with culinary and cultural delights from the Indian, Malay and Chinese citizens. The route is also a key connector to other parts of Asia thanks to good budget flights from the airport. From Dhs2,140 return, including tax.
London, England A quick mid-summer visit to Knightsbridge is proof enough that UAE nationals love this metropolis. London is Time Out’s spiritual home, and is a city that truly has everything. It’s also home to the world’s busiest airport (we’re second!) meaning it’s a great transit hub. From Dhs3,080 return, including tax.
Madrid, Spain We’re surprised to see this city in the top 10 (how often do you hear Dubaians say they’re popping to Madrid for the weekend?) yet it’s a clear sign of good taste – the Spanish capital is packed with style, beautiful historic buildings, tapas bars and more. It also has the air of a city that doesn’t try too hard to please, which we like. From Dhs3,880 return, including tax.
Mumbai, India With Indian expatriates reportedly making up as much as 50 per cent of Dubai’s population, it’s no surprise that Mumbai is on the list (we expect it will be quite high up there, too). We’re just amazed that more Indian cities aren’t in the top 10 – perhaps it boils down to the amount of budget airlines that fly there. The city is the definition of a sensory overload: a vibrant place that is a study in extremes. From Dhs1,300 return, including tax.
Munich, Germany This city is very ‘German’ – and, yes, by that we mean it’s home to many lederhosen and plenty of hops. One theory for why it’s so popular is that Dubaians’ ‘need for speed’ is truly satisfied on the terrifying and exhilarating autobahn (yes, it’s a highway with no speed limit). Another theory is that it’s a very affordable European route. From Dhs2,430 return, including tax.
New York, USA If all the cities worldwide were to sit down and decide which was king, we think ballsy New York would take the (cheese)cake. It’s fast-paced, multicultural, a foodie’s haven, very walkable and just straight-up cool. New York, we love you. From Dhs6,570 return, including tax.
Rome, Italy Rome is like a Versace shirt – it’s loud, it’s proud, it’s undeniably classy, and, of course, it’s Italian. Full of monumental ruins – we assume you’ve heard of the Colosseum – and memorable museums, you’ll have no trouble finding things to do, but we say take time out for a long lunch (try the pizza) and people-watching. From Dhs4,050 return, including tax. www.emirates.com (04 214 4444).
Flydubai’s top 10 routes Amman, Jordan Jordan offers tourists Petra, the Dead Sea and a truly friendly experience, so it’s no shock it’s in the top 10. There are also many Jordanians who call Dubai home. From Dhs723 return, including tax.
The Kingdom of Bahrain The Gulf nation did see political clashes early this year, but strong business ties with the UAE keep travel up, as well as beautiful beaches, classy hotels and a scattering of heritage sites. Flights there are also affordable (a return hop will cost you less than a boozy brunch). From Dhs398 return, including tax.
Beirut, Lebanon The only city to make both lists – see the opposite page for a description. From Dhs760 return, including tax.
Chittagong, Bangladesh The second largest city in Bangladesh (and the nation’s largest sea port) isn’t an obvious tourist destination, and most of the traffic on its flights is probably made up of expats returning home. A visit there, however, will be memorable due to the heaving streets. From Dhs1,527 return, including tax.
Damascus, Syria While Syria has been in the news for all the wrong reasons recently, Dubaians (including Syrian expats) are obviously still flying there. This, arguably the oldest continually inhabited city in the world, drips with character and history – parts of the city still look medieval. From Dhs731 return, including tax.
Doha, Qatar We imagine much of this traffic is down to strong business ties, as well as GCC tourists coming both ways. Yet with a fantastic contemporary art museum, a W hotel and breathtaking architecture, a weekend in Doha is not to be pooh-poohed. From Dhs415 return, including tax.
Karachi, Pakistan Why the largest city in Pakistan is on this list is no riddle – the main trading hub of the country has strong links to the UAE, with Dubai alone being home to more than 400,000 Pakistanis. The huge land mass houses more than 13 million people. It’s a diverse destination, but pockets of extremism and sagging infrastructure mean it’s not much of a tourist hotspot. From Dhs826 return, including tax.
Kathmandu, Nepal If you don’t like a crowd, Kathmandu isn’t for you – although you could always head off to trek the Himalayas (home to Everest). The mesmerising historical city is home for many Dubai expats, as well as being a backpacker-style tourist hub. From Dhs1,315 return, including tax.
Kuwait Another GCC country on the list just shows how much travel goes on between the region (a game of ‘spot the foreign licence plates’ during any Eid break is also testament to that). Next time we visit Kuwait we’ll definitely be frequenting the sleek new Missoni Hotel. From Dhs551 return, including tax.
Muscat, Oman Beautiful coastline, plenty of heritage, unfailingly smiley local people and top-notch luxury hotels. What’s not to like about our neighbour? From Dhs551 return, including tax. www.flydubai.com (04 301 0800).