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mistybleu Dubai - A travel report by Amanda
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Dubai,  United Arab Emirates - flag United Arab Emirates -  Dubayy
9249 readers

mistybleu's travel reports

The biggest, widest, tallest...

  16 votes
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I thought, I hadn’t enjoyed Dubai, but I’ve come back to London and I keep on smiling. I think that is the beauty of Dubai, it kind of sneaks up on you; as everything starts to make sense.


Burj Al Arab
Burj Al Arab
Dubai is an anomaly in the UAE and in many ways has become a very western city on the surface.

The city is experiencing rapid growth with buildings going up fast and furious; it's like being on a giant building site and it is said that 70% of the world’s cranes are in use here. [I wonder?]

It is being defined by its buildings such as the iconic structures of the ‘wave’ - Jumeirah Beach Hotel, the ‘dhow sail’ - Burj Al Arab and now the Burj Dubai which is on schedule to become the world’s tallest building.

The city is split into two by the Dubai Creek; to the west Bur Deira, where you’ll found the Gold and Spice Souks and to the east Bur Dubai where you’ll find the financial district dominated by the Emirates Twin Towers.

Dubai used to be a small town famous for its pearl diving and it wasn’t really until the 1960s when things began to change; to remind everyone of their past, they have created a couple of museums that celebrates the country’s culture. Quite interesting was the Heritage Village, Dive Centre and the Dubai Museum and all three shouldn’t be missed on a visit there as you get a small insight into the history of the area/country.

But love it or hate it, Dubai is in your face; it’s the rich man’s playground.

Useful information

Electricity is 220 and the plugs are the same as used in the UK.

The currency is dirham (AED or Dh) which can be divided into 100 Fils.

Exchange rates: £1=7.33AED, €1=4.94AED, $1=3.67AED

The best place to exchange money was just as you leave Customs at the airport or one of the bureau de change dotted around the city. But the hotels gave the worst rates.

English is the language of commerce, therefore in most places English is spoken, even though the official language is Arabic.

The worst time of the year to go is during summer when the temperatures gets above 40 degrees centigrade.

Useful websites: www.dubaitourism.ae, www.arabianwildlife.com, www.dubaicityguide.com

Favourite spots:
Heritage Village
Heritage Village
To see and understand a little bit of Arabian culture, the best thing to do is visit the Heritage and Diving Villages.



They are located in the Shinagha district that is almost in the mouth of the Creek’s estuary; and were opened in 1997 as part of the Dubai shopping festival that is held annually in January to February.



In the Heritage Village it is really interesting to see the Bedouin tented communities and the way the Arabian buildings have evolved over the years. I was fascinated by the air cooling systems that were employed for centuries, before electricity.



There have also included traditional souks, where you can buy arts, crafts and souvenirs; and see craftsmen at work or taste some of the local delicacies.



At the Diving Village I got an insight to 19th century fishing, pearl diving and there seafaring way of life. There are a few examples of the ancient Dhows (sailing vessels) that you can just admire the craftsmanship, or for children play on.

What's really great:
The mosques
The mosques
Creating islands, seeing the Jumeirah Palm and the World for the first time – was amazing.

The big open roads, with big cars even the taxis. Most of the travelling around the city is by taxi, with nearly everything being about 15 minutes away. It is so easy and cheap to take a taxi; bearing in mind that the cost of petrol is 27p, it is completely possible.

I’m not sure about the traffic situation, as I only waited in 2 jams and both moved quite quickly, but with all this development I can imagine that won’t last too long. But they are, at present building a new public transit system throughout Bur Dubai.

Even the buses were cheap, a ride for 1dh or 13p, they would probably laugh at what we pay in the UK (£2.00 which is equivalent to almost 15dh).

I liked seeing all the brand new buildings, all the different architectural styles and designs; watching the city develop right before my very eyes, I can imagine in 10 years, no wait, 5 years the city will be unrecognisable.

Sights:
Dubai Museum
Dubai Museum
Most of the sights are based on buildings

BURJ AL ARAB- iconic hotel; BURJ DUBAI- tallest free standing structure (by 2009 it will be the tallest building) in the world; WILD WADI WATER PARK- fantastic water park for all ages; DUBAI CREEK- great for a Dhow cruise or an Abras (water taxi) ride to the other side.

Also found a few interesting cultural spots

DUBAI MUSEUM- set in the old Al-Fahidi Fort; HERITAGE AND DIVING VILLAGE- gives an insight to Arabian culture and pearl diving; SHEIKH SAEED HOUSE- built in 1896 in traditional Islamic style, now a museum; BASTAKIYA- the oldest part of the city and next to the old Dubai Souk; JUMERIAH MOSQUE- welcomes westerners.

Instead of a pub crawl, here it is the mall crawl

MALL OF THE EMIRATES- largest mall outside the USA, complete with indoor ski slopes; WAFI MALL- Egyptian themed with 160 shops, complete with pyramids; LAMCY- apparently has a replica of Tower Bridge; DEIRA CITY CENTRE- on the other side of the Creek.

Accommodations:
Golden Sands
Golden Sands
I wish I could say I stayed at the Burj Al Arab, the world’s only 7* hotel or the Jumeirah Beach Hotel that sits on a man made harbour with the wonderful coral white sand beach; or even Downtown Dubai in the trendy Emirates Towers. But alas my accommodation was quite a few stars below those hotels.

I stayed the Golden Sands, in what I think was the largest hotel apartment complex in the city. They had at least 10 different apartment blocks with some 500 apartments.

I was however happy with my accommodation – a two bedroom self contained apartment complete with balcony and laundry; the kind of place you could easily stay for months. It was very comfortable at a fraction of the price. They had a restaurant (although I didn’t use it) a gym, swimming pool, free internet access and parking. Plus a few restaurants, fast food chains, shopping malls and a cool little supermarket across the road - what more could a girl ask for? Some might say a helipad accessed suite at the Burj…

Nightlife:
Jumeirah Beach Hotel
Jumeirah Beach Hotel
The nightlife scene is getting bigger, although restricted to the hotels; when I was researching which hotel to stay in, I came across which had 9 different night spots. It was safe to say I didn’t stay there. But one of the other ones I came across was Claridges in Deira.

But I found just going to a hotel bar was just as much fun. The Uptown Bar in the Jumeirah Beach Hotel was one of the spots I frequented. It is located on the 24th floor of the hotel and the views are really quite magical from up there. The land looks so flat and the sea so wide; the only interruption is from the sail of the Burj.

Hangouts:
Ski Dubai
Ski Dubai
If you have kids or are young at heart then the place to hangout is the WILD WADI WATER PARK. There are around 30 different water rides and is set in 12 acres; this bodes well for a great day full of exhilarating rides. For me the best ride is the speed slide and the wave machines.

Also the Dubai Ski, in the Mall of the Emirates is brilliant as it opens until 10pm. The great thing is that they provide everything you need including socks. The only things you need to take are hat and gloves. It costs 180AED for two hours plus you have to pay a deposit for the cardkey (20AED) and a locker (10AED).

Due to open in late 2008 is Dubailand, which will have the country’s second in-door ski centre – the Ski Dome, which will be no doubt the largest in the world.

Restaurants:
Inside the Burj
Inside the Burj
It was my aim to get a picture of this building – the Burj Al Arab, but decided to see inside would be better.

Unfortunately after speaking to a few friends, the amount they paid for dinner (some £550) seemed a little restrictive. So I decided to go for drinks in the Sky Bar. I sent a few emails and found out there is a minimum spend of around £40 per person to gain access to the bar. Bearing in mind I don’t drink that much, this was a little excessive so the next best thing was to have afternoon tea.

By no stretch of the imagination was it cheap, but it was a nice way to pretend for an afternoon.

The food was wonderful if not on the lean side. But I had the best ever salmon pie (it was transparent, though); – seven courses of fine dining topped off with a glass of champagne were perfect.

Whilst I wasn’t too impressed with the service, the experience was great.

Other recommendations:
The Persian Gulf
The Persian Gulf
The adventurous thing to do in Dubai is do a desert safari. These usually last around 6 hours and includes dune bashing (ie driving in a 4x4 at silly speeds just to make you loose your lunch), sand boarding/skiing, belly dancing, henna painting, smoking sheesha, a barbeque dinner, camel rides plus getting an 'authentic' Arabic costume photo.

Then there is visiting the village of Hatta that is 1 ½ hours outside of Dubai. It is a beautiful restored village situated in an oasis in the foothills of the Hagar Mountains near Oman.

The village has 30 buildings, which were restored to there former glory to give outsider an insight into Arabian culture.

Published on Thursday April 10th, 2008


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Fri, Aug 05 2011 - 10:18 AM rating by dtcwriter

Awesome report, Amanda:)

Mon, May 12 2008 - 04:05 AM rating by terje

Very good Amanda! I've been to Dubai too, but as usual on business trip only, and for a few hours only.

Sun, May 04 2008 - 09:14 AM rating by murrayskinner

Superb report as always. I have been consideing atrip there. Your report was very useful as I always thought it would be just too expensive .

Fri, Apr 25 2008 - 05:02 AM rating by jorgesanchez

Beautifully written!

Tue, Apr 15 2008 - 06:37 AM rating by ravinderkumarsi

where were u misty , nice and informative report

Fri, Apr 11 2008 - 06:14 AM rating by davidx

Even you can't get Dubai onto my wishlist - but I do know a top class report when I see one.

Fri, Apr 11 2008 - 04:40 AM rating by rangutan

A wonderful kind of experience, I would like to read a report (or visit) in 3 years time when the current construction is complete and the green lawns are growing :-) [4.4]

Thu, Apr 10 2008 - 06:45 PM rating by krisek

I sounds like Dubai can actually be cool! Hehe. Did you have that transparent salmon pie at Burj Al Arab? There is so much of practical info in your report. Many thanks indeed.

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