By Mal Chenu
Your mid-flight stop at the Dubai International Airport handles nearly 90 million passengers a year and is an enormous complex of three terminals with four concourses. Terminals 1 and 3 are the main international transits. Free shuttles operate regularly between the terminals and nearby hotels. Short term luggage storage lockers are available and the a/c is so powerful, you may actually feel cold.
Dubai Duty Free (DDF) is the only game in town. Most shopping is controlled by DDF, which recorded sales of nearly US$2 billion in 2017. All the usual luxury brand suspects are here, including Rolex, Chanel, Hermès and Montblanc, as well as the more reachable Estée Lauder, Swarovski and Callaway. DDF Gold Islands ‘souks’ (T1&3) sells the precious metal by the gram or in lengths of chain. DDF even runs raffles for luxury cars, motorbikes and cash. The Millennium Millionaire raffle tickets are US$275 each for a cool one million US dollar prize and only 5,000 are sold per raffle.
Eat and drink
Spoiled for choice doesn’t begin to cover the culinary options at DBX. French fine dining is available at Le Matin Francais (T1), traditional Lebanese is on offer at Bistro (T1) and Mashawi (T3), Indian at Jashan (T1) and The rupee room Express (T3), Japanese at YO! Sushi (T1), Chinese and Mongolian barbecue at Tansu Kitchen (T1), the best of the oceans the Asian-themed Seafood Market (T3) and excellent Mexican at Taqado (T1). Local BinHendi favourite Japengo (T3) and Round Table Pizza (T1) are also very popular. Arabic, Western, and Asian dishes are cooked up in the open kitchen at Safar (T1), a bar, buffet and à la carte restaurant in one. You can knock down a Guinness or two with your fish-and-chips or sausages at the raucous Irish Village Pub (T1), get your southern fried fill at Texas Chicken (T1) or head to perennial airport favourite The Kitchen by Wolfgang Puck (T1) for global comfort food. You’ll also find good, strong coffee at every café.
A Priority Pass lounge membership or a pre-paid pass will get you into most of the public lounges. Pay-at-the-door options include Marhaba Lounge (all terminals) while Al Majlis offers special VIP lounge services for around US$500 per person, if you’re so inclined and appropriately minted.
Dubai International Hotel (T3) inside the airport is for transit passengers only and offers six, 12 and 18 hour packages for around ~AU$200 for six hours and ~AU$300 for 18 hours, as well as the classy Wing’s bar. Premier Inn Dubai International Airport and Holiday Inn Express are two minutes away opposite Terminal 3. Other nearby hotels include Le Meridien, Roda Al Murooj, Roda Al Bustan and Fortune Plaza. Dubai city is just five kilometres away so those famous mega-luxe hotels are also an option for extended layovers.
Snooze Cube (T1) and Sleep n' Fly Lounge (T3) provide private pods for around AU$28 per hour with minimum stays. Reclining style chairs are available in the various Rest Zones.
Dubai International has fast, free, unlimited and efficient Wi-Fi with no joining or registering rigmarole. There are Children's Play Areas (T3) and tropical plants, misting machines and water features at Zen Gardens (T3). G-Force Health Club boasts a day spa (one of four at DBX), plus a swimming pool, jacuzzi, steam room and gym inside the Dubai International Hotel, accessible from T1 and T3.
Beyond the airport
The Department of Tourism and Commerce (DTCM) Tourist Kiosk is a good place to start if you’re not sure what to see and do or where to eat. The Dubai Metro system provides easy access into the city of Dubai and ‘women and children only’ carriages are available.
Dubai is full of things described with superlatives and top of the list has to be a visit to the top of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, while the Dubai Mall offers outrageous shopping opportunities. Have a cocktail at the Skyview Bar at Burj Al Arab, check out the world’s largest indoor theme park, IMG Worlds of Adventure, discover Emirati tradition at Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding, Al Fahidi Historic District and Dubai Museum or visit the gold souqs. Do all this and you’ve still barely scratched Dubai’s surface.