Dubai is one of the most talked-about travel destinations, with its luxurious hotels, towering skyscrapers, and man-made islands. However, is it all worth the hype? After my 23-hour stopover in Dubai, I can confidently say that Dubai is overrated. Let’s explore why.
I’m usually the person to run the other way when people are flocking to certain destinations. I can remember receiving several texts one Christmas morning about the flight glitch of all time to Abu Dhabi on Etihad Airways. I was slow to move because it wasn’t on my shortlist. I wondered, is Dubai overrated? Almost a year later I visited Thailand using Emirates and had a 23-hour stopover with free hotel and food compliments of the airline. Read how to score a free stopover here.
So is Dubai overrated? The short answer is YES.
Before we get into why Dubai is overrated, let’s check out a few quick facts about Dubai:
Where is Dubai?
Dubai is an Emirate of the United Arab Emirates. Dubai City is the capital of the Dubai Emirate. It is also located on the Persian Gulf.
What currency is used in Dubai?
The currency in Dubai is the Dirham, AED. 1 U.S. Dollar is worth 3.67 Dirham and the exchange rate hasn’t changed since the late 90s. You should be careful in converting a lot of U.S. money to Dirhams because you will lose money when converting back to U.S. Dollars
Languages spoken in Dubai?
Arabic is the official language of Dubai. English is the second most used language. Some other languages spoken in Dubai include but not limited to Malayalan, Persian, and Hindi.
While I was in Dubai, I made the most of my time. However, when I left, I wondered what all the hype was about. Is it because the flight was so cheap? What was it? I was underwhelmed and left, thinking the 23 hours was enough.
Here are a few reasons why I think Dubai is overrated and not worth a visit.
Dubai is EXPENSIVE
First, Dubai is expensive. The currency in Dubai is the Dirham, and 1 USD is worth 3.67 Dirham. Depending on the area, things are pricey. I found better deals at the market than at the mall, as I was able to negotiate. Everything was so expensive that it was a bit of a shock to my wallet after coming from Thailand. Experiences such as brunch parties or yacht rides can cost a couple of hundred or more per person, depending on the venue or company. Also, beware of using credit cards, as most vendors have a different price for credit card transactions.
It is HOT!
Dubai is located in a desert, and the temperatures can get scorching hot during the summer months. While some tourists may not mind the heat, others may find it unbearable. The humidity levels can also make it difficult to breathe, especially for those with respiratory issues.
Visiting Dubai during the summer months may not be the best idea, and travelers should consider visiting during the winter months when temperatures are more manageable. However, keep in mind that prices during the winter months may be higher.
I went in June, and the temperature was well over 100 degrees, and it is a dry heat. It was also Ramadan, so I was not allowed to drink water in public. My beautiful Brazilian hair looked like a tumbleweed after being zapped in Dubai. 😀 It took me months to get my complexion back even after using sunscreen. It also didn’t help that I wore black. 🙁 The beach was unpleasant as the sand was scorching hot, and the water was hot as well. Take a look at these unedited photos to see how much darker my complexion was after one day in Dubai heat.
Internet access is scarce
There was wi-fi in the airport, and it was free for a certain amount of time. There was free unlimited Wi-Fi in the mall. At my hotel, you could purchase the internet, but it wasn’t fast. When I was out and about shopping and could notice wi-fi networks were not available to the public. Skype is not allowed in Dubai. If you’re looking for another way to communicate, try WhatsApp or any other tools l list on apps to keep you connected while abroad.
Dubai Reminds me of Vegas
I don’t mean that it looks like the Vegas strip. I’m referring to the glitz and flashy part of Vegas. While on a tour, I was told about the biggest this and that. On the tour, I also learned that the Hotel Burj Al Arab is the most luxurious, starting at $1200+ a night. There is a Dubai Fountain outside of the Dubai Mall, which is a choreographed fountain designed by the same company that designed the fountain outside the Bellagio Hotel in Vegas.
I was not prepared as I should have been since this was a stopover trip. I didn’t know until a couple of weeks before going that I was visiting during Ramadan. This meant no eating or drinking or even chewing gum in public. I was able to eat breakfast at the hotel. In the afternoon, thank goodness, there was an area in the mall where non-Muslim could eat. It was sectioned off and guarded so you could not see while walking by. A lot of places were closed during Ramadan. Each day ended with a traditional cannon shot which in the past served as a way to let Muslim worshipers know they can break their fast. Yes, I was caught off guard during my selfie :/
As far as dress, prior to my trip, I read on how you should dress really conservatively and not show knees or shoulders. I asked a friend who lived in Dubai about this and was told they are not as strict. However, I wore a jumpsuit with a mesh cover and sandals and received a few stares of possible disapproval. I really wish with 100+ temp, I could have worn shorts and a tank, but that would have really been pushing it. Alcohol is frowned upon in Dubai. As a resident, there are certain licenses and permits you have to obtain to drink at home and in certain venues. I flew on Emirates, and there is free liquor in all classes. I definitely received side-eye from a few passengers while ordering drinks on the Dubai to U.S. route. I am always able to adapt to and respect different cultures. I have no ill feelings toward this experience, however, if I knew ahead of time, I would have done some things differently.
While Dubai has much to offer, it is overrated. This is my opinion of Dubai, and I’m not knocking anyone who has gone or wants to go. Maybe it was due to my lack of preparation. I didn’t make it to Abu Dhabi to see the mosque, but I’ve seen quite a few worship venues around the world. Maybe one day I’ll visit Abu Dhabi or go back to Dubai for a festival, but for now, I am in no rush to return to Dubai. One day was enough for me, and I was left underwhelmed!
Have you been to Dubai? What has been your experience? Are there any places you feel are overrated? Comment below!