The year may have started with another lockdown, but the wanderlust me is dreaming about packing my favourite jeans and my travel journal and heading off to a far away distant land. Until then, the impulse for travel needs to be satiated with memoirs from the past.
Dubai – a city of awe, of one big WOW! For some it is an excess dose of glitz and glamour, but there is so much more than meets the eye. Beyond the gleaming skyscrapers and the vast emptiness of the desert, there is a city that is throbbing with once-in-a-lifetime experiences, inviting you to uncover a treasure-trove of culture, art and food.
If I am to list my best holidays to date, then Dubai definitely makes that list quite comfortably. From dune bashing to belly-dancing to the incredible souks, the emirate has something fascinating to offer to its guests. This was going to be one helluva birthday getaway and I was all set to enjoy it.
Waking up to the gorgeous views from the Shangri La Hotel at Sheikh Zayed Road, the vista was dominated by the tallest building in the world. This is how I remember the first morning in the city. The iconic Burj Khalifa, standing at 828m gives you a whole new perspective – whether you choose the observation deck on 125th floor or the 148th floor, the dizzying panoramic views are guaranteed! It became all the more magical at dusk with the dazzling light and sound display of the Dubai Fountain on the man-made Burj Lake. I have also seen the Magical Fountain of Sentosa in Singapore, but the vibrancy here truly left me mesmerised.
Now, whoever said money can’t buy happiness, didn’t know where to go shopping. 😉 The gargantuan Dubai Mall is apparently bigger than 50 football pitches and is surely one for the bucket list.
The awe-inspiring skyline and the billionaire’s playground impressed me no doubt, but the quaint souks of the authentic Dubai beckoned me to soak in its flavours and smells. The intoxicating aroma of the exotic spices lured me to the winding alleys of Deira while the Gold Souk was a true testament to the city of gold. However, if you want to experience the traditional Middle Eastern bazaar in the lap of luxury and Venetian-style waterways, then Souk Madinat Jumeirah, the most scenic souk of Dubai, is the place to be.
A wholehearted experience of Dubai is incomplete without heading over to its deserts. For me desert is the truth, for nowhere you could hide in such emptiness. The vast terrain, the distant horizon, the absence of sounds and the presence of stillness is an antithesis to the cacophony of the urban lanes. But as Marty Rubin says, “Even in the most barren desert one would still feel one’s heart beating.” Here it comes in the form of sand boarding, quad biking, dune buggy tours and the 4×4 desert safari.
The adrenaline rushing dune bashing on its hostile terrain reminded me that life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all. Then followed a dinner at a traditional Bedouin camp under the blazing night sky, shut out from the world with its blare and glare. The mesmerising Tambura and Belly dance at the backdrop of the glistening grains of dust is a sublime oasis.
Next on my list was the Dubai Marina, the perfect place for the foodie me to indulge and watch the world pass by, before heading down for a stroll at the famous Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR) Walk. The azure Arabian Gulf at the end of the boulevard invites you to feel the sand between your toes and dream in colours borrowed from the sea.
I wanted to spend the last night in Dubai soaking up the vibrant atmosphere and what better way than to glide past the glimmering cityscape on a traditional Dhow dinner cruise, enjoying the romantic cool evening breeze and shaking your leg to the beats of Tambura Dance.
Dubai with its ultra-modern opulence and fast-paced lifestyle had truly lived up to its reputation and here I was bidding adieu with “until we meet again” wish in my heart.
Top Tourist Attractions
- Burj Khalifa
- Dubai Fountain
- Palm Jumeirah
- Palm Fountain at Nakheel Malls
- The Dubai Mall
- Dubai Aquarium
- Dubai Marina
- Dubai Museum
- Spice Souk & Gold Souk
- Fishing town of Al Bastakiya
- Kite Beach
- JBR & The Walk promenade
- Dubai Miracle Garden
- IMG Worlds of Adventure
- Ski Dubai – Mall of the Emirates
- Ibn Battuta Mall
- At.Mosphere – the world’s tallest restaurant located on the 122nd floor of the Burj Khalifa.
- If you are a ‘shoe-aholic’ like me who thinks there is always room for one more pair, then you must check out the biggest shoe store in the world – Level Shoe District at Dubai Mall.
- Head over to Baker & Spice in Souk al Bahar for a breakfast with a view – or Dubai Fountain to be more precise!
- The cutest place for a cuppa in town – Tania’s Teahouse on Jumeirah Beach Road.
- Eggspectation – a popular breakfast place in a great setting – one of the largest & most innovative egg preparations.
- Level 43 Sky Lounge at Four Points Hotel for some jaw-dropping views of Dubai’s most iconic landmarks.
- Gaze out at the skyscrapers and luxurious yachts from Atelier M at Pier 7 in Dubai Marina.
- Earn brownie points by taking your partner to a romantic dinner at Pierchic Restaurant with breathtaking views of the Arabian Gulf and Burj Al Arab.
- Immerse yourself in the underwater world of Al Mahara at Burj Al Arab or even stay at the hotel if you have the dough.