I recently took my first international trip to the United Arab Emirates, UAE for short. I visited the beautiful cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Yes, I have been to Jamaica and the Grand Cayman via Carnival Cruise Lines but being in a different country for seven days is a true international trip for me. It was an amazing experience. Being somewhere outside of America is truly indescribable. It opens your eyes and ears beyond your own backyard. It opens up your mind to a different culture, different mindset, and you are able to experience something new that you never thought was possible or existed.
I had went with my best friend via a travel group called DR3AM3RS which was hosted by two guys that I went to college with. It was a group of 27 total and we were all there to experience what the UAE had to offer in different ways. It was an all-inclusive trip paid over time with installments and when September 25th finally came, I was pumped and ready to embark on this new journey and be able to add this to my travel resume (haha). Seven days is A LOT of ground to cover, and too much for this blog post BUT I am going to share with you some things that I experienced and learned while being in the UAE so just in case you ever get to go (and I hope you do), you have a small cheat sheet right here ;)
1. I flew out of New York - JFK International Airport, and flew Emirates, which is the airline that’ll take you to the UAE. Your carry-on and two checked bags are free and you are offered two meals and a snack during the flight. (Think about how much an international flight costs alone! I’m sure you are already paying for that in the price lol). There is also free WiFi and a wide selection of movies for you to watch for free as well.
2. The flight is LONG. From NY to Dubai, the flight was over 12 hours. The return flight was over 13 hours. Good thing they provide all of the necessities for you to endure a long flight lol. Emirates Airlines provided every passenger with headphones, a blanket, and a pouch filled with ear plugs, an eye mask, toothbrush and toothpaste kit, and more!
3. When we arrived in Dubai, we had to go through customs. That was an experience. While going through customs, I got my passport stamped for the first time (yayyy!), answered a few questions about my trip, and got my bags checked through security.
DUBAI - (while here, we stayed at the Dusit D2 Kenz hotel)
4. Dubai is so MODERN. Fron the architecture to the streets, it really makes America look and feel behind.
5. Everyone in Dubai has a job, EVERYONE. You are not able to come to the city without one.
6. Dubai is very clean. No litter, clutter, or trash on the streets. There were also no homeless people around. (We should take notes, America)
7. Dubai is home to the tallest building in the world called the Burj Khalifa. You can pay to go all the way to the top and you could overlook all of Dubai. (I didn’t do it but I wish I had).
ABU DHABI - (while here, we stayed at the Sheraton Abu Dhabi Hotel and Resort)
8. Abu Dhabi is less modern than Dubai, but still a beautiful city. It’s a lot more calmer
9. Abu Dhabi is home to the Sheikh Zayed Mosque - that place was very sacred and very beautiful.
10. The fastest roller coaster in the world is here.
11. We spent more of our leisure time in Abu Dhabi.
12. UAE currency is the dirham. I was able to exchange currency at the airport when we got to Dubai. You can also exchange currency before you get there, it is just what you prefer. ($1.00 USD = $3.6 AED)
13. Public displays of affection are not allowed, even if you’re married. Holding hands is okay.
14. Swearing is not allowed in public. You can get fined or arrested, even deported out of the country.
15. There is no “dress code”; you can wear whatever you would wear at home. Certain places would like women to be more covered up (i.e in the mosque), but other than at the mosque, I wore my normal clothes and did not have any issues.
16. If you are going either to the beach or pool, you are advised to stay covered until you get there, this goes for men and women. Ladies, wearing a bathing suit top with shorts is NOT ALLOWED. Walking around in just your bathing suit is okay once you get to the pool or beach. No thong bikinis or explicit bathing suits are allowed to be worn. Men cannot go topless until they get to the pool or beach.
17. When going to the mosque, women have to be covered from HEAD TO TOE. It is a very sacred place. I purchased an abaya from the market and was able to wear that over my clothes. It is a long robe/dress that closes in the front and covers my body. It also comes with a headscarf to wrap my hair in. Don’t purchase it in the US, it is way cheaper in Dubai. Hands and feet can be exposed. Tattoos of any kind need to be covered and that goes for men and women. Men can wear long pants and long shirts or they can wear thobes, jubbas, or tunics and hair has to be wrapped in a scarf as well.
18. Dubai is one of the safest places in the world. Crime is really low. Still take the necessary safety precautions that you would take at home.
19. Some of the things people do in the UAE may come off rude (not saying excuse me, reaching over you, etc.). Just remember not to take it offense to it. This is not America. The culture is different.
20. Dubai is a melting pot; lots of different people live there!
21. Bring a universal adaptor for the outlets! The American hotels have outlets to fit our plugs but just in case they don’t, its best to have one! I got mine from Wal Mart for $10.
Yall know I made sure I did plenty of things and activities while in the UAE! Here were some things I did and places I went:
-Zaatar w zeit:
-The Dubai Mall - via the Metro:
-Empty Quarter Desert - for the Desert Safari (I even got to ride a camel!!)
-Dhow River - for a dinner cruise:
-Sheikh Zayed Mosque:
-Jet Skis along the Persian Gulf/Arabian Sea:
-Pool at Sheraton Abu Dhabi Hotel and Resort:
I really enjoyed my first international trip. The most exciting part was getting my first passport stamp!! Plus, I was with my best friend, Breona, so we both experienced this together and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Would I go back? Absolutely. I will definitely go with more money next time lol. Even though USD goes a long way, I would go back and do some of the things that I did not get a chance to do on my first visit. I will cough up at that extra money too and fly first class :)) The UAE was really good to me and a great ending to my three week break before starting my new travel nurse contract. Be on the lookout for a new travel nurse blog post coming soon! What passport stamp will I obtain next? Stay tuned for more!
Until next time,
Live life, love always, and don’t forget to smile,