Posted August 16th, 2018, 08:18 AM
I have also lived in the Emirates, my family spent nearly 15 years out there very happily so I am sorry to hear that your friend found it difficult to adjust to the very different lifestyle. We lived for that time in Dubai but I also spent time in Fujairah, Ras al Khaimah and Abu Dhabi on archaelogical digs, so a lot of first hand experience.
The link picsa posted will be very useful to people, so thankyou. If anyone is thinking of visiting the area the best advice I can give is to read the link, be repectful and use common sense like you would anywhere . What you dont get on the government link above, for any country, is the positives. It is a site to inform travellers so they stay safe and out of trouble, so even somewhere like Spain sounds scary on there.
If anybody does decide to travel to that part of the world they will find that the Emirates are by far about the safest cities in the world. I happily walked around at night as a young woman on my own without having concerns regarding safety and without any "no go" areas to worry about accidentally finding myself in. Their crime rate is one of the lowest in the world, its vertually zero and I would not do that in ANY other city anywhere. English is widely spoken so asking directions or for recommendations where to go is simple.
In the cities travelling is very easy, which makes it a great cruise destination. Taxis in Dubai and Abu Dhabi are extremely well regulated and are fairly priced and on a meter, so none of the usual concerns of being scammed at the taxi rank. The metro in Dubai is clean, cheap and very efficient. People are polite, respectful and helpful, which isnt the case in the area surrounding every cruise port Ive been to, in other parts of the world. Out of the cities, and in some of the other ports the ships visit, independent travel isnt quite so easy.. indeed some places have vertually no public transport system, but this is what makes exploring the world so interesting. A bit of research is always a good thing!
The history of the region is fascinating. Dubai started off as a pearl trading port, only got electricity in the 60's and in the early nineties there were still only a few hotels and lots of space between buildings. Abu Dhabi in the nineties was still predominantly a city with buildings less than 5 stories high. Khor Fakkan in an enclave of Sharjah (on Oceanas itinerary) I think had only one hotel, a dive school, a couple of shops and a supermarket and that was it.
Go to the Emirates for the architecture. Nowhere else in the world do you get quite such a mix of old and traditional (wind towers are particularly interesting for their air conditioning capabilities pre electricity) and new buildings are built to a design and scale that few other countries would dare to. Go for the fantastic scenery. Mountains ranges, hidden pools you can swim in, the desert that changes colour as you travel through it, the fantastic beaches. You can try new technology like fly-boarding if thats your thing or just swim lazily in stunningly clear water that is bizarrely bouyant. I havent even started on the shopping! Local souks where you can laugh and barter for hours (The gold souk, spice souk and textile souks in Dubai come highly recommended. The fish market , date market and carpet souk in Abu Dhabi are equally interesting and within walking distance of the port) Personally I also like the market at Masafi, which is now on one of Pand Os trips, off the beaten track and interesting for it. There are also some of the worlds biggest malls if thats your thing.
Its on my bucket list to "go back", which I am doing on a cruise in January with friends who have never been there. Enjoy wherever your lists take you