Cheap flights, luxurious hotels, the tallest building on the planet, the Palm Islands, the World Islands, world class sporting events and accommodation for any budget. If ever there were a tourist city, Dubai is it. From mud brick to modern city in forty years, Dubai has been built from the ground-up to appeal to travellers.Vegas in the Desert, the City of Gold, Dubizzle; Dubai. Whatever you call it, Dubai is a town with its own kind of fame. It is a city with a well-earned reputation for dreaming big, and each new construction project that hits the news seems madder than the last. Giant, artificial, palm shaped islands? Sure! A private reproduction of the world in the middle of the Arabian Gulf? Ok, but can we put some hotels on it? From the world’s tallest tower building, the Burj Khalifa, to some of the world’s best hotels, Dubai is a town that does not pull its punches.
This is undeniably one the world’s great accommodation paradises. Nearly every building constructed in the past couple of decades contains a hotel of some description. All of them compete constantly to provide novel and entertaining pastimes for visitors and residents alike.
The result is an amazingly vibrant nightlife for a country with restrictive alcohol laws. As always in Dubai, excess is the modus operandi and raison d’être, so whether you’re more into beach bars, gilded nightclubs or outlandish theme clubs, make sure you pack your favourite hangover cure.
Shopping is another major pull, and in a small state of big spenders, has become something of a national sport. Dubai mall, the biggest in the world, beggars belief. Pack a compass (or buy one when you arrive), because you will get lost: fitness fiends use the air conditioned halls to practice for long distance runs.
Despite all-year hot weather, this city doesn’t take “no” for an answer, even when it comes to the climate. In fact, most pastimes here are single mindedly organised around one thing: keeping cool. Whether that means a morning on the beach, or a trip to the world’s biggest indoor ski slope is up to you. There is something genuinely joyous about watching grown men in flowing traditional candoras grin and giggle their way through snowball fight.
Waterparks are a another local favourite and Dubai boasts a couple of excellent examples. Wild Wadi in Jumeirah is a mainstay, with new-comer, Aquaventure offering stiff competition. Drop a hundred feet into a tunnel through a shark tank, or hop a flume ride through a Sinbad-themed water wonderland.
The old way of life has not fled Dubai completely, however. Old Arabia lives on by the shores of Dubai Creek, the broad inlet that splits the city centre. Hand built wooden abras ferry commerce across the creek and arched souks line the waterfront. Wander through the striped patterns of shade and haggle for curl-toed slippers or bolts of silk.
The story of Dubai is a saga of sand — a long battle with the desert — and that sand remains an undeniable, unbeatable fact of life. As a result many of the activities available in the area are all about making the most of it. Sand surfing, dune buggy treks and four wheel drive desert safaris are all popular and trips can be tailored to most budgets. So, whether you see yourself living out a Lawrence of Arabia camel-back fantasy, or jack-knifing a jeep down a sand dune, a visit to the Dubai’s desert comes highly recommended.