A city known for its spellbinding hotels and buildings, and the chance to spot supercars every 5 seconds, this is Dubai.
Though not the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Dubai has become a popular choice for locals and expatriates to live and work in the ever-expanding city. What’s more, the city offers undoubtedly some of the best holiday activities in the country.
Why should I visit Dubai?
Before Dubai became the city it’s known as today, it was a small and simple coastal fishing and trading settlement. Things began changing when Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum gave the order for Dubai Creek to be dredged to accommodate larger trading vessels.
The discovery of ‘black gold’ in 1966 turned things around completely, and in turn led to the formation of the UAE in 1971. Since then, Dubai’s popularity as a travel destination has only continued to rise, and there are several reasons why.
Being in the region of the Middle East, it’ll come as no surprise that the weather in the UAE is pleasant all year round. Whether winter or summer, this is one country where you can confidently leave the umbrella at home.
Getting from Dubai International Airport, and around the city itself is a breeze. The Dubai Metro is clean, efficient and departs daily every 10 minutes from 5.50am to midnight. If, however, you visit with more than one regular sized suitcase and hand carry, you’ll need to take a taxi, as travellers are restricted.
For female travellers visiting either solo, or in a group of friends, you may be interested in jumping into a pink-roofed taxi. These cars are driven by female drivers and reserved especially for women.
Arrive into Dubai in style by booking a ride with a Marhaba service. It’s a personal service that ensures you a speedy exit from the airport, as well as a chauffeur ride on departure. On top of this, there’s a Marhaba lounge in the airport, which serves complimentary food and drink, that you’ll also have access to.
Dubai areas — sights to see in each area
Bur Dubai and Deira
The majority of the photos of Dubai tend to show the usual sights, namely the towering Burj Al Arab hotel. So, rather than using that as a starting point, the area of Bur Dubai and Deira is all about showing the heritage of the city.
Here, you can take a wander into the Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood, which is home to one of the oldest buildings in the city, Sheikh Saeed Al Makhtoum House. For Dhs 1, hop on board a short ferry ride to reach Deira, and embrace the vibrant souks, before sampling some of the local street food.
This area’s ultimately a world away from what you see when you think about Dubai, but nonetheless, it’s a heartland of the city.
Given Dubai’s a coastal city, you can’t visit without seeing the marina. There are 2 beachfront promenades, lined with a great selection of hotels, restaurants and plenty of shopping.
The marina’s also where you can hop on board the Dubai tram, that will take you around a few spots, including the grand Dubai Marina Mall. Granted, this is the one of the most popular neighbourhoods in Dubai, with plenty of high rise shiny towers to ooh and aah over.
From blinding high rise apartments and towers, to low-level villas, the neighbourhood of Jumeirah has something for everyone. Towering at one end, coast side is the opulent '7-star' Burj Al Arab and the Madinat Jumeirah Complex.
The resort has 3 grand hotels including Jumeirah Al Qasr, Jumeirah Mina A’Salam and Jumeirah Al Naseem. Along with ample leisure facilities on site, they also have the Souk Medinat Jumeirah, a retail and dining experience that shows the best of Arabia.
By far the most iconic area of Dubai, Palm Jumeirah is luxury personified. From plush villas and hotels, expect to see nothing but five-stars here.
There are several hotel heavyweights to see, including Atlantis The Palm, Dubai, One&Only The Palm Resort to Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort.
It’s safe to say that downtown Dubai is a place of many impressive attractions. Along with the fantastic skyscraper, and the world’s tallest tower, Burj Khalifa, this is where to come to see the Dubai Opera House, some fanciful dancing fountains, and go crazy on the credit card at Dubai Mall.
Take a wander into Souk Al Bahar to shop for local and international brands, before heading to one of the many international restaurants for a quick bite to eat.
The food culture
From 5-star dining to getting a taste of the local street food, your tastebuds are bound to be set alight with a culinary tour of Dubai. The quaintly named 2nd December Street is home to many canteens where residents from the area come to eat.
Some delicious treats you may find include dates, samosas and Arabic sweets. The area’s also in one of the oldest areas in Dubai, and a far cry from the opulent hotels and resorts Dubai’s known for.
The expat influence
With a strong expatriate community, there’s really something to suit all palates. From trying some traditional camel and Arabian lobster, to a good ol’ juicy burger, you won’t go hungry here.
Granted, ingredients are of the finest quality, and also reflect the many nationalities that live in Dubai. The high-quality beef for many of the burger restaurants come from Australia, New Zealand and Japan.
Dubai foodie havens
There are plenty of foodie places to head to in Dubai. City Walk has an eclectic mix of restaurants and cafes, and is also a great location for taking in the illuminating street lights that shine at night. The Beach at JBR has plenty of eateries that are ideal for families and big groups, along with a memorable view to match.
However, there’s one foodie location in Dubai that tops them all, and that’s Pyramids at Wafi. Here, you can find 8 restaurants in an Egyptian pyramid building, complete with sphinx, statues and columns with hieroglyphics.
Choose from Indian, Spanish or Italian cuisine, all the while dining in a striking building.