Flying to Dubai
There's only one airport currently serving Dubai, the imaginatively-entitled Dubai International Airport (DXB). Another, far bigger affair, the Al Maktoum International Airport, is currently being built out in the desert, but it's not expected to begin passenger operations until 2011. The airport has three terminals. The shiny new Terminal 3 is reserved solely for Emirates Airlines, with most others landing at Terminal 1. Terminal 2, about 10 minutes' taxi ride from the others, is somewhere you're unlikely to find yourself, unless you're flying to Baghdad, Kabul or some other headline grabbing destinations. However, Terminal 2 is the home for Emirates Airlines' budget carrier, FlyDubai, which offers an increasing list of regional destinations and is well worth considering if you're planning to stick around for some time.
Where is the airport?
Dubai International is in an area called Garhoud, which is well connected to all parts of the city by various modes of transport. Unless someone's picking you up (many hotels offer shuttle services), or you're renting a car, a taxi is probably your best bet and is generally inexpensive. There's also the new Dubai Metro that connects Terminals 1 and 3.
Getting to the city from DXB
Taxis: Cabs from the airport are plentiful and you should never have to wait more than a few minutes. A journey to the Sheikh Zayed Road area and Burj Khalifa area of town should take around 15 minutes will cost around 40 dirhams while a trip to the Burj Al Arab and Jumeirah Beach area will probably take 25 minutes and cost around 50 dirhams. If you're staying on the Deira side of the Dubai Creek, it's just around the corner.
Dubai Metro: The shiny new, ultra-modern Dubai Metro links both Terminal 1 and Terminal 3 with the main line (the only one working at the moment), which will get you to various stops, including the Mall of the Emirates and Dubai International Financial Centre, with relative, inexpensive ease. However, you'll probably have to jump in a taxi at the other end to take you to the hotel door, which might not be so pleasant if you've got a large amount of luggage and the sun is making one of its regular appearances.
Things to remember at the airport
Duty free: This marvellous outpost is among the cheapest places I've seen for alcohol and far more economical than other places in the city. If you're planning to stay a while or are visiting friends, it might be advisable to grab a couple of bottles. The maximum limit is four (which can be four bottles of wine, spirits or even crates of beer). Cigarettes here are also far cheaper than most other duty frees.
Passport control: British passport holders get a 30-day visit visa on arrival.
Marhaba services: For a fee of 25 dirhams per passenger, you can be welcomed off the plane and guided through the airport with ease, including a buggy car transfer priority if necessary. Visit the Marhaba Services website - www.marhabaservices.com - for more information. This is useful if you've got people visiting and can make for a nice surprise for them on arrival.