MarHaba from Dubai

MarHaba from Dubai

12,990KLM and 15hours and I have touched down in the United Arab Emirates, better known as Dubai. I arrived at 5am and found my way to Atlantis The Palms just in time for the morning sunrise at 7.  This hotel is amazing- 58,000 kilometres of steel bars are used in the construction of Atlantis, 9 x the length of the Great Wall of China. The Ambassador Lagoon which holds 11 million litres of seawater is 10m long and is home to 65,000 marine animals.

There is so much to see, do and eat here and no hotel is complete without a dolphin encounter, adventure waterpark, the lost chambers aquarium shopping centre, 19 different restaurants and golf.  Apparently it is going to take 3 days to see that Atlantis has to offer, so we best be getting on within then.

Whenever I visit a city, town or country I emerge myself in its culture, so for me, my first day in Dubai was learning all about the history and culture. Dubai is one of seven Emirates of the United Arab Emirates and is recognized today as one of the world’s most exciting and readily developing cities.  It’s a city of fascinating contrasts, offering a distinctive blend of old and new. It’s where East meets West. In less than a century, under the visionary leadership of Dubai’s ruling Al Moktoum family, it has been transformed from a small fishing village into a modern, vibrant city full of surprises.

If you are thinking of traveling somewhere out of the ordinary and a little bit different, then add Dubai to your MUST VISIT list.  Here are my top MUST DO things to do when in the United Arab Emirates.

  1. Mall of Emirates.  

Now don’t be fooled by the title, yes it is a massive shopping centre (you need at least 4 days to see all the shops) but it is also home to the world’s largest indoor ski fields.  WT!…. yes we are in the middle of the Arabian Desert, 40 degree heat, and we are snow skiing in the middle of a shopping centre, that is out of this world! 

  1. Big Bus Tour of Dubai.  

The Big Bus tour is an open aired double decker bus that gives you a great Dubai experience.  See and explore places from the towering Burj Khalifa and the 7 star Burj Al Arab to the mysterious gold and spice souks.  There are two lines – red line is the old Dubai and the blue line is the new and beach line. You can fit both lines in in 1 day if you don’t spend too much time in the Mall of Emirates or Dubai Mall.  Mind you, the Dubai Mall is amazing, no ski field like Mall of Emirates but it does have a massive aquarium and skating rink. It seems that each mall tries to outdo the last. The Dubai Mall is the largest mall in the world and packs a serious retail punch.

I may have had a calling that lead me down to a place called Shoe District.  There is an entire level, not just a few, but an entire level just dedicated to shoes, Every shoe known to mankind, Mui Mui, Dolce & Cabarna, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Burberry, Gucci…the list just goes on and on…… Needless to say I was in shoe heaven.

  1. Desert Adventure.

A short 1 hour drive heading out of Dubai and into the desert, you must stop off to try your hand at quad biking through the desert,  Be careful though, you could spend more time bogged in the desert sands than actually jumping dunes.  

Once I finished quad biking,  I was off into the desert 4WDing over sand dunes and sliding down the side of sand mountains, riding along the peaks of sand dunes and fish tailing and sliding all over the desert before stopping in the middle of nowhere to watch the sunset over the desert dunes. I slowly made my way to a camp site called “The Desert Gate”. Here I got to  mingle with the locals, eat traditional foods, watched the belly dancing entertainment along with a camel ride experience like no other.

  1. The Aquaventure Waterpark

If you are taking the family on your Dubai journey and after a few days of exploring, you must schedule in some “Kid Time” (aka – Adult Rest Day) It is always a good idea to have a day or two where you do absolutely nothing, especially if you have been action adventuring a lot during your trip.  The Aquaventure waterpark is the number 1 water park in the Middle East and Europe. The waterpark is overflowing with 42 fun-filled acres for all ages. Experience heart-thumping slides that catapult you through shark filled lagoons, uphill water roller coasters, never ending rapid river adventures and up-close animal encounters.

  1. Dubai Fountains.  

The Dubai Fountain are the world’s largest choreographed fountain system set on the 30-acre Burj Khalifa Lake, the fountain shoots water jets as high as 500 ft (150 metres), equivalent to that of a 50-storey building. The fountain is 900 ft (275 metres) long and has five circles of varying sizes and two central arcs.

The Dubai Fountain performs daily, with the performance repertoire including Arabic music and worldly tunes.

Over 6,600 WET Superlights – the most advanced incandescent large fountain lights available today – and 25 colour projectors create a visual spectrum of over 1,000 abstract attractions. The beam of light shining upward from the fountain can be seen from over 32 kilometres  away, and will be visible from space making it the brightest spot in the Middle East, and quite possibly in the entire world. 

  1. The Arabian Resort of Dubai.

This is a magnificent tribute to Dubai’s heritage and is styled to resemble an ancient citadel.  The combination of authentic themes has created a destination of unique qualities and outstanding beauty. Madinat Jumeirah is a city of contrasts – from the sublimely relaxing to the vibrant and exotic. The resort is a re-creation of old Arabia and a place where historic beauty meets new luxury.

Two grand boutique hotels, 29 courtyard summer houses, a traditional souk, Talise Spa, 44 world-class restaurants, bars and lounges, the region’s leading conference and banqueting centre, unlimited recreational facilities and the superlative The Quay Health-club – all this and more combine to make Madinat Jumeirah the most fascinating resort in the world….oh and it is also home to the world’s largest chandelier…absolutely stunning!

Another “shop till we drop” day for Kim, Tayla and myself while the other kids and Peter hung at the water park here at Atlantis.  Today us girls headed out to Mercato Mall, had some lunch, cruised the shops and shouted ourselves to a Pedicure….as you do!

  1. Burj al-Arab. 

This landmark hotel, with its dramatic design that mimics the sail of a ship, floats on its own man made island and has become an iconic symbol of Dubai.

This all-suite luxury hotel in Dubai reflects the very finest that the world has to offer. With a discreet in-suite check-in, private reception desk on every floor and a brigade of highly trained butlers, you can be assured of the ultimate in personal service throughout your stay.  

A standard room here starts at $2,500 per night up to the royal suite which features 780 square metres room with exclusive privileges – Private elevator, private cinema

Lower level – Dining area, Arabic majlis (reception) style lounge and library.  Upper level – Master bedroom with rotating four-poster canopy bed and second bedroom, each with adjoining marble bathrooms with spa bath, walk-in shower, fine porcelain fittings and full sized Hermes 24 – Faubourg fragrances and body products.  All this for around $25,000 per night…..why not!

Can’t afford to stay? That’s ok, be sure to pre book a high tea experience at the hotel, just so you can soak up a little be of grandeur, luxury and style.

Dubai has been full of surprises.  There is nothing mundane or matter of fact about this place; it is all about drama and extremes – from the architecture to the weather, the food and the world class shopping centres and the true desert experiences, Dubai has something for everyone.  Thanks Dubai you’ve been a great host and you will be missed.

Until our next adventure – Ma’al salaama

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