We all dread that long-haul flight from Australia to just about anywhere else in the world, but especially to Europe. The thought of 23 hours stuck on a plane with minimal legroom and uncomfortable chairs, to then arrive in Europe with out of whack body clocks, not knowing if you should be eating breakfast or settling in for the night, was enough for us to book a 3 night stop over in Dubai to break up the travel.
Dubai is certainly an innovative city. At a glance it is easy to forget that it is in the middle of a desert. With its grand cityscape, 8 lane freeways, air-conditioned bus stops and more square metres per person of retail space than any other city in the world. The shopping malls are, much like the rest of Dubai, competing to be the biggest and the best, which results in indoor ski ramps, aquariums and ice-skating rinks!
Our Favourite Experience
At the top of our Dubai experience wish list was a Desert Safari, so we booked this as soon as we arrived to our hotel. This was, without a doubt our favourite experience in Duabi. We were picked up in a very comfortable Jeep and driven through the countryside out to the Arabian Desert, near Oman. We then dune bashed for an hour, before stopping to watch the sunset over the desert, which can only be described as a magical experience. The setting sun turns the sand into a spectacular red colour and casts dancing shadows over the dunes. Once the sun had set we were driven to a campground where we enjoyed a camel ride, got a henna tattoo and then set in for a BBQ buffet under a canopy of twinkling starts. Once dinner was over we watched a traditional folk dance, before we were driven back to our hotel. The perfect Arabian night!
Our Least Favourite Experience
We made our way to Madinat Jumeirah Souk hoping to get a taste of Dubai’s culture, in the form of a traditional market. This is not what we found. We entered an indoor ‘market’ with a cluster of overpriced souvenir shops with insistent sales assistants and expensive restaurants.
A canal surrounds the Souk, so after walking around the markets for half an hour we decided to take an Abra ride through the waterways. This was definitely the highlight of the Madinat Jumeriah Souk and a good opportunity to see Dubai’s 7 star hotel, the Burj Al Arab.
We couldn’t find a lot of information about the dress code before arriving in Dubai, so we packed conservative clothing as we had read about the strict dress codes in other areas of the UAE. We discovered that pretty much anything goes. Locals, generally keep covered above the knees, whilst expats and tourists wear what ever they want.
Should you put Dubai on your destination wish list?
Meg says; if your airline allows you to extend your stopover for a few days at no added cost then why not! It is a good opportunity to see an ambitious city, stand on top of the tallest building in the world, spend an evening in the Arabian Desert and walk through the biggest malls in the world. However, Adam says; try somewhere else and give Dubai 5-10 more years to develop some culture.