Holiday Destinations - Dubai
PUBLISHED: 12:00 01 December 2013
Dubai is ambitious, with a long list of world first's - the tallest building in the world, biggest shopping mall, tallest hotel, fastest police car... the list goes on. It's the glitzy gulf state that's gone from default to display.
Dubai is ambitious, with a long list of world first’s - the tallest building in the world, biggest shopping mall, tallest hotel, fastest police car... the list goes on. It’s the glitzy gulf state that’s gone from default to display.
It has just been picked to host the World Expo 2020, becoming the first Middle Eastern country to do so. Beating competition from Brazil, Russian and Turkey - Sheikh al-Maktoum, responsible for the transformation, has vowed to astonish the world.
What makes a trip so agreeable is seeking out the traditional scenes, blending them with the new sights - that rise-up daily - and discovering that Dubai is more than just desert.
Start At the Top
Towering 828 meters (2717 feet) high above dancing fountains set to music, the Burj Khalifa skyscraper is the worlds tallest man made structure. It took a global team 22 million man hours to build 200 floors (163 above ground), creating an anchor for downtown Dubai. At lightning speed the worlds fastest elevator zips visitors to an observation deck on the 124th floor in 7 seconds flat. It’s a must do with a cracking view. To make the most of your trip time book tickets 24hrs in advance, a timed ticket will save you waiting in line and cost you less.
Set on the 30 acre lake infront of Burj Khalifa, jets shoot water the equivalent of 50-stories high, the show is set to classical music and set to impress. Catch a daytime performance at 1pm or enjoy an evening show between 6pm -11.30pm every half hour. And yes, incase you were wondering, it is the worlds largest choreographed fountain system.
Shop and Drop
Dubai Mall doesn’t have an indoor ski slope, you can find that at the Mall of the Emirates, but it does have the largest number of stores - 1,200 of them - filled with designer and luxury goods... there’s even a Marks and Spencers.
In the same complex as Burj Khalifa and the performing fountains, surrounded by hotels, restaurants and small boutiques, guest services at the mall make it easy for you to shop and sightsee, infact, they have thought of everything. From a prayer room to valet parking with a car wash, they can arrange to drop your collection of shopping bags at your hotel, leaving you hands-free to enjoy the rest of your day.
Written in the Stars
Top marks to Burj Al Arab, with it’s distinctive sail shaped silhouette it claims to be to the worlds most luxurious hotel property and the only one with 7 stars. The Hotel sits on an artificial island but it’s not a walk up and wander place, if you want to experience the warm welcome and service that makes you feel like an oil Sheik you have to stay overnight, treat yourself to lunch or sit down for a popular afternoon tea.
The unique interior is reminiscent of an ornate arabian jewel box, some might say that it’s totally over the top - but to judge for yourself be sure to book in advance - otherwise join a long line of tourists outside jostling for a view from the security gate, clutching cameras and iphones hoping to capture a shot of the 7 star property or a visiting star from the silver screen.
The camel market takes place on Friday and Saturday morning about 30 minutes from downtown in Lisaili. Unfortunately there’s no guarantee that the market will be
open - but camels will be there - along with their trainers and wealthy owners. It’s a place where those with deep pockets go to buy and sell ships of the desert - it’s a serious business with a friendly atmosphere. You might get lucky and be there on race day, in the sleek new course offering a prize purse of several million U.S. dollars. As non-tourist attractions go, this is one worth betting on.
Deira the old commercial business district is home to the shimmering gold souk and atmospheric spice market, interesting to stroll around but if you are buying allow extra time for haggling. After wandering through the alleyways take a short ride on a traditional wooden boat, 10 minutes in a water taxi will take you across the creek to the Dubai Museum and yet more colorful market stalls ideal for souvenir shopping. You can skip the shops and take in life along the wharfs - it’s an authentic slice of commerce along an ancient waterfront - where sailors from India, Iran and other trade wind locations are happy to stop and chat with visitors between loading cargo onto creaking wooden sailing dhows for the journey home.
A visit to the desert doesn’t have to mean battering your bones bashing the sand dunes. There are several comfortable ways to see sand at it’s best and enjoy dunes in their various shapes and colors. Have fun at a traditional display of falcons with breakfast on the go, or overnight beneath the stars and breakfast with the bedouin. Platinum Heritage run programs throughout winter (October - March) with reduced options in summer when it can be too hot, even for the locals.
Palm Island: The artificial island in the shape of a palm tree is perhaps better seen from the sky than at ground level. The Palm Jumeirah Monorail stops at the distinctive and busy Hotel Atlantis where you can arrange an encounter with Dolphins, or surround yourself with 65,000 marine animals in the aquarium.
Beaches, boats and bling:
Soaking up the year round sun on a clean, safe beach with warm water lapping the edge is no problem. Many hotels have private beaches and there’s plenty of public beaches to choose from. Jumeirah Beach Park is a good choice if you need to park a rental car. The marina district is the place to be seen - with good beach access during the day and lively local entertainment at night. The famous Vip Room nightclub is the place to party, part of the new Marriott Marquis Hotel, it’s not easy to get your name on the guest list - you should be ready to wear your credentials if you want to blend in with Maserati’s and Manolo Blahnik’s.
Yes, Dubai is still under construction, there’s building projects and sandbags everywhere. The new airport, touted to be another world first - the worlds largest - will handle 160 million passengers annually and it will roll out the red carpet for it’s visitors. It’s safe, warm and welcoming - just the ticket for a break from the British winter. We suggest that you give Dubai a try and see for yourself - find out what it is that everyone else will be talking about leading upto the World Expo in 2020.
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