Dubai is one of seven emirates that make up the country of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Located on the southern coast of the Persian Gulf, Dubai is known for its beauty and extravagance. It’s also the most expensive city in the Middle East and has one of the world’s fastest growing economies. It’s also the host city for the upcoming 2020 World Expo (the first Middle Eastern location ever chosen).
Visiting Dubai is truly an experience like none other. Things to do in Dubai today include everything from shopping to paragliding, from deep sea diving to desert safaris. In Dubai, you’ll find “the world’s best, largest, or only” in front of many attractions and buildings. Here’s how to experience the extravagance of Dubai the right way, with a few tips to make your visit memorable and meaningful.
Where to Stay
The hotels in Dubai are known for their impressive architecture and design. They even added to their coast line to build hotels that are truly works of art. The Palm Islands are man-made islands designed to look like palm trees jutting from the natural coastline. Many of the popular coastal/water front hotels are located on the Palm Jumeirah (which can be seen from space!).
The Burj Al Arab Jumeirah is known as the world’s most luxurious hotel. Famously known as the “world’s first and only 7-star hotel,” a stay in the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah comes complete with your own personal butler and an optional private chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce. The hotel also boasts 5 swimming pools, 9 world-class restaurants and bars, and 202 duplex suites. What’s most iconic about this hotel though is the sail-shaped silhouette of the building which looks just like a sail boat sailing seamlessly on the open Arabian Sea.
If you want to enjoy a stay in the world’s tallest hotel, the JW Marriott Marquis stands 1,165 feet tall and is designed with an impressive 72 floors and 1,600 guest rooms and suites. The twin-tower complex is located in the business district of Dubai, modeled after the Arabic cultural symbol, the date palm. Within the hotel, you’ll find 14 award-winning restaurants and bars as well as a spa, pools, and of course, other fabulous amenities.
What to See
Dubai is known for their immaculate skyline dotted with some of the world’s tallest skyscrapers and highrises. Burj Khalifa is the world’s tallest building, coming in at 2,722 feet tall (160 stories). The skyscraper also has the world’s highest observation deck with an outdoor terrace. Designed as an abstract interpretation of the desert flower native to the Arabian Desert, the Hymenocallis, this structure is truly a work of art. The high speed elevator will take you to 124th floor where you can experience the city by way of the observation deck, or you can visit the Sky Lounge on 148th floor for a less adventurous view of the Dubai skyline. Tickets to the top of will set you back AED 125 for non-peak times, and AED 200 for peak (for adults). Also housed within this skyscraper is the Armani Hotel Dubai as well as various residences and corporate suites.
Only in Dubai can you walk up to a machine that will dispense 320 forms of gold. This is truly a sight to see, even if you don’t use it yourself. The world’s first gold vending machine is an “ATM-style kiosk” offers small bars of gold up to 10 grams, or coins with custom designs. Designed by German-owned Company Gold-to Go, there are now four gold ATMs: one in the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi, one in the Atlantis hotel, and two in Burj Khalifa.
What to Do
You cannot visit Dubai without doing a little shopping in the world’s largest shopping center (the size of 50 football fields), Dubai Mall, which also hosts the world’s largest choreographed musical fountain show set on the lake of Burj Khalifa. There are 1,200 shops to choose from, but this not just a mall. Walking around alone is a sight to see, and there’s also a movie theater, indoor theme park, and ice rink.
Other world’s firsts in the Dubai Mall include the world’s largest candy store, “Candylicious,” and one of the world’s largest indoor aquariums. The Dubai aquarium and Underwater Zoo feature a 270-degree walkthrough tunnel and the world’s largest aquarium viewing panel at 108 feet long by 27 feet high, and weighing in at 245 tons.
As the world’s biggest natural flower garden, the Dubai Miracle Garden houses more than 45 million flowers over a 72,000 square meter site. This attraction is fairly new to the area, opening just 3 years ago. Based on the season, floral displays are constantly changing with topiary-style displays and other shapes and unique designs. If you want to visit, check the seasonal dates and times as it closes late May through October.
After a long day, put a big fat cherry on top of your extravagant Dubai experience by indulging in the world’s most expensive ice-cream scoop at Dubai’s Scoopi Café on Jumeirah Beach Road. This ice-cream scoop, which will set you back AED 2,999 ($816), is made with “Black Diamond ice-cream (Madagascar vanilla and Iranian saffron), all served in a Versace bowl accented with slices of black truffles and 23-carat edible gold. At least you get to keep the bowl and spoon.
If ice-cream isn’t your thing, indulge in a $1,000 gold cupcake, the world’s most expensive cupcake. Sold by Bloomsbury’s Café in Dubai Mall, this gold-infused cupcake even has an edible gold sheet.
Dubai is only growing as it will certainly see many world’s firsts, biggest, and bests. It’s not the cheapest trip you’ll take but it’ll be one of the most memorable.