Dubai in the United Arab Emirates has been through an incredible transformation in the last 30 years, from an important yet small creek side trading port in the desert into a world class tourist destination. All of this has taken place in a very short time, and on an incredible scale.
Dubai is an amazing and interesting place to visit, with some very big attractions, and something for all tastes. Here’s a top 10 things to do in Dubai.
1.) Burj Khalifa – The World’s Tallest Building
Take a trip up to the ‘At the Top, Burj Khalifa Experience, on the 124th floor of the recently opened Burj Khalifa tower. There is only one place in the world where you can visit the world’s tallest building (obviously!), and currently Dubai is the place.
In the centre of Dubai stands the Burj Khalifa tower, the world’s tallest building at an amazing 528m high. Take a ride through Dubai’s history before taking a lift up to the observation deck on the 124th floor for amazing views over the old and new Dubai, the desert and the gulf.
2.) Snow Skiiing in the Desert
In the summer months in the Middle East there can be no better escape from the fierce heat than to go snow skiing. Ski Dubai, located in the Mall of the Emirates, is an amazing 22,500m2 indoor real snow covered skiing area, with 5 pistes, which vary in gradient and difficulty, the longest being an amazing 400m.
3.) Dubai Waterparks
Another great way of enjoying the hot UAE climate is heading for a waterpark for the day. Wild Wadi, opposite the ‘amazing’ (sorry – this is a word that gets used quite a lot when describing Dubai!) 321m high Burj Al Arab 7* hotel offers great fun for all ages with a huge array of fun slides and rides as well as a kiddies wet play area.
The recently opened Aquaventure water park, on the ‘amazing’ Palm Island – a huge man made island in the shape of a palm tree which is visible from space, again offers a host of fun and water thrills for all the family.
Aquaventure is part of the Atlantis hotel resort, and here you have the opportunity of tubing through shark infested waters, or getting up close with the resorts dolphins!
4.) Get out into the Dubai desert
There is a huge amount of adventure awaiting you in the deserts of the United Arab Emirates. Dune bashing in 4×4’s, high octane sand buggy thrills, overnight experiences camping under the star lit skies in traditional Bedouin camps, sand boarding and quad biking are among your choices of fun in the ‘amazing’ sand dunes!
5.) Dubai Boat Trips
A favourite of mine, and one which costs pennies, is a ride across the creek in a traditional Abra (old wooden open top boats which run non stop during the day) between the river banks of the old town of Dubai. Here you can observe the hustle and bustle of the trading ports with good being imported and exported across the gulf region on the old traditional cargo boats.
For those looking for more high speed fun take a jet boat trip, or for those wanting a little more luxury try a dinner cruise on the creek or hire a luxury yacht for the day. You can even take a duck tour, taking in Dubai by road and water on an amphibious bus tour!
6.) Shopping in Dubai
Dubai is famous for shopping. The Dubai Shopping Festival in the winter months (usually Jen / Feb) attracts visitors from all over the world. All year round Dubai is a great place to shop. You simply must visit the intriguing souks, traditional Arabian markets dating back hundreds of years.
Take in the sights and sounds (a little noisy haggling is expected!) and the strong smells of the many scents and spices on offer. Marvel at the vast shiny arrays of gold in the windows of the jewellery stands.
But Dubai is not just old souks when it comes to shopping, it is also home to many large modern shopping malls full of luxury goods and brands from around the world.
7.) Horse Riding in Dubai
Dubai is a great place to go riding. The UAE is a country passionate about horses, which were used as traditional transport by the Arabs when hunting in the desert with their birds of prey. Or take a tour of the ‘amazing’ Dubai Polo and Equestrian Stables for breakfast with thoroughbreds!
8.) Take a day trip to Abu Dhabi
Just a short trip by road down the coast is the less well known, but equally ‘amazing’ city of Abu Dhabi. Now home to Ferrari World, the recently opened ‘amazing’ Ferrari sports car themed theme park, which is the world’s largest indoor theme park, of for those looking for something a little more cultural visit the ‘amazing’ Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Mosque.
9.) Dubai Pleasure Flights
Take a pleasure flight. Enjoy the sights of Dubai from the air with a sea plane, helicopter or hot air balloon flight over Dubai. Take in great views of the historic old port of Dubai and the creek, its modern sky scraper skyline, the stunning Palm Island and the gulf coast line from the air.
10.) Dubai Panoramic Bars and Restaurants
Take a drink or a meal with a view. Dubai has some great ‘high altitude’ bars and restaurants offering great views over the city. Vu’s Bar in the Emirates Towers on the Sheik Zayed Road, Uptown bar at the top of the wave shaped Jumeirah Beach Hotel and, just opposite this one, the Skyview Bar at the top of the ‘amazing’ Burj Al Arab Hotel (possibly the world’s most luxurious hotel and definitely the world’s tallest hotel at 321m) all offer great views over the Dubai area.
Dubai is a great family friendly place to visit, with a laid back western lifestyle. The winter temperatures are great with very little rainfall, and its hotels and activities choice are superb.