The glittering city has plenty to offer, even to the weariest of globe trotters.
Whether you are walking along the pavements of Dubai’s four-lane highways or hustling down the narrow bylanes of its souks, you encounter contradictions everywhere. The sun shines down mercilessly but pedestrians seek respite in the shade of tall skyscrapers. A Bentley shares space with a beatup Toyoto Crown at the parking space in malls. Women walk around carrying Gucci bags and Chanel minis, arm in arm with a girlfriend clad in an abaya, a stylish version of the purdah. Soon, you realise that these contradictions characterise the pulse of Dubai, dubbed the Hong Kong of the Middle East. It also makes the city enticing with people thronging to the luxury capital every year to take in some of its magic. When they leave it, they might love it or hate it. But as the world will tell you, Dubai is not a place to be ignored.
Behind the concrete gold, the city has a soul and an ambition to turn the barren landscape into a successful dream. And if you are ready to brave the soaring temperatures, we take you through the bylanes of Dubai to show you the city in all its glory.
In Dubai, you are always looking at options to beat the heat. Chances are that you are staying at a beachfront hotel. Do not miss that opportunity and head down your private beach. Begin the day with a cooling off session in the pristine waters of the Persian Gulf.
Just in case your hotel in a land-locked space, you can always head towards the Jumeirah Beach Park — one of the many green oases in the city. It costs five dirhams and is a great price for an experience that must not be missed.
While shopping in Dubai, you have two choices. You can either indulge in an extravagant affair at The Dubai Mall or go for a unique shopping spree in the heart of the city.
The Dubai Mall is a one-stop destination for your global shopping needs. It is easily accessable via the Dubai Metro and the nearest station is the Burj Khalifa station. You can also opt for the Dubai Mall shuttle bus or drive down Sheikh Zayed Road, where the mall is in close vicinity of the world’s tallest tower. Other malls like the Mall of Emirates, The Village Mall and Wafi house international brands as well.
If you want to be away from the glitz and the glamour, take a cab to the Abra station in Bur Dubai. Now you are in the center of Bastikiya. This quaint little part of Dubai still retains the old world charm. For one Dirham you can take the popular wooden ferries that will take you the Deira souks across the waterway. Traders from all across the Middle East and India can be found here bustling through the narrow alleys. You can find a lot of interesting stuff to take back home – right from pots and pans to hair bands and kitsch photo frames. If you are lucky enough, you might just stumble upon some nifty Aladdin slippers, pashminas and exotic cloth.
Now that you’ve had your fill of shopping, its time to explore the local flavours of the city. Make a stop at the legendary Bayt al-Wakeel restaurant. You can enjoy authentic Arabic mezze while you relax on the wooden deck taking in remarkable view of plush yachts and dhows passing by.
Another great place for grabbing a bite is Ravis. 9 out of 10 people in Dubai will tell you that the Pakistani restaurant is one of the best dining options in town. Do not get taken aback by the modest setting. The restaurant is located in the heart of Satwa, an old residential and commercial hub of the city. You are bound to want to come back after savouring the authentic butter chicken and naan accompanied with lassi. All for less than 15 Dirhams.
Thrills and Chills
IF you are the adventurous kind, you might want to pay a visit to Sol Kerzner’s desert playground — AquaVenture waterpark at Atlantis. Experience an adrenaline rush with the 30-metre near vertical jump. The water park is located at the tip of the Palm Jumeirah — the magnificent man-made island known for its visibility from space.
A view to die for
After all the action next stop is Neos at the top of the The Address hotel. At the 63rd floor this open air bar promises a breath taking view of the Gulf with the city passing by down below. While you catch the sun set one can’t miss the world’s tallest tower right next door. Yes, the 160 floor tall Burj Dubai. It takes a while to take in the view for which you have the company of Dubai’s chic crowd and well put together sundowners.
For those of you who enjoy a good drink with even better company, you have to check out the Buddha Bar at the Grosvenor Hotel. Mingle with Dubai’s swish set in the superlative setting of the bar. Triple volume ceiling, oversized chandeliers, plush red velvet drapes and chilled sounds, the Buddha Bar ensures a grand time. Other popular clubbing spots are 400, Boudoir, Shochu, Club Cavalli and Prive` at the Armani Hotel in the Burj Khalifa.
Your exhaustion from the previous night will be forgotten once you step onto the marble spiral staircase leading to the traditional hammam, or Morrocan bath at the Royal Mirage Resort and Spa’s Royal Hammam. The marble slab — where you’ll be lathered up with Moroccan black soap, scrubbed down with a loofah, wrapped in eucalyptus-scented mud, massaged and slathered in honey — is set beneath a twinkling dome that lets in circles of light. The luxury comes at a price but is worth every penny. I spa, Talise Spa & Wellness are other spa hotspots.
9 out of 10 people in Dubai will tell you that Ravis, a Pakistani restaurant is one of the best dining options in town. Do not get taken aback by the modest setting. The restaurant is located in the heart of Satwa, an old residential and commercial hub of the city. You are bound to want to come back after savouring the authentic butter chicken and naan accompanied with lassi. All for less than 15 Dirhams.
Dubai from a bird’s view
To appreciate Dubai’s city’s rapid expansion, take the 895 Dirham flight aboard the seaplane. This 30-min flight takes off from the Jebel Ali Resort and Spa everyday. A lot of photo opportunities are available on a clear day.
Make a dash for the dunes
A desert safari gives you a complete taste of Arabia in one package. The sunset safari starts with a pick-up from your hotel at 3.30pm. You’ll be driven out to Big Red — one of the Emirates’s tallest dunes, where you’ll meet up with the rest of the 4x4s in your convoy. First off is a dune-bashing, thrill ride over the dunes.
After sunset you’ll be taken to the tented Bedouin-style desert camp where you can quickly tick off all your Arabian experiences by surfing down the dunes on a sand board, riding a camel, getting a henna tattoo, smoking an apple-flavoured sheesha, shaking your hips with the belly-dancers. A fun night is guaranteed. With the chilled desert sand under your feet and a blanket of stars overhead, this is the perfect place to end your Dubai adventure.
On Your Way Out
While you pack to go back you might want to check with Dubai tour operators for future communication because you know you are definitely coming back.