Dubai: The Burj, Glitz & Desert

The UAE in general and Dubai, in particular, is full of superlatives and opposites. It is also a vibrant and exciting city, a stark contrast between Asian, Western and Middle-eastern cultures, yet all cultures also combine to make the city the dynamic place it is. The city can be described as a place where “East meets West”, reflecting the local culture’s mix of Asian roots with influences from various nationalities.

On one hand, you have soaring, neck-creaking skyscrapers and the amazing flatness of the desert lands on the other. You below poverty line Asian drivers and the uber rich Shaikhs rubbing shoulders, albeit one in front of the car and the other in the backseat. They do have a slightly odd definition for rich! You will realize when you get there!

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A trip to the heart of the Emirates is one to remember, no matter how many times you get there. As a visitor, you could not have asked for more sights to be crammed into a city, all within a fast zip by cab or subway.

Dubai is a fairly well-connected city and most of the sights can be seen in around 4 days.

Must see sights in Dubai:

  1. Burj Khalifa: This Hymenocallis flower inspired skyscraper is composed of three elements arranged around a central core. It stretches skywards for 828 metres (2,716.5 feet) and with than 160 stories. Its is the tallest building in the world, tallest free-standing structure in the world, has the highest number of stories in the world, has the highest occupied floor in the world, has the highest outdoor observation deck in the world, has an elevator with the longest travel distance in the world and of course the tallest service elevator in the world. Dubai and superlatives you see! The stunning interiors were designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP and was led by award-winning designer Nada Andric.
    There are various ticketing options to choose from. Book online to skip the queues.(Website) The super fast elevator rockets up the visitors up to the observation decks in a jiffy. Make sure to swallow or your ears will get blocked. Ya, Boeing take-off style! The decks above are worth a visit just for the sprawling views. It’s especially beautiful on a sunny clear day.IMG_4557
  2. The Dubai Mall: Adjacent to the Burj is the humongous Dubai mall. Think; a mixture of all your neighborhood mall, only glitzier. Also thrown in are a Dinosaur skeleton, joy rides, and even an aquarium. Definitely a shoppers’ paradise. And as you walk around to make sure to catch a musical fountain show at the adjacent artificial lake. We saw MJ’s ‘Bad’. Just that bit made my day. Also, you can crane your necks and catch the light show on the screen that is the Burj. Stunning! Click here for more shopping tips in Dubai… And ya I know. Dinosaur in a mall!IMG_4571.JPG
  3. The Desert: What is the desert doing on the must-see list in a city filled with amazing attractions to the hilt? Well, let me explain. Firstly, it’s pretty simple to experience the desert. Just take a desert trip. These usually include hotel pick up and drop, Buffet Kebab dinner, Sand boarding, Dune bashing, falconry, Tannoura dance and Belly dancing. It feels as rustic as Dubai can get. Moreover, you get some awesome vistas on your cam. There’s no downside here!

4. Burj Al Arab: The sail-shaped silhouette of this uber luxury hotel is what made it what it is. Its ultra everything! Definitely worth a dinner’s price!burj-al-arab-588903_960_720.jpg5. Jumeirah Mosque: It is one of the rare mosques in UAE that welcomes non-Muslim. Women, however, are asked to wear a scarf when visiting. It is large enough to hold up to 1,200 worshippers, was built entirely from white stone in the medieval Fatimid tradition, with towering twin minarets framing a large central dome. When it’s lit up at dusk, the intricate artistry and true beauty are highlighted. jumeirah-mosque-dubai

6. Abu Dhabi: Always an interesting detour from Dubai, the capital of UAE has a lot going for it. Take for instance the big Sheikh Zayed Mosque with a lot of superlatives attached to it including a humongous carpet! Also check out the Ferrari world and the Qasr-al Hosn fort. Its a decent trip for a day or two. There is a good 3 day itinerary as suggested by Neil & Chandrika. Have a look!

You can alos do a day trip to Oman as this blogger suggested!imageFerrari-World-Abu-Dhabi023_3865_01_b

Tips when visiting UAE:

  1. Indian travellers do get an easy visa if coming in via the Emirates. Or else apply for a pre-approved visa beforehand. (Website)
  2. There are no strict currency regulations and foreign currency is easily exchanged in the UAE. The dirham is the official currency of the UAE. The prefix is written as AED or Dh. Check exchange rates here (Link)
  3. The Metro can zip you to the airport without sitting in traffic, paying for parking, or hiring a taxi—exit the car, down the escalator, and you’re practically at the check-in counter. very convenient!

  4. 517MQOEQjeL._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_4. What I read: In ‘The Sand Fish’ the story centres around 17-year-old Noora, a Bedouin living in the mountains. Her mother has recently died and her father gone mad. Her younger brother marries her off to a wealthy pearl merchant she has never met. Living a long sea voyage away from her ancestral home, Noura finds herself the third wife of a man much older than her father. When she learns that none of the other wives have given him children, it becomes clear what Noura’s purpose is.
    Its a great detour from most books that focus on its urban achievements. (Amazon link)

5. What I Saw: A privileged young male Arab at odds with his cultural identity and his less fortunate street smart friend; a disillusioned Indian taxi driver MV5BMTU0NTQzNTUyOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjQ2NzcwMw@@._V1_UY268_CR3,0,182,268_AL__QL50and a former Romanian ballet dancer now working as a flight attendant and searching for love and companionship … these individuals all live in Dubai and their lives are about to collide for better or for worse in a city where ambition. Nice gripping tale! (IMDB)

6. The UAE is extremely safe for women travelers, nevertheless, women traveling alone are a novelty and you may find yourself at the focus of unwanted attention.

7. Normal shopping hours are from 9.00 a.m. – 1 p.m. and 4.00 – 9.00 p.m. however many shops, particularly in Dubai and Abu Dhabi stay open all day.

8. Since Muslim festivals are timed according to local sightings of phases of the moon, the dates outlined below for Islamic religious holidays are approximate. The precise dates are not announced until a day or so before they occur. If a public holiday falls on a weekend, the holiday is usually taken at the beginning of the next working week.

A three-day mourning period is usually announced when a member of the ruling families or a government minister or the head of a neighboring state dies. Government offices and some private companies will close for the period.

1 Jan New Year’s Day.

2 Dec National Day.

Al-Hijra (Islamic New Year).

Mouloud (Birth of the Prophet).

Leilat al-Meiraj (Ascension of the Prophet).

Eid al-Fitr (End of Ramadan).

Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice)

9. Gold is a big business here and is slightly cheaper and of better purity here. So do go into the gold souq for a stroll at least. While at it also check out the spice market.

10. Dubai desert safari is another must do in this part of the world!

11. Check out this post for more things to do in Dubai

76 thoughts on “Dubai: The Burj, Glitz & Desert

  1. My friend are there in Dubai right now for they are working there and a most of them have good things to say about the place. Yes, most of what you mentioned, they have been there and they always say that the country has a lot of tourist spots to see. I hope one day, I can get to visit there.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Who knew that over the years Dubai would look this amazing. More than just a desert, they managed to create such interesting attractions. And I would love to see their skyscrapers with my own eyes. I might give sand boarding a try too!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think a tour in the desert is always worthwhile. My favorite rock band did this when they visited Dubai several years ago and I thought it was an awesome adventure. Those majestic mosques are also a site to behold and I am sure my little man will be thrilled to visit the Ferrari world since he simply loves cars! I would definitely love to visit Dubai one day!


  4. I have friends and relatives who are working there in Dubai and I have seen a lot of their journey in some of these places you have mentioned. Dubai is really a great place and it has so many great attractions to offer.
    they also have the largest airport right?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Dubai has always been a dream destination for me. I have this impression of intimidatingly gorgeous infrastructure mixed with the laid-back vibe of the camels and desert. In your post I proved there are indeed fabulous structures to see. It is very helpful to the readers that you’ve provided a guide. i’d love to go to Dubai with your travel tips in my mind! Thanks!


  6. Always a wonderful place to visit full of possibilities, so many impressive buildings and gold around! Would love to visit in the near future for sure as your photos are very inspiring!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I was always curious with what Dubai and the UAE have to offer. There was a thought that it would just be desert and nothing more. Turns out, there are buildings and cool daring activities there! I hope the food is good though.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I would love to see the Burj Khalifa. I have seen so many pictures of it, read a lot about it and my life would be complete if I could have my photo taken with it in the background! Dubai is such a beautiful, progressive place. I have friends who have been there and they said everything there is fantastic!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Dubai seems like the pure definition of opulence and contrast between the rich and poor. A lot of the famous sites in Dubai are architectural marvels, so I’m glad that you could enjoy the desert as well to get a glimpse of the nature that surrounds the city. How does it compare to Abu Dhabi in terms of excitement and value for travellers?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Very thorough post! I just moved out of Dubai myself. There’s a lot of glitz and glamour indeed and there are people from all walks of life. Funny you mention the ballerina/flight attendant. That’s just the sort of thing you would find in Dubai (when they are not people who are trapped in the corporate hamster wheel).

    Liked by 1 person

  11. We loved UAE when we visited and would be happy to go again. The views from the Burj Khalifa made my heart stop. It’s so high it feels surreal. I like that the more local places still have a siesta hour for shop times.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I love the comic strip! It’s really amusing, hahaha. But that’s true that they have a slightly odd definition for rich! I’ve been to Dubai twice but there’s always something new to experience. I really enjoyed the desert safari. Next time I’d love to explore Abu Dhabi specially the gorgeous Jumeriah Mosque 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Dubai is a pretty popular destination for lots of Italians and yet me and my husband haven’t made it there (yet). I’d definitely love an adventure in the desert, especially if it includes falconry and sand boarding!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I love Dubai, as a tourist! I was there this year and went up the Burj Khalifa for the first time, but there there was a sand storm when I was up there so the visibility was not great. We went into the desert in a jeep, so fun! I haven’t been to Abu Dhabi yet and from your photos it looks worth a visit.

    Liked by 1 person

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