Top 7 things we’ll experience in Dubai (and I can’t wait for number 5)

“If you build it, they will come.”

It’s not just a line from the Hollywood hit, Field of Dreams, but an ambitious message once passed on from a father to his son.

Sheikh, Rashid bin Saeed al Maktoum had shared his vision of transforming this once sleepy kingdom into a thriving world-class city.

His son and now ruler, has since over-exceeded even his father’s lofty dream. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum has transformed this once dessert realm on the shores of the Persian Gulf into a landscape of futuristic skyscrapers, palm-shaped islands, lavish malls, indoor ski slopes and water parks, palatial beach resorts and hotels.

Dubai has topped the world stage with everything massive, glitzy, luxurious, spectacular… and on and on. And if it’s all been designed to lure us to this corner of the world, it’s worked – at least for this couple.

And we can’t wait to go.


Top 6 things we’ll experience in Dubai

1. Burj Al Arab
The Burj Al Arab is, in my mind, what put Dubai on top of the world stage. What the Eiffel Tower is to Paris, the Burj Al Arab is to Dubai. Shaped like a billowing ship’s sail, the Burj Al Arab is the world’s first seven-star hotel, sitting on an artificial island off Jumeirah Road.

Burj Al ArabLuxury is not an option but a prerequisite at Burj Al Arab. Beyond the striking lobby, with its gold-leaf opulence and attention-grabbing fountain, lie 202 suites with more trimmings than a Christmas turkey. An over-nighter is somewhat beyond our budget, but we’ve managed to make reservations at the Skyview Bar to catch the awesome view before we head down to Outlaw’s at Al Mahara for their signature ‘best in Dubai’ seafood.


2. Burj Khalifa
As a travel and landscape photographer, you simply can’t ignore the many ‘Kodak moments’ that Dubai offers. And, Burj Khalifa is going to deliver up something spectacular. The Burj Khalifa is a stunning feat of architecture claiming the top prize for the  tallest building in the world, hitting the clouds at 828m (2,717 feet or about 251 stories high).

Burj Khalifa_ Nikki BritzPhoto: Nikki Britz

We’ll book our tickets ahead of time and pay for the view. Burj Khalifa offers two observation decks on the 124th and 148th floors. Here’s to hoping we have a clear day as high humidity can often cloak Dubai in a dense haze, making views less than breathtaking.


3. Dubai Mall
We simply can’t go to Dubai without experiencing shopping and that of course means a visit to Dubai Mall.  Dubai Mall is the world’s largest shopping mall based on total area, offering 1,200 shops – that’s been described as a small city. This is a dream come true for Mary, even if it’s mostly window-shopping.

Dubai Mall_via: Liji JinarajPhoto: Liji Jinaraj

Okay mall-haters, hold tight ’cause this mall is out of the ordinary offering something for everyone. There’s an indoor theme park, 22-screen cinema, a giant aquarium and underwater zoo, full-sized skating rink, Vegas-style shows, 150 food outlets and you’ll not want to miss the Dubai Fountain.


4. Dubai Fountain
Speaking of which, have you been to Las Vegas and seen the spectacular fountain at the Bellagio? I’m told that the Dubai Fountain (that sits in front of Dubai Mall) trumps every fountain on earth, let alone Bellagio’s. Take a peak for yourself.


5. Dubai Desert Safari Tour
It’s hard to call a Dubai trip complete without a visit to the desert. We’ll head into the Al Hibab Desert on a 45-minute drive from Dubai and experience the towering red dunes on our guided 6-hour dune-bashing trip.

Dubai Desert Safari Tour


6. Dubai beach day
We just have to take an afternoon and experience the warm Gulf water at Jumeirah Beach. The beach occupies a sandy stretch of oceanfront property flanked by a series of lavish gardens. A number of Dubai’s largest and most luxurious resorts and hotels flank Jumeirah Beach so you have lots of amenities around you.

Jumeirah Beach, DubaiImage: Guilhem Vellut 

Not sure about the whole bathing suit laws thing? Here’s what I scooped from Travel and Leisure’s website:

  • All beaches, even those next to hotels, are public, so local families and international vacationers have access to the same sandy stretches in Dubai.
  • Several beaches offer women-only days one day a week. On these days, males—excluding toddlers—are prohibited.
  • There is no Dubai law prohibiting a particular bathing suit, but swimwear should not be worn off the beach. Nudity is strictly prohibited.


7. Nightcap at the One&Only’s Jetty Lounge
Don’t let the drinking laws in Dubai fool you into thinking that nightlife doesn’t exist. As it turns out, city licensing law makes it illegal for alcohol to be served outside of a venue that is not a hotel or private club.

Jetty Lounge, The PalaceThankfully open-air bars, hotels and sophisticated rooftop cocktail lounges, with unforgettable views, reign supreme. This couple will wind down after a dizzying day of sightseeing and head to Jetty Lounge at The One&Only Royal Mirage to their elegant beach side bar to take in the sunset over Dubai and the Persian Gulf.

Back to you

Have you been to Dubai? If so, we’d like to hear about your experiences. Any do’s, don’ts and must-sees that you can share? Don’t be shy, flip us your thoughts in the comments section below.

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