Having flown through Dubai airport on a number of occasions it had never been on my radar as a place to visit. So when Mr ESLT asked me where I wanted to go for my birthday this year and I blurted out Dubai I was shocked with myself. Nevertheless, it had obviously come from somewhere and we pressed ahead planning our trip. The more research that I did the more excited I became. My only concern was the heat as May approached, the temperature continued to climb 36, 37, 38 – wowzers! Needless to say I stocked up on sunblock. Through my research I quickly learnt that Dubai is certainly the Marmite of the middle east – many love it, many hate it, I was praying that we would fall on the love it side.
Well, we did! From the second the aeroplane doors opened and a waft of warm air engulfed us I knew that I had made the right decision. Dubai is a new city, we joked on more than one occasion that Mr ESLT was the oldest thing there! So because of this we had prepared ourselves for the lack of historic buildings which as UNESCO Heritage Sites lovers was a tough pill to swallow. But then we reminded ourselves why we were there – to eat, to drink, to sleep, to shop and to be merry! All of which we successfully fulfilled and then some.
Dubai is a big city but luckily taxis are cheap and the metro system is pretty functional meaning getting from one side of the city to the other won’t cost you an arm and a leg, it will simply cost you time and because of the sheer size of it this can be a big investment. We recommend planning your days carefully, do things that are geographically close to each other to save sitting in traffic on the busy roads. Or jump on the Big Bus Tours hop on, hop off bus which runs three routes – The City, The Beach and The Marina which ensures you see all the main sights within each of the three main areas. You can obviously walk but I guarantee that you won’t get far, especially in the summer months, it is simply just too hot!
Eating and Alcohol
There are more places to eat than you can ever imagine in Dubai, from Michelin starred restaurants, chain eateries to fast food outlets. Eating in Dubai is no more expensive than eating in London, New York or Sydney, it is a major city after all. It is alcohol, if you can find it, that will break the bank. It’s important to remember that the UAE is a dry country so all booze that is available is imported meaning you will pay a premium to get hold of it. We were paying between £6 and £14 for a bottle of Heineken! Of course most, if not all, hotels sell alcohol but if enjoying a bottle of wine with your evening meal at a local restaurant is your thing you may be sorely disappointed – it is soft drinks all the way!
What to wear?
To be honest before our visit I was preparing myself to write a full article regarding what you should wear in Dubai. Following my research I went out and bought a range of very modest clothing ensuring that all outfits covered my shoulders and knees. I had seen a number of posts displaying signs that had apparently been photographed in the Dubai Mall stating what is and isn’t acceptable. Well I scoured that mall looking for one, just one and I certainly couldn’t find one! Dubai has a western vibe meaning most items of clothing are ok just be sensible and respectful – unlike one girl we saw in the Dubai mall with her bum cheeks actually on show!!!
Top 5 things to do:
- Burj Khalifa: the tallest building in the world (for now) which stands proudly in the City area of Dubai. You can access it through the Dubai Mall and purchase tickets and take a ride in the world’s fastest elevator to Level 124 or Level 148 if your knees can handle the view from that high up. On clear day you can see right over to The Palms and out over the Persian Gulf.
- Dubai Mall: A shopping lovers dream come true and one of the biggest, if not the biggest shopping mall I have ever stepped foot in. With more shops than you can shake a stick at it – don’t forget your wallet! Also a great place to grab a bite to eat with numerous chain restaurants with great views over the fountain.
- Dubai Fountain (free): Set on the 24-acre Burj Lake, The Dubai Fountain features water that jets as high as 450 ft (140 metres) set to music. With afternoon shows daily (except Friday) at 1.00pm and 1.30pm and Friday at 1.30pm and 2.00pm and evening shows daily every 30 minutes between 6.00pm and 11.00pm – a great freebie.
- Jumeirah Public Beach (free): Probably one of the most photographed beaches in Dubai. If sunbathing is your thing, this is a great place to go. With soft white sand and the Persian Gulf to dip your toe in it is the perfect spot to relax. Just don’t forget your sunscreen and water as it is a true sun trap with absolutely no shade.
- Dhow/Abra: Both are in abundance on Dubai Creek. You will find locals and tourists alike hopping on the abra’s which act as a cheap water taxi from one side to the other. The dhows are more so used for trade, shipping items from Dubai to other countries. Also, many dhow’s are used for evening dinner cruises which offer great views of the city lit up at night.
We had a great time in Dubai. I believe we had prepared ourselves for what the city has to offer. If history is your sole thing then stay away from Dubai. It is a city that will never be old or finished in my opinion and for that reason it does look like a massive building site in places. Every time another country builds something bigger or fancier, Dubai will up their game and try to go one better. It is the city that holds the most world records for its architecture and it is very proud of that. Rightly so to be honest, some of the structures are phenomenal and like nothing I have seen before on my travels. It’s expanding rapidly and I imagine if we ever visit again it will have changed from what we experienced on this visit. If you are looking for a week in the sun where relaxation, good customer service, great food and no stress are the aim – then I think Dubai may be for you!