Dubai is the Middle East’s largest airline hub, boasting excellent connections worldwide with the city’s own Emirates airline and other international carriers. These include numerous direct flights to various destinations in the UK, plus a number of places in the US and Australia.
Other options for getting to Dubai are contrastingly limited (for Western visitors, at least). It’s possible to travel overland into the UAE from several points in neighbouring Oman, but not Saudi Arabia. There are no regular ferry services to Dubai, although the city is a popular stop on many cruise itineraries.
Flights from the UK and Ireland
Several airlines offer nonstop flights between the UK and Dubai; outbound flying time is around seven hours (slightly longer on the way back). There are currently nonstop flights from Heathrow with Emirates, Virgin Atlantic, British Airways and Royal Brunei Airlines, plus indirect flights with many other European and Gulf airlines. Emirates also operates direct flights to Dubai from a number of regional UK airports including Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle and Glasgow, as well as from Dublin.
Flights from the US and Canada
There are currently nonstop flights to Dubai with Emirates from New York, Washington DC, Toronto, Houston, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle, plus innumerable other one- and two-stop options with a host of other carriers. Flights from the east coast take around 13–14 hours; from the west coast around 16 hours; and 14–16 hours from Houston and Dallas.
Flights from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa
There are nonstop flights to Dubai with Emirates from Perth (11hr), Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane (14hr), plus one- and two-stop flights from Auckland (via Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne; 19hr) and Christchurch (via Sydney and Bangkok; 22hr). There are also numerous alternative routings via Asia, usually at slightly lower fares.
Travelling from South Africa, there are direct flights from Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban (taking around 8–9hr), plus a few one-stop options including, most conveniently, Kenya Airways via Nairobi and Ethiopian Airlines via Addis Ababa.
The UAE shares land borders with Oman and Saudi Arabia, though only the Oman border is open to visitors from outside the Gulf. There are currently four border crossings between the UAE and Oman open to non-Emirati and Omani citizens: at Tibat between Ras al Khaimah emirate and Oman’s Musandam Peninsula; at Al Ain/Buraimi in Abu Dhabi emirate; just east of Hatta in Dubai emirate; and at Khatmat Malahah between Oman and Fujairah emirate on the east coast of the UAE.
It’s about a five-hour drive from the Omani capital Muscat to Dubai, and there are also several daily buses operated by the Oman National Transport Company (there’s a timetable at
womanet.om/english/useful/transport.asp, but don’t assume it will be up to date) leaving from the bus station in Ruwi.