Getting to the Middle East these days is much easier than it used to be. Most business travelers use either Dubai or Bahrain as their base and travel to Oman, Qatar, Saudi and Kuwait. This is because both of these places are central hubs for air cargo and handle passenger stopovers for those going onto the Far East and Australia. However Dubai has long ago outstripped Bahrain as the main air hub.
There are an enormous number of airlines flying in and out of Dubai and connecting flights with the National airlines such as Oman Air, Gulf Air ( Bahrain), Qatar Airways, Kuwait Airways, Emirates ( Dubai) ,Saudia etc. Etihad is Emirates smaller sister, and only flys in and out of Abu Dhabi. Etihad is cheaper, but it will mean a 1 1/2hr drive to Dubai if that’s your final destination. The estimate is that Dubai will handle around 60 million passengers in 2015. The new terminal ( 3 ) handles Emirates flights only, if you travelling on another airline you will come into Terminal 1 ( 2 is a cargo terminal) Terminal 1 is manic between midnight and 4 am and you will have a long wait for immigration and taxis.
Best times to arrive are midday onwards when it seems there are fewer flights arriving. You can get a visa stamped in your passport on arrival if you are an EC or GCC citizen, but be prepared to wait up to 45 minutes to an hour in the immigration queues if you arrive at a peak time. There is an ecard system which is a electronic immigration gate, but you must have a residency visa to get an ecard. Residency visas are available to anyone registered as an owner or employee of a Dubai registered company. If you are delayed at immigration, and have luggage to collect your cases may have been taken off the carousel and put beside it by one of the many baggage porters. So don’t panic if you cant see it on the belt, look through the luggage next to the belt as well.
If you are travelling business class with Emirates you can book a chauffeur service free of charge within Dubai . Book at least 36 hours before you arrive. If you are like the rest of us and will be travelling cattle class then you will have to queue at the taxi rank. At peak times there are hundreds of people waiting outside the airport , but follow the crowd and you will find the taxi queue to your left . Be prepared for a very long wait and no queuing system if its busy. The best tatic is to use your cases to make sure you keep your place in the queue, don’t attempt to be polite , you will be there for hours. Unless of course you are a woman travelling alone and then you get the ladies service, which is a lady taxi driver, who are only allowed to take women or familes.
There are literally hundreds of places to stay in Dubai , ranging from 2500 per night for the Burj Al Arab to 50 a night in one of the old hotels in Bur Dubai or Deira. Where in the city you stay will determine how long it takes you to get anywhere . If you have all your appointments in Bur Dubai and Deira then you will be OK to stay in the area. However if you want to get out to Jebel Ali for appointments avoid staying in Bur Dubai or Deira as the traffic a rush hour is horrendous if you are going by car. However if you are able to get to and from your hotel and your appointment from the metro , then this now runs all the way to Jebel Ali. If you ask theres a good chance you can get a left from the Jebel Ali gate from whoever you are visiting. Don’t forget to send you passport details to whoever you are visiting if you are going to Jebel Ali as they will have to arrange a gate pass for you and you will need your passport with you.
Jan Ward – Mech Eng / BMet MBA MTSM/ MIEx( GRAD)/ FRSA/ FIOD
CEO and founder of Corrotherm International Ltd which supplies equipment the oil gas industry. Born in Southampton Jan has been an active member of the business community in the City and has been a Director of the Southampton Chamber of Commerce for over 20 years and is a Past President. Jan is a Non Executive Director of a number of companies in sectors covering marine equipment manufacturing and waste to energy process development and is a mentor to small businesses.
Her other posts include:
- Fellow Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce
- Fellow Institute of Directors
- Director of Women in Business International
- Fellow Institute of Export UK