Breaking News: NACADA International Conference in Dubai

Breaking News: Her Excellency Sheikha Lubna Bint Khalid Al Qasimi has kindly agreed to be the Patron of the NACADA 2016 International Conference.

Her Excellency, Minister of International Cooperation and Development and President of Zayed University will welcome delegates to the conference by delivering the Opening Speech on Tuesday February 23, 2016. NACADA and Zayed University community isgrateful for her patronage, presence and continuing support of this conference.Sheikhk Lubna Bint Al Khalid Al Qasimi

HE Sheikha Lubna Bint Khaid Al Qasimi is ranked, by Forbes Magazine, as the 42nd out of the top 100 most powerful women in the world today. Check out this link for a profile of HE Sheikha Lubna Bint Khalid Al Qasimi:

http://www.forbes.com/profile/sheikha-lubna-al-qasimi/

Check out our next and final blog posting for 2015, ‘Celebrations in Dubai

 

Conference Planning Committee

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How do I obtain a visa for my visit to the UAE, if I am not from any of the countries listed for a visa on arrival?

dubaiproposals

The Dubai NACADA Conference is fast approaching and by now we suspect many of you are finalizing your travel arrangements for next month. As was mentioned in an earlier blog posting, residents of many countries from around the world are eligible to obtain a tourist visit upon arrival at any port in the United Arab Emirates. This tourist visa is simply a stamp placed into your passport with your arrival date and is valid for 30 days. Upon leaving the country your passport will be stamped once more with a departure stamp.

Here is the current list of countries and therefore, citizens who are eligible to obtain a free tourist visa at any entry point in the United Arab Emirates. The list includes all 28 European Union member states as well as Australia, Andorra, Brunei, Canada, Hong Kong, Iceland, Japan, Malaysia, Monaco, New Zealand, Norway, Republic of Korea, San Marino, Singapore, Switzerland, United States of America and the Vatican.

If you are not a citizen of the above countries, then you are obliged to make arrangements to obtain a visa before your impending visit to the United Arab Emirates. Please note that neither NACADA nor Zayed University is able to arrange this for you. Here are three options that you can choose from to obtain a visa for your visit next month.

Emirates Airline

Emirates Airline is a partner airline to the upcoming NACADA Conference in Dubai and as such can help you with obtaining a visa. If you book your return flight to Dubai online, there is provision for anyone who requires a visa to obtain one with the assistance of Emirates Airline. Please check the online booking for help regarding this.

Hotel Accommodation

If you are staying at any of the hotel accommodation options as suggested by NACADA, upon booking your accommodation, please contact the hotel and they will be able to organize a visa for your stay. Remember, you will need to mention this at the time of booking your hotel accommodation.

United Arab Emirates Embassy

Another option is to contact the United Arab Emirates embassy in your home country and obtain a tourist visa from the embassy.

We hope these suggestions will assist any of you who may require a visa prior to arrival in Dubai next month. Please do not hesitate to contact us further if you have any other additional queries regarding this or other matters pertaining to your visit to Dubai.

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Celebrations in Dubai

Because of its large and diverse expatriate population, the United Arab Emirates celebrates a multitude of religious and cultural events throughout the calendar year and there is no better place to experience these occasions than in Dubai. First and foremost, the Holy Month of Ramadan closely followed by Eid Al Fitri and later, Eid Al Adha, are important religious observances by the Moslem population in the country. During Ramadan, it’s a time of prayer and refection and it is quite common to hear the greeting, ‘Ramadan Kareem’ which translates in English as Ramadan is generous. At the end of the holy month, there is a celebration known as Eid Al Fitri where families and friends may exchange gifts and often wish each other ‘Eid Mubarak’ which simply means, Have a happy and blessed Eid. As the Islamic calendar follows the lunar cycle these religious events vary from year to year and in 2016 are expected to fall during the summer with Eid Al Adha expected to fall during early autumn.

In early December, the United Arab Emirates celebrates its nationhood during two public holidays with civic ceremonies marking the event during the day, followed at night by some impressive firework displays and boisterous and celebratory car parades through the city. In addition, the streets of Dubai as well as some major buildings are adorned with lighting, bunting and banners reflective of the colours of the flag of the United Arab Emirates.

Not had quite enough of fireworks, perhaps? Well come New Year’s Eve you better get in early to secure a vantage point at the Burj Khalifa in downtown Dubai adjacent to Dubai Mall, as come the stroke of midnight the tower is emblazoned with a spectacular fireworks display that awes the crowds below. This fireworks display has become a must see for residents in Dubai each New Year’s Eve and is often featured on television reports of New Year’s Eve festivities around the world.

The United Arab Emirates prides itself in being a tolerant and welcoming country in terms of accommodating different religious faiths. For example, Indian Hindu expatriates celebrate Divali or as it’s often referred to as The Festival of Lights. Like many religious festivals it’s a moveable feast and is usually celebrated on the new moon on the 15th day of the Hindu month of Kartika which usually falls from October or November each year. Furthermore, it’s quite common to see houses and apartment balconies adorned with candles and colourful lighting. During December, Dubai’s Christian population celebrates Christmas and by early December many retail outlets in the city are decorated with traditional festive decorations and it is not unusual to hear Christmas carols in many European retail vendors as well. In keeping with the spirit of good will and friendship there are many family reunions by Christian expatriates during this time of the year as the weather is so comfortable with mild temperatures. Rest assured no matter what time of the year you may find yourself in Dubai, there is always something going on that reflects the city’s diverse culture and history.

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How do I get a tourist visa for Dubai?

Tourist Visas

Over the past 15 years tourist visas have been incredibly easy to obtain at any airport in the United Arab Emirates. For most nationalities it’s simply a matter of queuing at arrivals and receiving a free tourist visa that will be stamped into your passport. This tourist visa is valid for 30 days. So for many of you attending the NACADA Conference you will have a hassle free entry to the country via Dubai Airport. Upon departure your passport will be checked again to ensure you have not overstayed your visa and you will receive a departure stamps. Simple, right?

Here is the current list of countries that are eligible to obtain a free tourist visa at any entry point in the United Arab Emirates. The list includes all 28 European Union member states as well as Australia, Andorra, Brunei, Canada, Hong Kong, Iceland, Japan, Malaysia, Monaco, New Zealand, Norway, Republic of Korea, San Marino, Singapore, Switzerland, United States of America and the Vatican.

If you don’t see your country listed, then you are required to obtain a visa and a sponsor for your visit to Dubai. The sponsor normally applies for your visa on your behalf. Some examples of sponsors that may apply for a visa for you include hotels and tourist companies, friends and relatives already residents of the United Arab Emirates and organizations based in the country.

Therefore, if you do need to apply for a visa please check this URL link that provides you with concise information to help you find the right kind of visa for you and your circumstances. http://www.uaeinteract.com/travel/visas.asp

 

Conference Planning Committee

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Safety in Dubai…

Having lived here for such a very long time I am aware that there are certain perceptions of this part of the world. This blog posting, addresses some of the safety concerns that people may have.

Personal Safety

We are all very aware that the Middle East is going through a very rough period in its history. Media reporting of events in Syria, Iraq and Yemen have helped create the impression that nowhere is safe and everyone should stay as far away from the Middle East as possible. So is it safe to come to Dubai?  I think it is fair to say that if people felt unsafe they would not have their families here. Well my family are here and we have been here for over 10 years. During all the time we have been here we have never experienced any physical threat or been harmed in any way and most importantly, nor had any expectation that we would. There’s almost no crime in Dubai… But don’t just take my word for it. The United States Department of State itself says: “The crime rate in Dubai is considerably lower than in most cities…..of similar size”.

The big question of course is are we safe from terror attacks?

The United Arab Emirates has a very efficient/effective police force coupled with an extensive CCTV network. The general population is far safer here than almost anywhere else in the world. Certainly the U.S. and parts of Europe are sadly experiencing some terrible things which the UAE has managed to avoid. So in short, yes we are safe here and it is safe to travel here.

Finally, there is one more thing on safety I wish to touch on. For most short term visitors to Dubai this isn’t really an issue, but it’s still worth mentioning and it pertains to car travel. It won’t take you long to realize that motorists drive exceptionally fast on the roads around the city. Dubai is made for the car and is at times not very pedestrian friendly. So my first tip for you is to take care when crossing a road. There are numerous pedestrian bridges that traverse Sheikh Zayed Road, i.e. the main highway in Dubai for you to access. These pedestrian bridges are usually located adjacent to Dubai Metro train stops or along other major roads. Otherwise cross at intersections that are monitored by traffic lights. My second tip is to advise you if you are travelling in a taxi, please wear your seat belt. For passengers in the front seat it’s the law, however travellers in the back seat are not required. For safety sake wear a seat belt. As the old saying goes, prevention is better than the cure.

Our next blog post refers to obtaining a visa for your travel to Dubai. Look out for How do I get a tourist visa for Dubai?

 

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Fun things to do in Dubai…

Besides the major entertainment events occurring in Dubai during your visit to the NACADA Conference, there are countless other fun things to do in this city. So let’s now explore the top five fun things to do in Dubai during your stay.

#1. Desert Safari Tour

When I have friends and family visit here in the Emirates, a desert safari tour is a must as it a fun adventure out and about in the desert landscape. If you are considering taking a desert safari tour please note that most tours usually last around six hours. My recommendation is to take a desert safari tour during the late afternoon into the evening, because as the sun begins to set the heat of the desert dissipates and it becomes cooler and more comfortable. Besides, at night, the desert regains a lot of the mystique and mystery that it loses during the day. It is also a good idea to bring along a jumper or jacket as during the winter months the nights can be rather cool out in the desert. In addition, don’t forget to bring your camera since there will be many opportunities to take some breathtaking pictures of your adventure, not to mention a unique Arabian sunset!

So what can you expect from a desert safari tour? Most desert safari tours will collect you from your hotel. You will be picked up by a driver in a 4×4 vehicle and taken out to the desert to enjoy some exciting dune bashing. The drivers are seasoned veterans and expertly guide the cars up and down the dunes with ease. It’s a truly exhilarating experience!

Just on dusk and after you have taken those Arabian sunset photos, you will be driven to a dedicated desert camp to continue the adventure. You will be able to dine under the stars in a traditional Arabic setting enjoying a delicious barbecue buffet dinner with plenty of cool drinks available. You will also be treated to traditional entertainment such as a belly dance and a Tanura dance while you eat.

While you are enjoying the night there are also opportunities to ride a camel, try some sand boarding down the dunes and even some henna painting. Why not dress up in traditional Arabic attire to really experience an Arabian adventure? I can see an Instagram or Snapchat moment or two happening here. After the desert safari, you will be taken back to your hotel in Dubai. You should expect to be back in your hotel no later than 10 o’clock at night.

For more details and pricing about a desert safari in Dubai check out the following URL link: http://www.desertsafaridubai.com/

Desert Safari...

#2. The Big Bus Tour

No doubt you have seen big bus tours operate in many countries around the world. Dubai has them running here as well and they allow a visitor ample opportunity to explore the sights of this ever changing city. The Big Bus Tour offers three tour routes in Dubai as well as offering recorded commentary in 12 languages. These tours are the Beach Tour, City Tour and the Marina Tour and all provide a perfect orientation of Dubai. You can find the maps of the three routes on the website in PDF format. As expected, you can hop-on and off as many times as you wish to explore places of interest, discovering everything from the world-famous Burj Al Arab to the traditional gold and spice souks.

To suit your itinerary, you can choose either a 24 hour or a 48 hour ticket, giving you plenty of time to visit all the attractions that interest you. In addition, you have the option to ride in air conditioned comfort or enjoy open air seating at the rear of the bus.

Prices are as follows:Bus

Adults from US$66.75

Children from US$30.75

Family from US$164.25

For more information or to book a tour check out this URL link:
http://eng.bigbustours.com/dubai/home.html

#3. Wonder Bus Tour

Now would you like to experience Dubai from another perspective? This bus tour offers you, the visitor, an opportunity to explore Dubai both on land and water! It is the first water and road bus of its kind here in Dubai and is equipped with modern amenities and facilities such as an internal bathroom, air conditioning, sound system, DVD Player and TV. Rest assured, this bus   is also furnished with appropriate safety features such as life jackets and fire extinguishing equipment.

This bus tours offers a unique travel experience as it takes visitors through various monuments and tourist attractions of Dubai across the city and through the old creek precinct of Dubai. This bus tour begins its one hour long land and water journey from the Burjuman Center (a major shopping mall in Bur Dubai) and covers Kuwait Street, Sheikh Khalifa Road, Heritage Village at Shindagha, Almina Road, Abra on the Dubai Creek, Old Gold Souk, Cargo Wooden Ship, Dubai’s Floating Restaurants, Municipality of Dubai, Emirates NBD, Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Sheikha Mariam’s Palace. Visitors on this trip will be assisted by experienced and professional tour guides and captains, who can speak both English and Arabic.

Wonder Bus Tour prices for adults are 170 AED and for children 120 AED.

For more information about booking a tour on the Wonder Bus check this URL link:

http://www.wonderbusdubai.net/Home.aspx

Water bus

#4. The Burj Khalifa

As you have probably guessed by now or read even, Dubai has a lot of firsts in terms of the biggest this or the largest that. Well the Burj Khalifa falls into that category as well in terms of being the tallest building in the world with 160 floors! I have had the opportunity to visit this edifice on two occasions and it is truly an amazing piece of architecture primarily based on a simple, but elegant flower design. This tower is located adjacent to the largest mall in the United Arab Emirates, Dubai Mall and therefore is easily accessible for all visitors. Actually the entrance to the viewing platform, called At the Top, in the Burj Khalifa is via the Dubai Mall on the lower ground level.

By day and night, At the Top provides unparalleled views of Dubai especially during the winter months as the humidity is minimal and therefore the viewing platform affords a much clearer view. A standard visit to At the Top lasts approximately 60 minutes, allowing ample time for you to relax and enjoy the Dubai skyline at your leisure. Tickets may be purchased at the ticket office near the entrance to At the Top on the lower ground of The Dubai Mall or online. I would recommend booking your tickets online as it’s cheaper and you are also guaranteed an entry ticket. This is especially relevant if you are only staying a few days during the conference as you may miss out on securing a ticket due to the popularity of this tourist attraction during the winter months.

Since I last visited the Burj Khalifa another floor has opened for visitors and that’s located on the 148th floor as opposed to the current 124th viewing platform. Therefore, prices are dictated by the floor you wish to visit and the time of your visit. Prices generally rise in cost due to the popularity of viewing an Arabian sunset that at the moment falls between the hours of 16:30 -18:00. Accordingly, these timings are prime and incur an additional expense as indicated in the table below.

At the Top 124th Floor Non-Prime Timings At the Top 148th Floor Non-Prime Timings
Adults 125 AED Adults 350 AED
Children 95 AED Children 350 AED
At the Top 124th Floor Prime Timings At the Top 148th Floor Prime Timings
Adults 150 AED Adults 500 AED
Children 120 -160 AED

(Depends on entry time)

Children 500 AED
At the Top 124th Floor Immediate Entry

(No online booking)

At the Top 148th Floor Immediate Entry

(No online booking)

Adults 300 AED Adults N/A
Children 300 AED Children N/A

For more information or perhaps to book your ticket please refer to the following URL link:

http://www.burjkhalifa.ae/en/index.aspx

At the top

#5. Dubai Malls

A visit to Dubai is not complete without visiting some of the many malls that are scattered across the city. And if you are staying in any of the hotels in downtown Dubai, you are in luck as two of the premier shopping destinations, namely Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates are located on the Dubai Metro. You never know you may even score a bargain on something you buy because compared to many other countries, there is no VAT currently in place.

Okay let’s go shopping!

Dubai Mall is reputed to be the biggest mall in the United Arab Emirates with a staggering 1200 shops! And yes all the major European and North American name brands are to be found amongst this vast array of shops. Furthermore, the mall is adjacent to numerous hotels that provide a variety of levels of accommodation. The mall also offers entertainment options ranging from the Dubai Fountain that is located just outside the mall and lies in the shadow of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. The Dubai Fountain has a water feature set to music each day and is really worth a look while you are savouring a meal at one of the countless eateries around the fountain precinct.

Inside Dubai Mall, why not visit the Dubai Aquarium and zoo which offers visitors an opportunity to see marine life in a huge purpose built indoor aquarium. You can walk underneath the aquarium through a tunnel and gaze upwards at the marine life. If you feel like something more energetic or a saunter on an ice rink, try the Dubai Ice Rink which is also located in the mall and is designed to Olympic standards. Finally, you can even experience being a pilot for a day flying an Emirates A380 in a flight simulator with an instructor at Dubai Mall.

As you can see there are so many things to see and do at this mall and every time I visit I always find something new! Want more information about the Dubai Mall? Check out this link: http://www.thedubaimall.com/en/Index.aspx

Mall of the Emirates is located further south of Dubai Mall along the Dubai Metro and has over 560 shopping outlets with retailers from all around the world. Adjacent to the mall is the large Kempinski Hotel from Germany and some of the hotel rooms are afforded with a wonderful view towards the famous Ski Dubai, which is a large indoor ski field complete with penguins, ski runs and chair lifts! It never ceases to amaze me when I visit this mall and see people skiing or playing in the snow, all in the confines of a shopping mall. It’s really worth a visit! Check out this link for further information about Mall of the Emirates: http://www.malloftheemirates.com/

Finally, if it’s shopping for souvenirs or something to remind you of your stay in Dubai I recommend you check this Lonely Planet link about shopping in Dubai. It’s has some great advice for visitors and provides some excellent examples of unique gifts and souvenirs you may wish to purchase as a memento of your trip.

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/united-arab-emirates/dubai/travel-tips-and-articles/75900

In our next blog posting we will explore the issue of safety and visa applications for your visit to Dubai. Look out for this blog title: Safety in Dubai…

 

Conference Planning Committee

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What’s Happening in Dubai…

With the onset of cooler weather, Dubai comes alive with so many outstanding and exciting indoor and outdoor entertainment options for people visiting over the winter months. If you are attending the NACADA Conference in February, 2016 why not consider some of the following events that coincide with the conference.

When visiting Dubai a must do is to savor the sumptuous cuisine that is widely available. And if you are a foodie, well you are in luck! Check out the Dubai Food Festival which begins on February 25 and concludes on March 12. This festival is an annual city wide celebration and promotion of all the different, local, regional, Arab and international cuisines on offer in the city. With over 150 cultures represented in Dubai the food scene here is truly global.

In addition, this event caters for all budgets and so you will have an exciting array of venues to visit ranging from five star hotels to budget cafes and street vendors.

Check out this link for more information: http://dubaifoodfestival.com/

In addition to the Food Festival, The Emirates Airline Dubai Jazz Festival held from February 24 – 26 is really worth a visit, as the venue is an open arena that soaks up the lovely mild winter weather. This jazz festival has been running since 2003 and is now a permanent fixture on Dubai’s entertainment calendar. The jazz festival is held at the Dubai Media City Amphitheatre. Gates open at 6 o’clock with entertainment beginning at 8:30. Getting to the venue is straight forward as the Dubai Metro Red Line passes by the concert arena.

Want more information? Check out this link: http://www.dubaijazzfest.com/

Dubai is also renowned as a shopping mecca with numerous malls to tempt anyone’s wallet or purse. In addition to this vast array of shopping venues, it is also worth considering a visit to Global Village. Global Village offers visitors a unique shopping experience courtesy of 31 pavilions from around the world. It’s an annual event and this year begins on Tuesday, November 3 and finishes on April 9, 2016. Besides the opportunity to secure a unique gift from around the region you can also enjoy numerous entertainment and dining options. The best way to reach Global Village is by car or taxi. In fact, Global Village is not that far away from the NACADA Conference venue at Zayed University. Admission is only 15 AED and it opens its doors at 4 o’clock in the afternoon and stays open late into the night.

Check out this link for additional information about Global Village: http://globalvillage.ae/en/

In our next blog we will look at some other things to do in Dubai that showcases what the city has to offer. Look out for this blog title; Fun things to do in Dubai…

 

Conference Planning Committee

 

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