Traveljunction Guide to Dubai
Dubai is a member of the United Arab Emirates and one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world. The city has grown up around Dubai Creek, which is a natural seawater inlet that cuts through from the Arabian Gulf and divides Dubai into two parts, Deira on the north side and Bur Dubai on the south. Synonymous with skyscrapers, Dubai is famous the world over for the scale and breathtaking vision of its developments. It has the largest marina in the world, the largest harbour and the largest artificial island. The Burj-al-Arab at 1,053ft is the tallest hotel in the world and the only one to have a 7-star rating. With its myriad of restaurants, huge shopping malls, flamboyant hotels and hip clubs and bars Dubai can be a dizzying experience.
Most major airlines offer flights to Dubai, with Emirates and KLM offering the most frequent services; with this in mind there are plenty of flights to Dubai available to choose from. The best and most popular time to visit is between November and April when the weather is cooler. Temperatures during the summer months of July and August soar to 42 to 45 degrees centigrade and perhaps unsurprisingly this is when you will find cheap flights to Dubai. A good compromise might be to try May to June or September to October.
Dubai has a number of attractions to offer the visitor. Huge amounts of gold are traded here, earning it the nickname of the city of gold. Even if you don't have the money to buy anything, strolling around the souk is an experience not to be missed and if you are willing to bargain you may get a good price. Taking a tour of the city is another top attraction and there are various bus tours to choose from. The guides are very knowledgeable and a tour lasting a couple of hours will take you around all the major sights. If you have the money helicopter tours are also available.
Desert safaris are becoming increasingly popular and tours usually include sand surfing down a hill, watching the sunset and a traditional Bedouin style dinner, complete with exotic belly dancer. Some companies offer all-day safaris whilst others are evening only.
Skiing might not be the first activity that you think of when visiting the Middle East, but Ski Dubai offers visitors the chance to enjoy the indoor slopes, with the price covering all equipment and clothing.
Dubai is a shopper's paradise, with international and local brands on offer, many at heavily discounted prices. There are also a number of malls, so the discerning shopper must pick the appropriate one, depending on what you are looking for. However, everyone should visit the Mall of the Emirates, if only to gasp at its sheer size. For rock-star treatment take afternoon tea at the stunning Burj-al-Arab, smart dress required.
For those wishing to sample some of the culture of the original Dubai, a visit to the Old Town is essential. Numerous wind towers provide a degree of air conditioning for this small area, which is a world away from the brash new Dubai. The Heritage Village also allows visitors to glimpse a different side of Dubai. Here the Emiratis take joy in their traditions, songs and dances. The souk at Madinat Jumeirah also has a feel of the old Arabia. Stroll along the creek to watch the traditional dhows weave their way along the waterway or travel across the Creek in an abra, a small traditional wooden boat. Dubai Creek has long been part of the trade routes from India and the East African coast. In the 1960s a dredging programme enabled Dubai port to accommodate larger boats and trade immediately increased by 20%. Today the Creek is a vibrant port and a vital part of the city.
Golf in Arabia is unique and it is possible to play at night to avoid the soaring daytime temperatures. Exotic trees and shrubs flank the fairways with panoramic views of the Arabian Gulf. Peacocks, partridges and guinea fowl roam freely across the course, lending it the air of a land of fantasy. The courses are top quality and Dubai has hosted two PGA Championship Tournaments.
The Wild Wadi Waterpark is a water theme park that covers an area of 12 acres and has approximately 30 slides and rides. It is just a 20 minute drive from the centre of Dubai and is sure to be a hit with children. With 90 lifeguards on duty the water park is not only a favourite for water sports, but is also a very safe environment for children.