As the biggest Emirate of the United Arab Emirates (despite not being the capital), Dubai has fast become the luxury holiday destination for the West. Cutting a striking contrast between the pioneering modern architecture and the traditional ways of the Arab people, Dubai is an eclectic mix of old and new that creates a perfect holiday combination of authentic culture with over-the-top luxury. As an Islamic country, civil law is blended with traditional Sharia law, making it important to observe strict rules, however this hasn’t put off the expat community – rather it has created a respect between the Middle East and the West who co-operate to enjoy this Eastern gem.
Sand Boarding –
Wake up bright and early, enjoy the coolest time of day and get ready for some thrills; Sand Boarding is a popular option with tourists and a great way to see the famous sand dunes from an unusual perspective – surfing them! Tours are available that take you out to ‘Big Red’ which is a 90+foot dune which you can surf down in the early morning and then take a relaxing camel ride once your adrenaline has ran out.
Beach Bars –
After a fun-filled morning, relax at an outdoor beach bar. Barasti can be found at Le Méridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort. It offers indoor and outdoor seating with cocktails, food and a lively atmosphere with multiple music options from a house band to the DJ decks. This beach bar will get you ready for the rest of the day.
Burj Khalifa, At The Top –
The Burj Khalifa is the world’s tallest building at around 830m high. At The Top is an observation deck that allows 360 degree views of Dubai, the desert and the sea. You won’t be disappointed.
Dubai Mall –
Dubai Mall is located adjacent to the Burj Khalifa and is difficult to miss. Inside it’s huge building there is an aquarium, a 22 screen cinema, over 1000 shops, cafes, restaurants, a dinosaur skeleton (yes, you read that right), an ice skating rink and an endless amount of other activities on the three floors of fun. Days could easily be spent in here without you noticing the time passing by, but try and drag yourself away because you won’t want to miss what happens every evening just outside the mall.
Water Show –
The fountains outside Dubai Mall are impressive at any time of day. But when the sun begins to set and evening approaches, the fountains take on a life of their own. A different water show happens every night, complete with new themes, music and choreography. It’s a magical end to your first day in Dubai.
Bargains, Bargains, Bargains –
Dubai may drip with luxury but there are still bargains to be found. The souks and markets centre on the acquired skill of haggling and it’s something every tourist should have a go at – shopping with discounted prices! For a typical, picturesque experience head to the Spice Souk in Deira and you won’t be disappointed. Sacks of aromatic spices in burnt, earthy colours and mounds of herbal medicines are piled outside the shops; this souk is exactly what you imagine it would be. Open Saturday to Thursday 10am-10pm and on Fridays from 4pm – 10pm.
If you’re looking for something a bit more substantial than spice, take a quick trip out of Dubai and head to Fujairah (about an hour out of the city). The Dubai-Fujairah Road market is open every day (despite being referred to as the Dubai Friday market) and offers traditional wares such as carpets and pottery as well as fresh produce for you to sample. This market is generally much cheaper than other stores offering similar products and is a great place to buy your keepsakes. Just remember; always ask for the ‘Best Price!’
Jumeirah Mosque –
One of the few mosques that allow non-Muslims entry for 6 days a week, Jumeirah is a must see. Made of traditional white stone and carving out an impressive silhouette with it’s minarets and dome, Jumeirah mosque really creates perspective on how the architecture of Dubai has changed. Stay until dusk and watch the mosque light up in all it’s majesty. Keep in mind women are asked to wear scarves when visiting the mosque. Tours are available from the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding.
Dubai Marina Bay –
End your day with some entertainment and head to the Yacht Club at Dubai Marina for food, drinks, live music and ample people watching. A lively atmosphere can lead you anywhere but the marina is definitely the place to start. The area is a favourite with expats and tourists and the staff go above and beyond what you’d expect.