Author Topic: Surviving a trip to Dubai  (Read 1200 times)

Offline CandyGram4Mongo

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Surviving a trip to Dubai
« on: January 09, 2019, 11:36:28 AM »
Am heading for Dubai.  Am hopeful others will share their experiences like Surfivor did in the Surviving a Trip to Israel thread http://thesurvivalpodcast.com/forum/index.php?topic=59898.msg709804#msg709804.

What I know so far; will followup afterwards:
1. Illegal over-the-counter meds include Excedrin, several forms of Tylenol, some forms of Advil and a bunch of other stuff per the official site .  NOTE: their website's controls behave unexpectedly; use caution when attempting to scroll or search. 
http://www.mohap.gov.ae/en/AwarenessCenter/Pages/UnauthorizedMedicines.aspx
Unofficial site here is more user-friendly but has a gazillion ads.  Note that the unofficial site is vastly out of synch with the official site, but adds some forms of Robitussin and St Joseph's cough syrup.
http://dubaiofw.com/banned-medicines-in-uae/
Looks like Aleve will be the painkiller of choice.  Don't see any problems with Immodium.

2. Prohibited goods include items of Israeli origin, so the IBD is coming out of my kit.  No red lasers.
https://www.dubaicustoms.gov.ae/en/eServices/ServicesForIndividuals/ViewCustomsInformation/Pages/Prohibited-and-Restricted-Goods.aspx

3. Items that must be declared include but aren't limited to radios.  BTW, there are EXCELLENT comments, questions, and answers in the "comments" section of this unofficial site:
https://www.dubai-online.com/essential/customs/

4. Under the you-gotta-be-kidding-me heading - woman jailed for traces of codeine in her blood https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/unitedarabemirates/1488716/Briton-held-in-Dubai-on-drug-charge-after-taking-painkillers-charge.htmlA "passport irregularity" led to a urinalysis.
So, I'm pretty sure that means if you're coming from someplace where cannabis is legal, you could have a real problem if there's a "passport irregularity" or any other excuse to administer a whiz-quiz.  There are also documented cases of arrests for poppy seeds and having some sort of poppy-ish results in the urinalisys.  I'll be traveling with a herd of Canadians.  Might get interesting.

5. There's a lot of other stuff to know - will post more after my return.  In the mean time, here's the official USGov info site link:
https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/UnitedArabEmirates.html


Offline David in MN

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Re: Surviving a trip to Dubai
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2019, 04:16:05 PM »
I've had 2 close friends travel there. Both for business. One said he felt very safe and as long as he kept being polite the locals knew that hassling him was bad for business so as long as he stayed more or less on the good side of the law he felt fine. He did bring his wife and had some issues there but again as long as they were polite and helpful it was OK.

The other was one of my mentors. While brilliant at cobbling machines to do what he wanted he was VERY rough around the edges. He had another story. He said that there are a ton of rules in public but once you got to the hotel you could have all the booze and prostitutes you wanted. From his point of view there was a massive discrepancy between public and private affairs. To the point where the concierge got him Jamaican rum (he's Jamaican).

At the end of the day they know where their bread is buttered. If you are polite and decent and respect their norms you should do fine. Dubai markets itself in Europe as the "crossroads of the world" for good reason. Also, be smart. No matter where I go it has the "best" wine, coffee, bread, pastry, etc. Whatever they put in front of you is amazing and you've never had anything like it. It likely won't be a lie but all people like being complemented on their culture. Use your openness to engage in the culture. It's done us wonders in our travels. My wife holds that the tongue of the Peking duck is the best part...

Offline CandyGram4Mongo

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Re: Surviving a trip to Dubai
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2019, 11:29:40 AM »
Thanks David - +1!  1 thing I forgot about was power adapters.  Looks like standard US ain't gonna get it done at my hotel, so off to Best Buy...

Offline never_retreat

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Re: Surviving a trip to Dubai
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2019, 06:30:00 PM »
Learn some Arabic.

Offline surfivor

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Re: Surviving a trip to Dubai
« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2019, 02:09:05 PM »

When are you going and for how long ? How did you decide to got there ? Have a nice trip.

Offline CandyGram4Mongo

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Re: Surviving a trip to Dubai
« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2019, 09:07:41 AM »
OK, I survived (barely).
Customs (inbound).  Arrived at 8 AM on a Sunday on an Emirates flight from JFK.  Passport stampers asked no questions- they were pretty busy BSing w/each other so it was literally an exercise in presenting my passport and standing there silently while he did whatever checks he needed to do.

Taxi. Credit cards are NOT universally accepted.  Dollars worked.  Supposedly Uber exists there but I didn't try it.

Bubble.  The Grand Hyatt was its own little bubble.  It felt very Western, including having (veal) bacon available and booze 24x7.  Bottled water was plentiful in my room and replenished daily.  Fresh fruit was also in my room and replenished daily after exchanging a kind word and holding the elevator door open for "the fruit guy."

Desert.  The sand is fine, like dirty talcum powder.  There are plenty of opportunities to ride camels, ATVs, or "ski" some sand dunes.

Women.  Treated well inside the bubble.  Outside the bubble a few of the women I travelled with compared it to walking past a construction site except comparisons were made in Arabic.  No catcalls. Just plenty of stares and remarks.

Outbound.  Confusing.  Show someone your boarding pass and they will send you to the correct line.  Do this IMMEDIATELY so that you don't waste an hour.  At the time of my departure there were six possible lines spread out over about an acre of airport.  There is NO sense of urgency so get there early and find the right line.  Also, there were numerous stands selling shrink-wrap services - it's an anti-theft tool and is not mandatory.  Customs was more aggressive outbound.  They took my bag apart.

Flight back to NYC.  BRING A SURGEON'S mask and something to disinfect tray table etc.  The flight from NYC was mostly healthy Westerners.  The return flight had a LOT of sick 3rd-worlders.  I got the worst flu I've ever had.

US Customs - JFK in NYC.  Long lines, confusing signs, and very few foreign speakers or signs, so about half my plane was in line ahead of me and about 2/3rds of those were non-citizens in the citizens line so it was slow.  Otherwise, the usual questions about what I brought back and a speedy exit to catch a domestic flight home.

Aftermath.  About a dozen people from my team went.  We stayed 1 week on a business trip.  None of them showed any symptoms of illness beforehand or during the stay.  All but one came down with some kind of crud lasting between 3 days and 3 weeks.  One guy was hospitalized.

Thanks again to all who joined this thread.

Offline Morning Sunshine

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Re: Surviving a trip to Dubai
« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2019, 11:53:44 AM »
thanks for the update.