Dubai has become an increasingly popular tourist destination. The sparkling city by the Persian Gulf attracts its visitors with gorgeous deserts and desert safaris, amazing beaches, and exciting man-made attractions like the world’s highest building, dazzling artificial islands, an indoor ski slope (yes, in the desert!), huge luxury malls, and much more. Everything here is bigger, better, and more stunning than what you are commonly used to!
However, the city’s climate can taint a visit a bit if you don’t go somewhat prepared. Temperatures can rise to up to 50°C in the summer, and don’t be fooled: The city is surrounded by desert, but it is in no way a place with a pleasant “dry” heat – the air can get incredibly humid and stifling.
So it pays to know how to cope with the local climate the best way possible in order to enjoy your visit and to protect yourself from the harsh sun and the desert winds.
Choose the right season
The bad news first: It can take the body weeks or even months to adapt to a new climate, especially if it is extreme like Dubai’s, so there is only so much that you can do except for – well, keeping your chin up.
The good news: Dubai isn’t 50-degree-hot all year round. It does have seasons, although not very differentiated ones. If you wish to avoid experiencing temperatures above 40 (which can happen between May and September) go between December and February – those are the milder months of the year and most people who have been to Dubai recommend going then!
Before you go, make sure you choose the most suitable clothes to fill your suitcase with. People tend to believe that the hotter it is the fewer clothes you should wear to let your body “breathe”. However, to feel comfortable and not too hot in Dubai, you may actually be better off covering up with loose, light-colored clothes that will protect your skin from the sun and help keep your body temperature in balance. Depending on where you’re planning on going in Dubai, they may also be more culturally appropriate.
However, do pack some warm clothes or shawls as well, as most indoor places like malls are quite heavily air-conditioned.
So much indoor fun
Speaking of malls: Dubai is famous for its malls, and many offer far more than just shops. Dubai Mall, for example, one of the biggest malls in the world, contains the Dubai Ice Rink, the Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo, Kidzania, and SEGA Republic! Dubai residents love to spend time in malls, not just to go shopping, but also to hang out – one of the reasons being that it is simply too hot to spend much time outside. So to stay fresh, do it like the locals and check out the city’s malls and the many fun, exciting indoor attractions! Restaurants, interactive theme parks, an indoor zoo in a tropical forest, exciting sports venues that get you flying high, playgrounds for kids, another aquarium … There are more options available than you can imagine! And if you visit a place as hot as Dubai, it is not a bad idea to focus a little more on doing things inside than you usually would.
Be active when it’s cooler
For the things you do want to see and do outside, opt for the cooler parts of the day: either in the morning, between 6am and 10am, when the air and the sunshine are still bearable, or at night, when the temperatures drop a bit again, the boiling sun is replaced by millions of lights, and people go out to eat and take a walk. Dubai awakes when the sun sets, so feel free to make late plans!
The common things
Do all the things that you already know work to stay cool in the heat. Drink plenty of fresh water throughout the day to keep yourself fresh and hydrated – better some sips every half hour instead of one huge gulp when you’re already super thirsty. Eat refreshing, light food rather than heavy and salty meals. Avoid cigarettes and alcohol (not that hard, considering what a glass of wine costs in Dubai). Use sunscreen and lip balm to protect your skin, and sunglasses to protect your eyes. Like this, your stay in Dubai will be unforgettable (but for all the good reasons)!