Dubai is a desert city like no other. It’s a melting pot of cultures; you’ll note, however, that its Muslim roots strongly prevail. You can experience the world here because the majority of the population of this Emirate is comprised of expats from various parts of the globe and they have contributed immensely in enhancing the local color.
So, if you’re coming to beautiful Dubai for a holiday, expect to love what awaits you here. You’re bound to enjoy a delightful mix of experiences, some of which will be greatly familiar and will remind you of home, and others that are inexplicably unique because Dubai strongly upholds the reputation of being a city where the impossible is made possible.
To ensure that your stay in Dubai will be one of the most wonderful memories of your life, below is a collection of exquisite experiences that you should include in your itinerary.
1. A Visit to Burj Khalifa
The tallest building in the world (at 829.8 meters) is definitely something to see whilst in Dubai. It’s not only incredibly tall; it’s fancy, too. No wonder an important scene in the movie “Mission: Impossible” was shot here.
It’s a treat even just to see Burj Khalifa from the outside because it’s such an unusual-looking structure; its design was inspired by a desert flower. If you wish to take a good full photo of this man-made wonder, head to Bay Avenue Park. There’s a spot here where you can get that very tricky full shot of the building.
2. Getting acquainted with traditional fare
One of the best ways to really experience a city is to taste its original flavors. Dubai cuisine rarely gets much buzz, but people who visit the city for the first time and seek out traditional Emirati dishes learn that they’re really packed with flavor and the ingredients are fresh and healthy. Highly recommended is tharid – this lamb stew was the Prophet Muhammad’s favorite dish. It’s a nutritious little number that you pair with regag, a cracker-like bread. You can easily score this gastronomic experience when you join a desert safari tour. For other traditional dining destinations, visit MenuPages.ae – it has an extensive list of restaurants in Dubai that even includes ratings.
3. A trip to the dunes
You can ride a camel, take pictures, or take advantage of the different activities set out for tourists. The endless view of yellow sand here is just gorgeous, especially if you go early in the morning or when the sun’s about to set. You won’t even notice time passing by when you sit on the powdery fine sand and just look at the warm horizon.
4. Going on a hot air balloon ride
Taking a Dubai hot air balloon tour is a must, especially if you want a different view of the sunrise in the desert. You can ask your hotel concierge for businesses that run this ride. The balloon reaches an altitude of 1,200 meters above the Dubai desert and the view from this height is just glorious.
If you’re spiritual, your soul will feel renewed by the magnificent sight. Also, how many times in your life will you be able to go on a hot air balloon ride, right? Do take advantage of this opportunity while you’re in Dubai.
5. A gastronomic journey to taste the offerings of the top-rated dining destinations in the city
Dubai is abundant with restaurants that specialize in various cuisines, but the cool thing about these places is that many of them offer a little something out of the ordinary when it comes to a dining experience. Those that serve Arabian fare even have shisha services and you can smoke dokha (Arabic tobacco) using a pipe called medwakh. Some have special concepts to ensure diners’ enjoyment while eating. You’ll even find a North Korean restaurant here and cultural dances are performed for diners.
6. A peek into Old Dubai
Make the trip to Bastakia Quarter. It has traditional buildings from the 19th century. It’s just a treat to see the maze of old buildings here, which are so different from the modern mansions and villas near the business area of the Emirate. When you come here, you’ll certainly feel like you’ve traveled back in time because the buildings have been preserved beautifully.
7. Refreshing yourself with fusion beverages
While in Bastakia Quarter, drop by Arabian Tea House. This relatively small establishment perfectly combines traditional interior décor with modern touches. If you want to take a break from walking around the area, this is the perfect place to unwind and enjoy something refreshing. The teahouse uses fresh fruits, nuts, dates, raw honey and other exotic ingredients for its beverages that are sure to make you go yum with every sip. Plus, the teahouse uses really cute glasses, mugs, and teapots for its beverages.
8. Going out at night to watch the Dubai Fountain show
It’s one of the top three fountain shows in the world. If you’re looking for something beautiful to see at night (free of charge) this show is it. It truly is a spectacular display, and you can enjoy it multiple times as shows are scheduled every 30 minutes from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m.
9. Buying gold from a vending machine
You can only do this in the UAE and Dubai has gold-dispensing vending machines from which you can get 24k gold coins, jewelry and nuggets. Nobody really goes to Dubai and leaves without gold, so make sure you get at least one of yours from these special vending machines. It will definitely add to your experience of the city.
10. Spending a day at the JBR Beach
There’s always something romantic about beaches and if you just want to spend a quiet day to yourself, get a tan, read a book – to just be in that completely relaxed holiday mode so you can just focus on “you,” – make a trip to Jumeirah Beach Residence strip. It’s a lovely beach that will provide you a view of an endless blue ocean and towering luxury residential buildings.
11. Strolling along Dubai Miracle Garden
Love is always in the air in the world’s biggest natural flower garden, but you don’t have to be with your significant other to enjoy this charming garden. You will love the 45 million blooms here that form hearts and other shapes – no doubt you’ll have a blast taking pictures of this place.
12. Shopping at the Old Dubai Market
You can find all sorts of things here and if you’re looking for authentic Dubai wares to bring home as souvenirs, this is definitely the place to go. You’ll enjoy finding great deals here and using your haggling prowess to get more value for your money. Likewise, if you’re thinking of bringing home spices to flavor your cooking or for medicinal purposes, you’ll definitely find them here.
13. Retail therapy in Souk Madinat
The Souk Madinat possesses the old traditional Arab architecture but it has modern touches to it. You can find an abundance of amazing restaurants here as well as coffee shops, and of course, kiosks selling everything from hookahs to myrrh, delicately beautiful perfume bottles, colorful tunics, scarves, traditional shoes, decorative plates, handmade jewelry and so much more.
14. Styling yourself like the locals
You just have to. Traditional outfits are not that expensive and you may find them even more comfortable than most of the stuff you packed for your holiday especially when you head to the sandy desert.
15. A full day visit to the Dubai Mall
Even if you have your own big malls where you’re from, you will find shopping at the Dubai Mall a completely different experience. The interior is full of gorgeous art and of course, there’s no shortage of shops that provide awesome deals.
Also, even if you’re not really into retail therapy, the mall has so much more to offer for your enjoyment. It wasn’t hailed as the most visited building in the world (another “superlative” for Dubai) in 2011 for nothing. The Dubai Mall is home to the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, Sega Republic, Reel Cinemas, the famous Rainforest Café, and Kidzania.
Dubai has always been known for going all out when it comes to practically everything. It may seem outrageous to the rest of the world, but that’s really just how things roll in this progressive desert city.
When you come to Dubai, just be open to anything. You need to be willing to try things even just once because this city presents so many new things and unique experiences. It would be difficult to get the most out of your stay here if you’re not up for an adventure.
These 15 experiences certainly aren’t all – they’re just a few of the delightful activities to get you started on the great Dubai adventure that you’ll remember for the rest of your life. When you get here and something catches your fancy, just give it a go (especially if you’re working with a generous budget for your holiday) – there’s always the greater likelihood that you will enjoy it.
Abdul Razzaq is the business manager of Red Rose Group. He holds a degree in business management and has over two decades of hands-on experience in strategic business management, in-house management problem solving, product/service sourcing, product development, and branding & marketing.