Some people think Dubai is the greatest place in the world, while others may be put off by its opulence. Nevertheless, each visit will provide something new to see or do, from its ever-changing landscape to its spectacular and awe-inspiring attractions.
Original ideas are welcomed, meaning innovation is high on the agenda and new buildings create a city, literally, on the rise. Consequently, Dubai is a dynamic space with hundreds of different cultures and subcultures. Eat food from all over the world, discover the popular Friday brunch crowd, and treat Dubai as you would any other major city. Contemporary arts and tradition collide in museums, nightlife is finally moving out from the hotels and the city is awash with high-end (and tax-free) boutiques of fashion’s luminaries. It is becoming the city it wishes to be – a diverse, culturally relevant and welcoming metropolis. Book your flights to Dubai and experience it for yourself.
Downtown is reminiscent of New York in the 1930s, full of shiny skyscrapers bidding to surpass each other. Not to be outshined though is the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, which at 828-metres soars above the rest. The massive Dubai Mall, next to the dancing Dubai Fountain, has an aquarium, theme park and of course, 1200 stores. It is the largest retail and entertainment experience in the world, with over 50 million visitors a year. When you think Disneyland had only 25 million in 2015, that is very impressive.
The man-made island of Palm Jumeirah is a great place to visit, and ideal for luxury holidays. The impressive villas on the palm tree-shaped island’s ‘fronds’ exude exclusivity and offer captivating panoramas of Dubai’s glittering skyline. The islands also play host to a number of prestigious and opulent hotels, including Fairmont The Palm, with its private beaches and extravagant décor. Discover the aquarium and Aquaventure Waterpark amid the island’s crowning glory – the breathtaking Atlantis The Palm, a palatial resort often voted the best hotel in the Middle East.
Jumeriah’s beautiful ‘golden mile’ stretches from the famous Palm Jumeriah to Deira, Dubai’s commercial centre. With everything you could wish for, like white-sand beaches and world-class restaurants, Jumeriah Beach is the place to be. Get respite from the blazing sun at air-conditioned shopping malls, or jump in the sea for some wakeboarding or jet skiing – the Jumeirah Beach Hotel is ideal for families looking for an adventure. Alternatively, you could sample mouth-watering cuisine and head off on a romantic after-dinner cruise on a traditional dhow boat.
Close to the affluent Jumeriah Beach Residence neighbourhood, this small area is packed with cool bars and restaurants, and of course, chic shopping boutiques. Take a stroll down The Walk, browse some shops and grab a cooling drink at one of the bars along the promenade. Gaze longingly at the breathtaking super-yachts in The Marina, haunt of the world’s super-rich. Or take a dip at The Beach, whose cooling water looks on the famous Palm Jumeriah island.
If you are feeling a bit claustrophobic under the skyscrapers of downtown Dubai, then immerse yourself in the culture of the Old Town. Ride in a dhor to the creek to see the dockworkers at work, or journey down the coast for only a few dirhams. The historic Al-Bastakiya quarter hosts the Jumeriah Mosque but also some great art galleries, like the Majlis Gallery. You can also explore the Fahidi Fort, the oldest building in Dubai, or simply people watch from a café. Visit the busy souqs in Deira, where spicy aromas fill the air and precious metals glimmer in the afternoon heat.
These two emirates are north of Dubai, and both worth a visit if you want to escape the big city lifestyle. Sharjah has been the UNESCO Cultural Capital of the Arab World, and its old town is excellent for museums and heritage. There are also some great souqs and shops without the prices of Dubai’s supermalls. Ajman is ideal for a relaxing time by the beach, and where you’ll find the few remaining dhow building yards in the UAE. Stay at the luxurious Ajman Saray to enjoy white sand beaches and perhaps take a stroll to the nearby corniche for a barbecue with the locals.
Ras al Khaimah is made up of beautiful beaches and relaxing, luxury resorts, ideal for a beach break in glorious year-round sunny conditions. Surrounded by the imposing Hajar Mountains, Ras al-Khaimah is a beautiful oasis in a scorching desert. The Al Qawasim Corniche is a popular promenade, with cafes and restaurants overlooking the bay. Outdoor lovers will enjoy the area, as you can hike mountains and go snorkelling in the same day. Stay at The Cove Rotana, a stunning resort whose traditional charm will bring you back time and time again.
Spiking out of the earth like futuristic stalagmites, Dubai’s skyscrapers can be seen for miles into the desert. So leave the metropolis behind and go on a desert safari, it’s your choice whether to travel by hot air balloon, atop a camel or in a 4x4 across the dunes. See how people lived for hundreds of years in this unforgiving landscape. Have a romantic dinner under the twinkling stars, far from the bright lights of the city. Why not stay at the luxurious Al Maha Desert Resort, whose tent-shaped suites make you feel like a Bedouin.