Backpacking in Dubai

Time Out's top tips for travellers coming to Dubai

I recently went on a weekend jaunt to India. Usually when I travel, I’ll book myself in to a local guesthouse to save the pennies and meet a few nice people, but I’ve started to wonder if I’m getting a bit too ‘Dubai’ for this backpacking malarkey. Going from our city’s five-star resorts to spending a few days sleeping in a drab pebble-dashed room makes me want to murder someone for a duck-feather pillow. However, the thing that irritates me the most is the people who come with the backpacking lifestyle.

While away, I met a typical traveller type while having a leisurely drink in the guest-house bar. After telling me that people knew him as ‘Sky’ (clearly his real name – John – just wasn’t cutting it on the traveller circuit) and scratching his ill-maintained dreadlocks (which were emitting a strange radioactive smell), he committed the ultimate, unforgivable sin – he pulled out a guitar. I’d have been happier if he’d pulled a dead badger out of his bag; at least then he could have claimed originality.

Now don’t get me wrong, my problem is not with guitars themselves – I like an acoustic session as much as the next person – but three chords and whining like a banshee does not make you the next José Gonzalez. It just makes me feel sick.

Backpackers coming to the UAE simply won’t get away with this kind of behaviour. If you’re heading to our guest houses or hostels (yes, we have three), you should heed a few simple warnings when staying here
to ensure the people you meet don’t immediately develop the desire to set fire to whichever instrument you’ve acquired on your travels.

1. Don’t tell folks you have discovered the ‘real’ country you’re in (or last place you travelled to) – it annoys people and makes them wish you’d get food poisoning.

2. Dressing in those clown trousers you bought from a hippy shop will prompt funny looks. It isn’t cultural, it just makes you look like a wally.

3. Friendship bands should not be bought or worn past the age of 15, and festival wristbands and club stamps should be removed immediately after the event in question.

4. Drop the accent you’ve acquired. It takes more than six weeks of backpacking to sound like a local.

5. No, you can’t add me as a friend on Facebook. Now, how about a nice stay in the Kempinski?

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