To understand the expression “Nowhere like Dubai”, one must experience Dubai first-hand! It is indeed unique for its pristine white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, desert, man-made marvels, shopping bonanzas, sporting facilities and mouth-watering cuisines. No wonder the world’s leading business hub has become a favourite destination for holidays as well as conferences and business meets.
Dubai is the main city of one of the seven Emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates on the Arabian Peninsula. It is sometimes called “Dubai City” to distinguish it from the Emirate itself.
Places which a visitor to Dubai must visit include the Grand Mosque, the Jumeriah Mosque, Madinat Jumeriah, Hatta Village, the Hatta Rock Pools, the Dubai World Trade Centre, Dubai Museum in Al Fahidi Fort, Dubai Creek, Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club, the beaches, Dubai Zoo, Dubai Autodrome, the Heritage & Diving Village, dhows, Bastakiya, souks, the Burj Al Arab, Water Delights, Wild Wadi Water Park, Ibn Battuta Mall, the cable car, Knowledge Village, Dragon Mart and the Wonderland Water Park.
Activities on offer include horseracing, camel racing, scenic flying, desert safari, rides on the wonder bus and open top buses, souk shopping, sand dune skiing and snow skiing.
The tour must be planned meticulously, keeping in mind the climate, the time of the year and the time available.
The Burj Al Arab, The World, Dubai Marina, Dubai Internet City, Dubailand, Mall of Arabia, Dubai Sports City, Business Bay, Dubai Metro, Burj Dubai, Palm Trilogy and Atlantis are some of the prominent ‘man-made marvels’ that ought to be visited.
Dubai has been labelled the “shopping capital of the Middle East”. With so many shopping malls and souks, there’s no better place to find products at unbeatable prices. Cars, haute couture, jewellery, electronics, furnishing, sporting equipment and other goods will, in all probability, be found under the same roof.
Retail prices are very reasonable because of Dubai’s open port and low import duties and the variety of products available. Free of tax, many top brand-name products which are widely available in the city are cheaper in Dubai than in their countries of origin. Products like gold and jewellery, high fashion, electronics, carpets and handicrafts can be bought for amazing prices that cannot be matched anywhere else in the world.
The major shopping areas of the city are Al Faheidi Road, Al Rigga Road, Al Karama, Al Satwa’s Al Dhiyafah Road and Beniyas Square. The modern shopping malls, located throughout the city, contrast with the sights, sounds and smells of the traditional souks.
The Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) is known throughout the world not only for being an opportunity for fantastic shopping and bargains, but also as one of the world’s most entertaining festivals. It offers grand firework displays, great prizes to be won and, of course, the excitement of being in Dubai itself. One of the highlights of the festival is the Global Village, with thirty-eight pavilions from as many countries all displaying their traditional and modern wares and local cuisine.
Now is the time for you to fasten your seat belts as Dubai is warming up to have you at its huge, sprawling DSF; a 32-day period of non-stop festivities from January 15 to February 15, 2009. This time the DSF is going to focus on three elements that have come to characterise the annual event: Shopping, Winning and Family Entertainment.
A grand opening ceremony is being organised at Dubai Festival City on the evening of January 15, to usher in the thirteenth edition of the Festival. The opening will reflect the growth of Dubai over the years and include a combination of light and sound shows in the form of laser displays and dazzling fireworks.
Souks range from the traditional, dusty, alleyways of the spice souk, a stone’s throw away from the Creek, to the modern fish souk which offers many varieties of fish caught in Gulf waters and the fruit and vegetable souk with its bustle and vivid colours. Dubai’s most famous market is the gold souk, where prices are very reasonable and largely determined by weight, rather than design and craftsmanship.
Bargaining is part of the fun of shopping in Dubai. While boutiques, some electronics shops, department stores and supermarkets may operate on a fixed-price basis, most other outlets consider friendly negotiation a way of life.
The Dubai Desert Safari offers you a taste of the true heartland of Arabia. This extremely popular tour is full of fun and adventure. It begins with a rollercoaster ride in the sand dunes (in a four-wheel-drive vehicle driven by an expert). Once in the desert, enjoy a ride on a camel, the Ship of the Deserts.
As night approaches, it is time to enjoy a feast. You will be served traditional Arabian barbeque under the star-lit sky. You can choose between a peaceful romantic dinner and an evening full of entertainment with lively music, belly dancing and smoking of hookah or hubble-bubble pipes (in a variety of flavours).
Evening Desert Safari
The tour begins at about 4 pm. A pick-up facility is available from your hotel or home in Dubai or Sharjah. The jeep drive across the majestic sandy dunes just outside Dubai with an experienced Safari driver-cum-guide is sure to be an enjoyable experience. Thereafter, stop at a desert camp to watch the sunset and take photographs. You could also try your hand at driving in the fine sand. Later you can visit a camel farm and have the opportunity to ride a camel, Do sand-skiing, have henna painting done on your hands and shop for interesting handicrafts. You will be served a delicious barbeque dinner beside a blazing bonfire and entertained by a traditional belly dancer. The dinner includes a variety of Arabian and Continental dishes including vegetarian and non-vegetarian. You arrive back at your hotel at around 11.30 pm
Dubai Overnight Desert Safari
This tour is similar to the previous tour except that you will stay overnight and be served breakfast at sunrise the next morning. You will depart for your hotel at about 10 am.
You can take a camel safari trip to a local Bedouin village to get a taste of traditional desert life.
With nearly four hundred species of birds observed in the Emirate, Dubai attracts many bird-watchers.
Customised bird-watching tours range from a day or two to a week or more, and take in the full range of landscapes, from parks and golf clubs, to desert, mountain and Creek.
Dubai now has its own snow-skiing centre, Ski Dubai, located in the new Mall of the Emirates on the Sheikh Zayed Road. It offers both skiing and snowboarding. The slope is quite large for an indoor area. All equipment is available for hire.
A second indoor ski slope, the Dubai Sunny Mountain Ski Dome, is due to open in 2009 in Dubailand. It will feature a revolving ski slope, an artificial mountain range, an ice bridge, a cable lift, a snow maze, an ice slide, polar bears, cold water-aquaria and special sound and light effects.
Those with a taste for speed and enthusiasm for unusual sports will enjoy sand skiing down the dunes of the Dubai desert. Special skis are used and high dunes in the interior of the desert are chosen as slopes.
The Dubai World Cup is a thoroughbred horseracing event which, since 1996, has been held annually at the Nad Al Sheba Racecourse. It is the world’s richest horserace, with a purse of US D 6 million since 2004.
Camel-racing, a traditional sport, is extremely popular in the Emirates. It was originally staged in an informal setting, at weddings or special festivals, but now customised tracks have been built throughout the country where race meetings are held in the winter months from October to April, culminating in the annual camel race festival at Al Wathba which attracts entrants from all over the world.
With naturally clear water and high temperatures all year round, Dubai is a centre for water sports par excellence, and is the perfect spot for any activity, including scuba-diving, snorkelling, yachting, water-skiing, jet-skiing, game fishing and windsurfing.
An imaginative way of seeing Dubai is to take a tour of the Creek by traditional wooden-chow or cabin Cruiser. Most of the major landmarks can be seen from the waterway.
For those who enjoy good food and a great dining experience, Dubai offers an opportunity to experience local and ethnic cuisine from almost every region of the world. The standards are high and the choice is diverse. Top class restaurants in the city’s hotels offer Arabian, French, Italian, Spanish, Greek, Mexican, Russian, British, German, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Indian, Filipino and Korean cuisine, to name just a few. Standards of service are on par with the best in the world.
Hotels offer a remarkably diverse range of food and beverage outlets. Their restaurants cover everything from coffee shops to fine dining and speciality outlets and the night-life is equally varied, with many bars, pubs, discos and nightclubs open until the small hours.
Outside the hotels, small eating places are to be found in all parts of the city and are often culinary adventures in their own right.
From snow-skiing in the morning to a desert safari in the evening; sightseeing or races; or simply marvelling at the man-made wonders…..a myriad of activities cater to the adventurer’s dream. The finest of the world’s hotels, gourmet cuisine and outstanding standards of service combined with traditional Arabian hospitality make Dubai a novel, enriching and satisfying experience for today’s demanding holidaymaker, tourist or business tycoon.