As I mentioned in my first post on Dubai, old town and downtown Dubai reflect totally different sides of the same city. Traditional Souks (Arabian work for ‘Market’) are one of the major attractions in the old town of Dubai. The two major Souks are Spice and Gold Souk of Dubai. Who doesn’t like Gold after all?Especially when it’s cheaper than your country! This Souk deserves to be on your ‘To Do’ list of Dubai. It is a shining market full of hundreds of gold shops located just near another famous Souk known for its strong spicy essence, Spice Souk. Narrow streets flooded with locals and tourists, along with shops displaying some serious collection of spices. The Souk is located new the Dhow, so all the fresh spices coming from countries like India, Pakistan, and Iran arrive by Dhow and are sold in the market. I had gone to the Spice bazar (market) in Istanbul some time back and now got to see the Spice Souk in Dubai—my trip couldn’t be spicier!
The largest mall in the world is definitely something you want to experience if you are in Dubai. The sheer size of the mall can be understood by the fact that apart from being a shopping mall, it has an underwater zoo with more than 33,000 marine animals. Located just at the foot of the tallest building in the world Burj Khalifa, Dubai Mall is a place to. It’s huge! I can really say that because locating the main exit of the mall can take you hours and the direction screens on the floors are not the most helpful ones. Every section is divided into different categories and you can choose to visit the section of you are aiming for to save time and effort. Within the mall, you can buy tickets to visit Burj Khalifa as well.
There is no question about why it should not be on your list. It might seem like just a tall building, but when you stand next to it on the ground, you realize what a beast it is. You can take pictures from the bottom or choose to go up. Tickets can be bought near the Dubai Mall main gate.Initially, I was sceptical about buying a 30£ ticket to go just half way (125th level) of the building, but then I thought it was a once-in-a-lifetime thing so let’s do it and get it out of the bucket list. As you go to the elevators, the passage takes you through the history of both building and behind the scenes of the construction of this wonder. Although I went as far as only half the building, the view was breathtakingly beautiful. It’s not for the faint-hearted for sure; it was really huge and a living example of how the impossible can be achievable. No matter which point in Dubai you are, you just can’t ignore this building and to be honest you shouldn’t ignore it anyways.
Umm Suqeim Public Beach/Jumeirah Beach:
As we drove through Jumeirah road parallel to the Arabian Gulf to the Burj Al Arab and The Palm, the panoramic view of the Dubai skyline is hard to miss. Especially the Burj Khalifa, which dominates the view with its astonishing height. Just before Burj Al Arab, the famous Jumeriah Beach is open to the public. It’s a perfect place to spend time with family away from all the hustle of the city. The amazing view of Burj Al Arab offers a perfect photo opportunity to take some classic pictures. The beach was busy with tourists when I arrived, so I didn’t spend much time there. But it’s a good get away from city life if you are in the city.
Burj Al Arab:
Also known as “Tower of the Arabs”, Burj Al Arab is the world’s only 7 star hotel located on the artificial island 200 meters from
the Jumeriah Beach. I wasn’t rich enough to step inside the hotel of course, but I admired its beauty from outside. One of the landmarks of Dubai, this hotel is a must-see for anyone who visits the city.
Atlantis, the Palm:
This is another world-class hotel located at the Palm, a man-made island. Even if you can’t afford to enjoy the lavish hotel services, this place is a treat to the eyes. Picture-perfect location and modern architecture makes this place deserves to be on your list.
This is a little away from all the flashy lifestyle of downtown Dubai. I met Neel there, another active travel blogger and great person. She showed me the Marina area and then we ended up at the Dubai Marina beach. While walking on the beach,you can see the locals busy in their daily activities. Suddenly, the hectic pace of Dubai came to a standstill here.People were so relaxed and enjoying their middle-class working lifestyle. Neel was showing me around and telling me how they spend time there when they are free. It dawned on me that one city can have many faces, from traditional Arabian culture to sparking flashy lifestyle to middle-class working people leading their simple life. I was happy that I got the glimpse of all the faces of Dubai during my short stay.
On my first day, I woke up very late so didn’t have time to start my trip of the city. So, I decided to use my day to tick off Arabian Nights from my list. I booked the tour from a company called ‘Arabian Night Safari’. They picked me up from my Air BnB host’s place around 3 PM and took all the tourists for a 15-minute desert safari first. It was scary but fun! Since I have done quad biking in desert before in Saudi Arabia, I was less scared than my fellow passengers. Around 5 PM, they dropped us at a central location where a stage was set and sitting arrangements were made for more than 1000 people. Over the next 3-4 hours, all the desert safari companies dropped their tourists at that same place. As the sun set, the Arabian cultural program begin and one after another we enjoyed enthralling performances by Arabian dancers. The whole experience reminded me of a Turkish Night I had spent in Cappadocia (Read Here). But experiencing the same in the middle of a desert was a different experience. The belly dance here was more exotic than the one I saw in Turkey. Around 10 PM, we were served dinner and then dropped to our pickup points.
It’ll be a unique adventure if you haven’t been to the desert before. For 100 AED (20£), it is a very good bargain.