My name is Jaike and I’m part of the Travel Concierge team at Out Of Office, Travel Gay’s sister company. My boyfriend and I recently went on an incredible (and rather eye-opening) trip to Dubai, and I’m excited to share my experience.
As an LGBT traveller, I have always been a little conflicted with the idea of visiting Dubai. Being gay is illegal in the United Arab Emirates, and the country is well-known for its ultra-conservative views on pretty much everything. Public displays of affection are a huge no (whether you’re gay or straight), and homosexual activity can lead to the death penalty. The UAE also has very strict restrictions around dress, alcohol and sex outside of marriage. Despite these little setbacks, Dubai has always been high on my to-do list.
Dubai is going through a period of change. The Emirate’s immense wealth was driven by oil, but the oil isn’t going to last forever. Over the past few years, the ruling family has done loads to put Dubai on the map as a major tourist hot-spot. The UAE is a playground for the uber-rich and glamorous. The streets are lined with Ferraris and the malls are filled with a dizzying array of luxury shops. It draws people who like to be among the wealthy. Chancers and social climbers who fancy trying their luck among the demi-monde. Kind of like an Ian Fleming novel, only with less spying.
The Emirate is all about extravagance, and they’re breaking records in every category. The world’s tallest building. Check. The world’s most extravagant hotels. Check. An archipelago of artificial islands shaped like the world. Check. There are currently 30,000 construction cranes operating in Dubai – which is around 24% of all cranes in the world! It’s very much a society of the spectacle. It’s a place you should visit once in a lifetime: there’s nowhere else on earth quite like it.
You’ll find plenty of gay people living in Dubai – especially cabin crew. With Emirates based there and Etihad based in nearby Abu Dhabi the underground scene is truly thriving, though discretion is paramount. Read More: Gay Cabin Crew Secrets from the Middle East.
Let’s talk about the weather. The UAE is one of the hottest and driest countries in the world, and Dubai experiences an average of five rainy days per year. FIVE! I don’t think I saw a single cloud the entire week, and the temperature stayed a consistent 38°C (100°F) day and night. These excruciating conditions certainly aren’t for everyone, but they suited me perfectly. The streets are deserted between 10am – 4pm as it’s too hot to do anything. Keep close to the pool and you’ll be fine. Keep a steady flow of Aperol Spritz and you’ll be even better.
I stayed at the incredible Nikki Beach Resort and Spa, and I haven’t stopped talking about it since. The five-star resort offers a cool, Miami Beach kind of vibe, perfectly located away from the hustle-and-bustle of Downtown. There are a selection of stunning rooms and villas to choose from (some with private pools), and one of the best private beaches in Dubai. To top it off, the lifestyle property offers breathtaking views of the Arabian Gulf and the awe-inspiring city skyline.
The resort is split into two parts – the super-chilled hotel and the ultra-exclusive beach club. The beach club is a regular for Dubai’s elite, and is frequented by world-famous DJs, celebrities and socialites. If you’re a guest at the hotel, you are able to access the beach club for free. Don’t worry though, the hotel is only accessible to booked guests and is a haven of tranquility.
If you’re feeling boujee, I strongly recommend the surfboard of crustaceans and a bottle of Dom – in your poolside cabana, of course. If you’re a little more low-key, there are a selection of casual dining options and bars to choose from.
If you’re wanting a real once-in-a-lifetime experience, then look no further than the legendary Burj Al Arab. The Burj Al Arab considers itself as the world’s only seven-star hotel, and it makes Liberace look understated. The hotel is made up of 202 double-story suites, all with sweeping views of the Gulf.
It’s incredibly easy to get to Dubai. Emirates offers direct flights to 161 destinations across 85 countries, and most major airlines offer their own services. It’s probably more difficult to find a major airport that doesn’t have a direct route. London to Dubai takes around 6 hours, while New York to Dubai takes around 14.
If you’re looking to combine your city-break with a bit of relaxation, you really can’t beat the Maldives. The Maldives oozes paradise and it’s only a short 4.5 hour flight from Dubai. I recommend taking the early morning flight, as you’ll be in your Overwater Bungalow well in time for sunset cocktails.
I recently stayed at the Sun Siyam Iru Fushi, which offers one of the most comprehensive all-inclusive packages around. The island has 14 bars and restaurants, a huge Balinese-style spa, incredible beach facilities and even a gym – apparently. The island is home to one of the Indian Ocean’s best house reefs, with an abundance of tropical fish, reef sharks, rays and more. Be sure to bring a full-face snorkel, it was the best thing I ever bought. Combining Dubai and the Maldives makes for the ideal twin-centre itinerary.
by Alex | More: Gay Dubai