In our Road Warrior travels, we like to see as many places as we possibly can…even if we are limited by time. We have seen Buenos Aires in a day (read about it here: http://rwarrior.com/ba-in-a-day-our-top-picks-for-a-day-in-buenos-aires/); we have seen Beijing, China, in just under 24 hours (read about it here: http://rwarrior.com/beijing-in-24-hours-why-not/) and in our travels through the Middle East, we have even been able to see Jordan in a day (although only to view the very historic archaelogical site of Petra in that time…read it here: http://rwarrior.com/jordan-in-24-hours/). So, when we had the opportunity to do a quick stopover in the United Arab Emirates for a day, we jumped at the opportunity…and spent a day in Dubai!
Dubai is the largest city in the United Arab Emirates, a nation that is located on the south east coast of the Persian Gulf, bordered by Saudi Arabia to the southwest and Oman to the southeast. Dubai forms one of seven “Emirates” that make up the nation of the UAE and used to be under British rule until the early 1970s. In 1971, Dubai joined what is now called the United Arab Emirates and has become one of the most global and cosmopolitan cities in the middle east. In fact, it is the most expensive city in the Middle East (according to a 2012 Economist study) and is the 22nd most expensive city in the world!
So what to do if you have a day in the most expensive city in the Middle East?
Here’s what we did (and what we recommend!):
1) Bur Dubai Souq –
The best way to get a good flavor of the Middle East is to head to one of local markets. There are a few you can choose from in Dubai. We like the Bur Dubai Souq because of its location by the waterfront. We took a water taxi to get here, called an “Abra”, which will take you across the very green waters of the Dubai Creek back and forth from Bur Dubai to Diera.
At the market, you’ll find cobblestone walkways and winding alleyways that are covered by beautiful woodwork. There is everything you can possibly want to buy at this market, from souvenirs to housewares and clothing! On Friday nights, we were told that it is especially lively and filled with people, but we visited early on a weekday morning.
2. Visit the Mall of the Emirates to go…SKIING?!?!
Yes, you read that right! You can actually see snow in Dubai! Keep in mind that Dubai has a very hot climate…afterall, it is a desert region! The summers are humid and hot and reach temperatures over 100F (or 40C!). Even winters are warm, with an average temperature of 73F (or 23C). So, yes, in order to enjoy snow in Dubai, you will have to go indoors!
“Ski Dubai” is the first indoor ski resort in the Middle East. It is located in the Mall of the Emirates, an upscale and very large shopping center in Dubai. It’s a 22,500 square meter “ski resort” that has an 85 meter vertical and 5 slopes for skiing (although we only seemed to find 3!!!).
If you’re not into skiing, you can certainly find entertainment at the Mall of the Emirates. There’s a cafe/restaurant at the base of the ski hill where you can have a nice meal or light snack and watch the skiers go down the slopes. It provides a nice, icy view of the hill (and you may just forget for a few minutes, that it is sweltering hot outside!).
Don’t worry…you don’t need to bring a thing if you plan on skiing at Ski Dubai. The park rents out everything you will need…from the snow suit and hats (or toque, if you are Canadian!) to the skis and poles! They just don’t have snowboards, if you are a boarder!
It’s a pretty cool experience…when can you ever say that you went snow skiing in the middle of the desert?!? (Now you can!)
3. Tour around the amazing architecture of Dubai
One of the most amazing things about Dubai is the architecture. There are almost 1,000 skyscrapers in the city, most of which were built within the past 10 – 15 years. Dubai is a relatively new city and it is very impressive to see the massive skyline with all of the towering buildings.
One of our favorite buildings to see at night was the Burj Al Arab, which is well known as the world’s only “seven star hotel”. It is shaped like a sail and is fully lit up at night, which makes it look even more magnificent. The Burj Al Arab is also located on its own private island in the middle of the water, so you need to take a long ride over a footbridge to get to the hotel. We couldn’t afford a night at this hotel (it costs over $1,000 per night!), but we were definitely in awe.
Here’s another cool architectural gem in Dubai called the Etisalat Tower. It looks like a golf ball. It’s also lit up at night and is quite magnificent to see. This is actually an office building by day, which was designed by a Canadian architect.
While you’re exploring Dubai at night, make sure to dine in one of the many amazing and cosmopolitan restaurants here. Dubai has some truly amazing dining options, for almost everyone at every price point. You can find every type of cuisine here…and every nation’s cuisine is done in world class style, it seems!
Our recommendation? Save up and splurge when you are here…because there are some really fancy and fun options for dining experiences and you won’t be disappointed! I know we weren’t!
A Day in Dubai? Yes! There’s certainly lots to do and we didn’t rest for a minute. Enjoy this world class city…we sure did, and we know we’ll be back for more!
Road Warrior Tips from the best travel adapter: Road Warrior travel adapter