From the Arabian Sands Rises a Metropolis of the Future
Destination Dubai. Really?? For many people, Dubai has been considered as either a transit city or
a short stopover. Once you realise how much there is to see and do, it can easily be treated as a complete holiday destination.
It’s hard to imagine when you first arrive in Dubai that it has only become a booming metropolis in the last 20-30 years…thanks to oil discoveries in the mid 60’s. I recall riding in a taxi from my hotel in the Deira area and driving towards what is known as ‘Downtown Dubai’ and marvelling at the city. Seeing so many amazing buildings, art and architecture, I felt like a kid in a lolly shop. To think that 60-70 years ago, there was mostly just sand and now this!
Firstly a ‘must do’ is the City of Merchants Tour. This is a great way to learn a little about the history by visiting some of the typical houses of the early settlers and the famous gold and spice souks (markets). You then get to travel across the expansive Dubai Creek on a traditional Abra (boat) and then on to the more modern sights such as the Jumeirah Mosque and Dubai’s most iconic hotel, Burj al Arab, shaped like a sailing boat along the coast. It’s the best way to get an understanding of how it all developed and an excellent way to get yourself orientated.
I couldn’t resist the opportunity to spend a few nights at the amazing Atlantis The Palm, built on artificial islands in the shape of a palm tree. This is an incredible complex and the resort is like the jewel on the crown. The hotel is like ‘Vegas meets the Middle East’. It’s huge in scale and quite opulent. Apart from the five-star hotel, it has a massive waterpark, Atlantis Aquaventure, lots of dining options as well as an incredible aquarium.
Reach for the stars
A major landmark in Dubai is the world famous Burj Khalifa. Since its completion in 2009, it is still the tallest building in the world. After riding one of the world’s fastest double-deck elevators, I was really looking forward to seeing the view from 124th floor. WOW! It was breathtaking and definitely not one for the faint-hearted. As it was a perfectly clear sunny day, I could see all along the coastline and inland…it was clear where the city limits stopped, and the vast desert landscape began.
Amongst this concrete jungle, Dubai is also creating many little oases throughout the city.
One of these is the Madinat Jumeirah, one of the largest precincts in Dubai. This massive landscaped area of lush gardens and waterways is designed to resemble a traditional Arabian town.
With its idyllic beachfront location, it has a traditional Middle Eastern style bazaar as well as three boutique hotels, luxury villas, restaurants and bars. With occasional live entertainment, it has such a great atmosphere and is a great little getaway from the city.
Dubai is constantly changing, with new and exciting neighbourhoods being developed, the city is growing so quickly and is really establishing itself as a complete destination. A continued focus on the arts, with a new opera house and the many festivals & events held throughout the year, make it an exciting place to visit year-round. I can’t wait to go back again and see all the new and wonderful experiences this exotic metropolis has to offer.