Dubai balances the old and the new in a delicate and yet believable manner. When you step off the glam highways into Old Dubai’s Bastikaya Quarter, you don’t feel disoriented or part of another world. It all melds beautifully together, giving you a rich experience. This balance results in a lovely smorgasbord of activities that you can enjoy in Dubai which include museum visits, desert safaris and skiing. Yes, skiing. Want to know more?
Mega Shopping Adventure – Dubai Mall
You want to understand Dubai, and its unbeatable glamour, you must shop at the Dubai Mall. The massive Dubai Mall is indubitably one of the biggest shopping malls in the world. That said, it’s a mall with a difference. This mall puts on an unapologetic show of wealth, the kind you won’t see anywhere else in the world. There’s even a Gold ATM! You shove your privileged bank card in, and out comes actual gold bars. The 1,300 plus retail outlets, the magnificent lobby, the 150 eateries, the 25-theatre multiplex cinema and the ice rink and the – gosh we could go on. The most famous among this lot is the award-winning Aquarium and Underwater Zoo. A visit to the Dubai Mall is one of the top things to do in Dubai.
Virtual Reality Adventure – VR Park Dubai
VR Park Dubai is located in – you guessed it – the Dubai Mall. One of Dubai Mall’s latest acquisitions, VR Park offers the kind of excitement that the young-at-heart crave. This is where you can travel the world sitting in one place. You can scream through the adrenaline-rush of jumping off of the Burj Khalifa, virtually. You can battle King Kong and win. The virtual reality games are so real, only heart-healthy people of a certain age are allowed to play them.
Royalty Redefined – The Burj Al Arab
A visit to Dubai is just not complete without enjoying high tea at the magnificent Burj al Arab. This amazing 7-Star hotel, home to the royals, overlooks the Persian Gulf from between the Palm Islands and Jumeirah Beach. The curved glass façade of the Burj uses a boat sail as a model. This über-luxurious hotel has approximately 1,790 square metres of 24-carat gold leaf embellishments. The hotel’s four towers propel non-toxic propane fireballs into the air that reflects on the buildings glass. The Burj contains three aquariums! The wonders of this hotel are many, but you cannot enter unless you’re a guest, or unless you have a lunch or tea reservation at one of its restaurants.
A Visit To Dubai’s Roots – The Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood
The old Bastikaya Quarter is now known as the Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood, the city’s oldest historic district. What used to be a fishing village became an Iranian (Bastak) market, which is how it earned its name. It’s a charming old Arabian village with narrow cobbled lanes, buildings made out of black coral from the sea. You’ll find many traditional courtyards with cafes and galleries and tiny shops. Be sure to enjoy true Arabian coffee from the Arabian Tea House and browse the galleries for work by local and international artists. You’ll also find several wind towers, an early form of air conditioning. The Dubai Museum is located here – be sure to check it out.
Entry To Non-Muslims – Jumeirah Mosque
The Jumeirah Mosque is located on the exquisite Dubai Marina. Its beautiful white marble façade reflects on the blue waters of the Persian Gulf, making for a lovely sight. You can see this mosque’s image printed on the 500-dirham note. Built based on medieval Fatimid period architecture, the mosque has bright yellow and blue walls against which painted panels are placed. This is the only Dubai mosque where non-Muslims are allowed to visit. Women must wear the abaya and headscarf and men must cover their shoulders and knees.
The Height of Heights – Burj Khalifa
The grand Burj Khalifa rises 2,722 feet above the ground. You cannot see the tip piercing the skies even if you craned your neck to the maximum. Take one of the fastest elevators in the world to the 124th floor to enjoy breathtaking city vistas. You can see the entire city spread out in front of you, all the way to the Persian Gulf. Use one of the special telescopes to focus on specific landmarks. The observatory deck has videos that take you back to different points in time in the evolution of the city. You can get a better view from the observatory deck on the 148th floor, but you’ll have to pay more.
Old Dubai – Dubai Creek, Bur Dubai and Deira Souqs
If you want to get a sense of what commerce was back in Dubai’s heyday, stroll through the city’s traditional souqs. There are gold, spice and textile souqs in Deira and Bur Dubai, on either side of the Dubai Creek. The Gold Souk has 300 merchants selling glittering piles of gold in the form of jewellery. Approximately 20% of the world’s gold passes through this gold souq. You can also pick up silver, platinum and diamond jewellery here. At the spice souq you can bargain over piles of cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, mace, turmeric and others. The smell is simply divine. The textile souq sells the softest pashmina shawls, carpets and Arabian textiles.
Ice In The Desert – Ski Dubai
Ski Dubai will take your breath away – it’s a ginormous indoor ski resort plonk in the middle of the desert. Boasting of five runs including a 400 meter diamond run, Ski Dubai also offers a freestyle snowboard zone, toboggan runs, penguin park, snow park, a chairlift, ice cave and more. You can sign up for ski lessons here as well. Maintained at -2 degrees throughout the year, Ski Dubai offers a wonderful respite from Dubai’s heat.
Magical Flowers – Dubai Miracle Garden
Dubai Miracle Garden is an extravagant display of flowers – nearly 3000 million flowers bloom here. What makes this park unique is that these flowering plants are grown to take the form of landmarks, airplanes, toys and people. You can witness a huge airbus made completely out of flowers, and an enormous teddy bear comprised of flowers. There are beautiful arches over the pathways, shaped to resemble the heart shape. Visit during the cooler months for a riot of colour and a romantic display of flowers that’ll take your breath away.
Ancient Modern Adventure – Dubai Desert
End your visit to Dubai with the best adventure of them all – a Dubai desert safari. Give in to your adventurous side by enjoying some vigorous dune bashing, camel riding, quad biking and sand boarding. Give in to your culture vulture side by enjoying belly dancing, Tanura show and henna tattooing along with dinner during the evening safari. Enjoy a night under the desert, and a nocturnal safari to boot. It all depends on what kind of safari you sign up for.
Dubai keeps renewing itself, offering newer and more engaging experiences to visitors. You cannot enjoy everything Dubai has to offer in one or two days. Plan a nice long trip and be sure to include as many activities as possible into your trip.