If you love luxury and shopping, Dubai should be moved to the very top of your travel bucket list. This vibrant city in the U.A.E, United Arab Emirates, is a long line of skyscrapers that are nestled between beautiful beaches and vast desert. Dubai is a hub for many expats and contractors as they travel in from and out to other more remote location. And that is how I ended up traveling there many times.
During my trips to Dubai, I explored many areas of this fun and unique city. Dubai is the world’s leading city when it comes to hospitality, shopping, and events. But it was not until the 1950s that this city started to become what it is today. The government let other countries come in and harvest oil and now 60 years later there are almost 2.5 million people that live in that in this formerly small desert port city. It is famous for its blend of cultures, mix of ultramodern and traditional architecture, and luxury services.
Based on my experiences, here are 5 ways to get a taste of all that Dubai has to offer:
- See first hand the mix of cultures
While Dubai is modernizing, it is still very traditional when it comes to their clothes. The men wear a white tunic with a red and white checkered scarf and the women wear a long black robe (called an abaya) with a wide array of covering of their hair and face. You will definitely enjoy the surreal experience of seeing expats wearing short dresses and shorts next to the men and women in their floor length apparel. My advice, just don’t be like the gals from ‘Sex in the City’. There is a dress code and I suggest to read up on it! The more conservative you dress, the more respect you will get. And the more people will see that you respect them and the ways of their country as well.
- Go snow skiing in the desert
No snow in the desert? No worries. Dubai has created one of the world’s largest indoor snow paradises, Ski Dubai, at the Mall of the Emirates. My favorite thing to do is ride the gondola up to the top of the L-shaped slope and speed down the hill. If skiing isn’t your thing, you can get a pass to just play in the snow, go tubing, and even pet penguins – yes, real live penguins!
- Go on a desert safari
Going out into the vast desert beyond the city life is a must. Find an adventure company and join a group that will take you dune bashing, sand surfing, and camel riding. The safari will take you to a desert oasis with tents where you can take pictures in traditional clothes and have henna designs drawn onto your hands and feet. You will eat a traditional meal with others on low tables while sitting on carpets and pillows. The grand finale of the evening will be a show of traditional dance and acts.
- Journey through the adventures of Ibn Batutta … while shopping
Need a gift for the family, but also want to explore the rest of the world too? The Ibn Batutta mall is the perfect place to go. As you walk through this mall, you also walk in the footsteps of the famous sojourner Ibn Batutta and experience his travels through the lands of China, India, Persia, Egypt, Tunisia, and Andalusia . Each section of the mall is uniquely decorated to reflect the beauty of each region. There is even a life sized elephant! But unlike the penguins – this one isn’t real.
- See the tallest building in the world
If you do anything in Dubai, you have to go to the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa. Why? Because it is the tallest… building … in … the … world (which is also next to the largest mall in the world… which is next to the largest fountain show… you got it – in the world) I first went to Dubai right after the Mission Impossible movie came out and Tom Cruise (or his stunt double) climbed down the side of the building. I have been a couple more time since then and every time I am amazed by the massive amount of design, effort, and man-power that went into constructing this building. It is well worth it to take the 60 second elevator ride to the 124 floor.
So if you are looking for something a little different for your next adventure, I suggest giving Dubai a try!
Guest Post & Photography by Catie Funk