What even is sustainable travel? Even when we say we understand these common terms like eco tourism, sustainability and responsible tourism, do we really?
After writing about philanthropic and sustainable tourism from a travellers point of view for the past few years, I’ve finally realized that regardless of how long I’ve spent in any given destination, there’s someone who knows more than me.
So why not hear it from the locals?
Today I’m introducing you to The Travel Captain, she is a native New Yorker living in Dubai for the last eight years. Her work focuses on hotel development and finance, and she’s got a ton to tell you about sustainable travel throughout Dubai.
What does responsible tourism mean to you?
It means traveling to places and leaving the least impact on the environment as possible. It means choosing eco-friendly accommodations and making purchases which benefit the local community versus big corporations.
Are there any sustainable volunteer opportunities in Dubai?
There are a few volunteer organizations with large presence as well as individual opportunities such as animal rescue, working with disabled children and helping laborers. The government of Dubai also offers a variety of volunteer opportunities that can be viewed in English here.
What are 5 things to do in Dubai that do not damage the environment and economy?
- Visiting the sand dunes
- Going to the beautiful public beaches
- Shopping at the various souks
- Visiting the heritage museum
- Dining at the local arabic restaurants
Are there any locally produced souvenirs worth buying in Dubai?
- Locally grown dates: You’d be surprised how many different types of locally grown dates there are in Dubai, this is a great (and light weight) gift to bring home as a souvenir.
- Textiles: There are tons of beautiful textiles throughout the city including The Textile Market at old trading centre of Bur Dubai.
Do you know of any sustainable hotels in your area?
They are not “sustainable” by recent standards but many have adopted eco-friendly initiatives lately. Here are a few for starters:
Are there any sustainable local tour companies?
While there aren’t easy to come by, here’s one that comes highly recommended online: Platinum Heritage Tours. They’ve been rated number one on TripAdvisor for their desert safari tour and create tailor-made tours for sustainable travellers.
Are there any local customs that travellers should know and respect?
- Cursing is an absolute no
- Openly consuming alcohol outside of a licensed venue ie. the beach, NO
- Taking pictures of the local emirates = no
One word of advice: Speak to everyone with respect and they will show you the same.
Can you give us 5 helpful words to get by in Dubai?
I don’t speak Arabic but these few words would be helpful:
- Shukran = thank you
- Marhaba = hello
- Ramadan = holy month of fasting which is going on now
- Eid = celebration after Ramadan is over
- Assalam alaikum = a commonly used greeting which means “peace be upon you”
“Like a Local” features are intended to teach travellers about the sustainable impacts they can make on any given city, country or town. Sustainable tourism varies among countries and every feature is completely different. Don’t see your city mentioned yet? Send us an e-mail to feature your business and city on Give for Granted.