Oil may have helped transform this once fishing village into a fast paced world class city on the Persian Gulf but Dubai remains a favourite tourist destination. Everything in Dubai is so grand and over the top, you can’t help but go “wow” at every turn. It’s like open sesame into this great Arabian wonderland. I have to admit that after three visits Dubai remains my favourite, so on this last visit I surprised Mom with tickets to accompany me on a little luxurious getaway to Dubai (well tied in with some business for me). She was thrilled just to put her feet in the Arabian Sea and then go tell all her friends back home.
There is a little of everything in Dubai – a mix of the old and the new. The city may have become a fantastic resort filled with modern and futuristic attractions, but Dubai has also done well in preserving its authentic Bedouin heritage, Arabian Nights bazaars and wild life in both their desert parks and bird sanctuaries.
There is no denying the extravagance that is Dubai. The buildings are simply either big or bigger. Afterall, they pride themselves in constructing the tallest building in the world – the Burj Khalifa. Dubai is an architecture junkie haven. Between the amazing skyscrapers, extravagant hotels and the manmade islands that are cities in themselves, the architecture will wow you. The old port which was once filled with small Arab dhow boats has eclipsed into the world’s largest artificial harbour. They have also created the well known manmade Palm Islands and boast of six and seven star hotels including the Burj Al Arab. The Dubai Mall is also one of the biggest in the world with the largest aquarium in the world and the Mall of the Emirates houses the only indoor ski slope. Yes, Dubai is in a class by itself and continues to expand attracting visitors across the globe for their modern Arabian adventure.
So what makes Dubai such a hot destination and what would Mom and I recommend for a luxury getaway to Dubai?
The Gold Souks!
Mom’s always drilled into me that the best souvenir I could ever invest in is jewellery. So naturally we headed to the famous gold souks, not just to ogle at some elaborate 22 karat gold pieces but we bought a few pieces to take home…as souvenirs for ourselves off course! It is definitely worth a visit and has to be the most gold I’ve seen in one place.
The Spice Markets!
The spice souks gives you a taste of old Dubai – the way people shopped, what they bought and how. We love to cook and from the minute you walk in, the air is filled with scents of spices, perfumes and herbs, all mesmerizing and enticing you into buying some to take home. They make great souvenirs too!
The Dubai Mall!
Well if you haven’t noticed I love to shop and what better place than Dubai Mall, the biggest mall in the world which is like a museum in itself. It’s definitely a unique experience shopping with a view of fishes in the Dubai Aquarium but the Emiratis know what they are doing; staring at fishes is a from of therapy and relaxation, just what you need in between shopping to extend your time in the mall. I equated the feeling to one of the casinos in Las Vegas where they pump oxygen in so you’re always fully alert.
The Burj Khalifa!
Ok maybe this should of been number one on my list but shopping clearly was on our agenda first! Dubai prides itself in constructing the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. Many call it the jewel of Dubai and it really is an amazing structure to ogle at even if you’re not an architecture junkie. The Armani Lounge at the Armani Hotel in the Burj Khalifa is also worth it for lunch with a view too.
The Burj Al Arab!
This iconic and opulent luxury 7-star hotel is situated on an artificial island 270m off Dubai’s coast and has been designed in the shape of a billowing sail of a boat. The shipping geek in me has been fascinated with it for years. The Burj Al Arab also houses some unique dining experiences, Dubai has afterall become a culinary haven over recent years. In treating Mom, we dined at the Burj Al Arab twice. I chose the luxury al fresco dining at the Majlis Al Bahar only for some stunning views under the stars of the Burj al Arab as it changed colours at night. On the next day, traditional afternoon tea on the first floor at Sahn Eddar Lounge with symphony of classical sounds including the harp for entertainment, made the experience extra special.
Day trips to the other Emirates!
Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the UAE, is only a 45 minute drive away and while it is just as extravagant as Dubai, there are many attractions to spend more than a day in this other famous Emirate. One most significant and must visit is the grand Sheikh Zayed Mosque, which is considered to be the key for worship in the country. Stick around for some stunning sunset views too.
The Palms Islands!
If I were to spend one night (or more) all over again it would definitely be a tough choice which of the Palm Islands to choose from. Palm Jumeirah may be the first and most popular, it was afterall named a must see architectural wonder by Expedia but the newest on the block Deira Islands enticed us to visit. With spectacular sunset views over the city with Atlantis in the distance, it was a good decision on our part. The shopping malls being built on these islands are nothing short of massive. Now if only I could buy my own island in “The World“, which is another extravagant manmade project built on the Arabian Gulf. Unfortunately Trinidad and Tobago is not one of the Caribbean islands included in this map.
When one thinks of Dubai it s natural to think desert too. But there is no time for boredom when there is no shortage of activities (other than shopping and eating off course!) in Dubai. From 4×4 sand safaris to scuba diving and snorkeling amongst corals, skydiving, seeing Dubai by helicopter or boat on the Dubai Creek and relaxing on the clean golden beaches on the Arabian Sea, Dubai certainly has a way to making you forget the hot temperatures and giving you a memorable experience. 4×4 sand safaris are a must, it is definitely a unique experience you will never forget!
It’s Dubai, even the hotels are extravagant. I do enjoy the hotels of Dubai Festival City but Mom chose The Address Hotel in Dubai Marina. It was just another experience of a slice of modern luxury, exactly what I’m use too by The Address chain – from the superb breakfast, large pool and our fantastic room to the view of modern skyscrapers and large yachts.
And after feeling on cloud nine experiencing the over indulgence that is Dubai, it was time to fly home on Emirates. I’ve flown them many times before and raved even more about their world class service, but this trip was extra special since I finally took Mom along with me. Emirates is now her favourite airline in the world too with the best luxury service she has ever experienced. Definitely a girl trip she would never forget!
More photos of extravagant Dubai!