Steve Perkins, our Senior Asia Specialist, recently visited Dubai during the closing days of the Expo 2020 Dubai. Since Dubai is one of the most popular destinations in the Middle East and a convenient stopover destination on vacations to Africa and Asia, we chatted with Steve to get his insight on Dubai, including some sales tips and advice for LGBTQ travellers.
1. Where did you travel?
I travelled to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. This trip was my very first time travelling to the Middle East and it did not disappoint!
2. What is the number one thing agents should know about Dubai?
Dubai is a destination for everyone, whether it is honeymooners, retirees, families with children, solo travellers, budget travellers, luxury travellers or any client demographic in between. It’s no joke to say that Dubai has something for every type of traveller.
3. What is the biggest misconception about Dubai?
That people have to dress very modestly and in clothing that they’re not accustomed to whilst visiting. While Dubai is more conservative than some Western nations, the average globetrotter will not need to modify their packing list when it comes to clothes much at all. Like all responsible travellers, however, it’s always suggested to look into the local customs and etiquette of the destination before visiting.
4. What was your favourite hotel and why?
Personally, I loved the JW Marriott Marquis. Not only is it one of the tallest 5-star luxury hotels in the world (82 floors!), the room, facilities, and service were all top notch. Even in the lead in room category (deluxe), the bathtub nearly brought tears to my eyes. It was so welcoming and relaxing.
5. What new things did you learn about Dubai?
As a member of the LGBTQ community, I learned that while Dubai is definitely more conservative, travellers can still enjoy Dubai without much discrimination as long as they are discreet. I also learned that public displays of affection (hugs/kisses/holding hands) are generally frowned upon regardless of sexual orientation. Dubai is a modest place in general. Finally, I learned so much about how religion plays such a significant role in the day to day lives of most Emiratis.
6. What was your favourite local experience?
My favourite local experience would certainly be our visit and lunch at Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Centre for Cultural Understanding on our first full day in Dubai. This join-in/shared experience was so eye-opening to the culture, history, and atmosphere of Dubai and the UAE in general. I would suggest this immersive luncheon for any first time travellers to Dubai.
7. What was your favourite individual destination or landmark?
While I’m not the hugest fan of heights, I actually enjoyed The View at The Palm the most. It provided some unforgettable shots of The Palm and Dubai and offered more walking space around the observation deck. I also found the views more appealing than that of At The Top @ Burj Khalifa.
8. What were your favourite local dishes or drinks?
During our hosted lunch at Palace Downtown, we were able to sample such a wide variety of different traditional Middle Eastern dishes. While I don’t remember what everything is called, there were some very delicious hummuses, baba ganoush, grape leaves filled with meat, and some fantastic salads alongside both hot and cold regional appetizers.
9. What would be the perfect complement as an extension to this trip?
There are so many places that combine so perfectly with Dubai, as it’s an amazing stopover destination. Personally, I would say that the Maldives is the most idyllic extension to a trip to Dubai and offers such an incredible contrast of overall experience.
10. What are your top three tips for agents who want to sell Dubai?
1. Start promoting it to your client base more. Many people still know very little of Dubai and all it takes is the right recommendation and the right time to turn a prospective traveller to Dubai into a visitor.
2. Think of Dubai not only as a stopover destination, but as a stand alone destination (which you can perhaps pair up with Abu Dhabi).
3. Book early to get the best prices, availability, and specials.