Discover the extravagant luxury, high-tech facilities and old world charm of Dubai. This United Arab Emirates (UAE) state is located on the eastern coast of the Arabic Peninsular, in the southwest corner of the Arabian Gulf. Renowned, worldwide, as a booming centre of international trade and innovation, Dubai has fast become one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations. Only in Dubai can one gaze upon, and travel up, the world’s largest freestanding structure (the Burj Khalifa), shop in both exclusive designer malls and traditional trade souks and indulge in feasts inspired by the flavours of the world while staying in a 7-star hotel.
The Emirate of Dubai is the second largest of the seven United Arab Emirates but has the biggest population at over 2.1 million inhabitants. Size has been synonymous with Dubai as it continues to build the first, largest and the biggest constructions in the world. Dubai's dynamics are always transient and ever-changing with its constant urge to construct something better and bigger than the previous. If there was a Palm Island, Nakheel thought of the World Island. Burj Al Arab seemed too timid when Burj Khalifa cropped up, distancing itself to being a loner in the crowd. Dubai constantly dwells in a suppressive competition with itself trying to magnetize tourists to a dreamy world of attractions and unheard of luxuries. The emirate's scoring point’s lie in its entrepreneurial abilities to create the inconceivable found in its tourist attractions, landmarks, shopping centres, parks, nightlife and hotels. Although it strictly safeguards its traditional practices, it allows space for other religions to breathe, a rare quality amongst the conservative Arab world. Thankfully, it has been successful in shielding itself from extremism, much-needed for it to survive. Today, Dubai has emerged as a cosmopolitan metropolis that has grown steadily to become a global city and a business and cultural hub of the Middle East and the Persian Gulf region. A newbie tourist to Dubai can get confused as it offers an exciting abundance of attractions, activities, exhibitions, shopping and nightlife. Here's a top list of things to do when holidaying in Dubai.
Dubai is the largest and most populous city in the UAE. There are approximately 2,780,000 residents from over 200 nationalities, plus countless tourists and traders on any given day! The state-of-the-art technology and infrastructure, tax-free living and a strategic location in the centre of the major trading continents, make Dubai the ideal to place to do business. The by-product of this is a dynamic prosperity—the reason that Dubai is one of the leading luxury holiday destinations in the world! Extravagance abounds in this captivating city-state. There is a rich Arabic culture that underpins local life in the city, but all are welcome and encouraged to explore and enjoy Dubai to the absolute fullest.
There’s so much you can say about Dubai. It’s a haven for expats, a world-class holiday destination, and a playground of the rich and famous.
It’s new, exciting and vibrant – but also quite mysterious.
If you have dreamed of visiting Dubai, you are in good company. As more and more visitors jet to this U.A.E hotspot each year, now’s the time to get up to date on a range of Dubai facts, as well as to read up on important local customs you need to know.
HISTORY AND CULTURE
Dubai has a rich, Arabic cultural heritage. While it is now more known for its intriguing mix of deserts, beaches and luxurious manmade feats, the culture of the Emirati people still have a major role to play. Dubai is an absolute monarchy. The Al Maktoum family have reigned there since 1833—the current ruler being His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bi Rashid Al Maktoum. In addition to being the Crown Prince of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Hamdan is also the Chairman of Dubai’s Executive Council and, like his predecessors, has wisely and progressively led Dubai into prosperity. Although tradition and culture underpin life in Dubai, the UAE state is a warmly hospitable destination. Emirati people tend to preserve Islamic heritage, with the majority being Muslim. Despite this, the people of Dubai are extremely tolerant of their multicultural citizens and guests—all religious beliefs are welcome. Over 200 nationalities call Dubai home, including Emiratis, Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Filipinos, Sri Lankans and Americans (just to name a few!). Each new group has brought with them their own style, strengths and flavours. There are currently over 6000 restaurants and cafés in the bustling city,
WHAT TO DO IN DUBAI
Dubai’s excellent infrastructure attracts international investors in areas of trade, transport, tourism, industry and finance. Because such a broad range of sectors are both present and thriving in Dubai, there are plenty of things to do and see, no matter how unique your particular interests are! Observe the astounding blend of 21st Century comforts and old-world charm throughout the city-state. Wander between overflowing trade souks or buy big brands in modern shopping malls. Go on a safari through the desert or assess the lay of the land from incredible, record breaking buildings like the Burj Khalifa.
Dubai has engaging activities for children, couples, business travellers and more. Splash around at Wild Wadi Water Park, learn local history and cultural heritage at the 18th Century fort that houses the Dubai Museum, play golf on your choice of at least 9 championship courses or visit The World—a man-made archipelago of 200 islands designed to roughly reflect a map of the globe! Do more in Dubai. Whether you want 7-star luxury, Michelin Star food, retail therapy or a glimpse at some of the most impressive world-firsts in architecture and technology, Dubai is the perfect destination for you!
Having expanded along both banks of the Creek, Dubai is divided into two parts - Deira on the northern side and Bur Dubai to the south, as well as the top tourist destination of Jumeirah.
Abras, the traditional water taxis, are regularly used each day to cross people over to either side of the Creek. Each side has its share of fine mosques and busy souqs, public buildings, shopping malls, hotels, office towers, banks, hospitals, schools, apartments and villas. Dubai is blessed with golden sunshine and silvery beaches.
From the timeless tranquility of the desert to the lively bustle of the souk, Dubai does not only boast the best contemporary sightings but has also preserved some of the most intriguing historical attractions.
DISCOVER THE WONDER OF DUBAI!
Dubai is known as the events capital of the MENASA region (Middle East, North Africa and South Asia). Almost every week there is at least one major event or festival to enjoy, plus there are countless activities and experiences to enjoy day-to-day. Dubai has something for everyone—from kids to parents, friends to couples, business travellers and more! Ranked 2nd in the world for safety and security, everything you can do in Dubai comes with an extremely small amount of risk. That means you can just get out and enjoy yourself, every day, to the absolute fullest!
Enjoy family fun in the sun, air-conditioning or snow in Dubai (yes, snow in the desert!). From traditional beach-based family holidays, to theme park hopping, unique events and cultural experiences, there’s something waiting for Dubai for every family, young or old! Head to Kite Beach to get the party started. Located in the Jumeirah Beach region, this beautiful stretch of water and sand has been aptly named after its leading water sports attraction, kite surfing. Rent equipment from operators along the shore and test your skills as a family. Glide along the beautiful emerald waters or opt to swim, paddle board or build castles in the sand! There are great children’s play areas to try out too, so every member of the family will have a fun day at the beach!
Head next to one of the many theme parks in Dubai. Explore the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, Motiongate, Aventura Park, LEGOLAND Dubai, Wild Wadi Waterpark, Dubai Safari Park, Bollywood Parks Dubai, Six Flags Theme Park or Madame Tussauds just to name a few. There is a park for every niche interest and every age. Dubai’s theme parks and experiences even extend to those who love winter wonderlands. Set in the Mall of the Emirates is the Middle East’s first indoor ski resort, Ski Dubai. Challenge yourself with 22,500sq. metres of snow over 5 runs of varying difficulty. Ski Dubai has snow caves, toboggan slopes and tube rides, plus an alpine café where you can sip hot chocolate or watch snow penguins on their daily march!
The fun in Dubai doesn’t just extend to families. Known for its luxury, extravagance and excellence in a range of world-recognised business sectors, there are activities for everyone, no matter their specific interest groups! Shoppers can spend their entire holiday browsing malls, boutiques and souks and still not see them all. Dubai is ranked 2nd in the world for the highest number of retail brands and even has an annual shopping festival. Browse over 100 malls or opt for the old-world charm of traditional souks. There are spice, gold and textile souks located in the old trading centre of Bur Dubai (opposite the Dubai Creek near the Dubai International Airport and Dubai Creekside). Haggle for fun and come away with the goods, including gold, authentic gemstones, raw silk and more!
If shopping for designer brands and gold isn’t your idea of luxury, perhaps a bit of art, culture and culinary excellence will appeal. Head to the Burj Khalifa first to take in all of the city at once with 360° views. This incredible building is the world’s tallest building and, on the way up to the observation deck (450m off the ground!), you’ll witness a multimedia presentation detailing Dubai’s fascinating history and all the facts of surrounding the development of the Burj Khalifia. From the top, look down on the Dubai Fountain. This impressive wonder on the water can be seen from more than 30km away and features the world’s largest choreographed fountain system, timed to lights and music. Head to the Dubai Marina next, or even The Palm to take in extravagant luxury in terms of multi-million dollar yachts, cars and residential buildings. On your way take in the incredible design and finishes on each of the buildings in the eclectic city—that alone is something to behold!
FEAST ON THE NIGHTLIFE!
Nights come alive in Dubai. Despite it being illegal to drink or be intoxicated in public, tourists from the age of 21 are invited to engage in the range of events, entertainment venues and nightclubs throughout the city. From stadium performances by some of the world’s biggest bands, to festivals, culinary cruises and beach club parties, there’s plenty of things to do in Dubai for those who love the night! Start with a bar in your local area. Unlike any other place in the world, Dubai’s bars are extensive, sophisticated and specifically tailored to appeal to a range of niche interests. Suave gentlemen can try the GQ Bar at the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai, or there’s the Vault that provides stunning 71 and 72 floor panoramic views of the city. The Chameleon Club provides a true penthouse-party experience from 11pm, plus there are plenty of great post-sunset beach club parties featuring international DJs at exclusive Dubai Marina and The Palm hotels!
If loud music doesn’t appeal, spend your nights floating and walking between the restaurants, cafés and bars around the Dubai Creek. Known for kick-starting the trend of Michelin-star chefs in Dubai, the restaurants around the scenic creek still house some of the world’s most famous celebrity chefs and their international brands! Head to Downtown Dubai and Dubai Creekside to sample delights from the likes of Gordon Ramsay, Jason Atherton, Atul Kochhar and Silvena Rowe. Try Dubai Marina and Jumeirah Beach for independent restaurants or indulgent night-dining cruises, then once you’ve had your fill for the night, rest in luxury and prepare to start all over again! If fine-dining is too rich on your stomach, try homegrown flavors in the morning—Dubai has a great range of seasonal, local and organic offerings thanks to its booming sustainability movement and international chefs have started to bring a new creative breed of concept cafes to the city!
The culinary experiences on offer in Dubai well and truly eclipse the night life scene. While, at My Dubai, we’re all suckers for a penthouse bar, good company and a magical skyline, we can’t go past a food festival! The Dubai Food Festival is a citywide culinary celebration that runs from February to March. The program I is packed with events, activities, promotions and celebrity chef appearances and plates up the flavors of the world (quite literally!). Take a look at Dubai’s other festivals here and use that to help you plan your next trip. Keep an eye out for corresponding Dubai package deals and contact our Dubai Holiday Experts for assistance.
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