Dubai is bright, glitzy and glamorous. It’s also incredibly accessible, just a short hop from Europe. There’s fabulous shopping at the Dubai Marina and Palm Islands. And there’s adventure 24/7 with exciting camel races, dune bashing and a variety of watersports in this Western Asia hotspot.
Gawp at the mighty Burj Khalifa skyscraper
Get high in Dubai – head to the very top of the Burj Khalifa skyscraper; an awesome testament to architectural ingenuity all the way to the 124th floor. This is the highest manmade building on earth – standing at a mighty 829 meters! You’ll be taking the high-speed elevator, which travels at a dizzying 10 meters a second, which is great because there are 160 floors in total! The entire floor is encased in glass, allowing you a breathtaking view of the city. Opened in January 20120, visitors can head out to the observation deck on the 124th floor – which is the second highest observation deck in the world (after Shanghai) – where you will be able to take in a spectacular view of the city through the Behold Telescope. It even allows you to view previous snapshots of the city at different times of the day. This is the tallest skyscraper in the world, which is reason enough to visit it. Once you’re finished taking in the marvel of the city, head back down. Near the entrance of the Burj Khalifa are the Dubai fountains, which leap up to heights of 500 feet and are choreographed to music. It’s best to book a ticket to explore the Burj Khalifa but be aware that they can sell out a week in advance!
Go skiing in Dubai
Hit the slopes in the desert city of Dubai. Seriously. This is the very first ski slope in the Middle East. How does it work? It’s indoors. Dubai is one of the richest countries of the world, so of course they need to have a ski slope. The third largest indoor ski slope in the world can be found inside the Dubai Mall of the Emirates. You read that right: inside of the local mall. You should go for a ski run just for the fact that you’ll be able to tell people you went skiing in the desert.
Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo
Guess where this aquarium, also one of the largest in the world, is located? In the Dubai Mall. The aquarium has an impressive 33,000 animals, with 400 of those being sharks and stingrays. You can go scuba diving in the aquarium or take a glass boat ride for a much different perspective. If you’re feeling extremely adventurous, you can scuba dive into a shark tank with an instructor and come face to face with a sand tiger shark. If you are not an experienced diver, you can still take part. All you have to do is take a quick training course. This is available to anyone, even if you can’t swim!
If you fancy living in up in style in the UAE and Dubai, try a stay at the opulent Burj al-Arab hotel which is the only 7 star hotel in the world! Be aware that a strict dress code is in place. If your budget won’t stretch to s stay, then consider stopping by for a cocktail or afternoon tea.
Dubai Museum and Culture
Learn a little about the city and the United Arab Emirates at the Dubai Museum, which displays life-sized dioramas that showcase the life of Dubai’s residents before the discovery of oil made the city one of the wealthiest in the world. The figures are extremely detailed and life-like, and the whole experience shows how an entire society can change overnight.
Each year Dubai hosts its own Halloween extravaganza with the Desert Rhythm Festival with special food, music and competitions.
Visit the old merchant quarter of Bastakiya, which is said to be the oldest residential area in Dubai, and is pictured below.
Hire a local adventure and activities tour operator in order to take several exciting excursions through the desert. Here you can mesh technology with nature, something that is very apparent as an overall theme of Dubai. Take a tour through the dunes of the desert in a H2 Hummer or try an extreme machine adventure by trying dune bashing. You also have the option of taking a regular desert safari or even taking a safari on camel back. Take a tour through the city, take a flight on a helicopter tour and soar above the emirate on a hot air balloon adventure. If you have water legs try one of several different boat trips including a Dhow Cruise Dinner or a Palm Cruise.
There are also tons of watersports opportunities on the pristine beaches of Dubai and diving amongst the coral is highly recommended. However the water is pretty rough and salty so swimming may be off your to-do list at the beach.
There are many serene parks within Dubai including the Al Safa Park, which is one of the oldest. Here visitors can meet with other sports enthusiasts and join a game of tennis, volleyball and soccer. The whole family is catered for as children can play in the video arcade, take flight on the ferris wheel and practice their skills on the bumper cars.
By Julie Bowman