Dubai International Airport (DXB)

Things to do in Dubai International Airport (DXB)

As in the various gold souks in the Middle East, gold is sold by the gram in the Dubai Airport, at constantly fluctuating prices. You can also buy gold chains by the meter—the most popular here are the heavy yellow-gold variety.

An ever-changing selection of cars and motorbikes gets raffled off to passengers willing to shell out $139 for a ticket in the Finest Surprise raffle, which has been going on here since 1988.

It’s rare that we recommend visiting an airport’s tourism kiosk, but the DTCM is actually worth seeking out. Staffed by the nicest people in the airport (all fluent in English), it functions less as a hotel and day-trip listing facility than it does as a full-fledged concierge desk.

If you’re stopping over in Dubai, the likelihood is high that you’ve just gotten off a long flight and are on your way to another. Which means you’ll probably want a shower. The showers in the airlines’ lounges are hit-and-miss (some are truly bad).

There’s free Wi-Fi everywhere in the Dubai International Airport, which is not to say that it works perfectly in every part of the terminals.

Because Terminal 1 is so crowded, finding a place to sit can be difficult unless you gain access to a lounge (or stake out a seat in McDonald’s, Starbucks, or one of the other dime-a-dozen food-court outposts). The new Zen Gardens is a good, free place to sit unmolested and read.

One of the best places to escape the maddening airport crowds is this expensive and lavish reception and service center for VIPs—or those willing to pay (about $500 per person) to be a VIP for the day. Reserve at least 24 hours in advance to stake your place among only 150 people.

Regardless of the airline or class you’re flying, you can gain admission to one of these lounges (open 24/7) for about $42, no reservation required.

Dubai International Airport is the primary airport for the city of Dubai and has become a major air traffic hub for the Middle East. The airport has a total of three terminals and services 130 airlines offering flights to destinations on every continent but Antarctica.

First- and business-class passengers on Emirates have access to separate, lavish lounges in T3, with mini-spa treatments from Timeless Spas, the signature spa of Emirates Hotel and Resort. Treatments are free for first-class passengers.

Right across from the hotel’s reception area, Wing’s bar is one of the lesser-known oases in the airport (i.e., it is often quiet and seating is easier to find).

Make your way to one of the two “quiet lounges,” which are essentially rows of recliners placed close together on either side of the Sheikh Rashid Terminal. They’re free and hard to get, so if you can snag one, get over your need for privacy. “Quiet,” however, is a bit of a misnomer.

With the opening of Terminal 3 in October 2008, the airport’s retail operations—all controlled by Dubai Duty Free—doubled to 160,000 square feet of shops. You can easily while away the hours of your stopover here.