Travel

Travel Spotlight… Dubai, UAE

The phrase ‘over the top’ probably doesn’t exist here.

3 weeks Discovery Channel

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A visit to Dubai feels an awful lot like a trip into the future. One of the most wealthy, forward-thinking, and technologically-based cities on Earth, Dubai is a marvel; you’ll witness untold wealth, architecture that bends the brain, and three man-made islands which seem solely built to provide intense levels of fun. The entire thing is a crazy experience that makes your regular life feel like the Middle Ages, but if you feel you’ll be stuck for inspiration once there, then read on. 

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QUICK TRAVEL TO DOS

See: With 160 stories, the Burj Khalifa has the best view of Dubai.
Eat: Al Dawaar is a revolving restaurant with fantastic cuisine and impossible views.
History: The Dubai Museum, in the Bastakiya Quarter, takes visitors through the city’s storied history.
Relax: Relax like royalty and catch a polo match at Desert Palm Resort, from October to March.
Adventure: The Aquaventure Waterpark, on a man-made island is the future of water-parks!
Shopping: Over 1,200 different outlets await you at The Dubai Mall, the biggest in the world.
Art & Culture: Carbon12Dubai is one of the hottest and fastest-growing contemporary art galleries in the world.

SKI DUBAI

Even if you don’t fall, Ski Dubai is still a total trip.

Image: Ski Dubai

Sub-arctic temperatures aren’t really what you jump to when imagining Dubai, so it’s quite an odd experience to go from a coastal paradise to a winter wonderland without leaving the same street. Ski Dubai boasts the honour of being The Middle East’s very first indoor skiing centre, and if you thought it couldn’t snow indoors, you were dead wrong.

Five different ski runs (including one with a daunting 60 metres) cater for all skill levels and ages, and if you don’t wish to risk your neck, you can snowboard on a large, easy course, go on a toboggan run, or simply start a snowball fight with your nearest and dearest.

Adding to the surreal nature of it all is that the centre is connected to the Mall of Emirates – and sits next to a summery waterpark. Four seasons — and shopping — in one day.

THE DUBAI MALL

If ducking down to the corner store to pick up a few groceries is your idea of shopping, then this probably isn’t the place for you. The Dubai Mall is the biggest shopping centre on earth. Bar none.

Image: Facebook

The entire thing houses over 1,200 separate stores, an ice rink which operates all year round, a massive movie theatre, an impressive “dancing fountain” which doubles as a landmark, a VR park, a children’s adventure “city”, a resident dinosaur, and one of the most impressive and — in keeping with the theme — largest aquariums in the world, with over 35,000 sea creatures calling it home.

Image: Shutterstock

One suggestion though; grab a map before attempting to do anything. You’ll need it.

FIVE STAR? FORGET THAT!

The Burj Al Arab Hotel is one of the most architecturally-impressive buildings in the world – a sail-shaped masterpiece made of curved glass, seemingly jutting out of the ocean like a sea creature (actually sitting on a man-made island).

Image: Shutterstock

It was built in 1999, and is nicknamed “the seven star hotel”, such is the level of luxury bestowed on guests. While you may not be able to afford to stay here (we sure can’t!), there is plenty to check out as a visitor. Firstly, the place houses a 180 metre high atrium!

Image: Shutterstock

Secondly, there is a helipad for guests to land directly without having to deal with the train, something you’ll witness regularly. Again, this is known as a seven star hotel – these guys aren’t mucking about!

Image: Facebook

Assuming you aren’t an oil baron, the way to game the system is simple: just visit one of the restaurants housed within, and you’ll be in. May we suggest the Al Muntaha, which sits on the 27th floor, overlooking the Persian Gulf. As we mentioned, the architecture alone is worth marvelling at, so you don’t even need to set foot indoors to be wowed by its majesty and sheer scale.

BACK TO THE FUTURE

As we’ve mentioned a few times, Dubai is a very futuristic city, so much though that it is easy to forget that it is plonked in the Middle East, one of the most historically-rich places on Earth. The best way to away from the space age is to visit the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, which is 140 kilometres of Arabian Desert so unchecked that visitors aren’t allowed to explore unless they go in groups.

Image: Shutterstock

The place is also a research centre, of which you can take a tour. There are also camel treks, numerous camping locations, and a luxury resort for those who want to rough it but, you know, not too much.

Posted by Nathan Jolly