I recently had the opportunity to explore and discover the spectacular city of Dubai and some of its beautiful surrounding areas. It was my first time to the Arabian Gulf and I had an indescribable experience, but I’ll try!
First, remember when you are there you are visiting the United Arab Emirates and that means respecting their rules – the expectations are that you dress conservatively, don’t take photos of their official buildings and follow the laws. As an example, you can’t buy beverage alcohol in the shops although it’s is readily available in hotels, restaurants and bars – for a premium price. I recommend you make a pit stop at the duty free when you first arrive and stock up. It will save you a small fortune! Oh and purchase a SIM card for your phone for about $30 CAD. You’ll thank me later! Needless to say Dubai is an expensive city. My first sticker shock was the cup of tea in the hotel lobby for $12 CAD!
And there are so many attractions and things to do. Of course we visited the famous sprawling Dubai Mall.
In addition to every major luxury retailer from around the globe, the mall is bedazzled with an indoor skating rink, an aquarium and gorgeous fountains. It is expanding and a huge new addition is currently being built across the street. True confession, I didn’t do a lot of shopping there but I wouldn’t have missed the experience.
Dubai is booming. The architecture features sky scrapers that are literally second to none. You can’t help but see massive cranes everywhere you look. This is a place where biggest and best IS better – the biggest Ferris wheel in the world, the tallest building, the only 7star hotel in the world, an indoor ski run . . . I could keep going!
While there I toured the growing city of Dubai. To get your bearings, I suggest taking one of the hop on hop off bus tours. It provides a great overview of the city from which you can choose the areas you would prefer to spend more time in.
Here are my highlights in or close to Dubai:
It is hot and beautiful on the Arabian Gulf! I visited in the fall and was about 25 degrees Celsius. It will get over 40 in the summer months!
I made a stop at the fascinating Palm Jumeirah and visited Atlantis The Palm.
The aquarium at Atlantis is magnificent! There are many restaurants and boutique shops here too.
Le Mer Beach
This appealing beach is very close the World Trade Centre in Dubai. With change rooms and many restaurants to choose from, it is worth a visit. I enjoyed wonderful weather and the water was spectacular! Respect where you are: signs of affection are not permitted and you must cover up as soon as you leave the sandy beach area.
Old town Dubai is not to be missed.
The Dubai Museum is an enlightening experience and very well done. Allocate an hour for this.
The Gold Souk, the Spice Souk, and across the Dubai Creek is the Textile Souk.
It is hustle bustle and the old world charm is infectious. I enjoyed a quick ride across the creek on a water taxi with the locals.
The water taxi across the Dubai Creek are plentiful, fun and super cheap
The Burj Al Arab
This is the only 7 star hotel in the world. It is located on its own artificial island next to Jumeirah Beach. The architecture is incredible! It was built to resemble the sail of a ship.
Burj Al Arab from a distance
The hotel has 220 suites at a nightly cost (in Canadian dollars) of $3K for a basic suite to $25K for the royal suite. Keep in mind, you have your own butler! You can go to the sky bar for a drink, but you need a reservation in advance and must show it at the gate to gain entry to the property.
Looking up from the bottom of the Burj al Arab
This is desert country so a visit is critical, especially if this is your first time to the Arabian desert. There are many tours available from the center of Dubai. These include dune bashing in a 4X4; riding a camel, seeing a seeing beautiful sunset. Dinner is included.
The Dubai Metro is a MUST! It is efficient and spotless.
As a traveler, go for the day pass. It gives you unlimited use of the transit system for the day. I recommend paying the extra and go for the gold class day pass. You have exclusive access to the gold cabins. These were never crowded, very comfortable and depending on the direction of the train, the views are terrific! If you decide to try the buses, the bus stops are air conditioned!
If you can, rent a car and take a day trip to Abu Dhabi. It is 90 minute drive from Dubai. It is a city with a most beautiful mosque and city beach-front area. One of the most beautiful mosques in the United Emirates is here.
I had a marvelous time in Dubai. I enjoyed the sites, the climate, the friendly and helpful people. You must try the delicious date chocolates from this area!
You MUST try the delicious chocolate dates!
The city has 75 shopping malls and 313 mosques. The population consists of 80% ex pats. Dubai will be testing self driving taxis next year!
A few things I want to leave you with: it is a very safe, growing, clean, albeit expensive city.