Dubai. The destination that’s made headlines – time and again – for pushing the boundaries of possibility. A ski slope in a desert where summer temperatures can top 50°C (120°F)? A man-made island shaped to look like the world.
All of these things are proudly displayed inDubai!
● It goes to figure that the world’s tallest building is in Dubai: the Burj Khalifa. And not just that; it dwarfs the competition! At 828m (2717ft) tall, it’s 196m (644ft) above the world’s second-tallest building, the Shanghai Tower in China at 632m (2073ft). The USA’s tallest building – the One World Trade Center – comes in at 541m (1776ft) and the famous Empire State Building, once the world’s tallest, clocks in at less than half that height: a mere 381m (1250ft).
● Yes, there’s an indoor ski slope. Located in the grand Mall of the Emirates, Ski Dubai has 22,500 square metres (5.5 acres) of ski slopes. While temperatures outside can hit 50°C (120°F), the park maintains a temperature of -1 to 2°C (30-36°F) throughout the year.
● Dubai is also home to an indoor rainforest. Located at City Walk, Green Planet Dubai allows you to spend a night in a tropical jungle – while you’re in the midst of a searing, dry desert!
● The famous palm-tree shaped artificial island, the Palm Jumeirah, is actually only one of three. Dubai has two more palm islands, as well as an artificial archipelago designed to resemble the world. With 5.6 square kilometers (1380 acres), | TravelAgentSociety.com | the Palm Jumeirah is the largest man-made island in the world.
● China recently stole the title of the world’s largest shopping mall, but Dubai is scheduled to reclaim that soon. The city has invested two billion dollars in the Dubai Square Mall, which will house streets, buildings, and its own miniature city. It will cover over 750,000 square metres, or 100 football fields, and dwarf the Dubai Mall (650,000 m2) and the South China Mall in Dongguan, China, which just squeaked past the Dubai Mall at 659,612m2 .
Here are a few other random facts from Dubai that will blow your mind:
● 25% of the world’s supply of gold passes through Dubai. The WORLD’S supply. Meaning all of the gold in the world that’s ever found, including everything in Fort Knox. A quarter of it has passed – at one point – through Dubai.
● 85% of Dubai’s population is foreign. Of which, over 50% are from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.
● The Burj Al-Arab hotel – Dubai’s most luxurious hotel – uses 1790 square metres (19,267 ft 2 , or 0.44 acres) of 24-carat gold leaf in its interior decorating. That’s one third of a football field covered in solid gold, or enough gold to cover the Mona Lisa 46,265 times!
Absurd? Yes. Impossible? Seemingly. But always pushing the limits of what humanity can accomplish. That’s Dubai. Nowhere else in the world can you find a place quite like this! Enjoy
Dubai is better known for its oversized malls than as a spot to spend a relaxing day at the beach. But Dubai has beaches! Situated right on the Persian Gulf, Dubai is a prime destination for soaking up the sun – dressed modestly, of course!
Here’s a list of the city’s best beaches:
● The Beach at JBR. As the name might suggest, the beach is here. The Beach is near the Dubai Marina in the south, and offers a Dubai-sized variety of restaurants, retail, and fun. There’s a cushioned jogging track and outdoor gym. Then, when you’re tired from the workout, there are cabanas for hire. When the temperature isn’t murderous (i.e., October to April) there are also open-air markets, and free yoga sessions four mornings a week.
● Kite Beach. This beach is named for the flocks of kitesurfers who frequent the area. It’s Dubai’s top spot for water sports: wakeboarding, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding. Fully equipped with washrooms and changing facilities, free Wifi, beach tennis or volleyball, cafes, and a fleet of food trucks serving burgers and kebabs.
● La Mer. La Mer is a lively dining, shopping, and entertainment precinct, located in the heart of Old Dubai. It’s got colorful cabanas for hire. A trampoline playground for the kids. Restaurants galore. And a water park – for when the beach itself isn’t fun enough – with five water slides and a surf machine.
● Sunset Beach. This beach – also known as Umm Suqeim Beach – is right next to Umm Suqeim Park. It’s a good beach for families, and you’ll probably see some local kids while you’re there.There are washrooms, showers and changing cubicles, plus Smart Palms that supply free Wi-Fi to beachgoers. It’s also Dubai’s only real surfing beach – for beginners – with small to medium swells. And, as the name might suggest, it’s an ideal spot to watch the sun go down!
● Riva Beach Club. Want to go to the beach on the palm? Riva is one of Dubai’s private beach clubs, with affordable day passes – which often include free drinks and other perks. Swim in the ocean, and then freshen up in a pool that’s chilled during the | TravelAgentSociety.com | hottest time of summer. Eat at an excellent Mediterranean restaurant, and then stop for cocktails at the gazebo bar.
● Nikki Beach. If you didn’t think of Dubai as a beach resort spot, that means you haven’t been to Nikki Beach yet. This place takes luxury and relaxation to the next level, complete with white sand, turquoise water, endless palm trees, and a swim-up bar. However, you’ll have to leave the kids in the hotel room for this one. Anyone under twenty-one is not permitted.
● Black Palace Beach. This may not be the easiest beach to find – but it’s well worth it when you get here! It’s squarely between Palm Jumeirah and Burj Al Arab in Al Sufouh. (Your phone or your travel agent can help you get here.) Black Palace Beach lacks the facilities common in most Dubai beaches – but that’s part of this place’s secretive nature. It’s a haven for locals and expats who are in the know, and not at all a spot overrun by tourists.
● Al Mamzar Beach Park. North of the city, near the border to the emirate of Sharjah, lies a whole complex. Al Mamzar has five sandy beaches, a swimming pool, playgrounds, and 260 acres of gardens. Bring the whole family. Eat a picnic at one of the 25 designated spots – each complete with barbecues. Rent bikes and zip around on the bike paths. Take the kids on the train. But men, be aware: Mondays and Wednesdays are “Ladies’ Days”, when males over age 4 aren’t permitted to enter. It’s worth noting a couple of things about Dubai’s beaches – that apply to the rest of the country, as well! Dress conservatively; no string bikinis, please! Regular bikinis are okay, but shouldn’t be worn outside the resort areas. NO topless sunbathing, and NO alcohol in public.
That said – as long as you’re respectful of the local customs outside of the resorts – Dubai can be an incredible beach getaway! What better to do in the sweltering spring or autumn?
Shop Dubai's souks
If you’ve ever heard of shopping in Dubai – or in much of the Arab world – the word “souk” is sure to have come up. “Souk” is just a word for an Arab market. And Dubai’s souks are incredible. Famed since the nineteenth century, the city’s souks – rather than oil – are what contributed to its vast wealth. In fact, it’s the only one of the seven emirates in the UAE that acquired its wealth from something other than oil!
Here are some of the must-see (and must-shop-at!) souks in Dubai:
● The Gold Souk is both the best known and the most popular of Dubai’s many souks. And, true to its name, gold is sold here. Along with silver, gemstones, and countless handmade examples of fine jewelery.
● It’s located in Deira, the city’s centre, and easily accessible from Al Ras metro station (green line).
● Another must-see souk for anyone visiting Arabia is the Spice Souk – just a few minutes’ walk from the Gold Souk. The alleys are narrow, and crammed full of merchants selling the exotic spices famed in the Orient: cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, saffron, turmeric, coriander, sumac, and nutmeg.
● A great Middle Eastern shopping experience can be found at the Perfume Souk. It’s a collection of perfume shops on Sikkat Al Khail Road, an easy walk from the others. International perfumes are available, but it would be more worth your time to buy a local Arabic perfume, sold in an ornate jar.
● The Old Souk, or Textile Souk, is a long line of sand-coloured stone buildings (renovated, of course). The shops here offer a huge range of fabrics, from cashmere and silk to cotton and wool. You can also buy ready-made garments, slippers, and | TravelAgentSociety.com | souvenirs. It can be reached from the others by crossing the water on an abra or water taxi. Or take the metro’s green line to Al Ghubaiba or Al Fahidi stations. In addition to these older souks, Dubai has its own, modern take on the tradition:
● The Souk Madinat Jumeirah is part of the massive Madinat Jumeirah complex. Where you can shop to your heart’s content, and then dine at one of the numerous restaurants.
● The Souk Al Bahar is downtown Dubai’s answer to the Souk Madinat Jumeirah. It’s main draw is its restaurants, located right on the water, with great views of the Dubai Fountain and the Burj Khalifa.
● Khan Murjan is also worth checking out. It’s located in Wafi city, and entirely underground, inspired by a 14th century Baghdad meeting place.
Haggling is possible anywhere in Dubai, though you’re more likely to be successful in the older, historic souks. The only exception is the Gold Souk, where prices are based on the value of the materials used. The only negotiable part is the artisan’s charge, which is generally 10-20% of the total cost of the item.
Those are some of the city’s best souks; there are, of course, others. But shopping in Dubai is a must-have experience. Just don’t be surprised if it takes a whole day!