The blazing heat of Dubai greets you the moment you exit the airport. The multicolored taxis swarm the smoothly paved roads and drivers beckon you from every corner to see if you need a ride. As you approach the center of Dubai, the bright lights of the city’s skyscrapers illuminate the night sky. When walking along the crowded streets, you will notice the air filled with the aroma of a various foods, as there is a restaurant for every type of national cuisine. Visitors of all ages will be entertained in this exotic city where they can enjoy everything from touring record-setting skyscrapers to shopping in the world’s largest mall to visiting some other popular tourist destinations.
Photo courtesy | Kemal Kestelli
With world record setting buildings, Dubai’s architecture is definitely worth marveling at. The tallest freestanding structure of the world, the Burj Khalifa, is almost three times as tall as the Eiffel Tower and nearly twice as tall as the Empire State Building. This building has the most stories, the highest occupation level, highest observation deck and longest travel distance elevator in the world. Daring visitors who have no fear of heights can take a short elevator ride to the 125th floor where they will be stunned with the 360-views of the city. The innovative and contemporary design of this building represents how far the desert city has come.
The second most popular structure in Dubai is located off the coasts of Jumeirah Beach on its own artificial island. As “the world’s only seven star hotel,” Burj al-Arab is a luxury hotel easily identifiable by its sail-shaped exterior. The costly rate of $2,000 per night is well worth it for all that this hotel has to offer. Featuring 202 duplex suites, the Burj al-Arab provides its guests with the comfort of four swimming pools (two indoor and two outdoor), a private beach, access to the Talise wellness center, nine world-class restaurants and complimentary access to Wild Wadi Waterpark for the duration of their stay. While spending a night or two might be out of your travel budget, it’s possible to take a tour of this extravagant hotel for a significantly smaller fee.
Photo courtesy | Paolo Margari
Dubai is a city famous for its amazing shopping malls. The opulence of the shopping malls in Dubai challenge those of New York City, which currently hails as the fashion district capital of the world. While it may be one of the smaller malls in Dubai, the Ibn Battuta Mall is the world’s largest themed shopping center. With more than 270 shops, 50 restaurants and a cinema with 21 theaters, This mall is divided into six courts: the Egypt, India, China, Andalusia, Persia and Tunisia courts. Each section reflects the culture of the countries visited by the Moroccan Berber explorer Ibn Battuta.
The slightly larger mall, the Mall of Emirates, offers its own unique shopping experience. After working out their credit cars, shoppers might want to exercise themselves at Ski Dubai. This indoor skiing facility within the mall offers snowboarding and skiing lessons, as well as a children’s play area. Also in the Mall of Emirates is Vox Cinemas, a 14-screen multiplex cinema. Families looking to have some fun will be pleased with the Magic Zone. This indoor family entertainment center features 10-pin bowling alley, 180 amusement machines and other exciting attractions like a carousel and bumper cars.
Photo courtesy | Paolo Rosa
The third most well known mall in the city is the Dubai Mall, which is not just the largest in the area but also in the world. Obviously, this is no ordinary shopping center as it features a 250-room luxury hotel, 120 restaurants and cafes, a movie theater with 22 screens and of course 1,200 shops. The 13-million square foot space (equivalent to about 50-football fields) also offers an aquarium and underwater zoo in addition to the Ice Rink and SEGA Public, an indoor theme park. Just outside of the Dubai Mall, the Burj Khalifa Lake operates a magical fountain show at night where water launches up to 460 feet in the air.
While the city is known for its upscale malls and remarkable architectural structures, it is also home to a myriad of cultures. To witness and experience the myriad of cultures in Dubai, tourists should take a trip to some of the traditional markets. The Gold Souk, located in the commerce district of Deira, is where you can find intricate jewelry designs sold by over 300 retails. The window displays are covered with shiny gold necklaces and bangles. A short taxi ride away is Meena Bazaar, a clothing market in Bur Dubai. The narrow streets are difficult to drive through, so the best way is to explore the stores on foot. Vibrant Indian and Pakistani traditional clothing fill the windows and storekeepers stand by the door inviting you to take a look at their designs. Whether you are interested in purchasing something or not, it’s definitely a memorable experience to walk along the alleyways and to explore what the less glamorous side of Dubai looks like.
Photo courtesy | Matt Harvey
Tourists looking to cross off some of the recommended activities should start by booking tickets for ride through the desert safari. This adventurous activity involves dune driving through the desert and spending an evening at one of the campsites. Guests will enjoy a barbecue dinner, a belly dancing show, henna tattoos and camel rides. Other must see sites include Atlantis – The Palm Hotel & Resort. Visitors can spend the day at the waterpark or discover undersea creatures at The Lost Chambers Aquarium. Tourists should consider taking a helicopter ride over the city where they can admire the artificial archipelagoes like The Palm and The World.
This overview of the city is only a mere glimpse of what Dubai has to offer. Thoughtful planning and a detailed itinerary will help any traveler conquer the city of Dubai.