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You Say Dubai, I Say Hello.

Hello, hello!

Even on Google Maps, it looks freaking far.This time next week, I'll be en route to Dubai, UAE for the IDF World Congress.  I was invited to travel with the team at Novo Nordisk, and I'm honored to be part of their discussion panel and to take in part of the IDF Congress first hand.

Okay, that sounded nice and formal, like I am completely in emotional control of the situation.  Which is a stark contrast from the HOLY EFF!! conversation going on in my head.  Because, if you know me at all, you know I'm a travel spazz.

I have never been to the Middle East before.  The farthest from home I've ever been is Barcelona, Spain, and Chris and I traveled together.  So even though we were in a place where we didn't fluently speak the language, we had one another to keep watch.  (Like when my blood sugars tanked in the airport, for example.  Had I not been with Chris, I'm not sure what the outcome of that situation would have been.)

However, I'm flying solo (not literally - there are sure to be hundreds of people on these flights, but no one I personally know) to Dubai, so I'm a little nervous.  The travel days are long - somewhere from 12 to 17 hours of travel time - and the time change is significant.  Dubai is nine hours ahead of the east coast, so I'll be leaving Boston early in the morning and arriving in Dubai ... early in the morning.  It's like time travel.  Only without a Delorean.  

And I've never, ever been anywhere like this before.  My limited exposure to all things Dubai is scouring the Internet and talking with Abby about the Kardashians.  (It was a short discussion, and one I'm embarrassed to have had.  Thankfully, Abby does not judge me ... publicly.)  I have no idea what's acceptable/what's not.  I've heard that you shouldn't/can't take photos of landmarks.  I've heard that the dress code for Western women is still very strict.  I've heard that there are camels.  (This one is true, I think.)  I've also heard that you can do whatever and wear whatever, and it's all good.

So this is where you guys come in:  Have any of you ever been to Dubai?  What should I be packing to wear?  What should I be bringing?  Where should I visit?  How do you manage diabetes stuff with such a stark time change?  What should I know before I leave (next week)?

Any/all advice is very welcome.  And appreciated!!!

Comments

Lauren had a chance to go but finals are smack in the way. Bummed.

My VERY limited knowledge of Dubai is from an episode of House Hunters (so very, very reliable) but what I noticed was that the man and woman in the show, who are American, dressed totally normal. She as in shorts, didn't cover her hair.

Maybe other people will have a better idea. You could try Chris Guillebeau's website, the Art of Non-Conformity. He's been to 174 countries, so I'm sure he'll have something on Dubai.

The closest I have been to Dubai is Israel and Jordan (well, it's closer than Boston!).

As far as dress code goes, I would say the most important things to cover are your shoulders and knees (even when sitting). Basically, respecting their customs while still being a Westerner.

The most success I have had with time changes is a slow pump changeover. You won't be able to use your pump to tell time though. I change the time an hour each day I am there. Since your body clock doesn't change right away, it is the best way I have found to match my insulin needs.

Good luck!

Dubai, is really cool. It is one of the more modern cities in the Arab world. Your dress should be simple, but don't be too concerned. The big thing I learned is that western women often automatically get mistaken as loose or easy because hey they are westerners.

Food wise I love Arab food, it is very healthy and full of fiber. I loved breakfast salad and breakfast olives. Also, in Dubai you will have plenty of access to western items if you need them, it is a world class city and they want to make their guests feel welcome.

Dubai is a very open friendly city with plenty of things to do. Make sure to explore and check out some of the great architectural marvels. It is fine to take pictures, although I would avoid taking picuters of holy or religious structures/services. If you can I reccemmond trying to visit a mosque, it is a great experience and something very interesting to do. I am not sure what the policy is in Dubai about non-Muslims in Mosques.

You will have plenty of people there to give you tours and help you understand the culture. Enjoy it and have a fun time.

We dressed 100% normal...shorts, t-shirts, sandals, flip flops, capris, etc. I took about 4 billion pictures of landmarks and never caught a stare. It's almost all expats and very European while being very modern middle-Eastern. I was nervous too, but so, so pleasanty surprised by what I found while there. I can send you my Shutterfly album to get you really excited. It's so awesome there. I'm wicked jealous of you right now.

There is no specific dress code for non-Muslims, but as with all predominantly Muslim countries, it pays to be respectful. Basically don't show off an unnecessary amount of flesh, and leave the low cut tops and things which don't cover your shoulders at home. The respectful thing really covers most things - do that and you'll be fine! Don't worry too much about language - virtually everyone speaks English in Dubai!

With a time change that large, I tend to adjust the time on my pump at the same rate my body adjusts to jet lag - so I alter 2-3 hours each day.

Have fun!

I grew up in the Middle East and Dubai is very westerner friendly. Yes, you can wear shorts and tanks, however, I would suggest covering up a little more as it would be considered respectful. Long loose pants or capris with a short sleeve shirt would be cool and comfortable as well as will keep the more conservative people from staring at you. No need to cover your hair, but if you take a camel ride out in the desert, wear long sleeves and bring a scarf to cover your hair and face as the sand will blow and really hurt. Have fun and take LOTS of pictures!

You will be in my neck of the woods! I live in Doha, Qatar which is just a thirty minute flight from Dubai. You should check out my blog to get a feel for the Middle East - what to expect and what you will see. www.diannasvoice.blogspot.com The weather is perfect right now, so you won't have to deal with the 110+ temperatures. When I fly (it takes about 28 hours from Utah to Qatar) I change my pump, meter, and CGM time when I land and that seems to work. The jet lag is just wicked so make sure and sleep as much as you can on the flight. Dubai is about as western as you can get in the Middle East so there is no need to worry about special rules of dress except to be modest in public. You can take pictures of landmarks, just not embassies, or Islamic women, especially if they are in the abaya and shayla. Temperatures are in the 60s - 80s most days, but at night you might need a light sweater. I hope you enjoy your time in the Middle East. They really need help with diabetes management in this part of the world. The rate of PWD in the Arabic communities is astounding. Next time come to Qatar and I will be your personal tour guide!

I grew up in the Middle East and Dubai is very westerner friendly. Yes, you can wear shorts and tanks, however, I would suggest covering up a little more as it would be considered respectful. Long loose pants or capris with a short sleeve shirt would be cool and comfortable as well as will keep the more conservative people from staring at you. No need to cover your hair, but if you take a camel ride out in the desert, wear long sleeves and bring a scarf to cover your hair and face as the sand will blow and really hurt. Have fun and take LOTS of pictures!

Never been to Dubai (wow, that's exotic!), but have taken a number of long plane trips and lived (with my diabetes) for a year in Paris. As a rule of thumb, when going to any foreign country, I always do a few things, for what they are worth: (1) learn how to say "I have diabetes" in the native language(s); (2) stockpile food in my carry on (clif bars or some other sort of protein bar), because you never know what the food situation will be en route or once you arrive, before you get settled in; (3) bring a loaner pump and spare glucose meter; (4) carry a letter from my doctor explaining that I have diabetes, wear a pump and need to carry my supplies; (5) bring the name and address of an English-speaking hospital, in case of an emergency; and (6) drink only bottled water -- water often gives people (or at least, me) tummy trouble when traveling, which is especially bad for PWD and can lead to vists to the aforementioned hopsital if you can't hold food or liquids down.

This sounds like a great opportunity -- have a fabulous trip, and please post pix for SUM readers!

Change basals one hour per day until you've matched the new time zone, but make sure your I:C ratios match your meals (i.e. if you use your breakfast ratio for dinner or vice versa, you'll be screwed!). Go conservative with corrections. Increase your target BG while you're there. I sometimes find that carbs in certain countries don't seem to equate to carbs at home (a potato is not always a potato). Have been told that in hot climates, everything in your body is more dilated and therefore everything absorbs more efficiently, including insulin. Report in to your famiy every x (i.e. every 12 - 24 hours) if you're alone. Put your insulin in the fridge / use a FRIO pack to keep it cool if out and about with your stock. Carry a doctor's letter or prescriptions for your supplies (keep with your passport).

OMG, totally took me a minute to get the title. Now I have the Beatles in my head.

My friend moved to Singapore where I think she said they cane Americans for chewing gum. But that has nothing to do with Dubai, just my limited knowledge of other parts of the world.

Have a great trip. Safe travels!

I'm here now, Kerri, and it's really great! I was a little nervous on my way over, but everything was immediately put to rest as soon as I stepped off the plane. To be honest, I've had a thousand times more problems traveling from Canada to the US than I did into Dubai. I breezed through security, passport check, visa check, customs, straight into a waiting shuttle and was whisked off to my hotel (City Max Bur Dubai).

Today I was feeling brave and went for a little wander by myself. I felt 100% safe. Probably safer than I often do in Toronto. I took public transit (the Metro) from my hotel (near the convention centre) to the Dubai Mall and wandered there for a few hours, grabbed some food, and then made the trip back to my hotel. I laughed a little to myself as the metro whizzed by a Tony Roma and a Starbucks!

Tonight I met some of the amazing folks working with the IDF Young Leaders program and I have never been more excited to work with a group of people. It's like a Diabetes Dream Team! Excited to meet more tomorrow!

If I can help ease your nerves at all, let me know! I'm not almost 24 hours into my Middle East visit and am loving it!

My favourite thing from my trip to Dubai was visiting the Jumeirah Mosque. They offer tours through a really lovely Open Doors Open Minds program. Just show up during the tour times.

http://www.dubaicity.com/what_to_see_in_dubai/jumeirah-mosque.htm

Just think, another country to leave a curling iron in.

I've done a lot of work in Dubai and travel there multiple times per year.

To avoid unwanted attention, I keep my dress code pretty conservative: covering shoulders, collarbones, and knees. You'll see people in all sorts of attire, but it is best to be respectful of the Muslim culture.

Only times I covered my head was touring a mosque and visiting a conservative family in their home. I always bring a big, lightweight shawl for travel and it can come in handy for over air-conditioned rooms.

Everyone at customs and immigration speaks perfect English and were aware of insulin pumps. I haven't had any trouble. I speak a bit of Arabic and "ooh ani min assukari" is best I can do for a transliteration of "I have diabetes." You shouldn't need it.

I highly recommend visiting the souks. The malls are amazing, but really just filled with stuff you can get back home.

Safe travels!

Firstly, excellent Beatles reference!

I too am travelling to Dubai, but I'm coming from Melbourne Australia so have 14 hour flights to look forward to.

I have done quite a bit of long haul flying (par for the course if you live in Australia!) and since using a pump have followed the same procedure - lots of BGL checking in-flight; correction boluses as necessary; carry my own hypo food and change the time on my pump to local time the as soon as the place lands. This has always worked well for me.

I also make sure I carry all my diabetes paraphernalia with me (i.e. non in the cargo hold). I'm paranoid about lost baggage after an experience in Paris about ten years ago.

I've been told a tourist-must is a four wheel drive safari. And a camel ride.

I’ll be there to promote the next IDF conference, which is my home town....which is even further away for you than Dubai, so perhaps think of this as training for a visit to Australia in 2 years time!

Try not to stress that much! It is going to be great.

I have never been to Dubai, but I would like to one day. I have traveled a bit and been to the middle east. I agree with what others said, you can wear whatever you want, but covering up is respectful especially if you want to see any religious places (which can be gorgeous).

As for the pump I usually just change the time and that changes my basals along with it. I also target a slightly higher blood sugar. Most importantly...CARRY ON everything critical... toothbrush, some clean undies and all pump, sugar and snack supplies. I have never needed the letter my Doctor kindly wrote, but I always take it with me. I am also sure to wear my medical ID bracelet, just in case, diabetes is a pretty well known word in medicine, even in other languages.

I can't tell you anything about Dubai, but I CAN tell you about radically changing time zones. Which is, turn down ALL your basals just a bit, and let yourself run a bit high for 3 days, because the body does not adapt immediately to time zones. When I visited China several years ago, I changed my basals immediately, and the first night, I had my worst hypo ever. I think it would be better to correct as needed, rather than to risk that, even if it does mean waking up during the night to check. If you're there longer than 3 days, you can adjust your basals to fit that time zone, but then you have to do it all over again when you get home.
Also, if you have a chance, attend the presentation on foot care for the blind by Dr. Ann Williams. She is a close friend of mine, and would love to meet you! :-)
Wish I was going, too! :-)

I have lived in Dubai for 6 years. There aren't any restrictions on clothes and you definately don't have to cover your head with a scarf. It is a beautiful city and a perfect example of a "melting pot".
Perhaps one thing you need to be careful of is the serving sizes of meals as they are quite big.Dubai is a paradise for food lovers. You can get anything from the local Arabic to Lebanese, Indian, Pakistani. Make sure you try the "filafils, shawarma", my favourite and very diabetic friendly.
Shopping is also great...:) There is a gold souk at Deira and if you are interested in textiles, do try out Meena Bazar which is at Bur Dubai.
Have a safe trip and have lots of fun.

I have a friend who lived in Dubai for 2 years so let me know if you need more answers, I'll put you two in touch. Can't wait to hear about your trip - we're traveling late next year to the Galapagos and are very nervous about taking Benny on such a long, far away trip. But it's such a great opportunity - couldn't pass!

probably not the kind of thing you were looking for necessarily, but i just came across this and thought of you: http://mylittlenomads.com/thrilling-amazing-tips-travel-vacation

1) Best Beatles play ever!

2) You are going to Dubai for IDF Congress which is awesome!

and 3) You have readers (and commenters) in Dubai which is equally awesome and inspiring because of just how far the DOC reaches.

Have a blast! I can't wait to hear the return stories!

Fantastic post title! Truly. Have a great trip. If you need anything, just hop across that Arabian Peninsula and come on over :).

Oh you lucky duck - I was asked to go to Dubai by some of the doctors that I met at the last IDF congress here in Montreal. They thought I was the cats meow with having diabetes so long - but alas - no funding for this trip from my work place - but could have gone as press. I'll have to start buying lottery tickets so I can afford to travel to all these great diabetic events around our big blue marble. Have a great time - and take lots of pictures!

OMG!!! I just saw this! Let me be the first to say, welcome to the United Arab Emirates :D :D

I live in the capital, Abu Dhabi, which is a two hour drive from Dubai. You're trip is coming at a good time. Summer is definitely not the best time to come here, especially for your first trip!

Dubai is modern and tolerant, don't worry :) Diana's post covered it all.

Diabetes management needs to go a long way over here, although awareness is increasing...albeit slowly. Rate of diabetes is too high, especially type 2. Type 1s are comparatively fewer. (I haven't met a single other type 1, and I was diagnosed 12 yrs ago!)

I hope you enjoy your time here :) Please do drop me a line if you find yourself in the capital!

Ooops - wish I'd seen this sooner - you may be reading it on your return! We spent 2 weeks on holiday there in 2009 - had an absolutely fantastic time. It is very HOT! - weather wise. I was worried about all sorts of things beforehand - could I hold my husbands hand in public, have a glass of wine with dinner, etc. All unfounded. Only trick is - western culture is acceptable in the hotels - need to be more mindful outside of them. The staff were extremely helpful in terms of diabetes management - Gemma got bitten one day, and honestly they couldn't have done more to be helpful, being especially careful to consider her diabetes.
We went to the most fantastic market, overlooking the Burg Hotel. You could take a boat trip around it in the dark - its called the Madinat Jumeriah and there are loads of lovely restaurants there as well as the market. Just need to queue up to book a table when you arrive and come back when its ready (couldn't make telephone bookings) So build that into your plans.
Dubai is very expensive - so be prepared for that. Its a strange mix of the very old culture with glitzy, modern architecture. They have trips into the desert which I believe are fab if you get a chance to go. But do enjoy. Its a memorable experience.

This sickens me, an IDF Conference in Dubai? Excuse me, is that where the money we donate goes? Big pharmaceutical companies wasting money, pretending to work toward a cure? I'm done with it, I'm done donating money...there will never be a cure! Did you ever stop and think that all of the companies that make up this multibillion dollar industry of manufacturing medical supplies for diabetics are in cahoots with each other...think of the economic loss of a cure! They don't want to hear your perspective as a patient...what will that really when working toward a cure? It's a sham and mere circus show, "we tried" they'll say for the rest of time as millions still live with diabetes everyday. You should be ashamed that you're partaking in such a charade of deceptive showmanship!

Dubai is so progressive, but the problem lies in their future, how they will sustain their way of spending.

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