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Dubai Travel Tips

Is Dubai Expensive?

Money from Dubai

As Dubai is an emirate within the United Arab Emirates, the money they use there is the United Arab Emirates dirham, often written as AED for short. You can see an AED banknote and some coins in the photo at the top of this article.

Very roughly, there are 4 dirhams in one US dollar or one Euro. As I write this, in mid-July 2019, the exact exchange rate gives you USD $0.27 or EUR €0.24 for one AED dirham.

The vast majority of shops, cafes, hotels, and restaurants in Dubai accept the major credit and debit cards. You can also find ATMs quite easily, including at the airport, so, you do not particularly have to worry about getting hold of dirhams before you arrive.

Cities are never particularly cheap vacation destinations. I would rate Dubai as being expensive, roughly in line with London prices, but cheaper for taxis and public transport, while more expensive for alcohol.

In a restaurant, a 0.5 liter domestic beer will usually cost you around AED 45. For comparison, a can of Coke is around AED 3.5. In a supermarket, that 0.5 liter domestic beer will cost you around AED 17. Be aware, however, that, in Dubai, you cannot just buy a six-pack of beer in the supermarket and go drinking in a public park, strict laws prohibiting alcohol are actively enforced.

Cigarettes are relatively cheap, with 20 Malboro costing AED 21, roughly a third of the price in the UK. On the other hand, the cost of lung cancer treatment and palliative care is a lot more expensive in Dubai.

You have a lot of flexibility in matching your stay in Dubai to your budget. You can spend your time in five-star hotels and restaurants, or stay in a cheaper hotel and eat in inexpensive Indian restaurants, where a meal will cost roughly AED 30.

The main advantage of living and working in Dubai is the very low levels of income tax. That has been a major driver in the population growth of Dubai. This makes the cost of living in Dubai a lot easier to accept, especially for Europeans.

Renting a one-bedroom apartment in the city center costs around AED 6000 per month, while outside the city it will cost around AED 4000.

Basic utilities (electricity, heating, cooling, water, and garbage collection) should cost around AED 600 per month.

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