Baroque Travel comes up with some great things to do and sights to see if you’re visiting Dubai
Yes, it’s for real, this ultra-modern city in the midst of the desert with hundreds of skyscrapers soaring up to the bluest skies, including the tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa. Dubai is a high tech oasis in the desert, a city with a skyline that is ever-changing. From the top of Burj Khalifa, you can see these new developments taking shape, shifting the skyline.
Spend time getting to know the culture of the United Arab Emirates, specifically the Muslim people who live here. To do this you need to visit the souks, located in the old part of the city. Dubai’s Gold Souk is legendary for its amazing gold jewelry and these tiny stores that line a few narrow streets are treasure troves full of every type of jewel imaginable, from classic pieces to distinctively Arabic items and some beautiful modern pieces, too.
Then there’s the Spice Souk, where Arab men in their spotless white tunics ply their wares. Purple, orange, pink, white, black, green and yellow are all juxtaposed to make up a kaleidoscope of Middle Eastern treasures for the kitchen and the medicine cabinet.
To get to the other side of the Dubai Canal, where the modern city center is located, take a ride on a traditional boat called an ‘abra’. The trip is short and gives you a different perspective of Dubai from the water. Once ashore, head to the Cultural Centre and explore the narrow winding streets of this part of Dubai, where the houses are all built on skinny walkways to keep them cool in the desperately hot Arab summers. Have a traditional Arab lunch feast at the Emirati Cultural Centre, where you are seated on comfortable cushions and can learn all about the people of this clean, modern, well-run city, their cultures and traditions.
You can’t visit Dubai without embarking on a desert safari. For this you’ll head out of the city in 4×4 vehicles, to embark on a dune-bashing roller coaster ride, followed by a much slower, more sedate camel ride. As the sun sets, it’s time for dinner and entertainment that includes falcons on display, shisha experiences, Arabic clothing to dress up in and henna painting. A traditional barbecue with plenty of Arab accompaniments follows.
To enjoy the modern side of Dubai, start with a trip up the tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa. The ride upwards is a dramatic one, with music and pictures showing your ascent, which is incredibly fast. Before you know it you’re on the 124th floor of the building, looking down at Dubai below you, a hazy cream-colored mass of high buildings, many of which are still being built, with the sea an endless pool in the distance. You can spend as long as you like up there, but if you’re pressed for time, head back down again and through Dubai Mall, which is located at the bottom of this tall edifice, to the Aquarium and Underwater Zoo.
An unexpected treasure in the midst of the mayhem of the busiest shopping mall in the world, the Aquarium takes you under the sea to another world entirely, where you are encircled by the magic of sea life. Your walk through an underwater tunnel is your first experience of life under the sea; it’s quite eerie seeing sharks of all shapes and sizes gliding by, stopping to nibble at something in a seabed before heading onwards. The Aquarium and Underwater Zoo has all sorts of exciting adventures on offer, including scuba diving for the more adventurous.
You can’t visit Dubai without spending time in Dubai Mall. If you’re not interested in purchasing anything, you can go ice-skating at the Dubai Ice Rink. Otherwise, head right into the mall which offers every type of store imaginable. For starters, there are department stores from every corner of the globe: Galleries Lafayette in Paris, Bloomingdales in New York, Debenhams in London. Whatever you want, you’ll find it, and then some, from designer fashion, watches and accessories to chocolates and confectionary, electronics and computers, sports and outdoor gear, jewelry, furniture and décor items… the list is endless.