Preparing your UAE visitors

Peter Feely gets his family ready for their Dubai visit

The Knowledge

Since receiving news of an impending visit from my younger sibling (chaperoned by his better half), I’ve been confronted with a number of questions about Dubai. Although far from stupid, my brother isn’t the most organised of people. With this in mind, I decided to bypass him in my quest for essential information and made contact with his beloved, who, as I found, has a far more cautious approach to travel.

Once she’d WhatsApp’d me to fill me in on the essentials (little things such as when they intended to arrive and how long they’d be staying), we set up a Skype conference. The first enquiry was of a financial nature – how much money would they need? If, like me (and my unflappable sibling) she’s happy to share table water with taxi drivers in one of the city’s bargain pit stops, the answer would be not much. But if (as I fear) she expects a modicum of elegance to proceedings, costs can quickly escalate.

It transpired that the list of activities she’d Googled and shortlisted wasn’t the cheapest: Wild Wadi, dune-bashing, the Burj Khalifa, an overnight desert trip, dhow cruise, snorkelling, a falconry show (she’s from the countryside, you see) and museums. Museums aside, the list sounded expensive, so I advised them to bring lots of money.

And where to store said money? I mentioned that a guest of my colleague recently arrived sporting a money pouch clipped around his waist. As I understand, such garments are worn beneath trousers, making pick-pocketing a far trickier proposition. In Dubai, however, where phones are often honestly returned by taxi drivers, such protective measures are not so necessary. What’s more, this particular tourist also made the error of wearing his money pouch over his trousers, giving the impression he was sporting a bum bag.

And what to wear? It’s my first year in the city, so I have a limited insight into Dubai’s seasonal variations (it’s been consistently hot since I arrived), so I advised against wasting suitcase space with coats and jackets. But what of the conservative dress code she’d heard so much about in the press? Would she be deported for wearing a bikini? At this point, my brother finally intervened with a rare display of common sense. He assured her that such matters are often sensationalised by the foreign media, before informing us that he would mostly be wearing T-shirts on his visit.

With this we concluded our conversation. It seemed my brother had a better grasp of Dubai than I’d imagined. Providing he packs T-shirts, a little bit of common sense, and his credit card, both of them should be fine. I just hope they leave the bum bags at home.

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