A Beginner’s Guide to Dubai

Finland posts start shortly, but until then check out this guest post about a very different part of the world entirely.

When I went on vacation this past November, people were surprised at my chosen destination. Instead of picking a European adventure or another trek in South East Asia, I chose to go to Dubai, one of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates or what some may have dubbed as the Las Vegas of the Middle East.

I never thought I’d have any interest in going to Dubai but then the more I read up on it, the more interested I became and then one little movie came into theaters – Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol – and yes silly as it sounds, seeing Tom Cruise scale the tallest building in the world solidified my decision – my next vacation will be in Dubai. With that said, here are my favorite places during my visit:

 BURJ KHALIFA

It goes without saying that one of the must-sees in Dubai is the world’s tallest building in the world – the building that was featured in Tom Cruise’s film – the Burj Khalifa. Standing over 2700 feet, this structure dominates the Dubai skyline and remains very prominent from every view in the city. To visit the top, one must reserve a ticket in advance (and by advance I mean far in advance as it is a very popular destination and tickets do sell out). Though the view from the top is beyond amazing, I will say that my favorite view is from the Boulevard Café near the Al Manzil Hotel. I recommend grabbing a cheap lunch and sitting on the outdoor patio and take in the architectural beauty of the Burj Khalifa.

 JUMEIRAH BEACH PARK

A trip to Jumeirah Beach Park is definitely a must – even just to check out what Dubai has to offer in terms of beaches. Yes, it doesn’t quite compare to some of the other scenic beaches in the world but it is still quite worth a visit – especially for it’s clean greenish waters that’s so clear you can see right to the bottom. Be certain that though it is a beach, you are still in the Middle East and there are certain rules that beach goers must abide by including a relatively cheap entrance fee (5 AED for women and 10 for men), Monday is reserved for women only, swimsuits are welcome (yes, even speedos if that’s your thing) but only at the beach area (that means clothes must be worn once you leave beach and enter parking and park premises) and lastly, photography is not allowed. Lastly, towels, chairs and umbrellas are available for rent so all you really need to bring is yourself, your wallet and sunscreen.

MALL OF EMIRATES

You may be wondering why I’d include a mall in my list and though I do love to shop, that’s not why. It’s also not because the malls are terribly huge in Dubai – those in Asia still top any in my books. However, if you’ve ever wanted to see a ski resort built inside a mall, here’s your chance. The Mall of Emirates has your everyday shopping needs but also has the capacity to fulfill any of your winter sporting needs – skiing anyone? There is an entrance fee that covers gear and all attractions – such as tubing, sledding, etc, but to use the slopes to ski and snowboard requires a separate payment.

ARABIAN DESERT

As much as I hate taking tour excursions, as I love to explore places and countries on my own, I had to succumb to an Arabian safari tour as it was the only way I’d get to go to experience the desert. There’s many options that you can look into; the one my friend and I chose was a half-day adventure filled with a multitude of activities including sand-dunning (make sure you only eat a light meal before going as it’s not for the weak stomach), lots of photo opportunities, camel riding, a Henna tattoo station and dinner with a belly-dancing show. Yes, it definitely screams Disneyland for tourist but it was worth the admission to experience the sunset at the Arabian Desert.

Kirstin Carag works in entertainment publicity. When she’s not promoting films and TV shows, she’s busy seeing the world and planning her next adventure or eating her way through life – one French Fry at a time. Follow her random rants at @kcarag.

11 thoughts on “A Beginner’s Guide to Dubai”

  1. Wonderful guide. Dubai is a wonderful place with great things to do. Ski Dubai and the Dessert Safari is a MUST do!

  2. Nice post. Korea also has an indoor ski park. It is small, but if you can’t wait till the winter.
    BTW, while I do want to see the Burj Khalifa, I cant help but feel like it is a tad overrated. Not the building itself, but the notion of it being the tallest. When I first started living abroad (in Korea) a coworker talked about how he was about to go scale the tallest building in the world (Taipei 101 at the time). Now, while interesting, has lost is tallest title. I feel like these kinds of accomplishments are just temporary, unlike ancient ruins 🙂
    Good article!

  3. There’s a sky resort in a mall? Whoa. This country sometimes amaze me, but also makes me wonder the amazement! Nice post!

    Regards.

  4. So much of Dubai seems over the top, but the photos are so beautiful. A friend who lives in the region really loves it, and I’m hopeful that one day I’ll get to visit. I’d love to see the sunsets in the Arabian Desert.

  5. Nice write-up! Surprised not to see the Burj al Arab or the Gold Market mentioned – for us, these two were the highlights of Dubai. It’s a surreal, but amazing place!

  6. I head to Dubai in less than 2 days, the first destination on my Asia and Oceania trip!
    How did you book the desert safari? I really want to do one when I get there but I will probably book one when I get there.
    I think Dubai seems like such an interesting place, so different to other destinations!

    1. I booked it through Arabian Adventures but there’s handful of options. I think that’s the one that just got the most positive reviews and is the most popular.

  7. Dubai has evolved, over the years, as a plush city, a place which has got every thing that money can buy, swanky malls, artificial island and even tallest building in the world. But this place has still got a lot of evolving to do, in terms of freedom, human rights and social justice. People from non Arab countries can not even dream of getting citizenship, even after slogging hard all their lives, then democracy and modern ways of governance are non existent.

  8. That building is almost scary. I saw a side-by-side picture of Dubai in the 80s, and the same area of the city today – it’s insane how much it’s been built up in such a short amount of time. It’s definitely on our list, too!

  9. I love that you say that MI4 solidified your decision to go to Dubai. I immediately added it to my list after seeing the movie too!

    Going to save this post so I can look back at your great suggestions when it comes time to plan my own trip. 🙂 Looks amazing!

  10. Dubai is forever an evolving city and changes so much in such a short period of time. In 2000-01 I was based in Saudi Arabia and Dubai was a popular weekend retreat for us.

    It has changed so much now that I’d hardly recognise the place.

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