Dubai – A Pearl of the Middle East

Sunny desert, luxurious hotels and beaches, unique skyscrapers, city of gold. Dubai was in my dreams and on bucket list destinations since I was a teenager. 

Even with the pandemic still looming I finally took the opportunity and went to visit this city of dreams. And boy, I am in love now. In love with extravagant architecture, with blinding lights, peachy sunsets, kind people, in love with the variety this city has to offer. 

Dubai is one of the 7 emirates of UAE. Within around 300 years, Dubai has grown from small fishing village into a modern metropolis. Thanks to oil discovery in 1966, Sheik Rashid made a city flourish with building projects and tourism industry.

It is very desired destination for tourists and it has been declared as the worlds most popular destination for 2022 by Tripadvisor Travellers Choice Awards.

THREE REASONS TO GO:

Most Impressive architecture and luxury

Can you believe that the first skyscraper in Dubai was built only over 40 years ago! 

And now ambitious city architecture causing awestruck that even best pictures cannot prepare you for what you are going to see. 

Everything in here are architecture wonders, including airport and metro stations.

You will be met by unique design world famous hotels such as sail shaped 7* Burj Al Arab, ocean-themed Atlantis, futuristic Jumeirah beach hotel; Outstanding design towers and museums ; Unique artificial islands like The Palm Jumeirah and of course – symbol of the city, famous Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world.

Activities and experiences

Dubai has so much to offer for every holiday enthusiast.

Observations decks with glass floor and edge walks and theme parks for adventure lovers, museums and city tours for history lovers, Aquariums and zoos for families, beaches and beach clubs for sun lovers, most impressive dining experiences for foodies, best night clubs for party lovers, yachts and sunsets for romance lovers.

Another must do here is Desert safari that includes dunes bashing, quad or buggy ride, camel ride, traditional dinner and a show in a desert camp.

And of course shopping! No wonder why Dubai known for world class shopping. Shopping malls and markets are one of the main reasons millions of tourists go to Dubai. You can choose from traditional soaks (markets) such as gold, spice, perfume, textile soaks to designer boutiques in one of the biggest Dubai Mall that has more than 1300 shops! Make sure you wear comfortable shoes and don’t get lost. And if you get too tired, don’t worry – you can have a nap in one of the mall’s sleeping pods!

Incredible Safety and Beauty

One of the most safe cities in the world is closely monitored with crime rates being extremely low and violent crimes almost non existing. Police officers are very kind and approachable, always happy to help. There are also a lot of security officers all over the streets making sure everyone acts disciplined.

Interesting fact: In Dubai you will see police driving exotic police cars such as Bugatti, McLaren Ferrari, Lamborghini, Aston Martin. 

Dubai tidiness and cleanness is also fascinating. Every night a team of around three thousand street cleaners working to clean up beaches, roads and streets. You literally won’t find even the smallest rubbish anywhere on the street. UAE has very tough rules against littering and spitting and you can face a big fine for that.

DON’T MISS OUT SPOTS AND ACTIVITIES

Deira souks – located in old part of the city, Souks are ideal for shopping Arabic products and gifts

Old Dubai Creek – natural saltwater creek with its famous traditional Abra ride for only 1 Dirham

Dubai Frame – architectural landmark and observation deck that stands in between Old and New Dubai

Miracle Gardens – the worlds largest natural flower garden

Desert Safari

Jumeirah Mosque

Burj Khalifa and Dubai fountain ( dancing fountain every half hour from 6pm)

Sky Views Observatory

Dubai Mall

Dubai Marina

GETTING THERE

I highly recommend flying to Dubai with Emirates airlines for direct flights and high class service. I love how food on board is always restaurant quality and they have spacious seats.

Emirates also currently have flexible tickets option due to pandemic, so it is easily to change flights if your plans change.

Dubai International airport is only around half an hour drive from the city.

GETTING AROUND

The best way to get around Dubai is by metro or taxi.

Metro daily pass cost around 7 dollars and metro services works really well. Don’t be surprised that metro has separate carriage just for women and kids.

Taxi in Dubai is really cheap and easy to catch all over the city, however I used Uber and Kareem apps for better cars with wifi and fast service. Taxi and Uber prices are similar with taxi being slightly cheaper, however Uber having a flat rate can be a bonus if you stuck in a traffic.

You can rent a car too as fuel prices are very affordable and there are plenty of parking options however I love how skipping a car rental this time provided me with the freedom to move without a hassle of navigating busy roads, traffic, looking for parking and being able to enjoy a cocktail or two in the restaurant.

WHERE TO STAY

Where to stay depends of your needs. Main areas:

Downtown – for the main attractions and sightseeing (Address hotel, Sofitel Downtown, Palace Downtown).

Jabel – Dubai marina with lovely walks and lively vibes( Address Beach Resort, Crowne Plaza Marina, Hilton Dubai Jumeirah).

Jumeirah  -for beach lovers and families. ( Jumeirah Beach hotel, Sofitel Dubai, The Ritz Carlton)

Bur – historic and hip district (Palazzo Versace Dubai).

Deira ( Old Dubai) – oldest neighbourhood in Dubai, less luxury but still charming area with cheapest accommodation in the city ( Hyatt Place, Le Meridien Dubai).

Atlantis resort is a very famous and desired option, especially for families with kids as it has waterpark, however it is a bit far from the city.

There are also many affordable and convenient properties to rent on Airbnb.

And if you can afford to pay around 1700 dollars a night then you can choose most wonderful seven stars hotel Al Burj Arab where they have rooms under the water!

PLACES TO EAT

There are options for every food lover with plenty of restaurants all over the city.

My top picks were: Sky Bar, Cavalli restaurant, Nobu Dubai, Saya Caffe, At.mosphere, Villa Beach.

A must do in Dubai is Saturday brunch. Almost every hotel hosts it and you can indulge in bottomless food and drinks! Check out Ce La Vi, Ewaan at Downtown Palace and Madinat Jumeirah brunches.

Tips in Dubai is not expected but appreciated. Most restaurants have service charge included.

TIPS

Best time to go: between October- April.  June to September temperature can soar upwards 50C!

What to dress: Even Dubai has very relaxed laws when it comes to clothing, it is always good to dress appropriately in public and respect families.

Dubai currency: Local currency is called AED or ‘Dirham’. Cash mostly needed for taxi, markets, excursions. Most places accept credit and debit cards. Revolut international card is very good option.

Alcohol: It is only available in clubs, restaurants, bars and you won’t find any in supermarkets. There are special shops, but only residents who obtain a licence can buy there.

Current COVID Requirements: All passengers travelling to Dubai must have a negative covid-19 RT-PCR test certificate taken no more than 72 hours before departure. 

Most passengers will be required to take another test on arrival at Dubai International airport.

Masks currently must be worn in all public places, including parks and outdoor with exception for restaurants, bars, pools and beaches.

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