Money

Some find Dubai an expensive destination by American standards.

A mid-range hotel room will be upward of $200 per night. Five-star luxury is exactly what it promises in Dubai, but that is closer to $500 and up. A main course in a restaurant licensed to serve alcohol will start at $20 for pasta and $40 for steak. Comparatively, a simple local restaurant will give you food and drinks for $15 total. Alcohol is expensive, with drinks starting at around $8–$12, going up to $40 or more for a glass of champagne.

Taxis are fairly inexpensive, with a 15-minute ride usually coming in around $10. Stores are a little more expensive than those in the states, unless, of course, the sales are on. Designer goods are on a par with Europe, and South Asian goods are very inexpensive.

Credit cards oil the wheels of daily life in Dubai and can be used at all malls and major restaurants. Cash comes in for smaller purchases like coffee, taxi rides, and inexpensive items in the tourist souks. Try to always carry some smaller bills, as nobody ever seems to have change.

You can bargain at some of the souks, where paying in cash can make a difference on high-price items. Haggle with independent operators such as limousine drivers and tour guides. Nowadays, credit card versus cash isn't an important issue when it comes to agreeing on a final price.

Prices are given for adults. Reduced fees are almost always available for children, students, and senior citizens.

ATMs and Banks

ATMs are widely available in the city at main bank branches, hotels, and shopping malls. Instructions are in Arabic and English. Some ATMs have transaction limits of AED 5,000. ATMs are stocked with AED500 and AED100 notes, and machines always give you large bills only. Banks are open Saturday to Wednesday 7 am–1 pm and 3–6 pm, Thursday 8 am–noon, and closed on Friday. Most Bureaux de Change offices are open all day.

Credit Cards

If you have the facility, it's a good idea to inform your bank before you travel. Otherwise, the credit card company might put a hold on your card owing to unusual activity—not a good thing halfway through your trip. Record all your credit card numbers—as well as the phone numbers to call if your cards are lost or stolen—in a safe place, so you're prepared should something go wrong. Most card providers have general numbers you can call (collect if you're abroad) if your card is lost, but often you're better off calling the number of your issuing bank, as they will usually transfer you to them anyway; your bank's number is usually printed on your card.

Most major credit cards are widely accepted across Dubai in hotels, restaurants, malls, and for excursions, though some organizations do not accept American Express, Diners Club, and even fewer accept Discover. Credit cards are unlikely to be accepted in tourist markets such as the one at Karama, and in some small or local restaurants. Credit card fraud is not a major concern in Dubai. Many stores have payment machines where you can insert your PIN to secure your transaction, but you may also be asked to sign a transaction slip.

Reporting Lost Cards

American Express. 800/333--2639; 715/343--7977; www.americanexpress.com.

Diners Club. 800/234–6377; 4/303--2431; www.dinersclub.com.

MasterCard. 800/627–8372; 636/722–7111; www.mastercard.com.

Visa. 800/847–2911; 8000/121; www.visa.com.

Currency and Exchange

The currency throughout the UAE (including Dubai) is the United Arab Emirate Dirham (AED, or often written Dhs in Dubai). The dirham is divided into 100 fils, and notes come in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1,000 dirhams. All notes are almost the same size but have different colors and images on their front and back faces.

Coins are issued in denominations of 1 dirham and 50 fils. The values of the coins are indicated in Arabic letters and numbers. The 50-fils coin is easily recognizable by its fluted outer edge, and the 1-dirham coin has a handled jug or coffeepot embossed on its face.

The AED is pegged to the U.S. dollar at a rate of AED 3.6724 to 1 USD (or AED1 = $0.2722); it does not fluctuate, but you will usually have to pay a fee to exchange. U.S. dollars are often accepted in souks and malls, but not for low-value items such as a cup of coffee or tea.

Traveler's Checks and Cards

Traveler's checks are not commonly used as payment for goods and services in Dubai. They can be cashed in banks, bureaux de change and hotels. Exchange rates are lower for traveler's checks than for currency. Because the dirham's value is linked to the dollar, it's good to carry dollar traveler's checks as rates will remain stable.

American Express. 800/333--2639; 715/343--7977; www.americanexpress.com.

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