Dubai is a beautiful emirate amongst the seven of United Arab Emirates and the most gorgeous and flamboyant one! It is a land of contrast in terms of abundance of natural beauty – a vast ocean with turquoise water in one side and barren but magical golden expanse of Arabian Desert on the other side. In terms of man-made beauty, Dubai skyline is dotted with fancy, regal and awe-inspiring buildings. Being one of the world’s famous trading hub for gold, the tiny Emirate exudes golden aura adding the finishing touch to the majestic landscape of sea and sand. Dubai is also home to some of world’s biggest and most-happening shopping malls adding a touch of flamboyance to this beautiful city!
Being connected with the rest of the world by an array of airlines, Dubai airports are always full to the brim with tourists and visitors and the city is adequately supported with its infrastructure that is world-class and accommodation with countless hotels ranging from budget to fancy.
The city attracts shoppers, adventure-lovers, heritage-lovers, gold-hoggers and lesser mortals who just want a getaway within budget. Dubai will not disappoint you whichever category you belong to!
An expat and being a resident of Dubai for the past 6 years, my Dubai Diary attempts to give a sneak-peek of “ 5 things you should do when you visit Dubai”……
1.Desert Safari – a safari in the midst of desert tops the To-do list for anyone who comes to visit Dubai. The options
are plenty and tailor-made suiting your budget and time schedule with morning safari, night safari or a sundowner.
In case you are nature lover, the sight of camel farms dotting the desert or herds of white Oryx or the sun going down behind the sand dunes flooding the horizon with crimson rays will stay in your heart for long time. In case you have heart for adventure, book yourself for dune-bashing or sandboarding. A night safari offers a camp in the middle of the desert with traditional Mediterranean food,
tantalizing and sensuous belly dance and eye-catching Tanoura dance (a local dance in colourful attire with swirls that will make you feel dizzy in the head). Few operators offer overnight camp also where you can have a fun-filled night and ends with a sumptuous breakfast in the morning. When the song and dance stops (well past mid-night) with few dim lanterns around the camp site and you lie down with face up under the canopy of sky full of twinkling stars , it wakes up the philosopher in you and the experience is divine!! The camel-ride is amazingly enjoyable – the line of camels with tourists on their back walking with a slow gait following instructions of their keeper in traditional Arabic attire transports you to the era of Bedouin tradition and heritage.
2.Dhow cruise – Dhow , the traditional boats, line the Creek side ready to set sail with tourists. A cruise in the blue water along the creek with soft drinks and food served on board is therapeutic to say the least. Here also, the options are plenty and you can pick one from the array of offers depending on your budget and schedule. The operators have pick-up and drop-off facility from almost all hotels. In case you would like to loosen your purse-string, you can even hire an yacht; the roar of the engine cutting through the blue water of Arabian Ocean gives you a feel that you own the world while surrounded by the mighty ocean all around you convinces you beyond doubt how small you are in front of many of God’s creation! You can have yachts on an hourly rate with varying capacity and cost which is certainly expensive than a Dhow Cruise but then experience of a life time comes with a cost, right? Whatever be your take, indulge in one when you visit Dubai.
3.Adventure Sports – Dubai is a famous destination for adventure-lovers! Too many options to choose from depending on how strong your heart is!! Adventure in sky, adventure in desert or adventure in water – the city has everything in its offerings. A dive from a helicopter few thousand feet high up from ground is blindingly terrifying but the experience of seeing the world under you from the top is worth, I guess. Don’t worry if you are not a trained diver. You can have a jump in tandem with a trained one and feel the rush of adrenalin – certainly a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ experience. Since you need a prior booking and in summers, the activity is closed, you need to book
well in time with Sky Dive, Dubai and during the season.
Parasailing, jet-skiing, kayaking, snorkelling are few of sea-sports that you may choose from to satisfy the adventure-lover in you.
Enjoy an exhilarating adventure in the vast desert in Dubai. Hire a quad bike and get lost in the desert (well, not figuratively as you will be closely trailed by an instructor and will be guided with a GPS). Sand skiing or dune bashing are the most common sand sports tried by people.
Almost all hotels have their concierge desk to help you chalk out a plan. So even if you booked your trip in a hurry and did not have time to book your activities in advance, you will still not miss anything – just get the contact details of a tour operator from your hotel and allow them to guide you.
4.Shopping – Dubai is known to be a Shopper’s paradise! The malls in the city are full of glitz and glamour; you name a brand and you will find it in Dubai. The massive and magnificent Dubai Mall is intimidating with the majestic Burj Khalifa at its back drop. Even if you are not a shopaholic, visit Dubai Mall just for its beauty and don’t forget to step out to have a look at Burj Khalifa and appreciate the musical fountain at the base of the tower. The Burj Khalifa boasts of an Observatory Deck at the 100th floor – the picturesque landscape of the city is surely going to mesmerize you. You need to book in advance as the Deck has limited space.
Even though not comparable to Dubai Mall in terms of size or glamour, Ibn Battuta mall is captivating with its beautiful architecture, inside and out and a must-visit for those who love history.
For shopaholics, shopping festival (which falls in January-February every year) gives the golden opportunity to stock up on your fashion-fatale! Malls are packed with deals! The month-long shopping extravaganza is hard to resist if you are in the look-out for tempting deals on your favourite brands of clothes, perfumes, shoes and accessories to name a few.
If buying gold is in agenda, a trip to Deira Gold souk must be squeezed in your itinerary. Even if it is not, the souk (bazar in Arabic) is worth a visit just to see why Dubai is known to be one of biggest trading hub in gold.
5.Site seeing – If you are curious to know the old heritage, tradition and culture of the nation, take a tour of the Heritage Village or Dubai Museum or Pearl Museum. It offers a glimpse to the past when Dubai was only known for its pearls! You will find it really hard to reconcile the past with the present. Take a walk along the alleys in Heritage village and get to know the tradition and culture of Bedouins (one of the oldest tribes in the world ) up and close, enjoy a traditional meal or sweet cooked fresh in front of you or just let yourself wander into the past.
Various displays in Dubai Museum arouses your curiosity to know more about the past of this nation; While you are in that area, have a visit to the historical Al Fahidi Fort or Bastakiya. The Pearl Museum proudly holds within it an astonishing collection of pearls donated by Sultan Al Owais, one of the most important Pearl Merchants of UAE, a poet and philanthropist. His objective behind this fine gesture was to preserve the colourful culture of pearl divers and merchants of Arabia.