Dreaming of Dubai? Let the dream turn into reality! At this time of year, people around the world are typically planning their Summer break; scouring websites, flipping through travel magazines and putting a deposit down for their holiday before the countdown begins.
Sadly, holiday plans have been thrown into disarray. But it doesn’t mean that dreaming about your next holiday should stop. The world is on hold –for now– but gradually we are seeing signs of it opening up, and the good news is that the world is waiting for you to explore once more and travel again in the not too distant future.
One destination that has always been popular with tourists is the United Arab Emirates. It comes with the promise of year-round sunshine, five-star hotels, beautiful beaches and exceptional service. Dubai has been a destination of choice for foreigners for many years. The city has something for everyone, including an indoor ski slope for those who can’t take the heat. Dubai is a man-made city with incredible infrastructure. Its Palm Jumeirah island is considered an architectural masterpiece. The artificial archipelago is often referred to as the eighth wonder of the world.
It is not just Dubai’s man-made infrastructure that is the envy of all. It is a city that is all about body image, which is one of the reasons why Dubai is awash with cosmetic surgeries. It is a medical tourism hub where you can get everything and anything done from tummy tucks to a hair transplantation. What’s more, there are enticing bundles where all you need to do is book and your every need is taken care of from airport transfer to hotel while sneaking in a quick cosmetic fix. At the click of a button you could be readying yourself for an all-inclusive holiday and a revamp of your image at the same time.
A Journey Back in Time
Dubai is a city that epitomizes modernity at its best. It certainly looks glitzy, but if you scratch beneath the surface you will discover that it is rooted in culture and there is still quaint evidence of its humbler past. Visitors can step back in time for very little cost. You can journey along Dubai’s famous Creek on an Abra [wooden water taxi] for as little as one dirham, just over 20 pence [$0.27]. The views are fantastic, both day and night, and show you just how far this city has evolved in a short space of time.
The journey, which takes you from modern Dubai to Deira gives you a real glimpse of the past. You will have the benefit of seeing some of the city’s most iconic buildings before the backdrop changes and takes you back in time. You will pass old Dhow boats, which still to this day form part of the country’s vibrant trade. Once you arrive in Deira your senses will awaken to the smells of the abundance of spices from the many souks. As you navigate through the narrow markets there is so much to see and do. You will easily be lured in by Dubai’s old charm where you can buy anything from traditional trinkets to elaborate textiles and gold.
As you meander deeper into the depths of Deira you will stumble across some incredible galleries and museums providing a wide range of art and historical and cultural elements. You can take it all in as you sit at one of the many coffee shops where you can sample traditional Arab hospitality. Try a ‘gahwa’ [Arabic coffee], which is spiced with cardamom, cumin, cloves and saffron, served with dates and presented in an ornate coffee pot.
The Biggest and the Best
Dubai has earned itself a reputation of glitz and glamour. It loves breaking records and takes great pride in being home to the world’s tallest building and the world’s biggest shopping mall, among other things. It loves life in the fast lane. There is so much on offer from skydiving to desert safaris. It has a big party scene, but it also offers visitors the opportunity for a restful break. There are hundreds of spectacular beach hotels and spas at your disposal where you can be pampered with a capital ‘P’.
Dubai is arguably the best-known Emirate in the UAE, but it is well worth a visit to the other Emirates. Abu Dhabi, the country’s capital, has had a significant makeover in recent years and has firmly put itself on the world map as a travel destination, giving Dubai a run for its money. It is home to the country’s most iconic mosque, The Grand Mosque, which is open to visitors from all over the world. No surprise, it and one of the world’s largest!
If you are craving culture, the Louvre Abu Dhabi, with its exceptional architecture, is located in the heart of a new urban quarter of the capital a short distance from the city’s famous theme parks. The lesser known emirates like Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah, Umm Al Quwain, Fujairah and Ajman are within easy reach for day trips and offer everything from culture, heritage, art and outdoor activities like kayaking or flying through the cliffs and canyons of Jebel Jais on a zip wipe covering 5 kilometres. One thing is for sure, you won’t be short of things to do in the UAE. Whether it is for an adrenaline rush, a restful break or to have a nip and tuck at a competitive price, the UAE has it all.
So, as you contemplate your next break, rest assured the Emirates and its famous Arab hospitality is waiting to welcome you with open arms.