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:


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.


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.


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.


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.

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