Dubai is the UAE’s answer to a new age New York – picture sky-high towers, world-beating shopping malls and a superb range of deluxe hotels, luxury apartments and private villas villas. One difference is that Dubai happens to be moments from an idyllic sandy beachfront, and basks in nearly year-round sunshine. While the glittering sights of the city’s shopping districts attract international tourists in their millions, whilst Dubai is a futuristic cutting-edge tourist mecca, it also holds onto tradition, with history hidden just below the surface.
Naturally, the city centre is the most popular part of this cosmopolitan Emirate, and rightly so. Its home to the city’s largest malls, most swanky restaurants and finest tourist attractions. And rising above it all is the Burj Khalifa – arguably Dubai’s most impressive structure. Standing more than 2700 feet high (nearly twice that of the Empire State Building), this gravity-defying skyscraper boasts the highest observation platform in the country and promises jaw-dropping views over the cityscape and to the sea. No visit to Dubai is complete without a visit to this amazing spectacle! The elevator to the top alone is an experience in itself.
Spreading luxuriously around the structure’s base is the Mall of Dubai ; an incredible shopping complex that covers an area larger than 82 football pitches. With an ice skating rink, a 22-screen cinema, aquarium and even a theme park, alongside more than 1,200 stores, this is the ultimate retail therapy experience, with many western stores as well as a vast Middle Eastern style souk. Just outside, you’ll discover the Dubai Fountain and you’ll want to stick around because the fountain’s regular shows are the stuff of legend. This is the world’s largest choreographed fountain, longer than five Olympic-size swimming pools and capable of shooting water 500 feet into the air, all in time to music and backed by thousands of ‘dancing’ lights. It’s really quite a show!
Head a little way out from the city and you’ll find plenty more activities and attractions. History buffs will enjoy the Bur Dubai district, where maze-like alleyways and historic buildings await discovery. From the nationally-important Historic Architecture Museum to the meticulously-preserved merchant houses of the Bastakiya Quarter, there’s lots to see and an authentic Arabian vibe that’s reminiscent of the One Thousand and One Nights fairytales. Keen shoppers won’t want to miss a chance to visit the nearby Gold Souk, where more than 300 retailers display a dazzling array of gold valuables, totalling to a combined £100 million in value, all housed within an opulent shopping complex. There’s also a more traditional souk – the Dubai Old Souk. Here you can smell authentic herbs and spices, discover locally-made goods and take part in the art of haggling to get the best prices possible.
Dubai is probably better known nowadays for its incredible array of high-octane parks and attractions. If you enjoy the thrills and spills of a waterpark, then we recommend heading to Aquaventure , situated on Dubai’s enormous Palm Jumeirah complex that branches right out into the ocean. Owned by the Atlantis resort, this fantasy water park has water slides that drop through shark tanks, a lazy river complete with conveyor belts to take you to the slides ensuring you don’t even have to get out of the water! Continue the adrenaline-fuelled theme and head to Jumeirah Beach on the mainland, where you can try your hand at water-skiing, or sailing plus many more fun watersports. If you’re still looking for more of a buzz, we suggest embarking on a desert safari adventure , where a 4X4 all-terrain vehicle will take you to the dramatic dunes surrounding the city, racing over hills and up steep walls of sand. It’s a thrilling experience, but one that the entire family can enjoy.
It’s easy to forget that Dubai also has a prestigious gastronomy scene, with extravagant Friday brunches taking centre stage each week. If you’re looking for opulence, then the iconic Burj Al Arab is the place to be, with an extravagant yet stream-lined brunch served more than 200 metres up inside the world-famous hotel building. Alternatively, opt for the Al Qasr’s bountiful offering and enjoy free-flowing Champagne, as well as an endless chocolate fountain.
If we mentioned everything Dubai has to offer, we could fill an entire book with ideas – it really is a destination with something for everyone. Luxury, adrenaline, gastronomy or shopping: Dubai is the place to be. Let us know what you like the sound of most in the comments below!
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