The first time I went to Dubai, all I could think about was Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz saying, “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” Dubai is part of the United Arab Emirates and is a very unique. It’s known to be one of the most interesting and fastest growing cities on earth.
Over a very short period of time this desert city has transformed itself from a humble pearl-diving village into an international hub for tourism and trade, and is now a gateway between the East and the West. The official language is Arabic, although English is the most commonly used in this city of over 3 million people.
The following are some things we did that I would highly recommend:
Tour “Dubai Creek” in an “Abra” and see outstanding views of the city’s futuristic and traditional architecture. Abras look like an ancient wooden row boat but are now powered by diesel engines and can seat about 20 people.
Shop ‘til you drop and stroll through the endless maze of Souks and Malls. The Spice and Gold Souks are not to be missed. And amazingly, there’s over 50 shopping malls in full operation and many more under construction. My husband Ron has even gone “snowboarding” inside the Mall of the Emirates at their ski resort. It features a 200 foot tall “mountain”, five slopes of varying difficulty – including the world’s first indoor black run.
It’s fun to just walk around Dubai and see people smoking ‘Shisha’. Another local name for it is ‘Hubbly Bubbly’ and it has a sweet, fruity smell. Shisha is a water pipe used to smoke tobacco through cooled water. The tobacco is heated by charcoal at the top and inhaled through a water chamber at the bottom. Shisha pipes date back over 500 years in the Middle East.
No trip to Dubai would be complete without a visit to “Burj Khalifa’, the tallest building in the world. There is an observation deck on the 124th floor called ´At The Top´ and on a clear day the views over the city are spectacular. While you´re in the area, visit the Dubai Fountain and see the spectacular water and music show. There are many wonderful coffee shops and restaurants nearby. We enjoyed dinner at Sammach, an excellent Lebanese seafood restaurant that had a fantastic view of the ‘dancing fountains’.
|Everyone has heard of Dubai’s ‘Artificial Islands’ but we had to see it to actually believe it. In the Persian Gulf there are three man-made islands which are in the shape of palm fronds and consist of luxury hotels and residences, restaurants, water parks and sports facilities. Our favorite spot is the stunning Atlantis Palm Hotel. It features guest rooms with floor to ceiling glass views of their fabulous Lost Chambers Aquarium, from your bed you are surrounded by an enormous aquarium where you can watch sea creatures swim around until you fall asleep.|
Consider a day trip – we went on a really fun Desert Safari Tour. I don’t know when we’ve laughed more. We really enjoy an exhilarating drive over huge red and gold sand dunes, camel rides and a Bedouin Camp for an evening feast while being entertained by belly dancers. Our daughter Kelsie got “temporary” henna there that is very popular in the UAE.
Dine at sunset in one of the many excellent restaurants on the waterways in the shadow of the magnificent ‘7-star’ Burj Al Arab Hotel. On my next trip I will be having High Tea there. As a hotel guest, you can be picked up at the airport in a Rolls Royce or perhaps, a helicopter. It is the self-proclaimed most-luxurious hotel in the world. The Burj Al Arab is also one the world’s tallest hotels and is designed to look like a sailboat. When guests arrive, they are presented a gold plated 24-caret iPad worth $9,000.
This Arabian oasis is clearly an exotic place with enormous wealth. Dubai is safe with almost no crime, a good education system, up-to-date healthcare facilities, modern infrastructure…and everything is tax-free. I can certainly say Dubai is a great destination and is well worth a visit!